Nov 25, 2011

Beau's Buck - A Fitting Tribute for Man's Best Friend

My Beloved Beau

This is more than a posts about a successful deer hunt and more of a tribute to my 14 year old German Shorthair Pointer Beau (Zacharia's Brown Sugar).  Over the past few months Beau had been showing signs of his age and potential health issues.  He was having trouble with his hips and had a few episodes that mimicked seizures and we knew the day would come where we would have to make a tough decision involving our beloved dog.  The day my family dreaded  came this past week and Beau was put to rest in a very peaceful and loving manner.

Beau was our second GSP and our second hunting dog and had a tough job of replacing our previous GSP Zak. Beau did not ask for this challenge but he was the only pup that was accepted for the job by my daughter.  My Daughter Kaliegh was only 14 months old, while my son Brendan was 6 when we lost Zak and we began our mission to find a new hunting partner.  I had promised Brendan we would get a dog that looked exactly like Zak who was a solid liver with a small white patch on his chest but it was a promise I had no intention of breaking, but I did.  We made a trip to Quail Ridge Kennels which was in our home town to look at a littler of puppies and this litter had 4 solid liver pups.  All 10 puppies where in a large pen and we would take the liver pups out one at a time to visit with.  When the pups came up to my daughter she cried at every single one even if they just walked by her and of course my son loved everyone of them.  This was not going as I had planned.  As we continued to discuss each pup and look them over, one pup in the pen kept catching my eye.  This pup would just be sitting in the pen quiet and still just looking up at us at all the other puppies were going crazy jumping, yipping and knocking each other over.  I reached down and took this puppy out and put him on the floor and my son was first to object but I convinced him to be patient and watch the pup.  The puppy came over to all of us and when he went to my daughter, she didn't cry but instead smiled and put her hand out for the puppy.  We continued to watch this pup has he worked his way around the garage with his noise going like made and I couldn't figure out what he was looking for until he stopped, jumped up on his hind legs and sitting 3 feet above him was the puppies food bowl.  I was so impressed with his nose that I started to seriously consider this pup as an option to become our new family member.  Of course I had to convince my son that even though he didn't look exactly like Zak like I promised he could still become a great hunting partner and family member.  After some conversation and few tears, Brendan agreed that he was the one and we put a collar on him and said goodbye and told him we would be back in two weeks to pick him up.

Never far from a comfortable couch or bed

The day came to pick our new pup up, so the family piled into the van and headed up to the kennel to welcome our new friend into our family.  We got to the kennel, took care of the paper work and fought over who was going to carry our new pup to the van.  We had discussed names prior to this trip and continued as we made our way home in the van.  This pup was white with large liver colored spots that looked like marbles blending together and marbles was about to stick, when my son said how about BEAU.  We asked why Beau and he said it meant beautiful in French.  I wasn't sure and had to look it up and sure enough he was right.  We all agreed that he was beautiful and it fit my single syllable requirement and our new pup was officially named BEAU!  We continued our ride home and during that ride poor Beau got sick which almost caused Brendan to get sick.  We had figured he was just nervous and had probably eaten not long ago so we never gave it another thought.  Little did I know that his incredible nose and that ride home would define who Beau was for the past 14 years.

My Daughter and Son with Beau

Beau's nose proved I made the right decision as we began hunting him, but it also caused problems as he became the biggest trash hound I ever met.  He could sniff out the smallest piece of food and had the drive and determination to get it as well.  He learned to open up the garbage cans, shop in the bags from the store or sniff out chocolate in the kids Xmas stockings.  He loved treats of all kinds, that he could find a bag of horse treats in my neighbor's garage or smell the sweet scent of burgers cooking on the grill next door.  Beau would visit the neighbors and had them highly trained to take care of his request for treats and he was vocal about it as well.  As frustrating as this would be for me sometimes, the neighbors loved it and thought it was cute.

The sickness in the van on that ride home turned into a full blown desire for Beau to avoid riding in the car or truck at all costs.  Now this caused many a problems for me as it would usually take me 30 minuted to gather him up and get him in his travel kennel for a trip to the field.  Sure, it was funny at first especially when I would catch him, lift him up and try to put him in the kennel only to have him put those long legs of his up against the kennel making it impossible for one person to do.  This went on no matter if I used the kennel or let him ride on the seat.  All you had to do to get him in his outdoor kennel or in the house was to ask him if he wanted to go for a ride.  Normally after a hunt he was wore out and it was easier to get him back in the vehicle for the ride home.

Looks comfortable to me

Beau liked his comfort and he was strong willed and determined to get his way.  If that meant you had to sit on the floor while he laid his long lanky body across the couch, so be it.  Try to push him out of his spot was useless, even if he got up he was coming back to take you on in a battle of will which he always won.  Even just a few months ago, by son now 20 would be hanging off his bed while Beau commanded the majority of the space and covers.  Normally Beau would sleep on my bed every night where we would even share a pillow a time or two.  When it was time to get up, he would work his way around the rooms to find a warm body to curl up against and then when everyone was up and moving he would find even the smallest sliver of sunshine to lay in.

Last week Beau had another episode and even though I wasn't ready to let him go I knew it was time.  My wife was the rock here making me realize it and finding a way to do so that allowed Beau to be comfortable and peaceful.  Knowing that Beau always got worked up when in the car and at the vet, my wife did not want his last memories to have him in panic mode so she contacted Kristen Klie, DVM from Final journey LLC to inquire about her in home services.  We schedule an appointment for  a Friday afternoon giving everyone plenty of time to enjoy Beau and say goodbye.  My wife and I were with him to the end as he laid comfortably on the couch and in my wife's arms.  Beau was comfortable the entire time and it was the most peaceful experience I had ever witnessed.  Dr Klie made our tough and painful decision very respectful. compassionate and loving and I am thankful that we found her.

The last time I ever let my wife dress Beau in a costume

So where does the buck come into this story?  Well our firearms deer hunting season was underway and with everything going on I had zero ambition to be in the woods, I was in no mood to take an animals life knowing what I had to do and did.  I was emotionally drained and hadn't slept in days so Friday night I had planned to sleep in and skip the first Saturday of deer season.  But my well laid plans Saturday went the same way they did just over 14 years ago.  I threw them out the window and adjusted.  I was up as the first hint of sunrise started to peak out letting my lab Hannah out to do her business and when she was done we sat together on the couch and all I could think about was Beau.  I started to relive some of those hunting trips Beau and I had been on and I thought to myself that on a very cool crisp fall morning like it was this morning, Beau would want me to be in the place that brings me the most peace and that was the woods.  So I hurried about getting dressed and decided to hunt just down the street from my house where Beau had worked to put pheasant on the table.

I had to come to know every single inch of this small piece of state land over the past 16 years and I knew where most guys would be hunting and where the deer would be headed so I decided to slip in along the swamp and try to cut them off.  I was late to the woods as it was 15 minutes after sunrise, but found the forest floor very quiet allowing me to sneak down to the edge of the swamp and to slowly still hunt my way around it.  I had heard 3 shots on the far side of the swamp which was  definitely a sign of deer and  and that I made the right choice.  The cloud cover kept the sun hidden  but just before 8am it started to fight through the clouds providing that wonderful warmth that Beau loved so much.  As I stood against a tree enjoying that warmth I couldn't help but think about Beau and how much I missed him and hopped he was out in the woods enjoying the peaceful fall morning.

Beau's Buck - State Land 6 Pointer

I had realized at that moment that my wife had no idea where I was so I took out my phone and sent her a text message and as I reached to put my phone away and looked up, there was a deer coming my way at a nice clam pace.  I quickly knelt down and got my Remington 11-87 to the ready, the same gun used to shoot pheasants over Beau but this time I had the slug barrel on and my scope attached.  The deer continued to move closer and would eventually pass behind two large trees and stepping out into the opening for a clean 30 yard shot, or so I thought.  Once behind the trees, the deer disappeared and never stepped out.  I knew what was happening as the wind was swirling all over the place and that buck knew something was up.  I peaked over the gun to see his back end slowing backing up so I quickly shifted for a shot on the other side of the tree which offered little room for error thanks to the brush and smaller trees against the swamp.  The buck took two steps and turned to walk away the way he had just come as I settled the crosshairs on his chest and the Remington sent a Brenneke slug his way.  The slug connected and the buck dropped in his tracks.  Normally I would be so excited and grinning from ear to ear and sometimes even letting out a loud whoop, instead I calmly walked over to the buck, knelt down and as I rubbed his winter coat, I looked up and thanked Beau for such a wonderful gift.  The buck was a small 6 pointer and only weighed 107 pounds dressed, but he is by far my most memorable deer I ever harvested and will truly have a place in my heart and mind for ever.

I remember the day we brought you home and how you made the hurt go away. You brought so much laughter and love into our family and no matter how bad a day we had you were there to love and comfort us and make everything good again. We spent time chasing pheasants in the field and curled up together on the couch. We shared breakfast with each other as well as the same pillow some nights. 14 years makes for loads of memories and even though I was not ready to let you go, I could not stand to see you hurting. I am sure that you will find the fields full of birds , the bed as comfy as clouds and the treat bowl never ending. I love you Beau and miss you more then words can describe. I will never forget you.

Nov 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday.  Thanksgiving means that our Connecticut firearms deer season has been underway for a week now and knowing I have a few days off from work to get out in the woods would make anyone smile.  I love the traditional turkey dinner, but I crave a leftover turkey sandwich with my grandmothers stuffing on a fresh hard roll so much I would give up the dinner just to eat leftovers.  Thanksgiving also means that we are off to New Jersey for our annual Muzzle Loader deer camp.  12-16 guys in cabin on the top of a mountain with two full days of chasing whitetails around the woods.  Does life get any better than that?  Well 5 days of muzzle loader camp would make it better but we don't set the regulations.

I know I have so much to be thankful for this holiday season and I hope and pray that my followers do as well.  I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday and that you find time to share your passion with someone.  I know I will!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 22, 2011

Nov. 21st Goose Hunt Report

The Admiral retrieving a goose - Good Boy!!
The goose season reopened in our zone yesterday and even with gun season for deer in full swing we knew we just had to hit the  farm for some shooting, especially seeing we only got two hunts in prior to the close of the first split.

The usual characters made the early morning trip to the farm on an overcast, windy but usually warm morning.  Everyone has a job to do when we get there and the trucks are barely to a stop as we jump out and get to business of unloading the decoys and building a blind.  We had 3 dozen full bodies and 2 dozen shells for this mornings hunt which is about 4 dozen too many as far as Busch Pilot is concerned.  His philosophy is the more we put out the more we have to pick up and he reminds us as we are loading up the trucks the day before and about 5 times during setup but we just ignore him.

Hero shot with a 5 man limit
With all the work done we hunkered down in the blind thinking it was going to take a while for the geese to move seeing it was overcast and windy, but we caught a flock of geese that surprised us as they flew over the far side of the field and wanted nothing to do with our spread.  Then we had a single come over the trees already committed to the spread.  We think it is the same single we've seen on the last two outings that we couldn't convince in.  This day she committed and we let Busch Pilot and Damon do the shooting with Bubba backing them up and it was a good thing Bubba was backing them up, trust me.  It didn't take long after that  when a flock was coming right down the field and committed to the decoys early as we got all excited thinking we could knock a limit out of these 25 birds only to end up producing one for the pile.  Man were we rusty.  The next flock came in and we dropped a couple more, but still our shooting was off, but it improved on the next to volleys and we had a a 5 man limit and it was only 7:34am.   The birds kept coming so we frantically hurried about the task of  tearing the blind down and getting  the spread picked up and  out of the field so the birds could just pile in hopefully making for a good hunt on Friday.

Damon's showing off his bling!

These geese wanted in and we were obviously on the X and could have left our calls at home, but we used them just to give the geese a fighting chance.  Damon got his first band which was a special treat, especially seeing he just started goose hunting this year.  The bird was banded in CT back in 2008 and obviously sticks around the area.

As usual, time in the blind, however short, was filled with lots of laughs and good times with friends as we share the passion.

Nov 14, 2011

Connecticut Youth Day Deer Hunt Success

I wish I was reporting on my daughter's deer hunting success but she is down in Florida spending some time with Mickey and friends and enjoying the warm weather.  I think 10 days without power was too much for my wife and daughter so they are soaking up the sun and fun while I hold down the fort.  Don't feel bad for me as I will heading down to NJ in a few weeks for our annual Muzzle loader camp - woods and cold over sun and sand.  I'll take it every time.

Connecticut offers many youth hunter training days where it allows licensed youth hunters to get a jump on their season and get a little hunting in without the crowds of the regular season.  All youth hunters are required to be licensed, which means passing a hunter education course and to be accompanied by a licensed adult.  Only the youth hunter is allowed to hunt while the adult is there to mentor and teach.  I am a huge fan of these youth training days and have been taking advantage of them with my kids and their friends for 8 season now and these days are by far the best thing for the future of hunting.  There are those that complain about them as not being fair to let the kids out before the rest of us and for them I say in my best Sargent Hulka (Stripes) voice - "Lighten up Francis!"

Tired, cold, and ready for some lunch.

Connecticut offers 2 youth deer hunt days on the 2 Saturdays before the start of gun season.  I was fortunate enough to take my daughter out on the first one.  We were still battling power outages from the storm Alfred but we got our gear together anyway and made the best of it.  I decided to hunt state land that day and thanks to the storm damage, I was unable to get to my first spot, so we turned the truck around and headed to a spot closer to home.  IT was a cold day and I didn't think we would last long be we made it until about 11:30.  We had plenty of fresh sign, especially around the tree tops that fell in the storm.  It was like a lunch line of track around them.  We also found a few fresh scrapes that could have been made overnight seeing we had a really bright moon that night.  Even though we didn't see any deer, we had some laughs and enjoyed ourselves.  My daughter was playing with an acorn and wanted to taste it and of course her trying to get it apart was worth a few laughs but when I told her she was a knuckle head and she turned to me with a wide grin with acorn between her fingers and said "No, I'm a nut!" I just lost it and knew it was time to go take a walk because if there was anything around us it was sure to run with all that laughter.

Bubba's son James aka Little Bubba, was also out hunting that morning and they too were met with a uneventful morning but that would change for Little Bubba during the second youth hunting day.  Bubba's youngest just turned 12 days prior to the second youth day and was finally able to hunt.  So Busch Pilot and Bubba took both James and Jared out for a morning hunt to a piece of private land we hunt.  James had a nice buck come bounding off the hill but when he tried to move into position the buck spooked and ran towards hos brother Jared.  The buck stayed low so Jared never got a look at it.  As Busch Pilot put it, "well at least we saved Jim from a taxidermy bill.".    That was the only deer around that morning.  On the way home they had seen many deer out feeding in the grass fields so Bubba decided that for the afternoon hunt they would hunt over a grass field on a different piece of property.

Little Bubba with his buck 2011 CT Youth Deer hunt

Jared decided that hunting once a day was enough for him so he stayed home and Bubba and James headed up the road for an evening hunt.  The blind of choice this evening consisted of sitting under a old flatbed truck.  Now don't laugh until you try it.  This flatbed has served purpose as a blind on many occasions very successfully I might add.  Well with about 30 minutes of light left James said he say a deer in the brush across the field and lost it.  about 15 minutes later it was out in in the open in a small field just off the big grass field.  Bubba wanted to get it on film so he hurried to get the video camera on and as soon as the camera was on and the buck in few he gave James the okay to shoot and before he could finish getting the words out of his mouth the 30-30 barked and the spike buck dropped in it's tracks.  The shot was on the video but it happens really fast.  My favorite line from the video was "your brother is not going to be happy!", but even if Jared was a little disappointed he was still happy and willing helped with the skinning later that night.   This was James' second buck and he shot his first last year during a youth hunt that you can read about HERE.

Here is a short video clip of Little Bubba's hunt.  Remember it happens quick.

The smiles on the kids faces make everything right in the world and with the sport of hunting.  There is something about taking a youngster out in the woods and sharing your knowledge and passion for our great sport of hunting.  I'd give up shooting myself if every day was youth day.

Tis the season to get out and share the Passion!

Nov 10, 2011

In Honor of Veteran's Day

Veterans day observance is Friday November 11th, 2011 and it is a time for all of us to remember those that have served our country and continue to serve today to help maintain our freedom and protect our rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the day should be "filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory". There were plans for parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business activities at 11am.

In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and declared that the anniversary of the armistice should be commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving. The Congress also requested that the president should "issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples."

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) was approved on May 13, 1938, which made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I. A few years later, World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States and the American forces fought in Korea. In 1954, the veterans service organizations urged Congress to change the word "Armistice" to "Veterans". Congress approved this change and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they had served.
We shouldn't need an official day to remind us of the sacrifice of our service men and women along with their familes have made, but we do so please take some time out of your day on Friday to thank them.

To all our veterans and current service men and women I thank you for everything you have done and continue to do for us and our great country.  I will never forget the sacrifice of our service men and women and their families. May God Bless them and keep them safe.



Nov 7, 2011

Early Season Waterfowl Recap

Our September resident goose season was a bust for us. We struggled to find geese in our normal haunts and with all the rain we had the corn fields were too wet to cut. We jumped around between 4 or 5 spots and never fired a shot. The highlight or should i say low light, of the September goose season was a trip to a local pond where my daughter and I got into a yellow jacket next when setting up for an evening hunt. It wasn't pretty as my daughter got stung 17 times as we tried to beat feet out of there. She has refused to go goose hunting until the snow flies. The only good thing about the lack of geese was we were loaded up with ducks. Lots of wood ducks, teal and plenty of Mallards and hopefully they would stick around for the duck opener.

Thanks to all the rain we had more water then we needed

We have a split waterfowl season here in CT and in the northern zone our 10 day season started on October 12th and Bubba, Busch Pilot and Myself were welcoming in the season in our favorite local swamp. We had lots of wood ducks early, a small group of geese and even a couple flocks of mallards. It would have been a spectacular day if we had remembered how to shoot. We really stunk the joint up and only manage 2 Mallards and plenty of ducks left untouched and smarter. We continued to hunt the local watering holes and while seeing plenty of ducks, some serious shooting for some of our crew but little to show for it.

Busch Pilot, Myself, Damon and Bubba with our limit

When we got the call that the farm we hunt started cutting the corn with just days left in the early goose season it was like receiving that special gift on Christmas morning, you know the one that you just had to have and Santa delivered. We headed out to the farm made a make shoft blind for the 5 of us and settled in for what we hoped would be a good shoot.  The geese were flying early and there were lots of them except they were headed off to another field.   After about an hour of watching about 400 to 500 geese fly by us with barely a look, we got a flock interested and when they made there final decent inot the spread we let out our frustration and dropped 3 geese right off the bat.  We picked away at some smaller groups of geese over the next hour to come one short of a 5 man limit and we were packed up and on our way to breakfast at 9:30am.  The boys decided to hunt the following Tuesday which was the last day of the first season and they had a 4 man limit by 7:30am and then sat at the barn and watched flock after flock land in the field.  Hope they stick around for the second opener.

We have a couple of youth deer hunt days mixed in over the next two weekends and duck opens back up soon as does our rifle/shotgun deer season.

Bubba Day dreaming about Green Heads

Busch Pilot doing his best to hide
Bubba the pack mule

View from the goose blind
Busch Pilot retrieving decoys

Team Empty Hull goose pile.
The X
Hannah napping in the blind

No ducks to retrieve this hunt, so she was retrieving the decoys

Sunny Rise over the swamp

Nov 1, 2011

Storm Alfred - October 2011

We had record snow fall in January with over 50 inches for the month, A tornado that left a 9 mile stretch of destruction and passed just 9 miles from my house and hammered my son's college campus, Hurricane Irene, lots and lots of rain and now a Nor'easter in October. I'm not sure what's next but I can tell you one thing for sure, I plan on taking every single weather report seriously from here on out. Connecticut had almost 900,000 customers without power and for many of us it looks like it is going to be a while before it gets restored.I was without power after Irene for a week and Alfred sure left much more damage in it's wake.With all the leaves still on the trees and wet heavy snow, trees and branches didn't have a chance.The family and I are planning on a long cold week but thankful it wasn't any worse.

Video from around the house 

Video of my driveway - Took me 7 hours to get it totally cleaned up and passable

My 14 year old GSP Beau trying to stay warm

The girls doing the same

My lab Hannah loves this stuff
The Morning After
My driveway is under there somewhere.

My pines lost their branches but still standing

My maple sprung back to live