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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Long time fan of hunting, but circumstances conspired against me from actually taking part. This year, at the ripe old age of 38, at the encouragement of my buddy, I was finally able to make some time.

I got all the paperwork in order, went out and bought an Omega muzzleloader, practiced and practiced at the range, read books on deer hunting, saw videos, and voraciously scoured all the forums for information.

My dad lives up in West Milford, which made an ideal base. I would go up there whenever I had time this fall, trudging through the woods and the swamps, noting down all the deer trails and droppings on my little map, circling possible feeding and bedding areas.

Considering that I was a total rookie, I wanted to give myself a little edge, so I got the Newark Watershed permit because I figured that extra $30 might dissuade other hunters and I would have a little less competition.

I went out when the muzzleloader season opened up, full of high hopes. I had the apples for bait, I had a nice treestand, I had the stupid earth scent anti-bacteria soap, and the no-glow shampoo, whatever. Either way I saw no deer. Not like saw some and couldn't take a shot, or heard some running around. Just didn't see or hear any sign of deer. And there I was in my little area on the map I had circled and I was sure I would see deer stampedes from dawn to dusk.

So, I was disappointed. I figured I would at least see a fleeting shadow or hear the distant sound of hooves. I figured I was doing something wrong, something probably very obvious to someone who wasn't into total suckage like me.

Anyways, fast forward to yesterday. I had a bear permit, and this is the week, so I figued hey, I can shoot deer for another 20 days, but bear will be over by Saturday. So I went out yesterday morning, thinking I'll wake up at 4, be in the woods at 5:30, hunt till 8, get back home and catch the 8:45 bus to work and be in almost on time. Of course I was assuming I would spend the hours in the woods like last time, just freezing my [no swearing please] off and then going home.

I went to Shop Rite and picked up a dozen half-price donuts, because I read bears love boston cremes :D, then I was off.

I got to the woods and went about a mile and a half in from the truck to this clearing I scouted out before. I found very fresh bear tracks there on Thanksgiving morning, and I figured the habitual nature of animals gave me a good shot there. I set up my donuts at the edge of the clearing, in four three-donut piles about 20 feet apart:



I scattered bits and pieces of donuts around too - I wanted to create a large cloud of donut flavor that would entice every bear for miles. The I sat down on the other edge of the clearing, back against a tree and partially hidden by an old log. I wish I could be in my comfortable stand, with the soft seat and the great field of vision, but I'm baiting bear and so I'm stuck downstairs on the cold ground.

About 45 minutes later, my [no swearing please] frozen half-solid, I hear a branch snap. I scope it out - can't see shit. I wait some more, then I see the buck. He is slowly coming down the exact same trail I took - he is actually walking in my footprints, following them to the donuts. My precious donuts! Those are for the bear! But there he is, slowly nosing his way to one of the piles. Finally he comes out to the edge of the clearing and I gl [no swearing please] him, and he's got 3 points on one and 4 on the other, so he's legal for QDM.

I need to move my rifle into position and use the log as a rest, but first I need to move another piece of wood off the top. Slowly, slowly I slide it to the side, but the falling snow makes a noise. The buck looks up from his donuts and I freeze. He's 30 yards out, looking right at me. The wind is slight and in my favor and I remain motionless. I know about that trick where they will put their head down and rise back up real quick to tempt you into movement, but that was theoretical, something from the book. Here it is though, in real life, and he does it exactly as described. Head up, head dowm, and right away head up again.

Finally I scope him - he's quartering toward me. I put the cross on his chest, adjust slightly to my left to hit him in the right chest and pull the trigger. I'm surprised - it's all very quick, not like those endless sessions at the range where I was taking forever, making sure I was motionless, that my rest was secure, that the crosshairs were perfectly still and that my trigger pull was super slow and steady.

I quickly look up and see him through the smoke. He jumps to my left about five yards, slams into some trees, reverses direction, runs about 15 yards, jumps left, jumps right back to the same spot, then stands still for about a second, and falls over, head leading.

This is the last thing the buck saw and the path the bullet took:



I know I'm supposed to wait. To reload. To compose myself. All that goes out the window. I get up after about a minute, secure my gear, and head on down to the buck. On the way there, I p [no swearing please] the bait donuts he was feeding on:



His last meal was a jelly donut.

I get to the buck and I'm confused. It's a DOE !!! No wait, the antlers are missing. I track back and find them - they were shorn off when he slammed into the trees initially.

I poke him with my toe, but I don't need to. I can see the dead in his stillness, in his wide open eyes, and in the bloody red hole in his chest.

I guess I won't be coming in to work today after all, I think.

I thank the deer. Nothing profound, just a thank you while I stroke his warm neck. Then I scold him. I tell him the donut wasn't for him. Where was he when I had a bucket of apples?

I take the obligatory Great Hunter With Game pictures:





It takes me about 45 minutes to dress him. The butcher later points out my rookie mistakes, but I do a fair job considering.

The intestines and stomach come out easy. His stomach is the size of a basketball and completely full of grass, and his intestines are stuffed with pellets. He was gorging all night on some Canistear Road residence's front lawn and he just had to stop for a donut on the way home.

When I reach the heart and the lungs I get hit with the hot blood, which runs to my elbows (yes of course I forgot the gloves). The warm and potent smell overwhelms me and I have to step back, wash my hands in the snow, and take a cigarette break. It's something that definitely will take getting used to, and after a short break I finish up.



Then, because I didn't really think I was going to see anything, and therefore wasn't fully prepared gear-wise, I have to run back home to get rope, a sled, and various other things.

I drag the deer for 1.5 miles back to the truck. It's hard work and I wind up using the deer as a rest:



Here's a video of the dragging in progress. I bring the tree stand safety harness from home and it makes a real difference!

http://www.blackbellamy.com/hunting/hunting3.mpg

(Yes, I'm too cheap to pay for a real AVI to MPEG converter)

At 5pm, he's finally where he belongs:



I dropped him off at Guy Cisterninos (recommended on this site - seems like a good guy) for butchering - he told me the buck was about 140-150 lbs, so I should get about 40 lbs of meat, give or take. The meat will be ready in a couple of days - meanwhile I sit in my office and play with the antlers:



I still have Saturday open for bear. I will be buying more donuts, so this is a warning for any deer reading this: if you see a donut on the ground, it's not for you. You have been warned!

(I would like to thank all the fine people at this site who answered questions and whose accumulated wisdom was made available through the magical SEARCH button. Without all the information I gathered I would have had a much much harder time, or no time at all.)
 

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krispy kremes' or Dunkin' ?:D:D
 

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[up]

Cool story and congrats!

You might want to be a bit more 'precise' when you are baiting bear in NJ. You must be at least 300 feet from your bait pile.
 

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Great recount of the hunt..Congrats on your first deer.Its always great to see someone get their first. Dont worry the whole gutting this will get easier. But it is still my least favorite part of the sport.:D
 

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Great set up and play by play. I wonder if he was ready to shed as the rack came off?

Way to go..
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm not sure because I know nothing about antler dropping off, but here are two close-up pictures. Do they normally come off clean, or do they look irregular and jagged like my pictures?

He hit that tree hard. Shook a bunch of snow off it.


 

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Do they normally come off clean, or do they look irregular and jagged like my pictures?
Good m [no swearing please] on this buck!
Looks like he was starting to shed.
 

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Great story, I enoyed it! Congrats to you.

Yep, it seems like he was ready to shed, antlers don't normally fall off like that even if he hit the tree hard. The beams would crack before coming off at the base like that so he was a shedder for sure.
 

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Congrats and may many more come your way. Hunt hard and don't look back then you'll have nothing to regret when your older.
 
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I once read in DEER & DEER HUNTING that a buck can shed as early as the 1st week of december, but normally after the new year
 

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Congrat's on your buck..[up] Alot of times if a buck is hurt or has a infection they will shed there antlers...
 

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Intersting tale,congrats on your buck!I also had one a couple years back break the horns off after plowing into a tree after being hit.
Nice gun,I just got a T/C Omega,were you using the shockwaves??
 
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