On Thursday afternoon, October 23rd, my brother Billy and I traveled up to camp for the last two days of the week-long fall muzzleloader season for antlerless deer. Unlike the winter flintlock season, fall muzzleloader allows for the use of in-line muzzle-loading rifles, which are much simpler to shoot than antique flash-pan weapons. Billy and arrived in the early evening, shot our guns for last-minute practice, cleaned and prepped our gear, and measured up some speed-loads for the possibles bag. Then we went deer-spotting and saw 15 does and fawns and a red fox, all in one hour.
Friday morning we got up at 5:30 and had coffee and bagels, then set out for the forest near camp. We hiked a half-mile south to Hague Run and started climbing a fire trail that angles far up the mountainside to the plateau on top, where 10 acres of blow-down logs and standing white pines form a large deer bedding area. When we were halfway up the hill, we noticed the sunrise behind us to the east – mellow gray skies painted with magical streams and swirls of hot pink and lavender – and we stopped on the trail and just stared. Then we proceeded to the top, where I veered off to the east along the edge of the pine woods and Billy headed south to post along the ridge-top above Magee Run Hollow. I reached my posting spot at 7:30 and stood there for a half hour watching red squirrels prance and chirp before I conducted a slow drive toward Billy’s location. From 9:00 until 10:30, we hunted out parallel to each other down the east-facing front of the mountainside. We did not spot a deer all morning.
Nor did we see a deer in the afternoon, when Billy posted on his buck-hunting rock at the top of Thompson Run Hollow, and I did a four-mile hike down the fire trail to the west and then back up and east along the ridge toward Billy. This was quite unusual to not see any deer all day, but we accepted the fact of occasional hunter’s bad luck and made plans to hunt hard again on Saturday. Alas, a cold front poured in Friday night and pelted our game lands with hard frigid rain all night and all day, so we gave up on our last-day hunt. We enjoyed our Friday morning and afternoon hikes on the mountainsides, though, and agreed that a hunt with little success is far better than staying home.
Good luck out there. And have a great week outdoors.
~ Don Feigert, 10-27-08