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October 25, 2013

In the Adirondacks, not all bucks are created equal

The Daily Star

---- — Opening day of deer season in the Adirondacks has always been a special time of year.

Deer season with a gun usually opened about the third weekend in October, nearly a month earlier than it does here. The one problem with hunting the north woods is the deer density. 

In Otsego County, there are a handful of deer in every meadow and one behind most every tree. In the never-ending forests of Hamilton County, there is only about one deer every two square miles. Heck, I’ve hunted with fellows who went entire seasons without seeing a deer in those mountains.

It’s not that they aren’t there, it’s just big unbroken country and only certain areas seem to have a lot of deer.

Twice, I hunted bears in Maine and New Brunswick and somehow ran into the same three guys from Portsmouth, N.H. We all hit it off so I invited them to come down to hunt with us one weekend near Speculator.

When they arrived Friday night the weather was clear. The weathermen mentioned a little dusting of snow before it warmed up, so the hunting looked quite good. Well, when we woke up in the morning there was a foot of snow on the ground. I guess that’s what they call a heavy dusting, but we started out and crossed the river onto the state land. We followed a trail along the Kunjamuk Flow and arrived at the hunting area. I left guys off on watch and took Tom with me over Popular Hill so we could hunt our way back to the others.

Before long it started to rain. With snow hanging on every branch and the rain pouring down we were soaked to the skin before making it the first quarter-mile. But we continued – what choice did we have? As we got closer to the watchers, I heard a shot. Tommy’s brother shot his first Adirondack buck. 

Now let me tell you, I hunted the Adirondacks because of the big-racked bucks that hide in those hills. Well, Mike’s buck was just the opposite. Sure it was a perfect eight-pointer and every tine was better than an inch long, but I could hold the entire rack in the palm of my hand with plenty of room to spare.

Many of you look for big bucks with at least an 18-inch inside spread. You could pass Mike’s rack between the brow tines of most bucks and never even touch. Heck, I’ve seen plenty of spike horns with more bone than his and never saw a rack that small.

It was a long two-mile drag back to camp and Mike took a lot of ribbing before we got there. I have to hand it to him, he took it all in stride. After all he killed an Adirondack buck.

After drying out we decided to do one more hunt. I sent three guys up a log road on the backside of East Mountain and Mike and I climbed up the other side, hoping to push a deer to those on watch.

When I got on top I stopped for a moment and heard a twig snap. Suddenly, just 30 yards away, a large-antlered buck approached. Well, what’s a guy supposed to do when he’s handed a gift like that? My 7 mag. roared and it was all over.

It’s funny no one heard me shoot or came to help. Besides that, this was just a quick hunt. I wasn’t prepared to shoot anything. I didn’t even have a rope or a knife.

I pulled and tugged that buck all the way off the mountain. Finally, when I hit the old log road, some asked, “Did you get him?”

There beside me was a buck that weighed 209 pounds and sported a pretty good nine-point rack. To this day Mike still claims he never heard me shoot. You know what? They didn’t harass me over the size of my Adirondack buck.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at