The accountant that isn't afraid to venture outside of his cubicle.

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From Worst Season to Biggest Buck

Considering that my season probably should have been over on the very first day, it is crazy to me that it took twenty-eight hunts to finally score on a good buck.  On the archery opener, I messed up badly on a very large buck by rushing my shot and hitting a small sapling.  That error stuck with me through much of the season and was pretty difficult to get over.  I spent most of October just trying to see one deer.  The last week of October I finally found a well-used area and shot under a doe.  I could not believe the luck that I was having this year given the amount of preparation and practicing that I do each year.  I just kept messing up when the moment of truth came.

Finally on November 1st, I harvested a doe and it felt like my season was finally turning around.  I was getting a ton of nice bucks on camera and figured it was only a matter of time until I connected on one.  The rest of archery season came and went with my only shot opportunities being a couple different smaller six points.  I did see three nice bucks, but they all stayed out of range.  Finally on the last evening of the archery season, which I almost didn’t even go out due to being pretty burned out from hunting eleven of the final fourteen days of the season, I tried to hunt a stand that I have scouted hard for the last three years.  However, when I got up to the stand, the lock I had on it was either rusted or frozen tight and I couldn’t get it off.   Desperate to hunt the final hour or so of light, I rushed down the hill to another stand and climbed into it.  I had not hunted this stand in a very long time, but I’ve always seen deer there.  I watched a very nice seven point come up the hill, do a lap of the ridge then head back into the hollow. Then I watched a three point browse around.  He eventually went up over the hill from me and out of sight.  About five minutes after he disappeared, I caught movement over there again, but it didn’t quite look like the same deer.  I pulled up the binoculars and saw one of the biggest sets of antlers that I have ever seen on this mountain.  From the brief look I got of him in the binoculars, I figured it was a 140 inch 10 point for sure.  I grunted as much as possible at him.  Finally, he heard me and perked his head up, so I grunted again.  I could tell he was interested so I kept going.  He eventually worked to within 50 yards, but a doe that had come down the hill to my other side had his interests just a little bit more and he took off after her.  Seeing that buck got the juices flowing and gave my season the shot of rejuvenation that it so desperately needed.

Now that I knew that buck was in there, he was all I could think about.  Where did he come from? Was that where he was at all of the time or was he just cruising for does in the area?  There are two major bedding areas between where I was hunting so I knew it had to be one of them.  Thanks to an end of November snowfall, I was able to do some extensive scouting during Thanksgiving vacation.  I determined that the deer were heading to both bedding areas in big numbers.  I decided to hunt the lower one on opening day since that is typically where the pressured rifle season deer will re-locate.

Opening morning of rifle season I caught movement at first light directly in front of me.  A long, hard look with the binoculars revealed a decent six point.  I decided to stick to the plan and hunt for a big buck.  That buck eventually made it up the mountain, where he crossed paths with my Dad, who was more than thrilled to harvest him.  My day ended with me seeing thirty total deer, but no other legal bucks.  I spent parts of the next five days in woods and the only buck that I saw was another young six point.

The second week of the season featured bad weather and too many work obligations to be able to get out.  Finally with my required amount of hours in for the week, I was able to take off on Friday.  The plan was to hunt a large tract of pines that borders several thickets where I always see deer late in rifle season.  On Thursday morning, my hunting area received about three inches of snow, so that altered my game plan for the walk in.  I arrived at my parking area thirty minutes earlier than normal and decided to scout on the way to my intended destination. I cut multiple deer trails that headed up the mountain as I walked out the ATV path.  None of the trails were anything to get too excited about, so I continued on.  I finally came to the trail that I was the most interested in seeing and even twenty yards away from the crossing I could see the kicked up snow.  The trail was already down to the mud.  There were a lot of deer using this trail to go up the mountain.  I’ve been scouting this spot hard for three years and I knew exactly where the deer using this trail were heading.  Right there and then the game plan changed. I walked the rest of the way out the trail and then took the long, steep trail to the top of the mountain.

I arrived at the top trail about twenty minutes before daylight. Once up there I could not believe the amount of deer tracks in the snow up there.  I knew my chances of seeing a few deer today were looking good.  I decided to head down the hill a little to an outcrop where I had had a hang-on stand two years ago, but never hunted due to harvesting a buck on opening day that year.  I walked about five yards off the trail and found a large birch tree to stand behind that gave me incredible vision of the ridge below.  I took off all of my gear, loaded my rifle and got ready for the day.  I decided to stay standing until daylight just in case there was something down the hill.

As I waited for daylight, I stood behind the tree and played on my phone.  Right as it started to get light out I heard a branch break below me.  I put my phone in my pocket and immediately spotted a buck moving on the trail below me in the dim light.  At fifty yards away and five minutes into legal shooting light, I didn’t even need the scope or binoculars to know that this was a definite shooter buck.  I pulled up the scope and could see three large tines sticking up on his right side.  That was all I needed to see to know that this was the buck I’ve been thinking about for the last month.  I put the crosshairs on the shoulder and touched off a shot from my Remington model 700 300 win mag.  The buck immediately dropped.  I could not believe what had just happened.  I immediately texted my Dad and several friends the best three letters in hunting, “B-B-D!”

Once I composed myself I made the steep, slick climb down the snow-covered hill.  About 10 yards from the buck, I could see the massive rack sticking up from the ground.  I was just speechless.  I knew this would definitely be my best buck ever.  I got down to him and admired the rack.  I could not get over the sheer mass of the antlers.  I had never seen anything like it.  I tagged him, took a few pictures, send a few more texts, uploaded a photo to social media, and got him ready for the drag out.  Once I got him to my parent’s house I put a tape measure to him and found out that he had an 18 ½” spread, 34” of antler mass, should gross score around 143 and net right around 138.

It’s hard to believe that after all of the hours of scouting and preparation and then the roller coaster ride that was this season, it was all over.  This buck did not show up on any of my cameras and if it wasn’t for that rusty or frozen lock on the last day of archery, I would have never known this buck even existed.  So as the old saying goes, “it only takes a second to change your season.”

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Day 3 – 10/11/14

Time: 5pm to dark

Conditions – Partly cloudy light wind out of the north, Temps mid to low 60s


After the excitement of Thursday evening, my anticipation to get back in my stand on my property was running pretty high.  I unfortunately had to go out of town Friday through midday Saturday, so my next hunt would have to wait until Saturday evening, which just so happened to also be a good wind.  The evening progressed very slowly.  A few squirrels barked in the trees behind me, a decent amount of doves and geese flew out in front of me in the main field, but the deer remained fairly quiet.  Around 6:45pm, I caught movement at the far end of the back field right around where you would normally enter the back field.  I pulled up the binoculars, but was only able to see the back end of a deer moving towards the main field.  Fortunately, I have a trail camera sitting right there, so I was later able to determine that it was the browtine-less buck from Thursday evening.  After the deer disappeared, I began glassing the cut corn field in the distance and spotted between 5 or 6 deer feeding.  They were probably either bedding in the nearby bean fields or my fencerow woods.  Pretty soon darkness fell and it was time to call it a night.

Trail camera picture of the buck that I caught a glimpse of tonight


On Sunday, I came back over to the property to assess the deer activity and try to see if I could possibly identify trails that I had not seen in the summer months.  A check of the cameras revealed quite the influx of deer activity from the previous week, especially on Thursday morning.  Over the course of Thursday, I caught 6 different legal bucks on camera in various locations of the property.  The best buck was an 8 point that I assume was the buck I saw running with the 9 point on Thursday, although he definitely looked bigger in person.  The camera revealed a 13-14” 8 point with good point length.  I think I got the 9 point on camera 20 minutes before the 8 point came through, but all you can see is the body of a decent-sized deer.

Another picture of the browless buck, who is making himself right at home 


8 point

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Additional scouting revealed two trails that I was unaware of that came from the area that I have deemed to be the “off-limits” bedding area on the western end of the property.  I set up one of the trail cameras at the junction with my mowed path and decided to see what the results of that would hold at the end of this week.  Neither trail was in a spot that would allow me to set up a treestand with good vision of both trails and the mowed path.  I followed both new trails to see where they ended up and each of them seemed to end up in either the western edge of the back field, where you can enter the back field, or popped out in my main field just out of sight from my current stand.  With this new information, I decided to put up a new hang-on stand where the road from the front field enters the back field.  This stand will allow me to catch anything heading into the main field and anything that funnels from the back field to the main field.  The only bad thing about this stand is I will have to expose myself to the main field when walking to and from it.  I feel like today brought up more questions than answers.  Hopefully I can pinpoint things before the rest of the neighboring corn gets cut.  I have a feeling once that happens I will need to be pretty precise with every stand setup to avoid spooking deer.

Day 2 – 10/9/14

Morning – Dawn – 900am
Conditions – low to mid 50s, mostly sunny, winds 10 15mph mostly out of the west but some swirling

   I definitely anticipated being back in a tree before today. However, the events of Saturday evening have left a bitter taste in my mouth.  The desire to be in a treestand has not very strong. I opted for the same spot as Saturday evening since the dropping acorns should attract a few deer.  The action started out slower than anticipated. The early morning action was limited to a red fox unsuccessfully chasing squirrels. Even though it is always fun to have a front row seat to a live animal planet show even if it’s not the game that I’m chasing.

A shot of the fox in front of the far log


   At 8am, I spotted my first deer. It was a very large, single doe at about 45 yards. If I were looking to fill a doe tag this morning, she would have been high on the list if she were a little closer.
As the sun crept above the mountain, the winds began to pick up quite a bit and I figured that would probably squash most deer activity for the rest of the morning.
    Around 8:30am, I spotted movement in the same area as the first doe. A quick look with the binoculars confirmed that it was a doe and fawn. They milled around at about 40 yards before bedding down. Knowing that I would be leaving soon, I figured there was no way that I wouldn’t be spooking them.  Once the clock struck 9am, I gathered all of my gear and called it a day. With the help of a gusty wind and the lay of the land, I was somehow able to sneak out with the two does running away.

My view for the morning


Evening – 5pm to dark
Conditions – Mostly cloudy upper 60s to low 70s, Wind west 15-20

   I had debated going out tonight as the overall conditions were just so-so. The direction of the wind made my new property the best and fastest option.

   After getting off work, I went straight to the property and got ready. Anticipation was high for the sole purpose of deer hunting my very own land for the first time. My expectations for seeing anything were very low considering the amount of trail camera pictures that I had had up through Sunday.

   While walking into my stand, I jumped a doe out of the weeds in my squash patch.  I was a bit surprised to see one in there during the day.  As I continued my walk, I noticed that the back half of the clover ring looked a little more trampled than normal. Then when turning into the path that I had mowed open for myself, I noticed that path was fairly trampled as well. I figured it was probably from the two groundhogs I see in that area. Just as I rounded the turn to get to the base of my stand, all heck broke loose. To my complete shock, I watched as two dandy bucks, a 9 and an 8, bounded towards the western end of my property.  They had been bedding 15 yards from the base of my stand, of course.  I figured that would probably be the the extent of my sightings for the evening.

View of the mowed trail where the deer were appearing


   After getting situated in my stand, I realized that one of the cornfields south of my property had finally been cut, which is probably the real reason for those bucks being in there.  My excitement for the evening was definitely on the rise.  Around 6pm, I was surprised to catch movement in. the trail I mowed for myself to be able to use at times when the deer are in the fields. The binoculars confirmed that it was a big doe. She was nibbling on honeysuckle and multiflora rose bushes. She stuck around for about 20 minutes before heading to the front wood patch.

  About ten minutes after she had disappeared, I spotted movement on the far side of the field that I was overlooking. I pulled up my binoculars and saw a decent rack. I could see three up top for sure, but the goldenrod made it difficult to see the bases. He eventually worked in my direction where I was able to get a better look at him and realize that he lacked browtines and was about 14″ wide. A decent buck and a cool sighting, but he would be safe if he came within bow range. He hung around munching on clover for the rest of the evening.
Right about the time that I was considering getting down another doe stood up right out in front of me in the goldenrod. She must have been bedding there the whole time.  I had walked within 20 yards of her while walking into my stand.  She worked her way into the clover field before eventually heading over to the main field.  An exciting first night on my very own property. Hopefully it will only get better from here.

A view of the browtine-less buck


A zoomed in view


Day 1 – 10/4/14 – An evening that I would like to forget

Time: 5pm – dark

Conditions : High 50s, 15mph westerly wind, partly cloudy

    The months of preparation are now over and we can officially say that it is bow season again. Everyone has dreams of the big buck that showed up on their trail camera finding its way to their stand. The anticipation is at its peak and it is now time to put everything we’ve learned and practiced to use.

    My opening morning was spent running a 5k that I had committed to before knowing the date it would be held, but the weather was pretty poor so that helped with not being able to be in a stand this morning.

    My evening was spent hunting my top hang-on stand overlooking an oak flat and natural funnel. It didn’t take very long to see my first deer. At 5pm, just as I climbed into my stand, I spotted movement about 50 yards to my right. Sure enough it was two does working their way down the hill. I had to wait until they stepped behind a tree just to pull my bow up. They didn’t hang around long and eventually moved out of sight, which allowed me to be able to finish setting myself up for the remainder of the evening.

The view for the first evening


    Just as the light was beginning to fade I caught movement in the brush up the hill from me. It didn’t take long to realize that it was a shooter buck. I grabbed my bow, nocked my release and got ready. He worked directly towards me then started veering to my right. Just as he got behind a tree I pulled back and got ready for his next move. He continued moving to my right until he came to a small birch tree and began rubbing his antlers. Through my peep sight, I could see a opening to his vitals so I decided this would be my chance. I released my arrow and was surprised to see sparks and a slowly trotting buck. I then realized there was a small birch tree that I missed seeing in my peep sight that I had clearly just smacked. The buck looked around and continued walking down the hill. I quickly scrambled to grab another arrow but the one I grabbed the blades had come open so I had to grab another. Just as I nocked the arrow he looked up and spotted me. All I remember is his extremely wide rack facing me and just like that he was gone. At that moment I had never felt more frustration in a deer stand. Chances are if I had left him keep walking he would have eventually walked into one of my cleared shooting lanes. Severely frustrated I had to sit down for a few minutes to collect my thoughts before climbing down. Once I finally got down I collected my shattered arrow and analyzed the shot a bit before calling it a day.

    It has taken a few days to get over it enough to be able to write about it, but I can now brush it off and get back my concentration and confidence. There is a long season ahead and hopefully I didn’t blow my only chance at a good buck.

2014 PA Archery Season Preamble

Bow season is almost upon us and the preparation for this season began the day after my buck hit the ground last season.  I spent the whole day trying to figure out buck movements during the rut in areas that do not normally hunt. I ended up seeing nine different bucks, all but two of which were legal. This got the motor turning in figuring out what areas to focus on the rest of the fall and winter.  I went back and checked the different trails about a half dozen times while out collecting maple sap and there were two spots that impressed me more and more each time out.  In early spring, before the leaves showed up I found a few treestand worthy spots.


Around the same time, I had the opportunity to purchase a small chunk of woods and field in among thousands of acres of surrounding farm fields.  I could not pass on the opportunity and on my second walk  around the property I found out just how many deer frequent the small woodlot.  After a little scouting and online research, I figured out that I had the only woods with a one-mile radius that were at least 50 yards wide.  After talking with some of the neighboring landowners,  I found out that once the fields get cut the deer use my property as their home base and there are normally anywhere between 8 and 20 deer in my field each evening.  Once I closed on the property, I did a more in-depth scouting trip in the approximately seven-acre woodlot. I found multiple highway-esque trails, rubs, and even a shed from a decent two year old buck.  Since then I have been monitoring the deer activity regularly. The deer were there most days while I planted fruit trees and corn, but as the neighboring corn fields grew, the amount of deer sightings decreased fairly quickly.  I took that as an opportunity to carve out some new trails that all filtered right to a spot that I planned to put a treestand.

The layout of the new property

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The winter deer sign


Deer super highway

Decent shed and my pup

A look at my treestand tree without leaves

Starting in June, I ran two trail cameras in various locations throughout the property. The pictures showed a few resident deer that were calling my property home, along with the occasional visiting buck. In early-July, I hung a treestand that overlooks the back field along with a few heavy trails that are guided by an old cattle fence inside of the woods.

Two views from my stand


The best buck on the new property so far.


Once I felt comfortable with my strategies for my new property, I turned my focus to preparing the other area that I hunt. I took one walk to the various spots that I scouted in the fall and spring and identified the trees that would be the best for hanging my stands and what limbs would need to be trimmed.


In late-August, I hung my stands, trimmed my lanes and hung three cameras.  I’ve decided to take a very light approach to scouting this year in an effort to reduce my scent in the areas. I waited until last week to finally check my cameras and was pleasantly surprised to find multiple shooter bucks and a curious bear in the area. One of the stands, I have not seen since the day that I hung it and should easily be my most productive stand.  The spot features a large oak flat, where I’ve taken early season bucks in the past, and natural funnel that a large amount of does tend to use, which will eventually turn this into a gold-mine once the rut kicks in.  This is the same general location that I harvested my 136” 8 point in 2009.  So to say that I am pumped about this spot would be an understatement.  However, the trail camera pictures from the spot that I harvested my buck from last year has me a little torn.

A couple of decent bucks and a bear:





My top stand

I have also been pleasantly surprised to see deer activity starting to increase on my property as the area corn fields are cut.  There are still a lot of fields left to be cut, so I expect the deer activity on my property to only increase as the season goes on.


It should be another exciting year of bowhunting as I take you along with me on the upcoming journeys.  Good luck to everyone heading out!

@theoutdoorcpa on Twitter and Instagram for in-hunt pictures and posts.

Opening day of PA spring turkey season

Up until today, it has been a very quiet spring in the turkey woods. I had not heard a single bird in two scouting trips.  I had planned on doing one final scouting trip on Friday morning,  but a fairly painful sinus infection curbed that plan.  Instead, I spent the day doing everything possible to feel better so I could go out today.

I had my alarm set for 4:30am, but oddly enough I woke up wide awake at 4:15am finally able to somewhat breath through my nose for the first time in three days.  I figured that was good enough and got up, got ready, and headed out the door.  I pulled into the parking area at 5am and was the first vehicle there.  From there I made the 20 minute walk to the spot that I had planned to listen for gobbling birds.  When I arrived at the spot, I pulled out my phone and typed up a Facebook post about it being opening day.  Just as I hit the “post” button I heard my first two gobbles of the day up the hill.  I put my phone away and began my trek up the mountain.  As I closed in on the area that I figured they were roosted,  I paused to listen for their next gobbles so I could position myself for a calling setup.   Right on queue four birds sounded off, but instead of being a hundred or so yards out the ridge, they were about 200 yards straight up the hill on the very top of the mountain.  My sinuses were already closing up and I could no longer breath out of my nose, but with multiple gobbling birds, I knew this would be my best chance at a bird today.

I took off up the hill, stopping occasionally to catch my breath and listen for gobbles.  Every time the birds did not disappoint with each of the four birds gobbling at the same time.  Just as I got to the last bench before the top of the mountain,  I realized that there was no easy way to go straight up and instead would now have to rock hop the rest of the way up.  Just as I got to the edge of the top, I realized I was inside of one hundred yards of the closest bird.  I found a tree and began to get set up.  No sooner did get my face mask on and I could hear the birds pitching off of the roost.  They flew further out the mountain,  but having deer hunted this area countless times over the years, I could tell they were still on the bench.  My new plan was to head over the top, circle around them and try to cut them off before they got to the top.  Just as I got up to the very top, the birds sounded off again,  only this time I could tell they had moved up the hill and we’re heading to the top.

My new new plan was to try to get myself to the edge of an opening that I new was up ahead.  As I was about twenty yards from the spot, three birds gobbled. This time they were definitely on top and getting closer to my location.  I did not want to risk spooking them, so I looked for the closest tree and plopped down.  I replaced my orange hat with a camouflage face mask and hat. Then turned on my go pro camera and put that on top of my hat. I placed my H.S. strut “Raspy Old Hen” call in my mouth, took a deep breath and made my first call.  The birds did not respond.  However,  thirty seconds later they gobbled again from the same location as before.  I decided to call again figuring that my first call may have been too soft. I made a much louder call and they responded immediately,  including a fourth bird that was down the mountain in the area near where I had just come from to get here.  Now that I knew that they knew I was there, I would let them come find me.  They continued to gobble as they got closer and closer until the gobbling stopped getting closer and the birds hung up in the opening that I was trying to get to earlier.  I waited them out for another five minutes before deciding that I needed to make another call or they could move away from me.  I turned my head, facing the opposite direction, put hand over my mouth to make my sound like it was coming from behind me, and made a soft call.  All three birds responded immediately.  Thirty seconds later I could hear them walking out in front of me.  I got ready for them to appear and lined my eye up with the bead on the end of my barrel.  I could hear them fanning out and spitting as they got closer.  Finally, a red head appeared 30 yards in front of me in an opening.  I could see a good beard on him and knew that was enough for me to see.  I sent a load of hevi-shot 6 shot his direction and he went right down.  I darted over to the bird and watched the other two gobblers fly down the mountain.  As I was filling out my tag, I could hear several gobbles down the mountain in different areas, including right around where I had originally stopped to listen (it figures).  I noted their location in hopes of locating one of those birds for tag #2.

My 6th spring gobbler in 6 years using the “Raspy Old Hen.”  This bird went 18lbs with a 10″ beard and 3/4″ spurs.  Unfortunately, the video from the Go-Pro did not turn out too well due to a poor angle, low lighting, and the cameras inability to pick up sound at a distance.  Still an extremely exciting opening day!



Good luck to everyone venturing out this spring.

Day 13 – November 8, 2013 – The Finale

Weather: Partly Cloudy, Temperatures in the upper 30s

Wind: 5-15 mph out of the West

Time: Dawn – 7:45am

After the warm temperatures rolled in on Tuesday, I sat Wednesday and Thursday out.  However, I got a report on Thursday that the bucks were moving and moving in a big way.  While the forecast for Friday wasn’t ideal with midday winds in the teens, I knew that I had to go out.  I could only hunt until 9am, so I could get to work in time, so I chose my hang-on in the middle of the property, which is the same stand as Day 2.

It was a fairly slow morning.  The wind was blowing pretty hard right from the start.  Fortunately, I had plenty of layers on so I was not worried about getting too cold.  I scanned the area in front of me constantly hoping to spot movement.  With the leaves mostly gone, I was now able to see a good 100 yards out in front of the stand.  If anything was going to come up the hill, I was going to see it.

Around 7:40 I caught movement about 80 yards away on the main trail that eventually comes past my stand.  I pulled up the binoculars and immediately recognized the rack and patches of missing fur on the back.  It was the buck that I shot at on October 18th.  I grabbed my bow and turned on the lumenock as he continued to close the gap.  As he got into bow range, I soon realized that I was going to need him to pass my stand before I would be able to get a shot since he was quartering towards me.  As he got behind a large double maple tree, I drew my bow.  He walked past me without ever looking up.  I slowly turned and positioned myself for when he hit my opening.  As he entered the opening I made a grunt with my voice.  He immediately stopped.  He was quartering away pretty hard so I aimed around the middle of the body.  Once I got my pinned settled, I released the arrow.  I watched as the green lumenock went into the center of the body, out the other side and into the ground.  I knew immediately that it was a good shot.  He ran out across the trail that connects to the trail that he was on and dropped 60 yards from the shot.  I didn’t know whether to be excited or relieved to have finally taken this buck after a long 21 days of pursuit.  I gave him 30 minutes to ensure that he was down for good.  In the meantime, I texted friends, family, and called off of work for the rest of the day.

I climbed down and found my arrow and noticed good blood on the arrow.  I walked over and found him piled up.  Now that I could see the rack up close I realized I had a little more history with this buck.  He was the very first buck to show up on my trail camera back in August and it just happened to be right in front of the treestand I had just taken him from.  Going back even further.  I had scouted this spot hard since last December and hung this treestand in early July, because I was that confident that this was going to be a go-to spot this season.

Trail Camera Picture


After examining the antlers, I looked over the body to see how well I placed the shot.  I noticed a patch of hair missing just behind the shoulder and another patch with fresh blood near the middle of the body.  Then it hit me…  The front mark was from my shot in October.  Upon examining the insides I noticed that I had just barely clipped the back edge of both lungs from the October hit.  There were small notches out of the lungs with black and blue marks around them.  One inch to the left and I would have had a double lung hit and a dead buck in October.  An inch or two to the right and I would have hit the liver.  It is pretty remarkable how small the margin of error is in archery hunting.  There has always been the debate about whether or not you can hit a deer in the vital area and not actually kill it.  I think this proves that you can hit a buck in the lung area and not actually kill it.

The two hits – Which shot would you think was the fatal one?


While skinning the deer, I got to the area of the October hole exit and my knife hit something out of place.  I pulled the skin down a little further and noticed a triangle under the skin.  I dug around with my knife and pulled out half of one of my broadhead blades.  Upon further examination, I noticed that my broadhead had hit a rib, broke the rib (that had since almost fulled healed), and either the blade wedged in the rib or broke off and caused the arrow to not pass through.

What are the chances of this ever happening?  When I began this journal at the start of the season, I never could have thought that this sequence of events could have ever occurred.  Now that my buck tag has been filled, it is time to chase turkeys and then begin my pursuit of my first deer with a flintlock rifle with my doe tags.

8 point with a 14″ spread

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Days 11 & 12 – November 4 & 5, 2013

November 4, 2013

Weather: mid 20s in the morning, mid 40s by afternoon. Mostly sunny.

Winds: Light and variable

Time: Dawn to Dark

Today I found myself back at the same spot as Day 9.  The heavy action from Saturday continued.  About 30 minutes after first light I spotted a deer running through the brush below me.  Shortly thereafter, I spotted a buck behind her.  I checked him out with the binoculars and saw that it was a 3 on top on both sides without brow tines, making him a 6 point.  He chased her around below me, but the never found their way up to me.  He wasn’t what I was looking for anyway.

The 6 point (every picture I tried to take he would stop behind brush)



They disappeared into the brush and about 15 minutes later the woods erupted and I had deer running up out of the brush in my direction.  It was 6 does/fawns and a small 3 point.  The does and fawns went up over the hill rather quickly, while the 3 point milled around at about 15 yards.  He eventually worked his way up the hill and out of sight.

The 3 point


The woods went quiet for about 30 minutes before I spotted something moving in the brush below me.  A nice looking red fox moving through the area looking for a meal.

The fox


After the fox left it was all quiet again for another hour, when I spotted movement on the flat below me.  It checked it out with my binoculars and spotted a doe working along the brush.  While watching her, I caught more movement behind her.  I moved the binoculars over to the new movement and spotted antlers immediately.  It didn’t take long to realize that it was the same buck I had missed the other week. The deer casually worked their way up the hill heading in my direction.  I figured the doe would bring him right past me.  As they got up to the hill about 50 yards below me, I caught movement behind them.  It was another doe and the 6 point from earlier.  The new doe walked over to the other doe and the two had a very brief boxing match, before the two continued to feed.  Both does were working their way up the hill with the 8 point staying on one edge of the road and the 6 point on the other edge.  As the does got further and further up the hill, they crossed the road and worked their way over to my hang on stand.  The 8 point was about 20 yards from that stand.  Figures…

Once they got to the top of the hill, the two does crossed the road and were heading right to me.  Both bucks were slowly creeping behind them.  The does got to about 15 yards with the 6 point at about 20 yards and the 8 point at about 30 yards, but closing.  The 8 point was facing me and in too much brush, so he needed to come another 10-12 yards for a shot.  The 6 point was standing in the wide open, go figure.  As the bucks slowly closed, I caught something running in my peripheral vision.  I look up and see the 5 point from Saturday running across the flat in my direction.  The does took off running past my stand as the small buck gave chase.  The 6 and 8 point soon followed.  The 8 point came through my openings, but wouldn’t stop for anything.  I couldn’t believe it… Another encounter with this buck, but unable to connect.

I sat in the tree for another hour before catching movement in the brush below me.  It was the 6 point cruising across the hill behind me.  I watched him as he walked across and into the hollow on the other side of the road before he disappears down over the hill.

After that, it was a long four hours in the stand with nothing moving.  Around 3pm, I had two button bucks work across the flat beside me.  They fed in front of for a good 30 minutes before heading down the hill.  Around 4:30pm, I caught movement above me.  Wouldn’t you know it, it is the 5 point that messed everything up that morning.  He worked his way down the hill, browsing the whole time.  Just as it was getting dark out, I had a fawn doe come in under my tree.  She fed around my tree until I decided that I needed to go and spooked her away.  A good, exciting day in the tree.  The chasing phase seems to be here, so the bigger cruisers should not be far behind.

November 5, 2013

Weather: Mostly cloudy with temperature between mid 30s and high 50s

Wind: 5-10mph, mostly out of the southwest, but constantly shifting

Time: Dawn – Dark

I normally wouldn’t combine two all day sits into one post, but there wasn’t much to talk about on this day.  Whatever switch was turned on the day before had been abruptly turned back off.  I had a single button buck feed across the flat in front of me for the better of an hour between 10 and 11am, but that was it for deer movement on the day.

I tried moving spots for the evening and set up in a hollow that used to be a great evening rut spot.  I set up over two freshly worked scrapes in hopes that the deer that worked them would show.

Other than two woodcocks, a raccoon going back legs first 40 feet down a tree, and a ton of squirrels, there wasn’t much to write about tonight.

With the poor movement and warm temperatures rolling in on the 6th, I decided to head to work for two days and then try again on Friday after the cold front passes through.

Day 10 – November 2, 2013


Weather: Mostly cloudy, temperatures in the upper 40s – mid 50s

Wind: Light and mostly out of the west

Time: Dawn – 12 pm

I headed to the same tree as Wednesday only this time I climbed another four to five feet higher in the tree since the lack of leaves was leaving me a little more exposed than I liked.  As the woods brightened the sound of turkeys in the trees around me filled the woods.  I had them to my left, right, and directly below me.  Being that I was in a good position for deer hunting, I decided that I would only try to take a turkey if they walked within 20 yards of me on their own.  Otherwise, I was deer hunting only.  Around 7:30 the first two birds pitched down from my right and landed about 25 yards below me.  I grabbed my bow, just in case, but as the others pitched down, they all headed down over the hill and sat about 50 yards away grooming themselves for the better part of the next 30 minutes.

A long distance view of the birds working their way across the hill below me.


While watching the turkeys grooming themselves, I heard a branch break out to my left.  I turned and spotted a very small deer heading up the hill and angling right to me.  I checked it out with the binoculars and confirmed it was indeed a fawn.  As I lowered my binoculars I caught movement behind her.  I figured it was probably the mother doe, but instead it was a 6 point that I have seen a lot through my trail cameras and I am fairly certain is a deer that I saw quite a few times last year.  He has a very narrow spread, but 3-4″ brow times and thick bases.  A definite 2 year old.  The doe crossed at about 10 yards and the buck followed her the whole way, nose to the ground and grunting.  He passed by and I snapped a few pictures.

The 6 point


No sooner did he disappear into the next hollow, I spotted movement off to my left again.  Here comes a buck working along the edge of the ridge and heading right for me.  I checked him out with the binoculars.  A small 5 point.  The followed the exact path of the 6 point under my tree, before heading into the next hollow as well.

The 5 point


About fifteen minutes later, I spotted movement out in front of me.  Coming down the hill was yet another buck.  I checked him out with the binoculars, but he was just a small year and a half old 6 point.  He stayed at about 50 yards and never came in close enough for a picture.

The next two-plus hours were spent watching squirrels and hearing the occasional turkey yelping below me.  Around 11am, I caught movement at about 60 yards in the way of a small sapling swaying back and forth in a vicious manner.  I pulled up the binoculars and spotted a decent rack immediately.  As he finished rubbing the small oak tree, I could see that it was about a 15″ wide 7 point.  His points didn’t have much length to him, so I was on the fence about taking him if he were to close the gap.  He walked over to another tree and started rubbing that as well.  As he was rubbing, I spotted the 5 point from earlier heading down the hill, heading towards the 7 point.  As the 5 point approached, the 7 point stopped rubbing and instead lowered his head and put his ears back.  He aggressively stepped towards the 5 point, but the younger buck knew his place and continued on his way down the hill.  The 7 point slowly followed him down the hill, staying at about 50 yards the whole way.  I probably would have been tempted to take him, so I was glad that he stayed out of range.

After he left the area, the sun finally popped out for the first time and it didn’t take long for the woods to warm up.  I sat in the tree until 12pm before deciding to climb down and go grab lunch.


Weather: Cloudy with light rain, temperatures in the high 50s

Wind: 15-20 mph with much stronger gusts mostly out of the southwest

Time: 4:30pm – Dark

The evening sit was definitely night and day in comparison to the morning hunt.  The weather report called for a light wind, but I was definitely not prepared for the nonstop swaying back and forth that I ended up experiencing for the entire evening.  I saw a few squirrels running around, but that was it.  No deer tonight.  While it doesn’t appear that the peak of the rut is underway, it is safe to say that the seeking phase is very much underway.  It should be an incredible final two weeks of the season.

Days 8 & 9 – October 29 & 30, 2013

October 29, 2013

Weather: Clear skies, temperatures in the mid 30s

Wind: Light and variable

Time: Dawn – 9:15am

With the heavy winds finally died down and temperatures still on the cool side, I knew that I had to get out in the woods this morning.  I set up in the same stand that I hunted on Day 5, which will most likely be my go-to rut spot.  The morning started off rather slowly with squirrels running in every direction and a loud murder of crows behind me.  Around 8:30am I heard a branch snap behind me.  I turned around to see a lone hen turkey working her way across the flat.  She seemed to be looking for something as she was chattering the whole way.

Turkey in the center of the picture

At about 8:45, I figured I would not be seeing any deer for today.  I was texting a friend to see how his morning hunt was going, when I spotted movement across the trail from me.  I could see a decent body size on the deer, so I threw up the binoculars and spotted two more deer behind her.  A doe and two button bucks.  As they were feeding, I continued to scan the hollow below me for movement, when I realized that there was another deer standing over there as well.  I brought up the binoculars again and spotted a decent rack.  It looked to be a 12-13″ 7 point with a fairly thick rack.  While watching him in the binoculars to judge whether or not I would consider a shot if he came over another deer crossed in front of him.  Wouldn’t you know it, it’s the buck that missed two Fridays ago.  He walks past the smaller buck, lowers his head at him, drops his ears and takes two steps towards him.  The smaller buck immediately backed up, wanting nothing to do with the bigger buck.  The big buck then straightened up and turned up the hill.  No sooner did he go out of sight did the 7 point start chasing the doe.  As soon as they started running, the button bucks took off.  The one walked in front of me and stood about 20 yards away.  The buck and doe disappeared down over the hill and the woods went silent for a minute or two.  The button bucks continued to feed as I once again caught movement on the flat.  I spotted through the binoculars the 7 point had come back from the chase and was now munching on acorns.  I then spotted the doe about 50 yards up over the hill feeding under an oak tree as well.

The one button buck

While watching to see what the deer would do, I heard a branch snap down over the hill.  The button buck in front of me took off running across the road, meeting up with the other button buck before running off to the hollow on the other side of the flat.  I scanned the hill below me for movement when I spotted a large bodied deer moving through the saplings.  It was another good buck.  It looked to be an 8 point with a spread of about 15-16″.  A shooter in my book, but as he worked his way up the hill, he also worked away from me, before finally walking out of sight.  It was now 9am and the woods were once again quiet.  I sat in the tree for another 15 minutes before deciding to call it a day.  After all of the action on the other side of the road, I think it is safe to say that I will be hunting over there tomorrow morning.

October 30, 2013

Weather: Cloudy with temperatures in the mid-upper 40s

Wind: Light and mostly out of the East/Northeast

Time Dawn – 9:30am

After yesterday’s action, I moved across the ATV trail and set up in my opening morning spot.  On the walk in I jumped a deer along the road.  It ran a few yards and then just starred at me as I continued down the trail.  As I was climbing my tree, I could hear walking.  I turn around and here comes the same deer down the ATV trail.  Thinking nothing of it, I continued up the tree with my climbing treestand.  Not much longer, I hear the walking again.  I turned around and deer is heading right for me on the exact path that I had just walked.  I was maybe 12 feet off the ground and I knew it was only a doe, so I continued up the tree and figured if I spook it, it’s not a big deal.  Plus, I figured it was probably a fawn with how curious it was acting.  I am moving up the tree when I realize that the walking is eerily close.  I look down and the deer is at the base of the tree sniffing my bow.  It then walks down the hill a little and looks up at me.  I was almost done with my climb at this point, but was still adjusting the positioning and the deer was completely unfazed by me.  What really surprised me now that it was up close and I could fully see it in my headlamp, it was a definite adult doe.  As I continued to get ready for the morning, she worked her way out the flat eating acorns before she finally disappeared before daylight.  Definitely one of the stranger pre-light encounters I’ve ever experienced.

Once it got light out, it was a slow morning.  The dozens of squirrels that populate the area sounded like elephants as they ran around the flat gathering acorns.  Three hen turkeys passed through out of range around 8:30, but other than that it was a quiet morning.  The deer never showed up.  I climbed down around 9:15am and spent the last 15 minutes opening a few new spotting lanes in preparation for the days ahead.  While yesterday made it feel like we were very close to the rut, today made it seem like we are no where close to the rut.  With plans to hunt every day for the remainder of the season starting on November 2nd, the best is yet to come and this should be my last double post.

My view for the morning

Day 7 – October 26, 2013

Weather: Partly Cloudy, temperatures in the mid 30s

Wind: 10-15mph swirling between West, South, and North.

Time: Dawn – 10am

I decided that it was time for a change of scenery today and headed up the mountain to a spot that I haven’t hunted since 2010.  I have done a lot of scouting each year up here, but always find intriguing sign closer to the truck.  The spot rest on the very edge of the property that I hunt and allows me to see for long distances.  It also is about 50 yards from a bedding area, so it is only an option in the morning or during an all day hunt.  I was hoping to catch a buck heading to the bedding area early on.  The winds started blowing hard right away and I knew right then I had made the wrong choice on stand location for the day.  I spotted a group of 10-12 does about 150 yards away on the neighboring property, but they never made their way up the mountain and instead bedding in a thicket on the lower flat.

My view from the stand


I sat at the spot until 10am, when I received a text message from a friend of mine about going pheasant hunting.  The cold winds made sitting in a tree very much longer pretty undesirable, so I opted for some pheasant hunting.  On my way out of the hunting spot, I made sure to take notice of the freshness of the sign in the area.  I found a number of fresh scrapes and rubs, which let me know that this area should produce once the winds die down and the rut ramps up.

A nice rub


The pheasant hunting was fun, as we were able to flush quite a few birds.  However, not having a dog with us, hurt our chances of actually being able to get shots at the birds.  Many of them were flushing way out ahead of us or were running in the opposite direction of us prior to flushing.   In the end, we did a lot of walking and each of the three of us were able to take a rooster.  With as much bow hunting as I have been doing the last few years, it was a nice change of pace to do something different.  It was 4pm until we finished hunting, so I opted to sit out of the tree stand for the evening as the winds were still blowing pretty good.

My Rooster


Days 5 & 6 – October 24 & 25, 2013

October 24, 2013

Weather: Partly Cloudy, Temperatures in the mid-upper 30s

Wind: 10-15 mph out of the west

Time: Dawn – 9:30am

I opted for a quick hunt this morning considering I had been hearing about a lot of good deer movement from friends.  I set up directly across the road from my opening morning spot in one of my hang-on stands.  The wind was blowing hard from the start and the deer stayed low.  Even the amount of squirrel activity on the flat was nearly void.

October 25, 2013

Weather: Mostly Sunny with temperatures in the low 50s

Wind: 10-15mph swirling between West and South.

Time: 4pm – Dark

This evening I decided to attempt to slip into my day 2 spot for a chance at hunting close to a bedding area.  With the heavy winds, I knew that I could probably slip into the stand undetected.  On the walk in, I decided to check my lone trail camera, which is at the day 3 stand.  Low and behold I had four different pictures of the buck I ALMOST had last year.  Oddly enough he almost looks exactly the same.  He was about a 22-23″ wide 7 point last year and this year he appears to be about 25″ wide and again a 7 point with almost identical point length.  Definitely a buck that I hope to see this season.


After checking the camera, I made my way down the trail towards my spot.  I came up on a thicket that boarders the road when I heard the sound of a deer jumping up in the brush.  I quickly threw up my binoculars and wouldn’t you know it, it was the big 8 point that I had missed last Friday.  He was bedded approximately 40 yards from where I sat during rifle season last year.  That gave me great relief to see that I definitely did not wound him last week and that he was still using the area.

Once he moved out of sight, I continued to my stand.  With the loud, crunchy leaves, every step was carefully planned out to ensure that I was as quiet as possible.  Fortunately, I made it to my stand without spooking anything.  About 30 minutes after getting settled in the stand, I caught movement below me.  Here came about twelve turkeys up through the woods.  All of them were either hens or this year’s young.  Unfortunately, turkey season doesn’t start until the 2nd so I could was watch.


Around 5:30, I heard a branch break behind me.  I turned around to see a small deer making its way down the trail.  I pulled up my binoculars and sure enough it was a small button buck.  I watched him wander around for about 15 minutes, before watching the mother stand up from her bed maybe 50 yards away.  I couldn’t believe that she never heard or saw me coming into the spot.  The two of them stayed just out of range for the most part before the button buck decided to come to about 5 yards from the base of my tree.  Being young, he never looked up and continued down the hill until he was out of sight.  The mother doe came to within 25 yards, but it was a little thick for a shot, plus I knew this was the doe and fawn that I had so many pictures of in the summer, so they would be safe tonight.



I spent the remainder of the evening scanning the brush and hillside waiting for something to come down the hill, but that was not to happen tonight.  Around 6pm, I about jumped out of my stand at the sound of my Dad’s in-line muzzleloader going offer about 200 yards across the hill.  Ten minutes later, I got the “big doe down” text.  Once it got dark, I climbed down and went over to help him load up his doe.  A nice evening on stand, hopefully the winds will die down soon.

Days 3 & 4 – October 15 and 18, 2013

October 15, 2013

Weather: Clear skies, low lying fog on the fields, temps in the low 50’s

Wind: Light and variable, but mostly out of the north/northeast

Time: Dawn – 9:15am

Not much to talk about on this hunt.  There was a very heavy fog on the fields that had not lifted by the time that I left the woods.  I hunted a spot that I’ve been scouting hard for the last 11 months, but did not know how it would work in the early season.  I got to see a lot of squirrels running around, but that was it.  I will hold off hunting this spot again until the deer start moving a little more.  Based on the sign that I found last November around this spot, I am very encouraged that this should be a good spot during the rut.

October, 18, 2013

Weather: Partly Cloudy, Low 60s

Wind: West around 10mph

Time: 4pm – Dark

This day can probably be summed up as the most frustrating day of archery hunting that I have ever experienced. Hence why it has taken me nearly a week to write about this hunt. I could probably type out my frustrations of the day, but I will stick to just the bow hunting portion of the day.

I set up in my climber in a tree the I set up back in July. It is the same oak flat that I hunted opening morning, but about 30 yards up the hill from the tree that I hunted that day. The plan for the evening was to tale a doe if one were to present me with a shot.

Around 5:30 I heard walking coming from the opposite direction of where I expected the deer to be coming. I turned around and spotted a deer moving up the hill. I quickly glassed it with my binoculars and noticed it was a 4 point. He milled around in the acorns for the remainder of the evening.


A little after 6pm as the light was beginning to fade I heard walking coming from the direction of where I expected to see deer. Sure enough I spot deer legs moving through the brush. As the deer’s body became more exposed, I realized that it had a pretty large body. I grabbed my binoculars and quickly realized that it was a shooter buck. He was an 8 point with a decent spread and would probably score in the 90s. I put the binoculars down and grabbed my bow. He was about 40 yards away and needed to cross the ATV trail in order to come into range. He closed the gap and crossed the trail, but crossed about 5 yards further down than where most deer will cross. This led to him being at 15 yards, but too brushy for a shot. I began looking for potential openings on his path and spotted one on the other side of my tree. As he walked, I carefully spun around and got ready. When he stepped behind a large oak, I drew my bow. He stepped out from the tree and into the opening. I settled my pin on his vitals and released. The buck jumped and took off running down the hill. I felt confident about the shot, but figured I would at least climb down and find my arrow. When I got over to where the buck was standing, all I could find was his tracks. No blood. No arrow. No hair. I couldn’t believe it. I spent the rest of the evening and 4 hours on Saturday just looking for something. I was able to locate his running tracks and followed them for about 100 yards, but never found a single drop of blood. I’m assuming that my arrow deflected on a small branch that I did not see through my peep sight. I searched a very large radius looking for the arrow, but I was never able to locate it.

As the temperatures begin to drop, my focus is beginning to come back and I’m finally feeling the desire to be in a tree stand again. Hopefully, I can put this day behind me and focus on the better days ahead.

Day two – October 9, 2013

Weather – mid 40s, mostly sunny
Wind – light and swirling a bit, but mostly out of the northeast
Time – dawn – 9:15am

With the pending bad weather ahead for the remainder of the week, I figured that today looked to be the best weather-wise.  Today I decided to set up in a hang-on that I put up several months before the season that I have been scouting since last December.  It has two heavy trails going through the area, both of which lead to a popular bedding area.  In addition, there are a handful of mature oaks to provide an early season attraction.

A view from the stand


As I was walking to my stand, I busted a fairly large flock of turkeys from their roost.  For the first hour and a half of daylight it sounded more like May than October as the lost birds yelped and cackled to each other in an attempt to regroup.

Around 8:00 the first deer of the day showed up, a nice sized year and a half old doe walking by herself.  She slipped in to my left and got to about 15 yards before heading up the hill towards the bedding area.  Fortunately for her I need to head to work today because I would normally jump at the opportunity to harvest a deer of that description.


About five minutes after she moved on, I had 3 does run past my stand from the west at full tilt. 

The rest of the morning was fairly quiet with a few squirrels running around gathering acorns and the occasional glimpse of a turkey in the distance. 

Around 9am, I decided to call it a day.  As I was packing up my gear, I heard the ever familiar sound of a branch snapping.  I turned around to see a doe and fawn, that I had on my trail camera quite regularly, heading right for me.  They milled around for a bit before finally heading up the hill.  At that point it was 9:15 and knew I would have to hustle back to my truck so that I could make it to work by 10.  Another fairly productive morning in the deer woods.  Hopefully the weatherman is a little bit wrong for Friday and Saturday so that I can scratch my bow hunting itch some more before the usual “October-lull” sets in.

PA Archery season – Day one – October 5, 2013

Weather: upper 60s – low 70s, hazy
Wind: light out of the southwest
Time: Dawn – 10am

I spent the morning hunting over an oak flat that has about 25 mature oak trees in a 30 yard radius, making it a deer magnet when the acorns are dropping.  I was not expecting a lot of movement with the unseasonably warm temperatures.  It seemed for a while that I would not be seeing anything except squirrels today.

At about 7:45, I caught movement down below me.  A quick glassing with the binoculars revealed a deer that I am becoming very familiar with seeing.  Only a three point, but he is probably about 13″ wide and showed up on my one trail camera for 9 consecutive days in September.  Shortly after spotting him, he casually made his way up the hill munching on acorns the hole way.  He came to within 15 yards before continuing up over the hill.


After he left, a heavy fog came through the area, which made visibility about 40 yards for a good 30 minutes.  I started considering getting out of the tree around 9 am, that was until 8:45, when I caught more movement.  This time it was a large doe and 2 fawns.  They worked their way up the hill and all came within 5 yards of the base of my tree.  The one fawn spent several minutes milling around directly underneath my feet.  They stuck around for about 30 minutes before working their way up the hill and out of sight.




At about 10am, I decided to call it a day and climbed down the tree.  With afternoon temperatures expected to be in the mid 80s, I decided to not go out in the evening.  I will hit the woods one or two mornings this week, hopefully the good deer movement will continue.

The Restart

After just over a year of not posting, it is time to get back to writing about my outdoor experiences.  With just two weeks until the PA Archery Opener, the majority of the upcoming posts over the next three months will be related to deer hunting.  I used to keep a very detailed journal of all of my archery hunts, but as with many things, I got away from it.  So for the 2013 season, I will be posting each adventure into the PA woods right here.  With the help of my camera, recently purchased GoPro, and video camera, I hope to take you, the reader, along for the ride.

In addition to deer hunting, I will also be posting about my maple syrup making, wild trout fishing expeditions, and everything else in between.

Falling Spring Branch 6/24/12

After what has seemingly been forever, I finally found my way down to falling spring branch today.  I spent a lot of time at this stream during my college years and will always make a few ventures down to here each year.  I started out today with the hope of finding an early hatch of Tricos.  I arrived at 8 am to find a swarm of them hovering over the creek.  Figuring it would probably be at least 30 minutes to an hour until the spinner fall I decided to take a seat on the bank and tie a new leader.  Just as I finished the leader the fish began to steadily rise.  I tied on my size 24 trico spinner at it was on.


On my very first cast a small rainbow dashed over to my fly and grabbed it.  Unfortunately I was bit quick on the hook set and missed it.  The same thing happend on the next two casts.  I took a few seconds to relax and pick out another rising trout to cast to.  I noticed a decent rainbow coming rather steadily so I made a cast within a foot of his location.  Seconds after my fly hit the water, he grabbed it and I was hooked on.  A nice 9-10 inch rainbow that was squirming around a bit too much for a picture.  I continued on the stretch for another two hours until the tricos were done and was able to pick up 4 more rainbows between 5 and 10 inches along with many more misses.  While head back to the truck I noticed a decent rainbow steadily rising in the same pool that I had started.  I read the water for a few minutes before figuring that he was probably sipping emerging midges.  I tied on a size 20 CDC zebra midge and waited for him to give away his location.  A soon as he rose again I pinpointed my cast just above him.  He came over and examined the fly but wouldn’t take it.  I figured another look might change his mind.  This time as soon as the fly hit the water he raced over to it and grabbed.  I made a quick hook set and after a few acrobatic leaps I was able to bring the 10-11″ rainbow to hand.


After releasing him I decided to end the day with some streamer fishing.  I was able to get a few exciting follows and even a quick swat in this stretch but no
luck.  I moved down to another stretch and on the second cast got hard take.  After a short fight I brought a chunky 11″ rainbow to hand.  I continued on stretch but was only able to get a few follows before deciding to call it a day.  Another great morning on what is probably my favorite stream.  Not because I can catch a lot of fish here but more for the challenges that it presents and not the mention all of the great memories that I have had on this stream over the last 11 years.


The Spring Woods


No turkeys this weekend but did find a large patch of Pink Lady’s Slippers in top of the mountain.



Then during one of my setups I had this young buck show up along with a doe.  After circling me and having a stare down for over 15 minutes I decided to try to spook him so I could call it a day.  However, he was determined not to leave without figuring out what I was against the tree.  It looked like he was done with me when I decided to make a few bleats with my mouth and here he came again to within 10 yards where he stood for a good 5 minutes before finally wandering off.  A fun experience especially when the turkey hunting has been so boring lately.

PA Spring Gobbler Opener

When the alarm sounded off at 4:30am, I found no problem getting out of bed as I anticipated the morning ahead.  I gathered all of my gear, loaded it into the truck, and then headed for my spring gobbler area.  I arrived to the parking area around 5:15am and noticed that I was the first person to arrive.  I decided to head to a spot where I had heard a bird sounding off a few days earlier.  I arrived to my listening area about 1 mile from the truck just as the daylight began to appear.  I no sooner sat down on my usual log when the sound that I had longed to hear that morning could be heard and heard often.  I quickly moved down the mountain trail and closed to within 100 yards of the gobbling bird.  I set up underneath a large oak tree that had excellent vision in front of it.  The bird continued to sound off as I put on my gloves and facemask.  Once fully set up, I pulled out my Ring Zone slate call and made a few soft yelps.  The bird sounded off in response.  He now knew right where I was located.  I decided to set the call down and wait to see what he did once he flew down.  Within 2 minutes of making my call, the woods went silent as the bird apparently had flown down and found some real hens to accompany him.  I sat at the spot for another hour as I made a few more calls and watched a curious raccoon climb a nearby tree.

I moved down the trail in the direction of where the bird had been roosted, when I could hear the faint sound of a bird gobbling on a property that I did not have access to hunt.  However, PA State Game Lands border the property on the very top of the mountain.  My new plan was to circle up to the top of the mountain and work my way out to where I figured the bird was hanging out.  I made the 3/4 of a mile hike to the top of the mountain, where I could pick up the State Game Lands trail that goes out across the top.  Just as I arrived at the top I watched a few deer feed in front of me.  While watching them I decided that I would go down over the other side of the mountain to see if there were any birds hanging on that side.  Once the deer moved out of sight, I walked down over the mountain and found a nice area to make a few locator calls.  I slipped the HS Strut Raspy Old Hen call into my mouth and directed my first call towards my left.  Silence…  I then turned to my right and started with a few purrs then just as I got into my yelps, I was cut off by sound of a red hot gobbler that couldn’t have been more than 80 yards away. I found the closest tree and quickly got set up.  About two minutes after getting fully set up I figured I would give another call to let the bird know that I was still here and to see if he had closed the distance.  I got the call positioned in my mouth when I spotted a turkey fan spinning around about 50 yards away.  At that point I moved the call to the side of my mouth because I would not need to make another call.  The bird continued to close in fanning out, strutting, spitting, and drumming.  Whenever he would get to full strut, he would do a 360 degree spin as he looked for the hen that he thought he had heard.  He continued to close the gap and got to about 20 yards into a clear opening.  I decided that as soon as he broke strut I would send a shot in his direction.  After making another spin, he broke strut and began acting as if he were no longer interested in finding the hen.  I knew it was now or never so I sent the 3 1/2″ Hevi 13 5 shot in 2 1/4 oz from my Remington 870 Super Magnum his direction.  The shot found its mark and the bird piled up.  When I got over to him I knew that this could very well be my best bird to date.  I filled out my tag, loaded him into my vest, and began the 1 mile trek back to the truck.

4th gobbler in 4 years for the Raspy Old Hen.

10 1/2″ beard, 1″ broken spurs (downside of hunting turkeys in rocky terrain), and 20lb 6oz, which is more than enough to make this my best gobbler.  Now it’s time to see if I can fill tag number two.

“Wild” day off

With tax season coming to an end earlier this week, I figured I would have plenty of time of make several blog posts.  Apparently, I just had a lot of pent up cabin fever that I had to get rid of.   Our firm allowed us to have one free day off this week, so I checked the weather and decided that Thursday would be ideal.  Nice and cool in the morning while warm and sunny in the afternoon.

For my first day off in over 3 1/2 months, I decided to wake up at 5am and go scouting for the upcoming turkey season.  I got to my normal  listening area by 6am and sat there until 6:45am without hearing a peep.  I decided to head down the mountain and see if there were any birds sounding off down below.  Just as I got to the bottom, the familiar sound of a tom turkey gobbling echoed through the woods.  I decided to go back up the hill a little bit further in an attempt to pin point him.  Just as I got to the top of the hill, he let out another thunderous gobble.  After a few minutes a 2nd bird began sounding off even further up the mountain, which then set off an immediate response from the closer bird.  This was what I needed to get myself completely ready from a mental stand point for opening day.

With two gobblers pinpointed, I decided to see if I could find a few early season morels.  Given the fact that we are having such an early spring in PA, these might be the only morels this area will see for the year.  I scanned the normal spots and didn’t see too much.  Just as I got to the bottom of the one trail, I spotted one next to a large tulip poplar.  I quickly picked it and moved on.  Knowing that there were morels up, I decided to do a more extensive search.  My search yielded two more nice-sized yellows, which would go well with whatever I decided to have for dinner.

After leaving the woods, I ran a few errands then headed for my favorite spring time lake to see how the crappies were feeding.  I paddled my kayak out to the normal crappie spots and found a few holding among shallow structure.  The crappie bite was slow and many of the best spots were already taken, but it seemed that everything else in the lake was feeding pretty well.  I was able  to land several bluegills, a few largemouth bass(including a 15″ one on a small trout fly), three yellow perch, and three rock bass.  Once one of the good spots opened up I paddled over there and began working the structure with trout flies and 1″ tube lures.  I was able to land three decent crappies that I decided would pair perfectly with the morels for nice PA wild dinner.

It ended up being a nice day out in the PA wilds and a perfect way to forget about tax season.

New additions to the house

Having a harvested animal mounted is not only a trophy on the wall, but also a preservation of the memories experienced during a particular hunt.  Memories that will last a lifetime.  Today I added my 2008 New York 6 point and 2009 Pennsylvania 8 point to the collection (The slow turnaround time is due to my Dad, who is an amateur taxidermist with little spare time, doing the work).

To some the 6 point wouldn’t be a trophy at all because he only scored in the 90s, but to me the experience of the hunt was enough reason for me to have it mounted.  That weekend I had the privilege to hunt and spent quality time with my cousin, who I don’t get to see often enough.  The first day and a half of the 3 day hunt were pretty rough with 30+ mph winds and heavy rains.  During the 2nd evening of the hunt, I had the honor of being on the farm when my cousin harvested her first buck.  For as much time as she had put into hunting over the years, it was incredible to finally see her connect.  Since she was tagged out, she then offered her stand to me for the following morning.  After two challenging/frustrating hunts in the area of the farm that I was hunting, I decided to take her up on her offer.

The opening weekend of the New York gun season just happened to fall during the peak of rut in 2008.  The morning was cold and frosty as I sat bundled 16 feet up a split oak tree in my cousins’ stand.  One hours into daylight I spotted a doe moving behind me.  Even though I had a doe tag, I decided to hold off to see what the rest of the morning would hold.  A few minutes later I notice two deer moving 100 yards to my left through the brush.  Upon further inspection with my binoculars, I noticed antlers on both of them.  There was just too much brush in the way to even consider a shot.  I decided to go for broke and use my “can” bleat call.  On the first turn of the “can” they both stopped.  On the second turn, the smaller of the two turned and started heading towards me.  He was only a 5 point, so I wasn’t too anxious to take him if he were to give me an opportunity.  Once he started coming, the other buck came trotting through the brush to about 75 yards where I could clearly make out that it was a very wide rack, but could only make out 6 points.  The 5 point paused at about 80 yards and would stay there for the rest of the hunt.  The bigger buck started shredding every piece of brush in sight, followed by a few grunts.  I sat in the stand anxiously awaiting a shot opportunity.  While watching the show he was putting on, I suddenly realized the doe from earlier was 10 feet from my tree heading towards the bigger buck.  As she moved closer, he turned and started to head towards her.  He went about 5 yards, hit an opening in the brush, turned, and started wreaking havoc on the brush again.  I knew this was my chance for a shot, so I slowly raised my TC Omega to the railing, cocked the hammer, and found his shoulder.  After the smoked cleared, I could tell the Powerbelt bullet had done its job.  The buck went 20 yards and crashed.  After texting my cousin to tell her I had got one, the celebration was on.  Once she arrived, we both walked over and admired the deer.  In my eyes, the score of this buck is irrelevant, because you can’t put a score on a memory like this one.


Strawberry invasion!


With tax season coming to an end, it’s now time to start working on my neglected garden.  Task one… Thin out my strawberries.  I planted 25 new strawberry plants last spring in my newly constructed pyramid.  As you can see they have since exploded to 300+ plants.  This picture was taken after removing 60 plants.

I hope to remove about 100-150 more plants in order to obtain maximum berry growth rather than have this many plants produce a bunch of tiny berries.  Selling the plants at $6 per 20 plants should help to alleviate a good portion of the costs for the rest of the garden this year.

A little about me…



I’m a full time certified public accountant/manager at an accounting firm in Central PA with a passion for the outdoors.  Whether it be pursuing a big buck with archery equipment, paddling in my kayak while fishing for largemouth bass, exploring small mountain streams for wild trout, searching the woods for wild edibles, or maintaining a vegetable garden, I will take every opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.  This passion for the outdoors combined with a love to constantly talk about the outdoors has led me to a part time career in outdoor writing and photography, which began in 2005, while still in college.  Currently, my writing and photography can be regularly found in the Pennsylvania Angler & Boater magazine and the Pennsylvania Outdoor News with plans to venture into additional publications in the near future.  My involvement in writing has led me to become a voting member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and the Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association.

Now that you know a little bit about me, enjoy the blog.