After our Maine hunt we returned home in time to hunt the opening of the New York deer season. We still had a couple days to prepare so we loaded the camper and the next day headed over to our favorite spot to set up which was nestled along a dirt road 14 miles off the main road. After the setting up process was taken care of we did something that we always like to do and that is taking a walk up a couple of the many trails that run through these mountains in search of wild mushrooms.
My suggestion to you at this point if you decide to try this is to make sure you know the good ones from the bad ones. I was taught by an old neighbor I had that had picked them for years and showed me which ones he gathered every year and I enjoyed the taste so much that I started this same trend. I didn't realize how many people go in search of them every year but soon found out. Anyway, back to the story.
We found a few of the mushrooms called "Hen-of-the-woods" at a couple places we know of and took them back to camp to prepare them for freezing to enjoy at a later date except for a few which we had along with our evening supper. Two things were accomplished while in our search for them, we were also seeking out active deer trails which crossed along our way. We passed through an area which held many oak trees and seen alot of fresh sign that gave us high expectations for the next day. Upon returning to the camper we cleaned our found treasure of great tasting wild mushrooms, had supper then sat outside watching the sun as it disappeared over the mountains and listened to the sounds of nightfall as the last of the light faded away.
The alarm went off at 4am as we rose and prepared for the day's hunt. It was a cool morning but the weather report was predicting temperatures to be in the high 60's with no rain. We dressed accordingly and headed down the dirt roadway to our spots. My wife again went to her ground stand on one side of the road which was near where we seen all the sign the day before. I inturn headed up to my favorite area high up on the opposite side of the road where I've hunted before near a feeding area but still well within radio range of each other.
Predawn, I reached where I was going to sit and settled in to wait to see what the day would bring. Well, daylight came and about 15 minutes into it I heard the sound of something coming my way from over the hill. It wasn't long before I saw the familiar sight of a Fisher Cat headed towards me not knowing that I was there and walked to within 30 yards of me before stopping dead in his tracks. Maybe he saw me standing there or something else bothered him as he turned back the way he came. Disappearing back over the ridge I smiled to think that these are normally very wary creatures and seeing them in the wild is not something that happens a lot.
The sun was rising now and with its first rays I welcomed the warmth it brought and knew it was going to be a nice day. A couple hours had passed by without seeing any sign of an approaching deer as I sat listening intently to my surroundings while watching the red squirrels as they played among the trees and chased each other along the ground. At 9 am I contacted my wife on the radio after finding out that neither of us had seen anything yet and agreeing to contact each other again at noon I returned my concentration back to the woods.
When it reached 11 am, I decided to still hunt over to the other side of a flat area I knew only to well from a previous year's hunt. The sun was high in the sky by now and hardly a cloud could be seen anywhere. The temperature feels to be in the 60's as I slowly make my way across all the time watching and listening for any sight or sound. When I reached where I had planned on I picked out a good vantage point at the base of a ridge to sit for a while and watch a trail that lays just below me. Off in the far distance I could hear an occasional shot and each time thinking to myself, there's another buck down, whether it was or not, but just hearing other shots gives you hope about the area. Over the hill behind me and down the mountain side lays the Lake and with no roads between us, only woods gives you hope that one could be wandering about feeding. I've only seen two other hunters up here in past years because not many brave the hike up the side being as steep as it is, but knowing deer like their privacy and upon seeing the sign I've seen I know it's a good area. Across the lake about 2 miles from me is a small town and depending on conditions, occasionaly I can hear the sounds of a tractor trailer's jake brake as he makes his way down one of the many hills and roads that run along the other side.
Its now noon time and I can hear the siren that sits atop the fire station far across the lake as they sound it off each day at 12 as a test. No need to look at my watch to see that its now time to contact my wife again. With the ear piece in our ears so any noise is kept to a minimum, we talk for a couple minutes making sure each other is ok and whether anything's happened. Putting the radio away I take out a sandwich and thermos to have my lunch after making sure there's nothing happening around me.
After I have my lunch I look at my back pack which lays open on the ground beside me. I figure what the heck, nothing's happening anyway so I slowly pull my deer grunt call from it and give a couple low grunt sounds and set it back in the pack. Not 3 minutes go by when I hear footsteps coming from behind me. As I turned my head ever so slow I saw a deer walking along the side of the hill about 40 yards away now. Surprised, I see it's a buck as I see the antlers. Did he hear my grunt calls? Was he laying down not far from me? Questions, lots of questions quickly run through my mind as I raise my rifle to my shoulder and take aim just behind his front shoulder and squeeze the trigger. It all happened so fast I didn't have time to let the event sink in. Jumping to my feet and chambering another shell staying at the ready I hurry to the deer being as excited as if it were my first. Thank you Lord, and thank you dad for this I say as I approached the buck. I don't care how many bucks the good Lord allows me to take I will always have that excitement with each one.
An 8 point lay on the ground in front of me as my heart rate returns to normal now and I retrieve the radio to tell my wife who I know at this time is waiting to hear. What a day, what a hunting experience. Never would I have expected it to happen this way. I think silently to myself, right dad, you always said they'll appear when you least expect it.