...and the deer are still laughing at us in the woods. We hunted the stand I had selected back in early September, and checked again and again over the months since, and we did not see a thing even though it was obvious the scrapes were still active. The next day we opted to do some Still Hunting in the morning. Saw nothing. Later on we set up near an apple tree, then even later near an apple tree that was growing on the edge of a swamp just inside the forest. Brendan found that place. It had the most deer sign around it that I have seen in years. I thought for sure we would at least see some deer there. No luck though, well no luck for us - plenty of luck for the deer.
We did manage to get ripped off at the inn where we stayed. I paid the outrageous price for a room with "all the amenities and a restaurant too" as they told me. Wound up the restaurant was closed for the season and the amenities did not even include a telephone or radio in the room, nor a television that worked properly, nor a full bath. The shower stall was all of what one could fit into and have barely enough room to move to wash up. The sink, outside the bathroom had a vanity with light bulbs some of which were burned out, and the sink was missing its stopper. The water pressure was horrendous or the water was turned down somewhere along the piping, and the hot water faucet took several minutes to produce something that even approached warmness. I must admit it eventually did get hot. There were no drapes on the window, but there was a light screen of sorts hanging outside the window blocking any view we may have had and still allowing the car lights from the roadway (adjacent to which our room sat) to illuminate the room. Of course there were Venetian blinds but they and that foolish looking piece of front yard fence they hung outside the window did not do as good at blocking the headlights from -penetrating our room each night as would have a cheap pair of drapes from Walmart. All this for the "off season price" of $99.00 plus tax per night. Now we could have paid $89.00 plus tax per night for a smaller room without a kitchenette. I opted for the larger room because it had a table - the other was so small as to preclude having even that amenity. The kitchenette had a small fridge, a micro-wave oven that looked ancient, and a coffee maker on which I almost burned myself when we arrived. It was turned on and man was the empty coffee pot hot. Yes we also had heat, but once turned on it came out so hot as to be in a sauna. I had to get up in the night and turn it off, but somehow it never quite turned off and the room was 'something-something' as my son said (two references to the anatomy in there that I do not need to repeat). Besides all of that the room seemed somewhat dirty, things like the carpet seemed not to have been cleaned in some time, even on our second morning - after maid service - the carpet obviously had not been vacuumed by the maid. Well after a horrendous night's sleep, what with all the traffic on this road (I had asked for a room on the quiet side of the inn) I almost decided to leave the next morning. We toughed it out though because to find another place then would have been a royal pain the arse. So we stayed the second night, and wound up so tired from our lack of peaceful sleep the first night that we slept somewhat better the second night. Of course to contact the manager I had to leave my room, pick up a house phone outside the office door and hit the "red" button. Imagine that it would have been about 5 degrees in the middle of a blizzard and you needed to speak to the manager about something like your heat not working.
Now the above is not just my complaining. Even Brendan was turned off by many of the things I just mentioned, and he also mentioned the odor in the place. He mentioned it several times, saying it smelled like an old lady's house. I suppose they used some cheap air freshener or cleaner that had a horrendous odor to it - sickly sweet perfume sort of a thing. He also said everything in the place looked either old or cheap, and I have to agree. The place just reeked of the discontent of other suckers who stayed there in the past. Imagine that when I said something about the place, in the middle of nowhere being as high priced as it was, the manager laughed and said 'you think that is high priced, during the season we charge $159.00 for a room'. I don't think they could get $39.99 for those rooms and have someone who stayed there think they got a good deal. I will never stay at this dump again. I'd rather stay at a Motel 6 and pay less than half and have a cleaner room, with all the lights working, free telephone, free cable TV and so forth.
Oh yeah, one other thing. Remember that phone outside the office, the one I used to call the manager. Well it had a neighbor. Its neighbor was a small mail box with a sign that said something like "Early Bird Checkout". I left my key inside of it when I checked out. The thing was though I was hesitant to touch it to open it because its top was covered with bird shit. I guess the early birds did sort of check out there literally, well at least they left something there regularly - and no one from the inn cleaned it. Yep, next time I hunt there we will either camp out, find another motel, or make it a one day trip. I will never stay at this dump again. I'd rather stay at a Motel 6 and pay less than half and have a cleaner room, with all the lights working, free telephone, free cable TV and so forth.
As for the actual hunting: It poured on an off the first day out, but we stayed dry thanks to some decent waterproof clothing we were wearing. Well I forgot my water proof pants, but even though my legs got wet on and off while walking through the woods, they pretty much dried off during breaks in the rain, and while sitting on our stand I covered up with a poncho. Brendan was bone dry as far as I know, I bought him a decent waterproof camo hunting outfit, and also a waterproof hunting coat in blaze orange. He wore the blaze orange coat and camo pants. I wore his camo jacket with a blaze orange vest over it. While we were out, and even though it poured an awful lot - we saw several gray squirrels, a couple of red squirrels, some hawks, many crows lots of smaller birds, and Brendan saw owls twice. The second day was a dry one, but somewhat colder. Heck the first day was in the mid to high 60s, the second day was in the 40s or low fifties I suppose. We were ready for the cooler day though and stayed pretty warm. Well - Brendan's feet got cold late on in the day, I think he needs slightly bigger hunting boots.
We had a nice time exploring the woods looking for deer on the second day when we Still Hunted. We hunted the woods for a couple to a few hours walking only a mile or so in all that time. We Still Hunt slowly. Don't ask me why but Still Hunting means stalking or seeking out prey, and stand hunting usually means you are sitting on you butt in your stand. After the Still Hunting, we took a stand near an apple tree. While there, Brendan was looking around and found another apple tree in the woods just off of a swampy area down below the area we were at. We moved there for the last couple of hours of the hunt. We saw a lot of deer sign, while we were hunting - deer droppings, rubs and scrapes. As a matter of fact, the spot that Brendan found at that second apple tree was loaded with so much sign I was truly shocked not to have seen any deer show up. Then again we were only at that spot about 2 hours. A full day there likely would have had at least a few show up there. So if we head that way over Thanksgiving weekend we may get us one yet. Of course that trip will be a one nighter, or if a two nighter we may have to stay at a motel in Kingston, NY about 20 miles away from the hunting grounds.
As to us not seeing any deer, we heard lots of shooting, but I only saw one deer leave the area on the back of a SUV. My guess is either lots of bad shots, or just guys shooting at squirrels. We heard one guy shoot about 20 or 30 rounds in rapid succession, now there was a real sportsman - don't ya think! I was happy we were, by the sound of it, nowhere too close to him. I think one reason there apparently were few deer taken was because the first day was so warm. Deer tend to move more at night in the heat up this way from what I know of them. In addition, there was a full moon on the 13th meaning that there was still plenty of light at night - another thing that keeps deer more active at night than in the day time. By the way, even on the ride home we did not see one even deer on a car. I suppose many other hunters fared like us.
Oh well - next time.
All the best,