I saw plenty of cars and trucks with red/black- and orange-shirted men heading north last week to get their camps/tents ready for last Saturday’s opening of the regular firearms season in the Northern Zone.
My North Country deer hunting season is generally confined to a very limited area in northern Saratoga County, then I go to an Allegany County hunting camp. These camps are more than just hunting, they’re a place for individuals from all walks of life to meet and talk (lie) about past and present hunting adventures. I’m sure every deer hunter is familiar with these legendary camps, and I recently saw a film clip dedicated to the history of these camps that will soon be released. It was quite impressive and reminds me of when I belonged to one in the North County.
The title of the production is “Adirondack Deer Camp” and it was produced by four local professional and highly talented men who have worked for over two years on this project. They are Dan Ladd of Ft. Ann, award-winning outdoor writer and creator of adkhunter.com; James Bruchac of Greenfield Center, an award-winning author and wilderness expert; Peter PePe of Glens Falls, an award-winning producer; and David Barker of Saratoga Springs, co-founder of On Track Productions.
The production, which will debut on PBS, examines the relationships these camps foster between camp members and the Adirondack wilderness. It features in-depth interviews that range from sentimental to humorous. Also included are vintage photos and film clips along with current footage to illustrate the deeply personal connection that occurs between deer camp members, their camps and the Adirondacks. I think if you view the film clip at adkdeercamp.com, you’ll want to see it in its entirety. I’ll announce it when it’s released.
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation stats, 12,753 youths ages 14-15 were eligible to participate in this first-time hunt, and as Oct. 11, 486 of them reported taking a deer. I’ll have more reports on how they did as the season progresses. Here are a few of those who participated in New York state’s first three-day Columbus Day youth hunt and were successful.
Let’s start with the biggest, a 12-pointer shot by Morghan Albright around her house in Schoharie County. Her big buck tipped the scales at 204 pounds, and she did it on her 15th birthday. Fourteen-year-old Cheyenne Lehr of Gloversville also shot a buck, a three-pointer in Fulton County that dressed out at 120 pounds.
In the young men category, Steven Duell of Queensbury shot a 130-pound, four-pointer and 14-year-old Riley Sage of Mineville took a nice backyard eight-pointer. But the young hunter of the week is John Barber of Essex County, who, while hunting with his dad, Bill, took a doe and a bear, both during the youth hunt.
Now there’s a youth hunt I wish I could have witnessed. It involved one of those “selfish” bowhunters whose tree stand was in the woods where Bob Henke and his granddaughter, Becca Bushway, of Ar-gyle, were hunting. He complained to Bob about other people in the woods during “his” season. Unfortunately for the bowhunter, he was complaining to the man who just happened to be the owner of these woods. And I know for a fact this bowhunter’s tree stand is no longer hanging on Henke’s property.
Earlier that morning while waiting for legal shooting time, Becca watched a seven-pointer, but he disappeared in the brush just before shooting time. On Sunday, she passed on three spike horns and a fork horn, but just before the end of the hunt that day, she shot a five-pointer. One shot from grandpa’s Thompson Center .243 did the job. I hear she doesn’t want to give the gun back to grandpa. And this little lady also field-dressed her own deer. Give her the gun, Bob.
Now, let’s see how the adults did. There were no 12-pointers, but John Taylor of Queensbury did down a beautiful 10-pointer with his Thompson Center Omega .50-caliber muzzleloader. It dressed out at 210 pounds. His buck had an 18-inch spread and measured four inches around the bases. John earlier passed on an eight-pointer.
It was wet and foggy in the Northern Zone on the first day of the early muzzleloading season, but it didn’t deter Scott Farley of Saratoga Springs from filling his tag. Scott was hunting with a group in northern Washington County when, at 7:15 a.m., he shot an eight-pointer that dressed out at 142 pounds.
Other one-shot successes include Rick Goodman of Queensbury, who got a spike horn in Hogtown; Bill LePann of Argyle, a six-pointer in Saratoga County; and Jim Patterson of Kingsbury downed a big eight-pointer that dressed at 187 pounds in the Kingsbury deer woods.
Three early-season hunters connected with nice Adirondack bears. Brian Schofield took his 250-pounder near home in the Moreau area, and Chis Izzo took his 200-pounder near home in Hamilton County. John Custodio and his son, John Francis, both of Lake George, were small-game hunting near home when they saw a bear. The next day, they returned and John downed a nice 175-pound bruin. You can see photos of these bears on Adkhunter.com.
Two bowhunters reported nice bucks taken recently. Adam Beecroft of Schaghticoke arrowed a seven-pointer in Washington County that he had been watching with a trail cam since it was in velvet. The buck would have been an eight-pointer, but had one broken tine. He shot the buck at 15 yards from his tree stand with a Bowtech compound bow.
A young Glens Falls woman firefighter, Micky Guy, was hunting with her dad, Tim, when she connected with her first bow buck, but it wasn’t right away. It began with a parade of deer, about 10 of them, running by her while she was sitting by a tree near a deer run. She admitted being nervous, and her shaking hands resulted in a miss. I remember doing the same thing many years ago.
That evening, she was in a tree stand and had a six-pointer no more than 10 yards away snorting at her from the brush, but couldn’t get a shot. The next morning, on her way to her stand, she got a shot at a doe, but the arrow went low, and later that day had a similar miss, this time it was high. That afternoon, she and her dad were in a double tree stand and dad missed, but when a button buck stepped out, Micky’s arrow found its mark, and she got her first bow-and-arrow whitetail. Dad is still looking for this year’s bow deer.
Several years ago, Dick Andrews of Amsterdam recommended Sam’s Hunting and Fishing Camp in Newfoundland, and there I shot a Safari Club record book moose. Dick recently returned from another successful hunt with Sam’s. Bad weather with pouring rain and high winds made the hunting extremely difficult, and on the fourth day out, Dick decided to take the first bull he saw. His guide called one in from about two miles away, and at 200 yards, he filled his tag on what he called a “little” bull. That little 2 1⁄2-year-old bull carried six points and weighed in at 850 pounds. But that two-mile drag back to the boat and five-mile boat ride to camp made it a lot bigger.
Guilderland hunter Anthony Rider also went north of the border in New Brunswick, where he bow-hunted for a black bear with Lindsay Sporting Camps. After sitting in a stand for three days, he moved his stand and just two hours later, he had a bear circling the bait. When it finally came in, Anthony took the 12-yard quartering away shot with his Mathew Z7 set at 70 pounds and ended the hunt. His bear tipped the scales at 225 pounds.
This is a new item I’ll be adding to my column from time to time. It’s something I think shooters/anglers should consider. This week, I’d like to introduce hunters to the Smith Hunting Tri-Blind. It’s lightweight, portable and very versatile for deer, turkey and even waterfowl hunters. You can use it on your lock on, ladder and climbing stands for concealment or on the ground. For the ground setup, Tri-Blind can quickly be attached to a single tree or an ATV can be hidden using two trees five to six feet apart. It comes in Mossy Oak in Break-Up Infinity or Obsession patterns. You can buy it online at www.thesmithblind.com for $40.