Page 1 of 6 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 55

Thread: MaineWoods, A Week in Maine

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Cape Cod
    Posts
    2,112

    Default MaineWoods, A Week in Maine

    As most of you know, I really enjoy my annual trips to Maine, and this year was no different. The one BIG difference though, was that I was not in the shape I wanted to be in because I sat on my ass all summer, and now was having back issues. I jogged in the woods probably 4 days a week through most of October, and after 3 visits to the chiropractor, I figured I was ready as I would ever be. I didn't connect with a buck last season, so was raring to go north at 0400 on the 11th. This year, I wasn't going alone which was nice, and was meeting my brother and his friend from Colorado at the gas station, before we hit the logging roads on the 13 mile trip up to camp. On the drive up from the Cape, it was sure nice seeing snow on the ground once I got north of Farmington. The mountains looked pretty white and I think this was the first time that I hit camp with actual tracking snow already on the ground.

    [IMG][/IMG]

    We got into camp around noon, unpacked both trucks, lit the stove, and then headed out to do some scouting. It was a beautiful day to drive some roads and make a plan for Monday's hunt. What we saw on sunday, was plenty of tire tracks in the snow, but no boot tracks. That was fine by us and we couldn't wait to get into the woods the next morning! Monday, we rolled out of bed around 4am, hit the trucks at 5, and drove to a big ridge, dominated by a couple of "hills" in the 1500-1800ft elevations range. The last couple of years they had logged some of this area, and we figured it would be a good place to start, and hunt for most of the day.

    Around 7am, I came into a new cut on the south facing ridge, that was littered with deer tracks the night before. Nothing really stood out as a monster, so I hit the top of the ridge and headed down the other side, bumping into a few moose in my travels. I watch this cow feed for about 10 minutes

    [IMG][/IMG]

    Around 830, I cut what I thought was a decent track in the 6" inches of snow we had. It definitely was not 3 inches wide, but his dew claws were sinking in good, and he had a decent stride. I figured I might as well get my tracking legs under me and see where he went. He was meandering quite a bit, and eventually crossed a road we had driven the day before and headed down into some lower level heavy spruce areas to feed. I knew that I was pretty close, maybe an hour or two behind, and then came across this fresh rub he had made. Looking at this and the places he was going into, I figured he didn't have much head gear, and also the track in the softwoods was definitely smaller than I originally thought. I ended that tracking job around 1030, and headed in the other direction, towards where my truck was parked.

    [IMG][/IMG]

    To finish the day, I decided to hunt an area I had scouted the year before and saw some really nice buck sign. The problem was, that to get to it, I had to cross a river, and this year it was pretty high. I donned my neoprene waders, put everything else in a pack that i would need including strapping my rifle to it, threw on a life jacket just to be safe, and headed across. In hindsight, this was really stupid. Even using a wading staff, the current was tough, and it was hard to get footing on the slippery rocks. I did make it safely across but the thought of having to repeat the crossing later on in the afternoon weighed heavily on my mind as I hunted on the other side.

    I hunted until around 3pm, saw some deer sign, but nothing like the year before, and was at the rivers edge by 330pm ready to cross. I went a little downstream this time to where the river widened out so that there would be less current, but man, I still struggled to get across. My legs were jelly from walking all day and with the shadows from the trees, I could not make out the bottom. Even using the wading staff, I found myself getting pushed downstream on every step and I started to get a little nervous as my footing slipped more than once, especially when I got whacked by a good chunk of ice coming down river that I didn't see. I took a minute to catch my breath, and instead of letting the current push me back when I took a step, I pushed into it, crossing the river at an angle. Eventually, I made it safely across but I was gassed and a little shaky.
    Last edited by Mainewoods; 11-24-2018 at 06:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Cape Cod
    Posts
    2,112

    Default

    On Tuesday, we decided to hunter separate areas and I headed to a huge mountain ridge, bordered by a lake, which always holds decent amounts of deer. I walked the old tote rd about 1.5 miles in, then cut up, hoping to cut a decent track or catch a deer moving up into the higher elevations. I was carrying my dads peeped sighted 7600 because it was snowing hard, and we were expected to get 6-8 inches that day. Around 9am, I bumped into a deer and just saw it's ass head off into some thick stuff. I froze, made a couple of grunts and hoped that the deer might come back to investigate. Since I didn't have a scope, I was using a small pair of binocs, scanning the woods in front of me, looking for the deer. It was pretty thick, so I shifted to my right for a better vantage point, and that's when the deer blew at me and headed out for good!

    I walked up to where the deer had been bedded originally, and when I first jump him or her, it had walked back towards my grunts, just standing there but out of my line of sight. Oh well I thought, and it wasn't a track worth following anyway. By 11am, it was snowing so hard, that it was hard to see, so I headed back to the truck for the drive to camp and maybe cut a late track.

    [IMG][/IMG]

    By noon, the snow was piling up good, and I was pushing it with my bumper. I cut a couple of tracks but nothing worth chasing. A mile from camp, I was looking in the woods not watching the road, when the deep snow sucked my truck to the left and I started to lose traction. I corrected to get back into the ruts, but went too far, and the next thing I know, I'm in a ditch and stuck. A guy with a big dodge and studded tires tried to yank me out, to no avail, and now I was just buried deeper. Luckily a friend at another camp had a Kubota tractor, so instead of dragging out the chains and come-alongs, he drove over and pulled me out, but it still wasn't easy. Lesson learned for me, and I put my tire chains on after that.

    Wednesday morning was nice fresh snow, so I headed out early in hopes of cutting a nice track. Pretty nice to drive all day and just leave the chains on. My brother and his buddy, head to the mountain I had hunted the day before, and both got on good tracks that day but were never able to catch up with the bucks. For me, I was driving in fresh powder, and by 6am, I had already cut 3 ok deer tracks, that I thought were probably bucks. I decided that the last of the 3 was the most promising and got on his track just around first light. Sizing up just the track size was impossible since the snow just collapsed in on every step. I was mostly going off stride and spacing, to see if he had any sort of chest girth.

    The buck was going through some old chopping, which were hard going since everything had a blanket of deep snow, and I didn't want to twist an ankle or knee by stepping in a hole or something. For an hour, he was just meandering, and then I saw were he had broken some branches off a downed spruce to get to some old man's beard. After seeing that, I really put the brakes on, because I could see where he was feeding every 10 or so yards. It was real quiet, with a good wind in my face, so I felt I was going to see this buck real soon.

    As I came around a downed spruce, I stopped and started scanning the old choppings in front of, and immediately caught movement about 25 yards away. Through a couple of spruces, I could see the body of a deer standing, and with the head movement, most likely feeding. The buck shook off the snow from his back and turned his head a bit, giving me a good look at his rack. Well, it wasn't much, and I could tell from the body, he was a young deer. I took a quick video with my phone (can't seem to post it) that shows him feeding, and you can see a little of his antlers. As I was just finishing up videoing, the wind changed direction and that buck caught my scent real quick. His head came up, and bam, he bolted out of there! I walked up, found his bed, and he must have just gotten up for a snack when I spotted him.

    I hoofed it back to my truck, took another track later on in the day which didn't amount to anything, and eventually went back to camp. My legs were seriously tired and tramping through that snow was kicking my butt. When the other two guys got back to camp, they were pretty pumped with the sign they had saw and the tracks, so we decided to head back that way in the morning, nice and early.

    [IMG][/IMG]

    430am we were out the door, and I snapped this pic on the drive over. 445am, and 5 degrees is a cold start to the day. What they neglected to tell me, was that the snow was crunchy as hell over by the lake. The day before it didn't matter, because the wind was blowing so hard, but today, you were some loud. I hunted til noon over there, and mostly just got frustrated due to the loud conditions. We jumped deer alright, but we never got close due to the crunch crunch of our boots. I also never saw that "wow" factor of a track, which is what I wanted to see the whole trip, maybe I was just going to have to "settle". My wife did say that I could hunt till Thanksgiving day, just as long as I was in VT for dinner, so I still had plenty of time.

    I had a quarter tank of gas, so once I got back to my truck at noonish, I drove into town and filled up the tundra. I was supposed to meet those guys at 1pm but the power line, but they weren't there, so I drove into some other areas, checking for sign and hunted some big cuts before dark.

    When I got back to camp, I drove over to another guys camp, who I had hunted with last year. He had just gotten in, so we had a visit and swapped stories for a bit. I jumped back in my truck, started it up and then it stalled. I said "what the hell"? I started it again, and the same thing happened, only run for about 2-3 seconds. On the fourth try, it just fired and then immediately quit, like it wasn't getting any fuel. I did this for about 10 minutes, until my buddy came out and handed me some dry gas, maybe that's it. But 20 minutes later still no luck, and I'm literally thinking that I'm screwed, and how the hell do I get my truck to a garage? We are 12 miles from a town maintained rd, and have 4-8 inches of more snow coming the next day?! Our guess is that my fuel pump is shot, as all the fuses are good, it's just not getting fuel. I'm thinking game, set, match for me.

    We start making plans for someone with a fullsize truck and chains to pull me at least over the mountain, and I'm pretty much sick to my stomach as we head back to camp to get warm. As we drive by my truck, my brother stops and says "give one more go". I get out, unlock the truck put the key in, and the goddamn thing fires up and stays running like it's brandy new!! I got out and danced a jig right there on the spot, then pounded a bud heavy for good measure!!
    Last edited by Mainewoods; 11-25-2018 at 05:56 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Cape Cod
    Posts
    2,112

    Default

    With my truck running, the future is much brighter but I certainly didn't want to drive to some shithole the next morning alone, and have the same thing happen again. The 3 of us decide to work an area together, which is the same area that I shot nice bucks on bare ground in 2015 and 2016. I know there's does in there and most likely bucks chasing them, but how big is another thing altogether.

    Friday morning, my trucks starts right up, yeehaw!!! My brother and his buddy are going to drive farther out an old rd, and work some ridges that always hold deer. I take a road that brings me up higher and will work my way down towards them. This is still a big area and the likely hood of us bumping into each other is pretty slim.

    It's an overcast day, and slow to get light. It started snowing hard at 4am, so any fresh tracks from the night before or early morning are now indistinguishable from the day before. This is frustrating, but we know if we cut a fresh track it's only a couple hours old. I head off through the woods, working my way around some old cuts that I'm familiar with. I go into my "still hunting" mode because I know this is a good area that holds deer, so I slow down and hunt slow. At some point, I go to myself, what the hell are you doing, and I remember a podcast by Joe Dinitto, where he says, if you want to be a tracker and have snow, hunt tracks, not deer. I really pick up the pace after that, and tell myself that if I jump one, I've got tracks in front of me.

    Around 730, I cut a small set of super fresh tracks, but decide to take them and see if they lead me to more fresh deer sign. There's other deer tracks all over, but they are filled with snow. I follow this deer for probably 20 minutes, moving fast, when eventually it bounds across an old logging road and into some big softwoods with a nice big ridge and overgrown cut in front of me. I left the small track moving through the quiet softwoods, when I spot a track about 20 yards way. At one point, I thought it could be my brothers, but as I get close, I notice it's a smoking hot deer track and Yuge! As I started to follow the track up the ridge, minutes later I came to another down spruce where he had busted off one inch limbs to get to the old man's beard in the back. This buck had a rack and big track! I should have taken a pic, but I was keyed in and thought that that buck was bedded on top of the ridge. What good's a picture if you blow it, right?

    Anyway, it took me close to 30 minutes to cover 100 yards to the top, but the buck had cruised right down the other side. I stayed going slow, and we ended up crossing back over that old skid rd and into the woods where I was originally. I was tracking him, and as I crept up a little knoll I spotted a bald deer, then another, then another! Two skippers and a doe, but where's the buck?! I scanned the woods to both sides but as the skippers fed, the doe got wind of me and they all bolted out of there, with her blowing a racket.

    I gave it a minute, then followed the buck track until it just became trampled by the other running deer, and it looked like they ran right in his footsteps, making things more problematic. As I followed the running tracks a bit, I realized that he had not headed all the way up, and now I was just on the 3 small deer. I made a big circle and still could not find his track, what the hell? I do another wider circle, much slower now, and I see that one set of tracks veers to the right, is just walking, and I come to his bed. My guess is that he was bedded about 100 yards to the right, and up from where I bumped into the other deer, and when that doe blew, he bolted out of there to the right and down, not up. I took an energy shot, and gave him some time to relax, then got back on the track.

    The buck ran for about 1/4 mile, and I really legged it until he started walking again. I was on his walking track for no more than 10 minutes, when there's now another track with his. Ok, he's with a doe I say, and right then I misstep and "crack" I break a buried branch and it's loud. I freeze, then take one step and that's it, out blows a deer from below me and all I see is ass. Damn, I'm pissed, both deer are running, one has 10 foot bounds, the other has 15. I take the bigger, but it doesn't matter because he heads right back towards her. They stop running just before a thick knoll juts up in front of me, and all I hear is crash, crash, as they go though this thick stuff. I think I even saw some small treetops move!

    I'm not going through that shit, so I swing around and cut their tracks coming out. They only run 100 yards or so, and as we come to a little clearing I see a deer's ass headed back into more thick stuff, and I am like "what the hell"?!! My adrenaline is really pumping, it's snowing like a bastard, and I'm carrying my dad's peeped rifle, just get ready I tell myself, eyes open, because they are not legging it to the next county.

    I'm tracking them up a little rise but this time I stay low in a crouch, (I'm 6'6" BTW) and a little to the right of the track. As I come up I spot a deer facing to my left about 60 yards away, and all I can see is his lower neck and the rest of his big body. I can't see his head because it's obscured by trees but I guess that he's facing me. I move my head just a fraction, and now I can see part of an antler to the left of a tree. I know this is the buck I've been on, I put the bead on his ribs, and let one go.

    He hunched up and bolted through the woods as I worked the action but I had no other shot. His tail was up but I was positive I hit him. I grabbed the spent casing out of the snow and legged it up there where he was standing. Right there in the snow, was the tell tale signs of a hit with plenty of hair, then good blood as he bounded away. 100 yards of solid blood and there was the my buck.

    I finished him with a shot in the neck and then let the emotions of the day and killing this awesome buck take over. My dad had bought this 7600 the spring before he died and never got to shoot it. This was the first animal it has taken and I'm still in a bit of awe.

    buck_zpsnjkiwyiy.jpg

    buck2_zps0jbu38pv.jpg

    [IMG][/IMG]

    The first pic is how he looked when I walked up on him, I could not believe the size, and beautiful 8 point rack. I shot him at 1030 and at 11, I was able to reach my brother on the radio. My first words were " I did it, I effing did it"! Once we figured out were I was, he was able to drive his truck in on that old logging road, and get to within 1/4 mile of me. The rest was all just a blur of hugs, holy shits, I need a beer!

    We loaded him into my brothers tacoma (not much room there) and headed for my truck, which luckily started again, then headed into town to tag him and get a weight. I've shot some nice deer in the 190's but never a 200+lber, so when he tipped the scales fully dressed at 213lbs, well, it's was a damn good feeling, and the guys I was with, were just as pumped!
    Last edited by Mainewoods; 11-25-2018 at 06:06 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    3,788

    Default

    your pics are not coming thru

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Midcoast Maine
    Posts
    215

    Default

    I got the pics. Super job you. Way to go! Love the part about your father’s rifle. But take it from a commercial fisherman...that life jacket will only prolong your agony. That cold water wil render you helpless in much less time than most peole realize. Be careful

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Windham, ME - Hunt well north of here!
    Posts
    3,360

    Default

    Great buck! Congratulations. Good work.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    NJ/NY
    Posts
    649

    Default

    Congrats on a beauty and a great hunt. Way to give it hell in a lot of snow. Awesome right up by the way. You had me hanging on to everyword. Great job.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Zone 10 MA. Zone 15/12 ME
    Posts
    268

    Default

    Great deer and a great write up. Thanks for posting.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Southern NH
    Posts
    1,303

    Default

    One helluva write up MW ! Beautiful buck !

    Cherish that gun ! That buck is the 1st of many to come that your Dad will be right there on the hunt with you !

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    NJ Briar Hole
    Posts
    368

    Default

    Great story, awesome buck, and congrats !

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •