Author Topic: Tracking snow and hitting the barnyard  (Read 258 times)

Offline Aziscohosbuck

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Tracking snow and hitting the barnyard
« on: Dec 01, 2019, 01:18:16 PM »
So this is an update to our Aziscohos trip in mid November.  Coldest and oldest deer hunting trip in 39 years of hunting.  Brutally cold with temps in the morning at first light as low as -5 degrees with daytime temps only reaching up into the upper teens or low twenties.  Perfect new snow for tracking with 5" on the ground.  Hunted a particular mountain that required climbing up through old skidder roads and slash for 300 yards or so to get up onto higher ground with undisturbed old growth forest and then hit hot fresh huge buck tracks in new snow, I felt that it was no longer than a couple hours old.  The buck's track was a decent 3"x4" with dew claws and he had a big doe in tow with him, he had about a two foot stride on him.  Followed for about 200 yards straight up the mountain in a right to left zig zagging pattern, the wind was blowing a good 20 miles an hour out of the north/northwest quartering across the ridge and the buck was heading straight up and quartering down wind making things difficult or impossible to hear, suddenly I thought i saw a flash of brown up and to my right, tracks led in that direction so I followed, found two fresh beds that I had jumped them out of and knew they were now just minutes ahead of me.  The deer tracks took me right to the top of the mountain, I am now 1 mile from my truck and my partner is about 1/2 mile north of me hunting the same ridge tracking another buck.  We had walkie talkie radios and communicated at around noon time, we are now 6 hours into this hunt.  At this point we agreed that we could not pursue these bucks any farther as I am age 63 and my partner is age 60, it just would not be possible to drag out a huge buck more than 1 mile from the road where our trucks were parked on and these deer were heading in a general direction to another road to the Southeast that was another mile farthur to the southeast.  In hindsight we should have had another truck parked on that other road but we didn't.  So we decided to back track out and sit the afternoon some thirty yards off the track hoping these deer would decide to do the same, that didn't happen.  The rest of the trip was spent checking other hot spots in years past in brutally cold weather that did not pan out.  So fast forward to back home in the Kennebec Highlands on Friday 11/29/19, had 4" of new snow to track on from thanksgiving morning, perfect conditions, tracked a large buck up onto a mountain ridge that met up with 4-5 other deer, tearing and ripping the snow up with leaves overturned in huge areas digging for acorns.  I got confused with all of the other tracks and could not figure it out, but I knew this is what is called a "barnyard" by a Maine guide named Hal Blood whom I have a lot of respect for.  I was literally in the middle of a large group of deer half way up a mountain in fresh snow, they were feeding on a huge hardwood ridge with white oak and beech trees interspersed with knolls and ravines with spring fed brooks running down that had good softwood cover for bedding.  At this point, I have walked over 1 mile starting with flashlight before first light to get into this remote area up on this mountainside, it is now 8am and I decide to rely upon my tried and true method which is to take a stand some thirty yards off of all of this hot new fresh track and hope that a buck will double back.  My majic time in these woods is 8:30am, having seen more deer than at any other time of the day, so while on stand (I don't use tree stands, only hunt from ground stands), 8:30am comes and goes, no deer. So at 8:45am decide to let go with 5-6 buck grunt calls and see what happens.  This method has been haphazard at best for me and so was not really expecting anything to happen.  What happened next blew my mind, about 15 minutes after i let loose with the buck grunt calls, at 9am undetected by sound this beautiful wide heavy tined buck snuck up on me from above the ridge, dropping down on me from the upwind side.  There was a steady north/northwest wind and he dropped down on me from that direction heading downwind.  No way did he smell me, however it was a bright sunny day, with soft snow and he never made a sound as he came sneaking up on me.  While on stand and silent I was looking downwind for the buck to appear, when suddenly I heard a loud snort from behind me.  I turned to my left and up the mountain and looked while raising my rifle and clicking off the safety, what I saw blew my mind, here was a very mature buck with very huge body no more than 30 yards away that had snuck up on me, I had a very clear view of him as he turned and made two huge bounds, his rack was viewed from the rear but it was a huge curved bucket racked deer with antlers well beyond it's ears.  I simply looked at it over the top of my scope, as he disappeared over the top of a knoll in two great bounds with no shot opportunity.  This was the only deer that I saw during the 2019 Maine Deer Hunting Season and this was with over 80 hours of hunting time, they just were not in the usual convenient places, I had to to go on a 1 mile hike to find them and I came so close but could not connect.  I will say this, just to see one deer of the quality of this Buck on a remote mountainside hunt is better than seeing 10-15 does every year like I normally do so I am happy just to get a look at a wild mountain buck like that! I still have two weeks of muzzleloader season so I bet you know which Mountain I will be back up on!

Offline aquaassassin

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Re: Tracking snow and hitting the barnyard
« Reply #1 on: Dec 01, 2019, 02:35:46 PM »
Great recount! Keep it up!
It's not being cocky if you can back it up!

Offline zwiggles

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Re: Tracking snow and hitting the barnyard
« Reply #2 on: Dec 01, 2019, 03:12:52 PM »
I enjoyed the read as well. Iíve also been freezing my butt off this year like no other.

Offline swnoel

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Re: Tracking snow and hitting the barnyard
« Reply #3 on: Dec 02, 2019, 06:26:39 AM »
Great story... good luck!

Offline Aziscohosbuck

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Re: Tracking snow and hitting the barnyard
« Reply #4 on: Dec 02, 2019, 01:36:41 PM »
After the buck ran off bounding over the top of a knoll with me looking over the scope at him with maybe a 3 -4 second window the only shot I might have got off at him might have been a straight away back shot with only the tips of his antlers disappearing over the knoll.  So I don't take a shot like that at this point in my deer hunting experience, let him go and maybe you can hunt him again in the general area.  I did try calling again with buck grunts but knew this was to no avail as he clearly saw me when he snorted.  Because there was fresh hot track from where he bolted and ran, I did wait about a half hour and proceeded to track him in the snow.  He ran right into the wind which was out of the northwest, he cut straight across the mountain on a dead run for about 75 yards, then slowed and angled down hill, he made a loop while walking back in the direction from which he ran and then mixed in with all the other tracks of deer that had been tearing up the mountian pawing for acorns and once again I lost track of where he was going.  This was not the same larger buck that I initially took the track on up the mountain earlier in the morning, his fresh track after he bounded and ran proved that.  So at least I know this is a hot spot for multiple deer using the area and that there is more than one buck using the area.  Crazy thing is this place is a lot like Northern Maine where the full on rut just gets starting in the last week of rifle season and continues into the muzzleloader season!

Offline aquaassassin

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Re: Tracking snow and hitting the barnyard
« Reply #5 on: Dec 02, 2019, 04:36:52 PM »
Good stuff!
It's not being cocky if you can back it up!

Offline Adrock

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Re: Tracking snow and hitting the barnyard
« Reply #6 on: Dec 03, 2019, 07:19:10 AM »
Good stuff. Finally got some snow down here in southern NH, hoping to get out this afternoon and go for a walk. It's been a month straight of walking on corn flakes.

Offline gunn308

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Re: Tracking snow and hitting the barnyard
« Reply #7 on: Dec 05, 2019, 08:28:37 PM »
Great read thanks for taking us along.