Having the opportunity to hunt a familiar place that you haven’t hunted in many years is a really cool and exciting situation to have in front of you. My Dad and I have the good fortune to be hunting roughly 250 acres in the Northern Zone of New York for early bow season (September, 27) after reconnecting with the landowner (writing this on September 28 between hunts while my Dad naps). We are getting 5 hunts in before heading home. Opening day evening, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning if necessary. It’s a trip that our hunting camp did every year when I was too young to bow hunt up until my middle teenage years. Back when the guys first started coming up you were allowed to use the previous year's unfilled tags during this early season, that has since changed.
This year, our first time back here in 13 years, it’s less of a deer camp and more of a Father-Son adventure, which we always try to schedule and do a great job of appreciating our time spent together. With the higher deer density here, my goal on this trip is to try and find a buck to make plays on and hopefully get an opportunity. At the very least I’d like to get a perfect 20 yard opportunity on a doe, if given the chance. Anything further, or that's not a perfect opportunity I will wait for the next one. I want a heart shot badly. My Dad’s goal is for both of us to fill at least one tag and ideally a buck. His expectations are high given his rich and bloody history with opportunities here.
One of the huge benefits we have coming into this trip is the number of years worth of historical deer data and observations we already have from those trips years ago. On most hunting trips, you spend a majority of the time trying to figure out where deer and bucks are, where they’re moving to, when, and why. Having that part somewhat figured out already is going to save us a lot of time and boost our chances of having a really good encounter. There will be micro adjustments we will have to make because after 13 years there's going to be differences, but that’s expected.
The first hunt for example, we sat on the ground because of a micro adjustment. The corner of the field we used to have a stand in has invasive swallow wort and vines so thickly grown that it's 20+ feet up the trees on the edge of the field. Not a single tree was climbable and the woods is more like Alberta bush, with only 15-25 yard visibility. Luckily it makes for some of the most beautiful ground set ups you can ask for, and I’m always down for a ground hunt. That first set up worked great and we passed multiple doe that were well in range. We left that side of the property to find what we came here for after seeing around 20 deer, but only a few spike bucks.
Our second hunt, first morning sit (September 28th), we sat roughly 100 yards apart so we could see different ends of this horseshoe shaped field we were watching. That move was the right call because my Dad ended up seeing multiple shooters work the far east edge between 8 and 9 o’clock that morning. Our adjustment after seeing those bucks was to find an aggressive observation sit closer to where those bucks came into the field for that afternoon. Before heading to camp that morning we made another ground set up off a point roughly 120 yards from where the bucks came out. The wind didn’t allow us to get as close as we wanted but we are still in the game on other potential deer and we will have a great play in the morning whether we see the bucks in the afternoon or not. The morning of the 29th (tomorrow) we are moving in, setting up in bow range of the trail the shooters used to cut through the field. Hopefully one does it in daylight, or we learn something that will help us the last couple sits up here.
It’s really amazing to be back in one of the places I learned to bow hunt with my Dad, and to see how similar but different this property has become. It makes me extremely nostalgic, thankful, and excited to see what we can come up with together up here! Seeing the effort my Dad is putting in to learn how to work the camera and learn these deer on the fly with me is amazing. It’s motivating me to try harder for the success of the team, to show him his efforts are paying off, and that we can do it. I’m beyond thankful for our relationship and all of the special moments the woods has brought to us and will continue to bring to us for many years to come.