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Thread: Russell Report 2018

  1. #1
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    Default Russell Report 2018

    JEFF Preseason
    Fitness was a priority for me during the offseason. I finished my MBA back in May- had been going to class at night for several years and was really excited to finish- with the extra time in the evenings, I began to run with November’s tracking demand on my mind. And I ran a lot, all year, and really enjoyed it. I did a lot of trail running off pavement and that was new, more fun, and more challenging. Legs were strong/fast and by late July, I was running every day including a half marathon distance every Wednesday night with a headlamp. I had some weekly mile counts in the 60’s on several occasions and learned a TON or relevant information about hydration and nutrition. Not intending to boast here, but rather encourage others… it was so worth it.

    On Sep 30th I ran a 35-mile trail race down in Connecticut called the NipMuck. I had no idea CT was that mountainous! That was the first race I’ve registered in since high school and it was a very tough, humbling adventure! An amazing experience with a very supportive community. Couldn’t wait to test the new legs while tracking in the mountains!






    Last edited by RussellBro2; 12-18-2018 at 01:58 AM.
    Don't get no better than this, 'cept tomorrow when we get the big one, ayah...

  2. #2
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    The Spring was fun with my two boys now of age to trample after sheds and with an attention span sufficient enough to make one lap around the lake trolling… or at least half a lap… OK- we caught this one from shore.




    Don't get no better than this, 'cept tomorrow when we get the big one, ayah...

  3. #3
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    Josh led a successful moose hunt back in September with our neighbor/friend taking a young bull- her 1st big game animal- on the 1st day of the hunt. She was pumped!




    Don't get no better than this, 'cept tomorrow when we get the big one, ayah...

  4. #4
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    JEFF Friday Nov 9th The Trip Up
    With cold temps and snow in the forecast we were pretty giddy before the trip… and entirely unproductive at work. We left early to beat a storm and rolled into camp just as the flurries started. 2 sets of Russell Brothers- Josh and me. Dad and Uncle Gary. Uncle Gary would be hunting the 3rd week with us, while Josh, Dad and I were going to hang on right till the end of rifle season.

    JEFF Sat Nov 10th Day 1
    Snow was falling fast and heavy as we opened the 2018 season, and I’m not certain if it stopped the whole time we were there! We usually take separate vehicles to cover the most ground during the early “scouting days” of our trip. Dad and Uncle Gary had trails they planned to go sit over, while Josh and I were making big loops in separate areas to locate a good track before light. With snow expected for the entire trip we spoke a lot about being really selective in the track we’d take early in the trip as we both we’re looking for a mature buck to place our tags on.
    Really, I felt the drive was futile as the snow was falling fast enough to cover even the freshest tracks, but it felt so good to be going through the motions of a “tracking day”- riding the roads before light, with a hot cup of joe, and enjoying the quiet, whiteout conditions on the maze of backroads.


    I made a loop around the base of a mountain and saw a coyote as it jumped across the road and one doe track before returning the truck to pavement. I started down another road system around 5:30. With the muddy tire ruts of several trucks ahead of me, finding a track crossing the road seemed impossible, so I hustled the truck right along planning to get back into a remote area to find a buck track on foot.
    There was just a touch of light on the horizon when I spotted a set of tracks out of the corner of my eye in an old logging landing and at a rise in the terrain. I backed up the rig and jumped out. Both the temperature and the wind seemed to be increasing as I examined a smoking fresh track of a running deer. It was obvious that the deer was spooked off the road just moments before by one of the trucks ahead of me. The tracks looked big!… but running tracks always do. I backtracked the deer to where there was walking tracks and saw enough size and stagger and stride to get excited.


    I hustled back to the rig and threw on some orange, fastened my pack, and slid some brass into my 30-06 peeped carbine. I couldn’t believe my luck- Day 1, perfect conditions, a 10-20min old track of a mature buck at the end of his nightly swing, and it had JUST turned legal shooting time! As the saying goes, it would have taken a Louisville Slugger to get the smile off my face.
    Don't get no better than this, 'cept tomorrow when we get the big one, ayah...

  5. #5
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    Heavy wind and snow as I started the first tracking job of 2018… nothing in the world I’d rather do, and please don’t tell my wife that! I felt he was close and firmed that up when his running tracks stopped as soon as he’d jumped off the road. There was hardly any snow in his track and there was NO new snow in the first scrape I came to perhaps 100 yards off the road.



    “Keep your head up” I kept repeating to myself. Another scrape. And another FIVE scrapes after that one- all in the first mile!





    Don't get no better than this, 'cept tomorrow when we get the big one, ayah...

  6. #6
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    I figured that with every scrape he made I was getting 1-3 mins closer. I actually did the math. Seven scrapes meant I was 10-20 mins closer which meant he was essentially just out of sight!
    I could see an old skidder trail ahead and slowly eased my head into it to get a view down the trail. As I did this we spotted each other at the same instant and he was gone in a couple bounds without sufficient time to center him in the peep. He had been standing 50 yards away over yet ANOTHER scrape. I should have had the stock on my check as I poked my head into that trail. I’ll do that next time. He sure looked like a goodun!



    Don't get no better than this, 'cept tomorrow when we get the big one, ayah...

  7. #7
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    The 30min wait was tough as I watched the snow accumulate in his track… but it did the job, for after a 200yd sprint, there was clear evidence in the snow that he’d also waited as he watched for me on his backtrack. The walking tracks away described the once-again-relaxed state of the buck. Actually, the track changed in a very obvious and significant way- he was dragging his hooves much more and his gait made it known he was tired.


    The tracks continued for 100yds then began climbing a ridge. Soon I came to the feeding sign I hoped to see- old man’s beard and mushrooms. I “knew” he was bedded just ahead of me. I began creeping ahead slowly with both my head and gun up. It was still snowing and blowing enough to cover any mistakes I’d make.

    I was only 30 yds into this, pivoting my head side-to-side, when I saw the buck rise very slowly from his bed as if in slow motion! He remained standing in his bed. 70 yards. Broadside. He looked strange. Behind all the falling snow there was really no definition to him at all. He just seemed like a dark silhouette. What a sight! The image etched in my mind included a sag in his back and the frame of a decent rack. The muffled blast of the o-six was followed immediately by another as he raced downhill and out of view! I worked a third round into the chamber and tried to catch my breath!

    I did it!! I knew I’d connected on that first shot and was certain that he would be lying dead before the base of the ridge! I waited a few minutes and topped off the clip before walking over to a big bed.



    There was hair within a couple yards and blood within 5. And it was good blood too, confirming what I already knew had happened. I couldn’t believe it! Filled tag on the first day! I was so eager to go see what he looked like!

    Don't get no better than this, 'cept tomorrow when we get the big one, ayah...

  8. #8
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    I was shocked when after 70 yards along a decent blood trail he blew at me as I saw him struggle to get out of sight. “Sh!t! It ain’t over!” There was a bunch more blood as I approached where he laid, but that bed also revealed I hit him much further back than I thought. “Dammit!”





    The tracks showed him struggling to run and there were signs that he’d fallen over several times. It began to rain. I kept moving fast to keep him on his feet and bleeding which he continued to do heavily for over ¾ of a mile! I saw him only one other time during the chase before his tracks came out to a logging road I didn’t recognize. What a gruesome scene along that road! It looked like he opened up some more there.



    Last edited by RussellBro2; 12-18-2018 at 02:06 AM.
    Don't get no better than this, 'cept tomorrow when we get the big one, ayah...

  9. #9
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    The tracks showed he hobbled down the road for 60 yards or so. I ran the road to where he cut in on the other side. Just as I stepped in off the road he blew at me, and I could hear him really struggling just 30 yards away in the thick stuff! I CHARGED!! After a 30-yard sprint though some thick balsams I emerged to see him running broadside 40 yards out and I instinctively threw the carbine to my shoulder and fired three fast ones at him- POW! POW! POW!!! I reloaded and ran to where he was when I shot and could see that his tracks continued and headed for a big opening just ahead. I ran to the edge of good size lake where the tracks just disappeared. I missed him in my first glance over the lake, but in looking further out, there he was almost entirely submerged and 40 yards from the bank!! Simultaneously I’m thinking “Finally he’s dead!!” and “F*ck me, how the hell am I gonna get to him?!?!”



    The wind had raised the water to just shy of whitecaps and the waves were pushing him parallel to the bank. The water appeared to be over my head, but I was gonna go find out for sure! I stashed my gun and fanny pack and waded out. I was so lucky to find him floating in water just below my crotch! I grabbed a tight hold of a big ol 8 pointer! Man, I didn’t think he was THAT big! It felt like I was in the middle of the lake! I hollered a big “Waaahoo!!!” and began to pull him back to shore absolutely drunk with adrenalin! It was just after 9AM.





    Don't get no better than this, 'cept tomorrow when we get the big one, ayah...

  10. #10
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    Back on shore and my first thought was “I gotta get a fire going, fast!”- I was soaked. I pulled him up on the bank. No easy tasked with a mature, waterlogged, Maine buck! My gosh, he looked as big as a pony!



    I could see I’d hit him twice more in the 3 shot volley including a round right to the shoulder and one to the top of his neck, yet he still managed to get way out in the lake.

    It was raining pretty good now and a strong wind continued to drop snow and ice from the trees as I scrambled up and down the bank stuffing my jac shirt with silver birch bark. Tinder collected, I then made a pile of dead cedar and spruce branches. In the next 20 mins I tried in vain to light that fire. I found my windproof lighter was not windproof before it ran out of butane- and that wet birch bark is impossible to use as a tinder with a flint striker. Dummy. I knelt next to the buck and assessed the situation. I was very lucky it was 40 degrees. Other than my feet I wasn’t uncomfortably cold. I emptied the water from my boots and put on dry socks and gloves. I have a very lightweight merino wool neck gaiter I keep in my pack and I threw that on and tucked a hand warmer inside it on the back of my neck. Thirty miles away from comfortable, but boy did I feel great! Still wet to the bone, but warming up… and I had a big 8 pointer at my feet.



    I calmed down a bit after this. In my mind I had exaggerated the situation. I was fine- but I learned a lesson... I got some practice to do lighting fires in wet conditions!

    With the demanding thought of a fire I hadn’t really looked him over. Man, he was a really long buck! His rack sat tall, thick, and symmetrical. It had that 2-toned look, like an elk from some high mountain meadow- polished at the tips with handsome walnut staining below that.


    Strong brow tines! He was missing a third of his ear and had scars up and down his neck from some prior combat. Tracks tell you a lot about a buck, and when by some miracle you are successful tracking, the bucks themselves continue to give clues about how they lived. Such an impressive animal.



    I took a bunch of pics and then sent a text to Josh on the in Reach and asked that he round up the old timers. “You’re FN kidding me! Yahoo…. I’m going to be awhile…” was the expected response from Josh.
    Don't get no better than this, 'cept tomorrow when we get the big one, ayah...

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