Once again I have been skunked. The deer that were in the Cascade Valley State Forest yesterday are still there today. There was a car, a pickup truck and an SUV parked along the road yesterday when I arrived and throughout the day I did not hear even one shot from the state forest area. I had thought it would be a good day for deer because I saw some out along the road on the way up. It was a bit foggy or misty, overcast, promised to snow and rain, and was just the miserable kind of day on which deer love to roam about during daylight. I decided to still hunt, no sitting in one place for me since the ground was covered with about 2- 3 or 4 inches of wet snow. I saw lots of tracks in that snow. First thing I saw was a set of bear tracks. Probably made the day or night before. They crossed the stream, that runs through much of this piece of state land from north to south, right near where I had been on stand the two weekends before this hunt. Had I been on stand on Saturday instead of Sunday I might have had bear steaks in the freezer right now and a belly full of bear stew. I then walked over to the area in which Brendan had had his stand and found three sets of deer tracks. Oh well! I followed them for a ways until they went onto private property. They too looked to be about a day old. Don't ask how to tell how old they are, it is a bit complicated and takes some telling. If you were there with me I would explain why I thought they were that old. Could have been days older, but I think not fresher than from at least a few hours before. Well anyway, after they veered onto private property I turned north and found other deer tracks. I figure to have come across about a dozen sets of tracks in all. As I walked it started to snow. The snow was crisp not mushy and wet. No rain was good and a cold snow was better. About a couple of hours later it changed to light rain, then steady medium to heavy. My hunting coat is not waterproof but did not get slogged down too badly. Underneath it I had on a waterproof inner jacket/liner (from my sons waterproof hunting outfit) so I stayed dry. My pants were just old camo BDUs. They got wet at the bottom but not bad. Funny how the tops stay dry even in a downpour. My boots stayed waterproof through about 5 stream crossings but finally got soaked through from all the rain. My feet were wet for about a good 2 hours before I called it quits at around 3:30. I had another hour to go. Not sure why I quit. Yeah I was getting wet, but was not cold. That was amazing considering how wet my feet had gotten - they were soaked.
I suppose I left early because I just did not want to get any wetter and then get cold. I also wanted to hit the road before things froze over. I guessed the roads were sure to be treacherous. I was right on that one. Within the first 100 miles I saw at least 10 accidents - one about every 10 miles. One, on a curve going up hill, had three or four vehicles off the road slammed into a cliff side. The left lane was open and the semi in front of me was going up the hill sideways. I was already committed to the left lane and tried it. I achieved all of about 2 mph on the sheer ice. A state police officer stood at the roadside watching me and pointing me out to a stranded motorist and shaking his head. I guess he figured I was doomed. I made it. I guess the police stopped traffic for a while right after I got through because I did not see another set of headlights behind me for the next 10 to 15 minutes. Then a slew of vehicles passed me - all doing about 60-70 - apparently trying to make up time. I was driving at the breakneck speed of about 40-45mph. I imagine that some of the other accidents I saw involved at least some of those who had passed me. I hit a few more icy patches but I took them at a reasonable speed and got home safely. I was truly amazed (always am) at how fast some jerks drive in SUVs because they have 4 wheel drive. At least 1/2 of the accidents, I think more, I saw involved SUVs, all probably because the drivers were going to fast and lost control on ice. Mind you, if you count, and I did, SUVs do not account for 1/2 of the vehicles on the road at any time, but they usually account for more half or more of those going too fast in bad weather.
My return trip home was 2 hours or so longer than my trip to the hunting spot had been. I suppose I should point out that 1/2 hour was set aside for a nap in Roscoe, NY. I was just too sleepy to keep driving safely so caught a few z's. That helped a lot and then once refreshed I was on my way again. Good thing I stopped too what with all of the ice and accidents and the added hours to get home. The drive of 187 miles had taken me only 3 hours and 10 minutes to get there earlier in the day. The drive home took a bit longer at 5 hours and 15 minutes. The return trip was a bit nerve wracking and tiring with the extra 2 hours but I got home safely. As for the deer, well there is always next yearand I left them laughing. At what? Well, at my lack of success and at the picture of me leaving the woods after getting pretty drenched. I must have looked a funny sight at that.
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