Monday, November 27, 2006

Post Thanksgiving Weekend Report

I hope you all had a very excellent Thanksgiving. Mine was very nice indeed. On Thanksgiving morning I got up early for me, and I baked an apple pie. Baking is something I am fairly good at yet which I had not done for years until this past Thursday.

After that I got our hunting gear ready for our anticipated hunting trip set for Friday. Brendan would go along with me this year on his first deer hunt. This took most of the morning and some of the early afternoon.

Then it was off to the mother-in-law's place for dinner. We got there a bit before 3. After the usual amenities, I got to carving the Tur-Duck-En. What a treat for Thanksgiving. A turkey, stuffed with a duck that was stuffed with a chicken; all previously boned. The insides are crammed full of a wonderfully spicy stuffing. My brother-in-law Alex drove down to Texas recently to visit someone, then went to Louisiana to pick up this delight of the American culinary art. It makes my mouth water thinking of it. Absolutely delicious. We also had a nice baked ham, yams, two kinds of German dumplings, some veggies and so on. Dessert consisted of a bunch of things that I skipped. My apple pie, even though it had been meant for our breakfast at home, wound up tagging along with us to Oma's apartment, and it was one heck of a hit.

Once we got home, I put some finishing touches on the hunting gear and hit the hay early. At 0200, I was up and at em. Of course, Brendan would not wake up. I could not blame him after the feast of Thanksgiving, and because of the fact we had made a detour to my brother-in-law Han's house on our way home. We were there well over an hour, and the later than usual dinner, along with this, got us home close to 2100.

It took several tries to get Brendan up and at em, but I finally succeeded. We were off by about 0430, way to late. Oh well. We packed the car, and were off in no time. It was smooth sailing up the Taconic Parkway, although we did hear on a traffic report that the roads to the shopping centers, malls, and outlet stores were jammed already. Black Friday, the worst shopping nightmare I can imagine.

We got to the hunting spot at about 0615. We geared up, and that included brendan putting on his brand new hunting coat in blaze camo. Linda (she who must be obeyed) and I had given it to him as an early birthday present on Thanksgiving. I figured he had better be safe than wait to get his birthday gift on his birthday in December.

We were off to a previously selected spot in the hills in almost no time once we had parked and hopped out of the car. Day one was pretty interesting but no deer. Brendan did learn a lot though about: getting up early enough, deer sign, selection of stand, still hunting, rubs, scrapes, deer trails and choke points, and so on. We saw a few squirrels that all went unmolested. All in all it was a good day. I was very happy indeed that my boy had shown some responsibility at home before we left when he made lunches for both of us. A good sign for future hunts. He made 6 of the best tasting sandwiches I have ever eaten.

That night we headed to a Holiday Inn Express in Poughkeepsie, NY, about 30 miles from out hunting spot. I was not in the mood to camp out overnight, although the weather would have been okay for it, the weather was also great for ticks and the area was loaded with them. As it was I had a free night coming to me at the hotel, so the allure of that could not be beat. We wound up spending a comfortable night in warm beds at a nice motel. The next morning we were up at about 0400, I was anyhow. I woke Brendan up at 0430. We got to the hunting grounds a bit late again, but it was barely getting light, so it was much earlier and better than the day before. Brendan helped me offload our gear, made sure we had the two remaining sandwiches and some other food, and we were off up the hill again.

We went to a spot we had discovered only the day before. It was a choke point where several deer trails met near a saddle between two hills. Yep, the deer crossed through that saddle to get to the other side of the hills from all the evidence I could see. There were also about a dozen rubs all within about 25 yards of one another, and there were two active scrapes. There were either a lot of bucks passing through or one big angry king of em all.

We set up as quietly as possible and waited. We were there almost the whole day, except for a few trips I made to try to spook something up for Brendan. While I would not have minded getting a shot myself, I wanted him to bag his first deer on is first deer hunt if possible. One time, after Brendan complained of being cold, and stiff from sitting, and just standing in one spot, I had him walk to the car to grab the rattling antlers I had forgotten that morning. He came back wearing my insulated overalls that he had declined that morning. It was not cold, just chilly, but he was not used to it, so all the better for him that he used his gray cells and grabbed the warm stuff.

I tried rattling several times to no avail. That was unusual for me. I have often rattled in bucks and does. Many times I have seen them and either not been able to get a shot, or not seen them but heard them around me; other times I have taken my deer because of rattling. Nothing was nothing, and it was disheartening. I tried to spook something up one last time, again with no good effect.

Then I asked Brendan to make a decision. Walk down the hill to look at another spot I had found or stay put. It was about 12:30. He decided to check the other spot. Once there we found it to be promising, a clearing with short sweet looking grass, lots of deer trails, and some good lay down places for them. Yet he wanted to return to the other spot, so I said okay, go ahead. I waited back and told him in one hour I would try to flush something toward him.

After waiting as planned, I started walking back toward Brendan's spot at about 1:15. Almost immediately, near my original hunting spot from opening day of a week before (when I went hunting solo) I spotted 5 deer moving past me at about 20 yards distance in very heavy brush. All I had was a 9mm pistol, s I decided to not even attempt a shot. They had been trotting, not running fast, and I am not sure that I spooked them or that they even realized I was there. I waited about 15 minutes, and I tried to circle around where I thought they had headed in the hope of getting them to go toward Brendan. No luck, and of course when I first saw them, they were going in the exact opposite direction of Brendan's stand. It is possible he spooked them while returning to his stand, or that two other hunters somewhat near him did likewise. I'll never know.

I slowly, but somewhat noisily made my way up to Brendan's spot. I saw nothing, and he saw nothing. Well he saw nothing of deer anyhow. He continued to see squirrels, gray ones, red ones, and black ones, and maybe some Chipmunks too. We had started to see these once it had gotten fairly light out that morning, all around our stand, from about 15 minutes before sunrise. There must have been hundreds of them, mostly Red Squirrels, but a fair number of Gray Squirrels - and their season had opened in September. The woods were loaded with acorns, and they were making the best of it. In addition Brendan also saw a vole or some other small creature right next to him. He got a kick out of watching that little fur ball as it went about its business. He also saw lots of birds like woodpeckers, and a hawk. What he did not see though, as I said, were any deer. Still I knew he was on his stand as he should be, otherwise he would never have seen all those squirrels, the birds, and that little fuzzy vole scampering about the woods al within virtual spitting, or at least rock throwing, distance.

At about 3:00PM, we both head3ed down the hill and set up near the spot I had hunted a week before, and where I had just seen those 5 deer. It was worth the chance to move, but again we struck out. The deer were heavily hunted at this place, being it was a tract of state forest, and with the number of hunters in NYS. Still though Brendan learned a lot about hunting. Its anticipation, its frustration, and the joy of the hunt even if you do not bag your game. As a matter of fact he told me he didn't care if he had gotten a deer or not. I knew he did care, so I asked what he meant. He said he had a great time even though he hadn't gotten a shot or even seen a deer. That made me proud as any dad could be because I knew, at least with regard to the hunt, that he had learned well.

So far his tally on hunts is one black bear on his first big game hunt, and one squirrel on his second small game hunt. We may try deer again next Saturday, but if we do, I am also bringing along my .22 magnum for those little gray ghosts. Whatever we go for, whether we take game or not, I am certain he will enjoy it, and I will most definitely enjoy the company of the best hunting buddy ever.

Oh yeah, we got home on Saturday night, and I immediately did half of our laundry. This keeps the wife rather happy. The remainder I did the next morning. Then I was off to the New York Metro reptile Expo in White Plains, NY where I helped man the Long island herpetological Society's table. We adopted out several turtles, and one snake that people had given over to us for various reasons. We also gave out lots of info to those who needed to know about reptile or amphibian care. By we, I mean me and some other members of the LIHS other than Brendan. He was stuck at work or so I thought (he actually called in sick too tired from his two days of hunting); and I don't blame him somewhat – though I would have much preferred him to have gone to work - but that is another matter. At the show I was lucky enough to pick up a nice California Kingsnake (50/50 Desert Phase, for those in the know). It sort of has a pattern that resembles stacked over stuffed Oreo cookies. I had another great day.

All in all my weekend was a great one. Hope yours was likewise.

All the best,
Glenn B