What a difference a year makes. Last year we had great cold and clear weather and a full meat tree, while this year we had warm weather for two days along with Rain and fog and a damn near empty meat tree.
This is our annual after Thanksgiving Muzzle Loader hunt down in the Delaware Water Gap area of New Jersey and it is always greeted with great anticipation and excitement. Much of this excitement and anticipation is the fact that we have almost 30 miles of state and federal land to hunt and with that much land to hunt you never know what is going to happen. The trip starts out early on Sunday as members of our Connecticut crew pile into the trucks and head south to our camp which is a cabin at the Mohegan Outdoor Center where we meet up with friends and family from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.
Once our gear is unloaded in our rooms, some guys will sit around telling stories, others tart preparing some snacks and dinner while the rest will usually take to the woods for a last minute scouting trip. Once it gets dark, it is time for a great dinner and then time to prepare out packs and lunches for the next day's hunt. Of course a little night cap is always in order to help fight through the restless night that we all face.
Wake up Monday was 4am and about 4:05am, someone heads out side to see what the weather is like and the report was not good. It was already in the 50s and temps were expected to get to the mid 60s. The first of the crew that are hunting off the mountain head out at 5am and the rest of us are out the door by 5:30am. It was a short hike to my perch for the morning, same spot that i shot my 8 pointer last year. I was all snuggled in and anxiously awaiting shooting light a good 25 minutes before it arrived. As the sun started to rise I was already greeted with bugs buzzing around me. This was not going to be good. Pennsylvania has their deer season opener on the same day and this usually makes for plenty of shots heard through the morning, but this morning things were usually quiet. I should have known then that this was going to be one of those trips. Few deer were sighted that morning, of course none by me. Chuck scored a nice 5 little 5 pointer and we joked about this being the big buck pin winner, little did we know it would end up to be not only the pin winner, but the only deer taken in two days. Some of us met back at the cabin for lunch and after getting Chuck's deer to the check station and hung up on the meat pole, we headed off the mountain to meet up with the rest of the crew so we could make a push or two. We setup for our long pond push which seldom lets us down, but it did on this day. As one of our standers was walking in he jumped a lone doe and took a shoot and missed. That would be the only deer seen on this drive. By the end of this driver, most of use were soaked and picking thorns out of our clothes and body so with about an hour left many of us just head back to camp to get an early shower. Chuck, James and Myself decided to butcher Chuck's buck and get it in a cooler as temps were not excepted to drop below the high 40s. We had a good dinner, some more laughs and a night cap and then off to bed.
Tuesday morning's weather report was warm and damp. According the to radar we had about 4 hours before it started raining so out the door we headed. The rain started around 8:30am but it was light and mostly a mist, but the fog was heavy at times and visibility was down to 40 yards at times. About 10:30 the chatter on the radio was to head back to the cabin because according to the radar, the skies were about to open up. Well, some of us didn't make it back in time and we got soaked. It looked like the rain was going to hold on through the majority of the afternoon so guys started to head home. Busch Pilot and James decided to do a little walk about and ran into nothing but black bears. We decided to pack it in and head back to CT around 3pm.
We had one deer to show for the trip and only two shots taken in two days which is a far cry from our usual trips. The weather didn't cooperate, most of the hunters that stayed through the mid day heat or rain, sat tight and so did the deer. In terms of deer, camp was a letdown, but as always we had good food and lots of laughs with family and friends and that is truly what makes camp so special.