Dec 5, 2010

2010 New Jersey Muzzle Loader report - Day 2

Catfish pond at dusk on Monday evening

After a hard first day of hunting in the cold and a good night sleep we were up and at it once again on Tuesday morning.  This time the coffee maker was setup perfectly and thank goodness because for many of us it took a few extra cups to get us started this morning.  The only one that was wide awake and full of energy was the youngster Kyle because he got 10 hours of sleep after hitting the sack early because he was worn out from DOE fever, which according to Kyle is not as severe as BUCK fever.

The only change from day one was Jimmy went off the mountain to hunt with his nephew James down at Red Dog which is located down along an old farm and the corn fields not far down river from where a bunch of our crew was hunting.  Everyone up top, including myself ended back at our same stands from Monday morning but the big difference was the weather.  It was cloudy and overcast with storms moving in and temps in the mid to high 30s and expected to hit the mid 50s.  There was a little more wind and the forest floor was a little quieter this morning so the eyes had to work a little harder today.  It didn't take long to hear the first shots and this time you could tell it was muzzle loaders and coming from the direction of Bubba, Busch Pilot and Chuck.  Sure enough the radio lit up and Bubba had a clean miss.  Not once but twice, uh oh this isn't normal  and I was starting to worry that this was a bad sign on how the day was going to go, but it was just a freak phenomenon and we were back on track quickly..  Bubba and Busch Pilot where working the brush after that and had a jag of deer come bursting up the mountain and across the top and never fired a single shot.  Good think Chuck was up there because he took a bead on a 4 pointer and his shot was true.  Now this wasn't the largest buck chuck ever shot but it was certainly special as this buck was the third buck chuck shot this year, covering three states (Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey) in just three weeks of hunting.  Now if you're a hunter you know that this is something special and a pretty darn good accomplishment.  Not only do you have to have some luck and be in the right spot three times, but you have to shoot straight all three times and Chuck certainly did.

Chuck's Buck

Chuck with his coveted traveling sportsman award.

It was long after Chuck shot that we heard James shot a large doe down at Red Dog.  Just because you are hunting the low lands that doesn't mean you have an easy drag.  James had to drag that doe almost a mile out to the truck and his Uncle Jim enjoyed watching every minute of it.  Now James got his first muzzle loader deer last year and his first buck with a bow this fall so he is certainly on a streak of his own but I have a feeling he will think twice about shooting a deer down that way again because there was a little complaining about the drag and I must admit, it's not as easy as people think.  One thing for sure, young James is turning into a fine hunter and sportsman and it was great to see him tag a deer.

The one that didn't get away from Busch Pilot

As for the rest of us, no more shooting that morning but we got into some later that day.  Busch Pilot had another chance to redeem himself after taking out a tree on Monday and as he lined up a really large doe, that Chuck actually thought was a rock at first, he was confident and steady and when is CVA Wolf muzzle loader barked the deer jumped up and started walking off.  He had an audience on this shot as Bubba, Chuck, James and Jimmy all watched this fine display of marksmanship and more than one them thought he made a good hit but while they watched the deer move out of site the deer's body language was telling a different story.  They followed up the shot and could not find any hint of a hit, no blood and no hair and no digs marks, nothing.  So they went back to where Busch Pilot was and were looking things over when James noticed some bark missing off a branch just feet from where Busch Pilot was standing when he shot.  He never saw the branch in the scope but it was in the line of fire and took a hit which explains why the deer was acting perfectly normal.

The Meat Tree after the final Drive

We got Chuck's and James' deer hung up, had some lunch and decided what to do next.  It was raining pretty good by this time and Bob and the kids were heading home and Dad, Steven and Bill  had called it quits as well.  The rest of us decided that we just had to make at least one drive and it had to be one of our usual, so we gathered up our gear, dressed for the rain and the walking and headed off the mountain to push a little spot we refer to as Long Pond.  It's not a pond at all but thick brush and tall grass that just happens to have some puddles of water that runs along the river just off the road and at the bottom of the mountain.  It is a very narrow stretch that narrows down to a tight pinch point as in gets closed off by two very small hill tops.  So we set out our standers, 4 of which are at the north end at the pinch point by the hill tops and two across the road up on the mountain side so if they get by the first three standers they are in position for a shot or to push them back down into the brush.  Now because the deer like to sneak back through the drivers we have another stander positioned at the back end where it starts out narrow but offers a more open shooting lane and much more visibility.  While the drivers are all lined up pushing the brush we have a another blocker up on the side of the mountain with a perfect view of the drivers and he is moving along with the drivers to keep an eye on things and keep the deer from moving up the mountain.  Everyone has very specific shooting lanes that are in a safe direction and never towards another stander or a driver.  If the deer are in there we will usually get one.  As is usual with this push it doesn't matter if I have a deer or not I'm a driver and take the thick brush along the river. The Driver along the road side deals more with tall grass while the driver in between us has to deal with both thick brush and tall grass.  This cover makes for a great hiding place and many times we've almost stepped on deer before they get up and head out.    Just about a 100 yards into the push we have deer up and heading up river to the standers,  now we don't push them hard, just enough to get them moving and then we wait a bit and let them do their thing.  Well it isn't long before the deer are moving up a creek bed trying to cross and go up the mountain right where we have a stander there waiting for them and down goes number one.  They try to go up the hill but our guy is there and number two goes down and the rest are back down into the brush we have to work the real thick stuff to shag them along and give them a little extra push..  We get them moving again and they try once again to get across and up the mountain only to run into another blocker who is standing on the hill waving his arms to keep them down in the brush.  They stay down in the brush and break back down river where our backdoor stander is and down goes number 3, but number 4 slips out the back.  Well, we know there is at least one more in there and think it is still out in front of the drivers so we continue to push forward and and sure enough the last one is hiding just at the pinch point in the really thick stuff and it scoots out the back door and lives another day and is a whole lot smarter now.  Now this is probably the most deer we've gotten on this drive, but surely not the biggest as we've taken a couple of nice bucks out of here but the three we got were all Does.

No it's not a scene out of Deliverance it's just Cletus

Cletus got the chance to field dress his first deer without any help and he did a great job but somehow he ended up covered in blood as if he was a little puppy that rolled in something he shouldn't have.  It was a little frightening and at one point I swore I heard the music from the movie Deliverance playing.  We gave him some grief but you couldn't wipe the smile off his face with all the towels in the world.  He knew he was taking his next step as a hunter and he couldn't have been prouder.  One problem though, his deer was the smallest of all and he swears he could eat it all in one sitting and the way he eats we believe him. Looks like I will have to share some of mine with him as well.  We got them all loaded up and the boys head off to the check station while the rest of us called it a day and head back to camp to get dried out.

The Connecticut crew stays an extra night in camp and we drive home in the morning on Wednesday and the rest of the local boys head home on Tuesday night so our dinner Tuesday was leftovers and nice and quiet.  We were up around 6:30 Wednesday and had both trucks loaded and headed back to Connecticut.  The nice thing about out crew is the local boys always make sure us CT boys get the shooting opportunities because with the weird way the muzzle loader season runs in our zone it's hard for us to get back up except for maybe a day or two out of the remaining 13 hunting days while our NJ crews just drives the 30 minutes to hunt it up.  I sure wish I lived closer.   Regardless of the deer count we always have a great trip and the goodbyes usually start with only 362 days until the next camp.

It was a great 2 days with 8 deer taken, 3 bucks, 1 button and 4 does.  Everyone saw deer and many had shot opportunities, but it was the time with friends and family that make camp great.


  1. How do you guys handle so much fun?

  2. I will copy the sediments of the others. Your camp sounds like so much fun and by the look of the "meat tree," you guys aren't that bad of hunters either! Congrats to you all for deer taken and memories made!

  3. Love the meat tree!! Beautiful hunt! I'm congratulatory and jealous at the same time!

    Happy Hunting!