Nov 1

Now that another deer season is in full swing, I have been searching the internet for a website called “tughillhunting.com”, but it seems to have disappeared.  Maybe you know about it?

Anyway, I have some experience with Tug Hill and deer hunting, so if you would like to use this site to share your whitetail deer stories, photos, questions, ideas, and such, please feel free.  I am mostly familiar with the Montague/Sears Pond area, and the Windfarm lands of Harrisburg and Martinsburg, but would like to hear from hunters from any parts of the Tug.

Let us know how your hunt has been this year, what’s new around camp, and your experience with how the deer population is faring.  Have any good recipes you would like to share?

Rector's Corners, NY

Rector

And if you are successful in taking a Tug Hill trophy, I am familiar with a couple of NYS Big Buck Club expert scorers, so we can get you in contact and see how your trophy rates.

I found this in my web surfing.  You may enjoy it.  Years ago I had a cassette tape that we listened to the night before the season opener.

DEER CAMP

Oct 29
Another Pitcher Hill buck 2008

Another Pitcher Hill buck 2008

I would like to be able to tell you that our club had this ol’ buck all photographed, patterned, predicted, and tagged with a cute name like “Crabby” or “The Craw” and already the stuff of legend around our Pitcher Hill Camp.  I would like to tell you that. But no, up to the second day of the deer season, no one had even seen him, unless maybe a couple years back when he was a little cowhorn spike.  He had even eluded, obviously, the nighthunting road hunters that regularly patrol our land.  Although he had apparently been injured some time the year before, causing that unusual lobster claw antler.

As whitetail bucks go, this one was not a monster, especially for a Tug Hill buck.  Certainly not Boone & Crockett class, or even NY Big Buck Club.  He weighed about 200 pounds alive, not a real monster in an area where 250 pounders are not uncommon.  His typical antler carried 4 long even points with good mass, and he probably would have had a spread of 20 or 22 inches if the right antler had matched.  A good wallhanger trophy, especially on The Tug.  The other antler, however, grew straight forward, with a lobster claw fork at the end.  An unusual trophy.

Our usual hunting style is to post a few of our hunters on known deer trails and escape routes, then have 1 or 2 hunters walk quietly thru an area and try to move the deer.  It is best to know the area, and after 50 years or so of hunting these woods, we pretty much know where the deer like to bed and which way they will go.  Usually. Obviously our bud Brucie got too close to this buck, and he decided to leave the area.

One of the fun parts of deer hunting is getting together and making a plan, revising and honing that plan, then trying to carry it out successfully. A lot depends on the wind, weather, and the experience of the hunters in your group. The hard part is getting the deer to co-operate. This time it worked to perfection, and the deer exited the Pitcher Swamp headed right to Jim, antlers gleaming proudly in the sunlight. It would be hard to say who was more surprised when they met, but Jim recovered first, and another hunt ended successfully. It is so great when a plan comes together.

Oct 24

My brothers Lee and Jim with two Tug Hill bucks
My brothers Lee and Jim with two Tug Hill bucks

Once again this year I was fortunate enough to make the opener of the deer season on Tug Hill.  I don’t believe I have missed Opening Day in over 50 years now, except for a couple of years fighting the Cold War in Europe.  Too far to commute.

This year we had one of those rare opening weekends when the weather was perfect: sunny but cool, still some leaves on the trees for color.  It is always great to get together with family and old friends, even a few new ones, and enjoy some stories, good food, lots of laughs.  The deer hunting is just an excuse for being there, and if you harvest a few deer, as we usually do, it is a bonus.  I’ll post a few photos later.  Our bud John even had an encounter with a trio of bears, as rare on The Tug as a DEC Officer.

Of course, as I get older, my circles keep getting smaller.  I used to enjoy stalking the ridges and slipping thru the swamps, meeting the whitetail on his own grounds.  Now I mostly sit in a treestand for a few hours, hoping someone will chase a deer by me, but not really upset if it doesn’t happen.

I know that I am going to hear from some folk who are anti-hunting, anti-meateaters, anti-nature, and all that.  Been there and done that.  Just don’t criticize me and I will do the same for you.  I’m sure I could convert you with an afternoon in the woods on a sunny autumn day, and afterward a hearty dinner of venison steaks with mushrooms, onions, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  It just doesn’t get any better, and I hope I can be there for 50 more years, or at least a few.

What really irritates us is the growing number of “hunters” who patrol the rural roads at night and shoot the deer from their trucks.  Even that unsportsmanlike activity could be tolerated if they had starving children at home, and they took the venison home and used it.  There are too many deer, and not enough hunters any more.  But more and more of these night stalkers just leave the deer lie, or sometimes they cut out some choice steaks.  The rest remains in the field.  Some day we will catch them.  It just doesn’t make sense.

Perhaps the idea is to shoot every deer they see and hope that one is a buck that they can hang in the front yard.  Antlers are even harder to see in the dark, so there are a lot of mistakes.

Oct 14

It was one of those perfect October days, not too hot, not too cold, sunny and bright. I decided to go in early to my deer stand, located at the edge of one of our Tug Hill farm fields. I took along a Louis L’Amour book, got my rifle and camera ready, and laid back for a few hours. This is the part of deer hunting I really enjoy. After awhile, a big doe and twin fawns joined me, and I watched them cavorting on the field for an hour or so, hoping that the buck I knew was in the neighborhood would join them. Just before dark, a pack of hunting coyotes started to make music in the nearby woods, and my deer eased off the field. Although I knew there would be no more deer today, I stayed until the light was gone, then unloaded my rifle, packed my gear, and climbed down from the stand. As I started the half-mile trek across the fields to camp, I could suddenly hear the hunting calls of the coyotes in the trees to my right, and also on my left. Were they hunting me? Even with a rifle in hand,it makes one feel very alone out there. As an instinctive shiver went down my back and the hairs stood up on my neck, I stuffed a clip back in my deer rifle and played my light around the field, looking for shining eyes. But no, as I stood alone in the darkened field for a while, the melodious calls of the hunters faded in another direction. Some unlucky hare was probably the target this night. A welcome full Hunter moon arose, shedding some light on the field. However, I walked just a bit faster as I headed for the distant lights of the farmhouse.

Sep 5

Adirondack Buck

Adirondack Buck

OL’ TIGE

The other day I was doing some wandering on Google, wasting time, and I came across this great piece of poetry. Brought back some memories of one of our most memorable deer hunts, gosh, some 50 years ago now. I remember like it was last year.

My brothers Lee and Jim were still teens, and I was just back from the Cold War. Deer were scarce on Tug Hill after a few tough winters, and we had been exploring some promising hunting grounds in the Adirondacks. We borrowed a neighbor’s WWII jeep, and Brother Dick’s ’52 Chevy pickup with his homemade camper, and set out for a November hunt. More about that later, maybe.

We were camped near Pico Mountain, and to get there one had to drive about 10 miles of gravel road beyond Brantingham Lake, then 4 or 5 miles of log roads into the woods. Lee and I had been in camp for a few days, and came out to pick up Jim at Brantingham. On our journey back to camp, we were ambushed by a jolly group of hunters on the Partridgeville Road, who insisted we join them in their camp, where a little party was going on. Their senior camper-he seemed ancient, but surely wasn’t much older than I am now-stood on a chair, bourbon in hand, and recited for us verbatim this very funny poem-we thought at the time he was making it up-and it has stayed with us all this years. I have never found it in print until now. Not sure who the author was.

Ready?

THE PISSING DOG
A farmer’s dog came into town,
His Christian name was Tige;
His mother showed her pedigree,
It was noblesse oblige.
And as he trotted down the street,
It was wonderful to see
Him piss against each corner,
And Diss against each tree.
He pissed against each gateway,
And pissed against each post;
For pissing was his specialty,
And pissing was his boast.
The city dogs looked on amazed,
In growing helpless rage;
To see a simple country dog,
The pisser of his age.
[9]



Some thought that he a king might be,
Of legend long forgot;
Whose asshole shone like burnished gold,
And smelled like berganot.
Then each one smelled him critically,
They smelled him two by two;
But the country dog in high disdain,
Stood still until they were through.
Then just to show his mettle,
That he did not care a damn,
He trotted to a grocery store,
And pissed upon a ham.
He pissed upon a child’s bare leg,
He pissed upon the floor;
Till the grocer with a bull’s-eye kick,
Sent him pissing through the door.
Behind him all the city dogs
Lined up with instinct true,
To start a pissing carnival,
And see the stranger through.
[10]



They showed him every pissing place
They had about the town,
And started in with many a wink
To piss the stranger down,
They sent for champion pissers
In training and condition,
Who sometimes did a pissing stunt,
Or pissed for exhibition.
But Tige was pissing merrily,
With hind leg hoisted high;
When most were hoisting legs in bluff,
But pissing mighty dry,
Then Tige sought out new pissing ground,
By piles of scrap and rust;
Till even the boldest pissers there
Pissed a little spurt of dust.
Then followed free hand pissing,
With fancy flirts and flings,
Like “double drop” and “gimlet twist,”
And all those graceful things*
[11]



So on and on went the pissing dog,
With shining amber rill,
Till the boldest pisser of them all
Was pissed to a dead standstill.
But never a wink gave the country dog,
Nor bark, nor growl, nor grin;
But pissed his journey out of town
As he came pissing in,
.

Jan 18

Now that I am retired and have some free time on my hands, I have been thinking of putting together some stories into a Tug Hill book.  I have 25 years of our camp logs, lots of photos, and lots of memories, and it would be fun to put them on paper.  Someone might enjoy them.  It is easy to get published these days.  Now I just have to come up with some motivation.

Nov 3

A large part of the enjoyment of deer camp is planning a hunt, carrying out the plan, and having it end successfully. We usually hunt with from 2 to 6 people, making short quiet drives with 1 or 2 walkers and the rest posting in tree stands or on likely deer runways.

We spend many long evenings in camp consulting with Dr McGillicudy and Uncle Bud while putting together strategies for the next day’s hunt that would make any army general envious.

We consider a hunt successful if everyone makes it back to camp without getting lost or hurt, and someone at least sees a deer. Taking a buck on Tug Hill is a bonus.

This particular plan involved brother Lee and John G. taking a long walk in the dark around to the North side of the bedding area where we knew a big buck was hanging out. The rest of us would post on the West, South, and East sides, while those two walked zigzag thru the area. There were a couple of inches of snow in the woods, the day would be bright and clear, and success would be ours.

Of course, I couldn’t know, as I eased my way to a new treestand that brother Kenn and I had built, that the big buck we were after was not in the vicinity, but a smaller one was bedded in the evergreens not 50 yards down the ridge from my stand. As I carefully stepped onto the platform, with my empty rifle hanging from a rope 15 feet below, the buck leaped from his cover and bounded away to the North. Gone, sez I. Not part of the plan at all.

Of course, the deer couldn’t know, as he made his escape, that half a mile to the North, Johnny G. sat on a log on a ridge alongside a swamp, chewing on a cigar and waiting to start his walkabout. The buck chose to avoid the swamp, and sneak up the nearby ridge on a trail that ran right by John’s log. Big mistake. It’s so great when a plan comes together! The buck was only a 5-point, but John had not taken one in a while, so he was happy and we were happy.

Aug 30

view from a treestand

The Hunter

As he sat in his hard wooden tree stand overlooking a deserted farm field and watched the sun finally come up over the Adirondack peaks many miles to the East, Denny G. mused that, if nothing else, deer hunters certainly had a lot of time to think about things. He had done a lot of thinking this morning.
After getting up in the middle of the night and downing a quick coffee and donut, Denny had been delivered to this spot in the dark and advised that someone would pick him up for breakfast. That had been hours ago. He had climbed carefully into his stand and managed to load his rifle. He wondered if he would get a chance to use it. John had told him that a big buck had been seen in the area, but he wondered if that was just talk, if they put him here because no one had ever seen a deer here, and he would be safe. He wondered what the club members thought of him as a hunter. He wondered if he would be able to shoot a big buck if he had the chance. He wondered if anyone would remember to come back for him. He had his son Scott’s new semi-automatic rifle with the fancy scope; he wondered if he would be able to fire it. There had been no time to test it the day before, just a few hurried instructions from Scott, who wouldn’t be able to come to camp until today. He would miss opening morning.
Denny was not really an avid deer hunter. Although he had grown up in Maine, where everyone was a deer hunter, work and other obligations kept him from hunting more than a couple of weekends a year. He enjoyed coming to camp: the joking, the meals, the card games, and camaraderie of visiting with all the gang. He didn’t even mind being teased about his Maine accent, even after all these years. And now Scotty was into guns and deer hunting, and it gave them something to do together. But he would like to at least see a deer today.
The October sun was just beginning to melt the frost from the hayfield when he noticed a movement at the edge of the hardwoods, as a small deer eased onto the field. A doe? Were does legal this year? The rules changed from season to season. Or was that just for black-powder season? Should he shoot? No, better not. He would have to check the rule book when he got back to camp. As the deer raised its head from feeding, he imagined he could see a small antler. He studied the animal with his telescope, and decided it did have spike antlers. Those were legal, but not very long. Should he wait for a bigger buck? He estimated the deer was over 100 yards across the field, and he had never shot that far.
Just as he settled the rifle to his shoulder, a twig snapped, almost under his stand, and he looked around. There stood a larger buck, at least a 6-point, studying the field. He carefully swung his rifle around, and when the sight covered the deer’s front shoulder, squeezed the trigger. There was a dull click, but enough to make the deer jump forward a few steps. When he had loaded this morning, the locking bolt must not have closed tightly…he remembered now that Scott had warned him about that. He had to pull the bolt back and slam it forward tightly, then the gun would be ready to fire. At the noise, and before he could aim again, the deer ran across the field and joined the other buck. Both deer stood looking down the field, but not toward him.
At the far end of the field stood a monster buck, antlers gleaming in the sunlight. Geezamighty! He had never dreamed that they ever grew that big! He would be the envy of the whole club if he harvested this one. Surely none of the members had ever killed one this big. Maybe none of them had ever seen one as big. But it was nearly 200 yards away, should he shoot? Should he wait for it to come closer? The smaller bucks were closer, but they were forgotten now.
As Dennis tried in vain to control the shaking rifle barrel, the huge deer started across the field toward the others. It fed slowly behind a small rise, out of sight. The other deer! Now they were looking in the other direction, back toward the camp. Now another hunter came into sight, coming toward him across the field. He recognized Scotty by his walk…he had arrived in time for the morning hunt after all. Just at the wrong time, and in the wrong place. Geezamighty! Of course, he had no way of knowing that anyone was in the stand, he didn’t even know that the stand was there.
Suddenly Scott spotted the two deer. He crouched and began carefully stalking across the field toward the bucks. With a flash of white in the sunlight, before Dennis could raise his gun, they were gone. The big buck merely disappeared, neither hunter saw him run. Dennis never saw it again, except often in his dreams.