Monthly Archives: December 2013

Sixteen Hours of Separation

Sixteen Hours of Separation

Sixteen Hours of Separation

Patience is defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

My wife can attest that I don’t always posses that distinct quality, but in the month of November my patience increases – at least in the deer woods.

Up until November 15, my deer season was going so-so. I had harvested several does with no luck at punching my tag on a Hit List buck.

As you read last week here on AHT, my father tagged our number one target deer in on October 31, which was enough for me to call the season a success…even if I had to eat a tag sandwich.

I hunted hard through the early part of November, burning over a week’s vacation in an effort to try and seal the deal on a shooter buck. As the days of November ticked by, so did my chances.

With the NYS firearms season opening on November 16, I headed in for my final sit of the 2013 archery season on the afternoon of the 15th.  I got to my stand early in the afternoon and by 4 p.m. I hadn’t seen a deer.

We called my buck 'No Tail' for obvious reasons [see above].

We called my buck ‘No-Tail’ for obvious reasons [see above].

“That’s it,” I thought to myself. And then I heard the distinct sound of a deer walking.

I looked down the ridge and to my amazement, a good buck was headed my way.

In disbelief, I grabbed my BowTech and prepared for the shot. As the buck walked, I came to full draw. At 18 yards, I stopped the buck with a soft bleat. I centered my pin on his chest and let the arrow fly. It was a center punch. BOOM (fist pump, fist pump)!

'No Tail' goes down.

‘No-Tail’ goes down.

The buck bounded over to an adjacent knoll and began to go down. As the buck expired I sat down to replay what the heck had just happened. In the final half hour of the season, I had closed the deal. Suddenly all of those hours I put in setting stands, checking cameras, and scouting all seemed worth it.

I called my Dad with the good news.  After filling out my tag and collecting my buck, I headed for home to show my Dad and my 6-year-old son. Both were proud.

In our celebration and discussion, we’d lost focus of the fact that the next morning was the opening of the firearms season.

'No Tail' Hero Pic.

‘No-Tail’ Hero Pic.


Still on cloud-nine from my archery kill, I racked my brain for ideas on where to go the morning.

In a hasty, yet fateful decision, I decided that I’d sit in make-shift ground blind the next morning.

There was one buck frequenting this area that I was interested in, but surely I thought he wouldn’t show himself on opening morning. I was wrong.

The one image I captured of the deer I came to know as 'The Bonus Buck.'

The one image I captured of the deer I came to know as ‘The Bonus Buck.’

As the sun rose, I was still replaying the happenings of the night before in my head. At around 7:30 I thought I could hear a deer walking in the swale in front of the blind. I came to my feet and couldn’t believe my eyes.

There standing 30 yards from me was the exact buck I was after. I grabbed my trusty old Remington 1100 20 ga., centered my crosshairs and fired. Game over. The buck went down immediately.

‘Seriously?’ I said to myself. ‘Seriously!’ I told myself. Unreal. My season had pivoted in a matter of 16 hours.

I texted my Dad four words: ‘Well, that plan worked.’

Father & Son bonding moment.

Father & Son bonding moment.

After yet another photo session with my son, I sat down with a cup of coffee and began to reflect. Several words came to my mind: Blessed, Fortunate, Family, Persistence, and Patience – The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Cat Tales:

This year was my 20th consecutive year of hunting the New York State firearms season. It seems like yesterday I was 16-years-old and hunting with my father and grandfather.

Grandpa died in 1998, but I will always cherish the memory of opening day of 1993.

Nov. 15, 1993

Nov. 15, 1993


On that morning a fine 8-pointer walked to me and became the first buck I’d ever kill with a gun. Grandpa was there with me that day. I also believe he was there with me this year as I harvested the buck with my gun some 100 yards from where this image was taken 20 years ago to the day.

Greg Johnston is a contributor to AHT. He is most notably known here for his weekly report on rut activity. The WNY native balances time between the woods and home where he and his wife are busy raising their two young children.

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5th Annual AHT Holiday Gift Guide for Sportsmen

It’s sort of like taxes, except instead of being a thorn in the bum, it’s welcomed by wives across the nation globe.

The annual AHuntersTales.com holiday gift guide is back! And the easiest way to get your wish list to your wife / girlfriend / both, mom, dad or anyone else frustrated by your picky hunting needs is to send them right here to this page.

Without further ado, here is the 2013 version of go-to gifts, selected after hours of consultation among the AHT staff.

Pals for the Paws
Cold feet aren’t just for nervous grooms. I don’t recall a season where I’ve hunted in colder weather consistently than during this deer season. And I have an idea for how I’m going to fix the cold feet that are often times destined during a long sit on stand. I thought I had a formula for keeping my feet toasty, but one sit in a ground blind in the snow and five degrees last month left me with a slight case of frost bite.

Thermacell Insoles

Thermacell Insoles


Check out the Thermacell remote control insoles. Available at a number of big box outdoor stores and a number of places online, these insoles are size specific and slip into your boots. The best part is you can control their use while in the stand, meaning you won’t have to deal with sweaty feet that freeze when still.

Prices very, but expect to pay around $115 for a pair of the insoles.

Start a Fire, Charge your Phone
For the outdoorsman or camper who likes all the gadgets, this one ranks right up there on the “cool” factor.

The CampSove

The CampSove

The CampStove by BioLite is not only eco-friendly, but using it can now double to charge your phone by the built-in USB hookup.

The mini-stove is only 8 1/2″ x 5″ but can boil a liter of water in less than five minutes. Another item on the pricey side, this one goes for $125 or so online.

A Dog Needs Food to Bark
I’m not sure I ever expected to have ammo on the wish list here, but times have changed. With the prices on ammo continuing to rise, and limits being placed on the volume allowed at purchase, few outdoorsmen are turning their nose to having a little extra ammo in their storage locker.

AA target loads are a safe bet for a lot of hunters

AA target loads are a safe bet for a lot of hunters


This one takes a little more work to make sure you’re purchasing the right ammo for the right guns, but it can lead to an extra wink from your significant other when done correctly. The other great part is you can customize the ammo purchase to meet your gift budget by quantity. Some target loads start at $7 and a box of hard-to-find rifle ammo will exceed $30. Mix and match to really get it right!

A Repeat Reminder
Each year, we identify a couple repeat gift ideas.
Why?

Havalon's Piranta Series Knives come in a few different colors

Havalon’s Piranta Series Knives come in a few different colors

Because they’re that good and we want to remind you in case you didn’t get that gift last year. In addition to a great pair of socks (should be on the list every year), this year’s pick for repeat status is the Havalon Piranta Series Knife.

These knives are extremely handy, and a number of manufacturers have developed similar razor-style knives. I’m sure many have similar effectiveness. Regardless of the brand, this is a great tool for the hunter that finds common success afield.

The Havalon version sells for roughly $40.

Smoke Signals Make Me Happy
My wife and I comment quite regularly how surprised we are by the frequency that we use our smoker to cook food. On the heels of an all-day venison jerky making smoke festival, we have few things that have paid off over and over again with respect to how much we’ve paid for them. Our smoker has done that.

A typical box-style smoker

A typical box-style smoker


I opted for the propane fueled box style smoker, but have friends with the electric version and others with the more barrel-style original style. When used correctly, they’re fantastic for cooking all kinds of meats, vegetables, etc.

Several box stores have smokers on sale this time of year, meaning you can find one for $150 quite regularly. Well worth it. And remember to buy a bag of smoke chips if your outdoorsman doesn’t have dried hickory at his/her immediate disposal.

A Neat Meat Reminder
Admittedly, I’ve yet to read one of the books that’s on my growing “to read” list.

The Mindful Carnivore

The Mindful Carnivore

Upon learning more about the book, The Mindful Carnivore by Tovar Cerulli when reading a review earlier this year, it provoked me to add to my list and reminded me to include it in this year’s gift guide. I’ve noticed it on a couple other gift guides in 2013.

I have a couple friends who had similar searches for sustenance and it sounds like Cerulli went through a very logical experience that led him to adding meat to his previously vegetarian diet.

You can find the book on Amazon.com for under $15. I look forward to reading the book at some point this year.

Not good enough?
If this list doesn’t quench your shopping thirst, or you’ve bought everything and want to buy more, here are links to the previous four gift guides. Each has some terrific gift ideas that remain relevant and useful.

2012
2011
2010
2009

Also, I stumbled upon another gift guide on a fellow outdoor bloggers site. Al Quackenbush notes he’s a fellow Western New Yorker. For that, I’m happy to share his guide as well. Read it on his The SoCal Bowhunter site.

Happy Holidays! Remember the Reason for the Season!


‘The Show’ Stopper

The Show Hero Pic

Shooting mature deer in New York State isn’t the easiest task to accomplish. Heck, let’s face it – shooting mature deer in Iowa or Illinois isn’t easy either, but you get my drift.

That’s why I take great pride in saying that between my Dad and me, we’ve killed at least one mature buck the past five seasons.

Putting on a show.

Putting on a show.

Heading into this archery season, Dad and I had a handful of target deer, but there was one buck in particular we were hoping to get a crack at. I had nicknamed the deer ‘The Show’ after a particular series of trailcam photos captured him standing on his hind legs while working a licking branch.

Fast forward to September of this year when I pulled one of my cards only to find this same buck make reappearance. I was ecstatic.

Sept. 15, 2013

Sept. 15, 2013

He was now mature and sported a handsome Pope and Young 8-point rack. I relied heavily on my trailcams throughout October, monitoring the buck’s daylight activity.

On October 22 I got my first daylight pic of him. It was time to move in. Dad and I hunted this deer’s core area hard for the next week or so, without any success.

On the afternoon of October 30, Dad texted me around 3 p.m. to say he hadn’t seen a single deer all afternoon. Things soon changed. About a half-hour later I got a call from him saying that he’d just shot ‘The Show.’ We were pumped. Dad marked the blood and returned home where he waited for me to return from work.

'The Show' bedded with a hot doe less than 24 hrs. before Dad's encounter with him.

‘The Show’ bedded with a hot doe less than 24 hrs. before Dad’s encounter with him.

We gave the deer roughly three hours as Dad was concerned the shot may have been a touch back. When we initially took up the trail, I was astonished at the amount of blood. It was as if someone had walked through the woods dumping red Kool-Aid from a gallon jug. But just as the trail began, it ended.

The blood trail.

The blood trail.

I was confident the deer was liver hit and in fear of us bumping him, we backed out. I had to work the next morning and get my kids to school, so Dad took up the search by himself. It wasn’t long before my phone vibrated. It was Dad. He had located the buck, but the deer wasn’t yet expired.

Dad knocked an arrow and moved in for a final shot. We had done it – Dad had done it. Our number one hit list buck was down. I wanted to jump through my skin with excitement.

A mature NYS buck.

A mature NYS buck.

I returned home that night just in time to snap a few nice photos of Dad and his trophy.

My Dad is 66-years-old and has overcome more than most. He suffered a severe back injury in 1995 and has fought through numerous other ailments including broken bones and most recently a detached retina in his right eye.

To say that I’m proud of him would be an understatement. Having him shoot our number one hit list buck gives me more pleasure than I ever would have if I had tagged the buck myself.

Next week on AHT read how my slow season picked up in a matter of 16 hours.