Apr 18

Last week we buried our nephew Steve, Brother Fran’s boy.  He lost his battle with cancer, at the young age of 53.  His dad, our eldest brother, died the same way, but made it a few years longer.

Steve was always a quiet, polite, hard-working sort, just a pleasure to be around.  Whatever was going on: hunting deer, cutting wood, constructing, whatever, he was always there.  Kinda kept in the background, didn’t have much to say, but he did his share with no complaints.  When you did get him in a conversation, he was knowledgeable, polite, with a quiet dry humor and a shy smile.  Just a good guy.  If he didn’t quite know what was going on, he would pitch in anyway, and quickly figure out how and where.

Steve worked hard and played hard and enjoyed life.  He spent his free time white-water kayaking, hunting, fishing, and reading.  He was devoted to his Mother, especially after his Father’s death, and spent as much time with her as he could.  He was one of the good ones.

We will all miss Steve.

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,
.