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Tag Archives: Western NY

Things Change While Anticipation of the Hunt Remains

Things are different now. Some parts are better, some are … well, different.

I was able to catch up with my buddy Nick Pinizzotto today, and we spent a good deal of time talking about the evolution of our hunting passion.

the view

In a little more than a week, I’ll be enjoying the familiar view from the woods with bow in hand!

Days of worrying about how big the buck might be on the receiving end of an Easton arrow have been replaced more by the full nature of the experiences.

That’s not to say that we don’t dream of big bucks, or that the experiences of yesteryear weren’t important. It’s just that the priority is … well, different!

Nick, who also serves as the Executive Director of the National Deer Alliance, recently moved back to his home stomping grounds in Pennsylvania. He became a father a couple of year’s back. Both of those life changes have an innate ability to change perspective on the true values of hunting. We spoke at length about the eagerness of hunting with our kids – how that trumps any time we spend in the

fun in blind

Having a little fun in the blind while waiting on deer can be an acceptable practice these days!

woods on our own.

I’ll be returning to my own home land in Western New York in just a week to spend several quality days looking for the biggest, oldest and baddest buck on the farm. The likelihood of seeing a buck soaring near the minimum Boone & Crockett standards are very low. I know that going in, but my excitement to get there couldn’t be much greater.

For starters, I don’t take the hunting part quite as serious. I still work hard and put in my time, but saying that is more of an indictment on how serious I used to take deer hunting.

nap in blind

So too can taking a brief cat nap!

Additionally, my new career has me headed to the woods during the heart of the rut without the backdrop of serious end-of-season stress that my former job at NASCAR provided. I’ll be able to dedicate my energy to the daily chess match with the land, trying to execute a strategy that puts me within reach of taking a great deer.

This trip also means so much due to the fellowship with my dear friend, Kenny Roberts. We’ve made this trip together for over a decade and it serves as our opportunity to catch up on family, friends, parents and life. Over the years, there have certainly been more laughs than tears during those conversations. That said, there always is some time earmarked to get serious about life and chat through many of the important stuff in each of our lives.

greg

Greg Johnston with NYS’s No. 1 muzzleloader buck in 2017!

It’s likely I’ll be able to see another friend and frequent AHT contributor Greg Johnston, who 21 years ago joined me as the renegade who would skip out of classes at our Basilian Catholic college to chase bunnies and deer all over Western New York. Just seeing Greg is always enough to get you excited.

Just as special for this trip, though, is the land. I love it on our family farm. I took it too much for granted as a young hunter. It’s hard, as a teenager, to understand that very few have the opportunity to leave school, grab their bow and get into a tree before dark. I thoroughly cherish my time spent in those woods now. Those woods shaped me more than I can easily explain.

Here’s to the challenging week ahead that will be anchored with anticipation. I can’t wait for the journey there, the cabin upon arrival, the time together with friends while I’m there. I can’t wait to get into a stand and steal a small part of that magical time during November when the rut is in full swing.

Come to think of it, maybe not everything is different now.

 

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20 Years Is Too Long to Wait!

By Bob Chavez
AHT Guest Contributor

I never had anything against hunters or hunting, I just didn’t grow up in the environment, although living in Western New York since the age of 11 certainly presented plenty of opportunity. I remember well how empty my high school was on opening days of deer season in the fall and secretly wishing I could be part of that. It’s taken me 20 years since that day, but I proudly say I am now part of the hunting community.

I’ll save readers the political rhetoric but the bottom line for me was this: I was growing tired and weary of people around me appearing to be so helpless. While there’s nothing wrong with relying on others for help, too many people these days don’t do things for themselves when they’re perfectly capable. So a few years back, I took up gardening to provide some of my own food. And it didn’t take long for me to want to provide my own meat.

Bob Chavez waited 20 years to try hunting, and needed an extra 17 hunts before he connected on his first deer in 2009.

Props are due at this point to my wife, Amy. When we met and were dating, I was not a hunter. But when I told her of my interest, she was fully supportive and remains so to this day. She even applied loving pressure when she’d remind me that the freezer downstairs remained empty. The freezer we bought specifically for venison!

The 2009 season was coming at me with great anticipation. Blessed with gracious friends like Curt, Andy, Pat and Bubba, they taught me so much. How to scout for sign, where to put my stand, what to do before and after the shot. Curt even sold me my first shotgun, a Remington 1100 20-gauge. Armed with arms and knowledge, I was amped!

Long story short, the bow season came and went. I had a few chances but wasn’t able to connect. My best opportunity came while hunting some land outside of the parcel I’d leased from a local farmer. As darkness drew close, Curt flushed a herd my direction and I had a doe in my bow site. 10 yards away. Perfect. Until I stood up. I brushed my bow against a branch I didn’t see and that’s all it took to send that doe running.

Gun season arrived and I was growing anxious but I consoled myself by knowing the gun season was more forgiving. It didn’t help that bow season was abnormally warm and I was able to witness plenty of other wildlife. Fox. Coyote. Turkey. Fantastic stuff, and it reminded me plenty of why I loved the outdoors so much to begin with.

By now, I’d tried everything. Morning hunts. Mid-day hunts. Evening hunts. I’d seen plenty and had been out 17 times but still was empty-handed. The rut was over, too. Then, the morning of Dec. 7 dawned. It dawned before I was ready and I overslept. Guh. Frustrated, I decided to head out anyway. I didn’t get to my stand until 8 a.m. but by 8:30, I was singing a different tune.

Barely in my stand for 15 minutes, I saw it. Forty yards to the left, sauntering through some thick cover and heading to a lane in directly in front. I froze, then waited. When I thought it disappeared for good, I grunted anyway and a few seconds later, I saw it again. Walking right toward me, up the path I’d taken to get to my stand. A large tree stood in front of me, big enough to shield me. And when the deer kept walking and went behind the tree, that’s when I clicked my safety and rested the Remington on the shooting rail.

Closer. Closer. My heart is pounding and my nose itches, but I don’t dare scratch it. Closer. Closer. I can’t miss from here. No excuse. It’s no farther than 15 yards away now! I pull the trigger, shooting nearly straight down. I didn’t have a broadside so I went for the chest. Immediately after the shot, I see the deer limping off to my left, its right front leg sticking out. Stunned, obviously. But the deer’s movement gave me a broadside and I plugged it with a perfect shot right in the vitals and I stood there in near disbelief as I watched it from my stand, pile up no more than 20 yards away.

Silence. But I wanted to scream. My first deer! I stood and stared to make sure it was all real and once I gathered my senses, the first person I called was my wife. No answer, but she got an amusing voicemail where I sounded like a child who scored his first candy bar. I called Andy, then Bubba, then Curt. Andy lived nearby and came over to help me dress what turned out to be a button buck, and it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. But I dressed it and took it to a processor.

I’ve eaten venison before, but never had I eaten meat harvested by my own hands. It’s a special feeling, looking back at all the work and preparation it took to finally live that moment. Patience and persistence paid off for me and I am absolutely loving life today, knowing that I am part of the hunting community. It took me 20 years of my adult life to join and sometimes I kick myself for waiting so long because I’ve got a lot of knowledge to catch up on. But like the 17 trips into the woods before getting my first deer, it was worth the wait and I am ready for the 2010 season to begin. I just wish it were tomorrow!

Bob Chavez, 40, is a veteran journalist living near Rochester, N.Y., who has loved the outdoors as a camper and hiker since his youth. He became a hunter, “officially,” in 2010 by harvesting his first deer, much to the delight of his wife and 9-year-old stepson. Until next season, he’s hunting for the best venison recipies available.