2015 Hunting Journal: Vermont Muzzleloader 12.14.15
Saturday morning was my last hunt for the year in Vermont. My plan was simple – get to the top of the ridge before dark and hunt from the top down on the other side. The wind could not have been better. It was blowing straight up the hill, so not only did I have the visual advantage of hunting above the deer, they wouldn’t be able to smell me either.
I thought it would be fun to take short videos of interesting things I came across on my hunt to remind me of what I saw and to share here on the blog. It was an unbelievable morning. The weather was warm, in the 40’s, and the sun was shining bright. I didn’t want it to end.
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I started off the morning in the same spot as the last two Saturdays but only stayed put until eight o’clock. In the past I’ve seen deer use the old logging roads to traverse across the steep hillside and there were some fresh tracks. Unlike the past two hunts, this time I planned to still hunt along the ridge to the southwest about a half a mile staying at the same elevation.
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After admiring the beautiful views for a few minutes I continued on with my plan. I descended the hill approximately 150 yards and then began to work my way back in the direction I had come from. I started to see more sign as I hunted along and questioned why I hadn’t taken the time to hunt this area yet this year.
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The terrain was steep, but natural shelves and outcroppings provided great travel routes and bedding locations for the deer. In some areas the views exceeded 100 yards in all directions. If a big buck played his cards right he’d feel pretty safe by using the wind to his advantage and keeping a sharp eye.
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After still hunting another fifteen to twenty minutes I took a seat by a big hemlock and had a snack. A mouse scurried back and forth on a log behind me. I imagined he’d enjoy a snack too so I left him a pretzel to munch on after I packed up. My season was quickly coming to a close and I didn’t want to move. I wanted to stay right there with the mouse and watch the sun shine on the adjacent hillsides. But I knew I had to leave at some point so I continued on.
Another logging road eventually materialized at the level I was at so I followed it. I’d found some fresh deer tracks by the mouse and they continued onto the logging road too. I guess more than one of us had the same idea for the morning.
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There was a lot more deer sign at the lower level though I was still pretty high up overall. I could only imagine that I would have seen some deer if I’d started off the morning lower on the hill. I continued along and discovered more evidence that deer were using the logging road regularly. An old scrape was positioned under a branch from a beech tree in the road, and further up was a nice rub.
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There was a moment during the hunt where I actually thought it might all come together. The combination of the fresh sign and excitement of a hunting a new area got my heart rate up a little bit.
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The woods have a way of making me feel alive. Maybe it’s the anticipation of what could be around the next corner or perhaps it’s the stillness that can only be found there. Sometimes it’s the chill of the fall air and the warmth of the sunshine on my cheeks at the same time that brings out the feeling, plus a thousand others. I’m sure I’m not the only hunter who has wished time would stand still, but if the wishes could come true I’d have wished for it Saturday morning. The fresh deer sign and beautiful morning made it hard for me to turn my back on the area and hike up the hill in the direction of my truck, but it was time. The hunt was over.
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You know, I have an unbelievable wife. She actually told me to stay out as long as I wanted on Saturday, but there was a little four year old boy at home who was dying to decorate his first gingerbread house. As much as I love to hunt, I love him more and I wasn’t about to miss out on making that memory together. I’ll just meet up with Mr. Big next year.
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