Category Archives: 2012

Never How You Want to Find Them

As I found him.

Where I found him

My fears had come true. It was May 11, 2013 and I was out chasing spring gobblers in Upstate New York when I stumbled upon him. It was the end of the mystery – I now knew what had happened to this buck 8 months prior.

It’s something we as hunters never want discover, but unfortunately we do from time to time. Finding a dead rotten buck is never a pleasant sight, especially when it’s a deer you recognize. It’s a theme that many deer hunters experience, we focus in on a particular buck only to have the animal disappear for one reason or another. Such was the case here.

I had captured several trailcamera photos of this buck back in mid-September. They weren’t the best quality images, but I saw enough of the deer’s antlers to interest me. I knew the buck was a definite up-and-comer and I looked forward to monitoring his progress and finding him back the following season.

Trailcam image from Sept. 2012.

Trailcam image from Sept. 2012.

The 2012 hunting season came and ended without a single sighting of this buck.

The next time I would lay yes on him would be that warm May morning. The buck lay dead nearly a mile from where my Bushnell Trophy Cam had captured those images of him back in September.

It’s always a bitter-sweet moment when you discover an animal like this. On one hand you’re relieved that you know what happened to him and on the other; you’re disappointed and saddened that he’s gone and won’t be around for the upcoming season. And then there’s always the question of how the animal died.

G5 T3 - Illegal in NYS.

G5 T3 – Pokes out from bone.

I began inspecting the 8-pointer for clues as to what may have lead to his death, and there in pain sight was the answer. A G5 T3 Broadhead was wedged in to the buck’s right shoulder blade. The finding left little doubt that the deer had been shot by a fellow archer and never recovered – most likely because the arrow never penetrated the deer’s vitals.

This story would end here if I lived in Texas or Illinois, but I don’t. I reside and hunt in New York State. I tell you that to tell you this: G5’s T3 Broadheads are illegal for hunting purposes in NYS.

A quick check of the NYS Department of Conservation’s website will tell you that ANY barbed broadhead is illegal. Period.
broadhd

Image if T3 - illegal in NYS.

Image of G5 T3 – illegal in NYS.

Here’s how the DEC defines a barbed broadhead: “A barbed Broadhead is one in which the angle formed between the trailing or rear edge of any blade and the shaft is less than 90 degrees.”

Clearly the T3 fits this description.

I’m unsure of who shot the buck – and to be honest, I don’t really care, but may I suggest that he or she pay a visit to http://www.dec.ny.gov prior to heading out to the local pro shop to stock up on next season’s broadheads.

As for the buck, I salvaged his head and plan to do a european mount on him.

It’s a shame really, but at least I now have answers to my questions.

Mystery solved.

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Exercise the Ol’ Fashion Way – Chasing Rabbits

My feelings on rabbit hunting weren’t firmly in place until college.

While I managed to pop a few bunnies here and there as a teen on our farm, it wasn’t until I met two beagles named Flash and Barney while away at school that I found out just how enjoyable it can be to round-up rabbits.

Now I just wish I could do it more often.

My brother-in-law Jeff Albaugh, and his son, Brock, allowed me to join them (and their beagle Abbie) for a holiday hunt last weekend and it brought back a lot of the memories from those rabbit hunts way back when.

We opted to take along a couple handheld cameras in order to make a blog post out of the hunt. Have fun watching it, if for no other reason than you get to see me in a funny hat.

Here’s hoping you all have a great start to the New Year!


Further Gun Control Doesn’t Add Up

As my dad tells it, he was amid a normal service call in the fields of one of his best farming customers. This day was pretty ordinary except he had my cousin Richie, who was no bigger than a blade of timothy grass, along for the ride.

Then ordinary turned anything but.

With his focus squarely pointed toward the mechanical task at hand, a wack job with a loaded shotgun pointed it square at my dad’s head, threatening to pull the trigger at any moment. The tripped-out gunman, who turned out to be the son-in-law of the farmer, was certain that my dad was on the property stealing.

He was not.

And if the farmer wasn’t home to disarm the gunman after several intense minutes, there stands a strong likelihood I wouldn’t be here.

My dad, a concealed weapons permit holder in one of the most difficult states to be so, was able to have a weapon with him for every service call from there on out.

I pride myself on being open minded. And I’ve heard a lot in the last eight days about folks wanting to talk about gun control.

Let’s do it. I’m more than happy to converse about it. Part of engaging in the talk about gun control comes with the responsibility to get educated about the facts.

None of my arguments are new – many of them are circulating media channels and social media networks in unprecedented fashion. Very few are as powerful to me than the fact that our Commander in Chief does not spend any waking moment without armed security protecting his life.

That luxury is more than justified.

But any argument to reduce my ability to protect myself, is to say that my life is less important than the President’s. That very well could be true. My mama might beg to differ, just as I can assure you that I will utilize whatever means possible to protect my children. To me, they are the most valualbe lives on this earth.

I do not own any of the oft-reffered to “assault-type” guns. My reason is simple. The legal versions of these guns do not provide any advantage for me from several of the semi-automatic weapons I own when it comes to protecting my family. If they were to provide additional value on that front, you could bet your bottom dollar I would have one.

Why?

The evoloution of evil is scary. Anyone who thinks greater government meddling in gun rights will keep nimrods, or persons outside of their normal capacities, from performing evil acts is simply ignorant. Any further restrictions are only mandating the means for law-abiding citizens to react to that evil.

Among many of the things that still aren’t adding up to me is the fact that every single terrorist who performed the evil acts at schools in acts that are gaining media attention of late, were breaking the law the moment they stepped foot in an educational building with a weapon. THEY WERE BREAKING THE LAW. How will stricter gun control stop them from doing those hateful acts?

I’m all for talking about gun control. All I ask is that those talking come armed with the facts. Far too much is riding on it.


My Formula For Not Keeping Score

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The question is better than the answer I told him. My friend had stopped over to the house to take a look at the buck I had harvested earlier that day. That’s a nice buck Greg, he said. What does he score? I haven’t put a tape to him I said, and I’m not sure I ever will.

The buck, a big 9-pointer with a small G5 on his left side that could possible make him a ten, was one of the heaviest racked New York State bucks I had ever killed in my 20-year plus whitetail hunting career.

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I had anchored the buck on the afternoon of Nov. 19 with a Winchester slug fired from my Remington 1100 Special. The encounter happened by chance, as I ascended to my stand for the afternoon hunt and spotted the buck standing in a nearby CRP field. A few shots from the stand and a finishing shot from the ground, and the buck was mine for good.

After admiring my kill, my buddy’s question really got me thinking. How do we as hunters really value our trophies? Is score the end-all, be-all in the whitetail woods? Gosh, I hope not. I’ve never been big on score; in fact I’ve never had any of my deer officially scored. That’s just not me. I hunt mature deer, period.

Why, you ask? My answer is pretty simple really, I feel putting a label/score on a deer diminishes the hunt I had for him. Personally, I like to let the memory of the hunt marinate in my thoughts a while. It’s kind of like placing a back-strap in a bag of spiedie sauce for the weekend. Follow me? You have to let it sink in. To me, slapping a number on a trophy buck too quickly devalues the animal.

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Now having said that, I recognize the fact that The Pope and Young Club and the Boone and Crockett Club set whitetail records based on the score of a buck’s antlers size. My fear however is that in the new-aged world of whitetail hunting with so much emphasis being placed on harvesting trophy deer, the sport of hunting is getting lost in the mix. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with and practice Quality Deer Management. I enjoy hunting big bucks and like killing them even more, but does the score of a deer inflate or lessen the worth of the animal or hunter? I say no.

I embrace and cherish the sport of whitetail hunting. I live and breathe whitetails. Anyone who doubts this fact can ask my beautiful wife or taxidermist. I just don’t feel we as hunters should base a trophy on a series of numbers.

What say you?

Cat Tales:

I’d like to give a shout out to my Dad who spent the majority of these past summer months conducting a Timber Stand Improvement Project on our property. Dad and I are committed to growing big deer, but with two young children and a full-time job, much of the grunt work gets left to him. He rarely disappoints. Thanks Dad!

I’d also would like to publicly congratulate my friend and good hunting buddy, John Koska who put the hammer down on this mature 8-pointer while hunting my property December 1st.

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I cannot tell you how many bucks John has passed over the years on our farm looking for the right deer to take. This guy seemed like a fine candidate. Way to go John!


4th Annual AHT Gift Guide for Hunters

Being recognized as an avid outdoorsman by those who know you comes with it the responsibility of serving as the gift idea source for any of my friends and family shopping for the hunter on their list.

It’s a role I take great pride.

And for the last four holiday seasons, I’ve been able to convince those shoppers to go beyond the “it’s the thought that counts” and buy something their hunter or huntress will appreciate – and for goodness sake use!

With that, I give to you the 2012 edition of the AHT Gift Guide, a collection of products that I think make great additions to the accoutrement pile of your favorite hunter.

Havalon Piranta Series Knives
Knives are not new to our list, but this is a new style.

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

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

These razor-blade precision knives are lightweight and make for a fantastic wingmate when skinning downed game. Having one in your hand when you’re caping an animal prior to taking it to the taxidermist cuts time and energy and makes life downright easier. These are available at most outdoor stores and typically run $40.

Extra Juice for that Phone
Having a phone alongside you in the stand has become a must for most outdoorsmen.

The popular mophie, which I use while hunting

The popular mophie, which I use while hunting

In addition to the increased safety (always have it where you can reach it if you were dangling by a safety harness) a phone provides, it’s a great communication tool so that you can connect with your hunting buddies. It also allows you to stay in contact with work if you happen to be (a-hem) out sick that day. The problem is you don’t see too many stands with a cell tower plopped next to them, meaning poorer signals often times drain your phone’s battery life. Thus, having an extra power source for your phone can be a handy resource. Among the more popular is the mophie charger shown in the picture. When charged, it can often times double your battery life from the stand. There are plenty of others available (make sure you buy the one right for your hunter’s phone), and the price for these typically run $80. You can find them at most department stores with electronic sections, or at your popular online retailers.

Keep your Gloves on to Text
One of my favorite hunting cartoons I saw this year was of two hunters complaining via text message that they’re not seeing any deer with deer running in front of them while they’re staring at their phone screen!

Gloves made to help you keep typing on your touch phone without taking your gloves off!

Gloves made to help you keep typing on your touch phone without taking your gloves off!

Often times I picture me and my hunting buddies as those hunters! That said, my buddy Jason helped me learn about a pair of thin layered gloves by Red Head that have metallic-like tipped thumb and index fingers to allow you to type on your touch phone while you text. They work! And they’re not too pricey at $14. You need to buy this particular pair at Bass Pro Shops, which owns the Red Head brand.

Safety Harness
This is another return gift to our list, but that’s because safety harnesses have come a long way in recent years with their overall comfort and ease of use.

The Spider system

The Spider system

While still pricey for many models, the newer designs allow you go comfortably wear outer layers over top of the harness and still achieve maximum comfort. Among the more popular designs this year are the Live Wire systems by Spider. These typically range in price from $110-$140 and come in popular sizes from youth to big fella. Dick’s, Cabela’s, Gander Mountain, Academy Sports and Bass Pro Shops (among many others) all carry several models.

How far is that from here?
If your hunting giftee was seen kicking up dust and cussing like a sailor this archery season, it could be because he or she missed a deer by misjudging the distance of a shot. It happens. A lot.

A popular model among the higher priced variety of rangefinders

A popular model among the higher priced variety of rangefinders

The price on range finders has come down significantly in recent years and there are a number of affordable, and very effective models now on the market. In a discussion recently amongst hunting buddies, we all agreed that it might be one of the most “necessary” pieces of equipment we take hunting with us these days. And it makes for a nice gambling tool to see how far different things are from your inlaws picture window if things get a little boring around the holiday dinner! New models have different margins for errors and long-distance capabilities, and are available for anywhere from $80 to several hundred dollars. Do a little research online to find the best fit for your wallet.

McAlister does it right
Among my favorite outdoor purchases in 2012 forced me to include it into the Gift Guide.

The heavy jac from McAlister

The heavy jac from McAlister

McAlister makes a waterproof hunting jac / shirt that I personally field tested in cold, wind and rain in 2012. And I’m pleased to say it passed easily. I ended up purchasing both the lightweight and heavyweight versions of the shirt for different hunting conditions. They’re extremely comfortable and have several pockets for phones, shells, etc. They are typically $75-$100 each depending on weight of insulation and available at places like Mack’s Prairie Wings or several online retailers.

The ol’ standbys
Try as I may, I decided to go against my conventional gut and include a couple of items that have been on the AHT Gift Guide the last several years. Why? Because they shouldn’t be overlooked as a gift for a hunter if he or she doesn’t already have one. They’re becoming (or in one case have become) great tools to help enhance the hunting experience.

Rarely do I, or any of my hunting buddies, go afield without some video recording device in tow. While I personally carry a Kodak Zi8 most of the time, there are a number of popular models available.

The Hero 2 by GoPro

The Hero 2 by GoPro

The GoPro HD Hero 2 has to be one to consider thanks to its quality and durability. As I write this, the Hero 3 also has made its way to the shelves of most retailers. They typically run $200 (Hero 2) to $300 (Hero 3) but offer a few updates in the newer version to make it worth considering.

Finally, I’m not sure we’ll ever take the idea of a trail camera off of our gift guide list! Their functionality continues to rise at the same rate their price continues to drop.

The Truth Cam 35 Ultra by Primos

The Truth Cam 35 Ultra by Primos

You can buy a fantastic trail camera with great battery life for under $100. That seems almost unheard of when thinking back just a few short years ago when the 35mm film versions were several hundred dollars. If your hunter doesn’t have one, it’s a great toy to buy him or her.

And if you don’t feel like spending more than $10, consider hand warmers, gloves or a nice bottle of scent eliminator. They may not be flashy ideas, but I’ll bet they get used. For past gift guides, click here.

Happy Holidays all!


A Head Scratcher and Kentucky Elk

For the last several years, I have joined some 35,000 individuals who have entered an annual lottery for a Kentucky elk tag. In all, 90 hunters will receive a tag to bow hunt the burgeoning herd that roams the Bluegrass State.

Waddell and Mundt, who are both among my favorite professional outdoorsmen, pose behind Waddell’s 2012 Kentucky elk. Photo borrowed from facebook.com/RealtreeOutdoors

Before I go further I want to go on the record, and be crystal clear, that this post is not in any way a bash on celebrity hunters. In fact, it’s far less about them – in this case two of the most popular in the country – and more about a program that decided to provide tags to celebrities sans the normal procedure for obtaining one.

I noticed a Facebook post this evening highlighting the successful exploits of Michael Waddell and Nick Mundt of each taking a bull elk this week in Kentucky. Congrats to those two Bone Collectors for closing the deal.

But I’m left scratching my head a little bit on what the “deal” actually was here. If I’m doing my scratch-pad math correctly, the chances of both hunters (neither a resident) drawing a Kentucky tag this year is less than .00013%. And that’s rounding up!

Providing “media” tags to out-of-state hunters for the purpose of highlighting and promoting a state’s hunting attributes is not a new practice. For years the state of Iowa has provided annual tags in order to get their state in focus on television. And they’re certainly not alone.

I point to both of those states, though, after feeling the same level of confusion with why they’re doing it at all.

Here’s why:

In both cases – Kentucky for elk tags, and Iowa for whitetail deer – the demand for tags far outweighs the supply of tags. The famous economic supply/demand curve shows that in this case, the two are in different countries.

It takes no fewer than two years to be selected for a non-resident archery tag in Iowa, considering that most hunters try in the first year, are denied and provided a preference point, and then re-apply the following year. That’s the minimum time I’m aware of for the large contingent of hunters I know who apply each year. Three years is becoming more the norm for those hunters.

Winning the lottery, literally, in Kentucky is seemingly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

So why do either of these states, or the large groups of others, supply these tags to hunters in order to be featured on their television program? My spidey senses say at the core it has something to do with dollars and little sense, but I’m sure some politician getting ready to seek re-election can provide a better explanation than me.

Perhaps it’s to shine light on the successful conservation efforts by a lot of groups to re-introduce elk to Kentucky (side note: pretty amazing is the success of this program, by the way. It’s a testament that pretty much pokes anti-hunters, ones who doubt hunting as a fantastic conservation tool, right square in the eye).

For now, though, I’m left to ponder the logic alongside more than 34,000 other hunters who don’t stand a chance of getting drawn for a Kentucky elk tag next year!


Call Me Maybe – Alaskan Style!

With the exception of those who may have spent all of 2012 living under a boulder, you’re probably well familiar with the slew of “Call Me Maybe” cover videos that are circulating the digital world.

Some of the most famous include the U.S. Olympic Swim Team, the Harvard baseball team, Sesame Street and even Jimmy Fallon (who at least was joined by the original artist, Carly Rae Jepson, of Canada, for his rendition).

Well, there’s finally one to make hunters proud. And leave it to those wild and crazy folks in Healy Lake, Alaska to bring it to us.

It’s worth checking out, with the fair warning that you’ll likely not get the song out of your head the entire day. That is an issue if you’re a middle-aged gent who runs the risk of getting odd looks from co-workers and wives alike. If you’re a single woman, you should be fine.

Sadly, while videos of its kind have generated more than 1 million views from around the globe, the recently uploaded Alaskan Hunter version is up to a shade over 8,000 on popular sharing site YouTube. Give it time.