We finally did it! We got five of the six pro staffers for the Up North Journal team together for their first hunt all together. I've hunted with Kevin for years and I've hunted and fished with Chuck for over a year now. But I have never had the chance to hunt or fish with Tim yet, that is until today. Not only that but we were all together along with Mikey for this hunt.
We planned this for about a week now, and it all came together this morning. I had Tim and Chuck meet me at our local breakfast establishment down the road from my house at 5am. That is Micky D's for those of you new to the blog! The 4am wake up call came WAY TOO EARLY for me this morning, since I didn't get to sleep until around 1:30am! I rolled out of bed after Mikey had already got up and around. It didn't take long to get things in order and make our way out the door. I was excited this morning about all of us out for a morning deer hunt, but I was also excited about getting my morning cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich! That is the only way to start any hunt off right.
We pulled in and ordered our food and as I was paying I noticed a BIG grey pickup parking off to the side, Tim was here 15 minutes early! As we ate and Tim loaded into our truck, Chuck made his usual early appearence. He had to get his morning fuel from the golden arches as well, then he loaded his gear into the truck. With the bed of my truck full along with the cab and our bellies, we made our way south to the hunting area to meet Kevin.
The conversation quickly turned to gun ownership and 2nd amendment rights on the way down, that was encouraging to hear. Not that I have to worry about these two guys views, but it is nice to be able to discuss these things without getting blasted by someone like I do at work! As we arrived to the parking area, I passed it to show Chuck the spot down the road where he would be sitting this morning. We made our way to the little honey hole he was going to sit at and quickly turned around and drove back to the parking area. As we approached it, there was a vehicle coming into it, it was Kevin so I made a swerving gesture with my truck to let him know I was there, as if I had to.
We all piled out of the vehicles and exchanged hunting pleasentries such as grunts and groans towards each other! It was too cold out to talk too much, we all had getting our gear on , on our minds since it was a balmy 18 degrees out this morning! It was darn cold let me tell you. The finger nail shaped moon slice was peering through a good amount of cloud cover and the bitting cold was blowing up my back as I pulled on my camo bibs. I slipped my boots on along with my new parka camo coat and fleece head cover, boy was that nice and warm! It was going to be needed this morning. I finished by putting my Mossy Oak Blaze Orange Break Up vest on so I would be able to be picked out against the newly fallen 2 inches of snow. No need in getting myself shot on the state land, I always worry about that since it is public land and we've had a hunter killed this week in the state already.
We got the firearms out and I let Chuck use my Remington 870 Express 12 gauge and a box of slugs. Then Kevin took him down the road to his spot for his morning frost bite session in the woods. I finished up getting my muzzleloader set and Tim was borrowing Kevin's muzzleloader as well. Mikey wouldn't part with his goose gun and a box of slugs. I tried to get him to bring the other Remington muzzleloader this morning but no doing. Far be it that he take some solid advice from dear old dad!
We hussled down the foot path that led back to our hunting area. I knew that Kevin would soon be behind us on his way from getting Chuck settled in. As we approached the ridge where I would sit Tim at, I explained the lay of the land and where everyone would be, so he would be sure what direction was safe to shoot. I told him that I would be back around 10am and exchanged good luck offerings as we parted. Mikey followed me along the ridge to the area I was going to drop him off at and I noticed a flashlight cutting across the swamp to the East of the ridge, I knew that was Kevin so I flashed my light on and off towards that direction to signal him that we were well ahead of him and on our way.
By now I was starting to sweat a little and I began to unzip my layers so I wouldn't work up a wet base layer to get me cold later. 18 degrees in a wet hunting suit is not good! After another 15 minute walk I had Mikey at his spot. He wouldn't go in by himself, so I had to walk in 50 yards to help him find the tree. I don't think he is quit ready to make those walks in the dark by himself just yet! It can still be a little spooky. I told him that I was going just to the top of the next ridge and would be back to pick him up in a couple of hours. Our cell phones had good signals so we stayed in touch every hour so.
I made my way down the trail and to the next ridge to over look a swamp, it was starting to break daylight just the very least bit on the horizon. I new I had to make my stand quick. I brought my little turkey seat with me so I wouldn't have to sit in the snow. I found a nice big pine tree about 60 to 70 yards off the trail on the ridge, so I cleared out the ground next to the tree and plopped down. As day broke I noticed that the swamp was a little more dense than I thought, there was quite a bit of wirey brush in front of me. I knew this wasn't good since I was using a muzzleoader. Any shot would be tough in that kind of cover, so I picked up and found another suitable tree about 200 yards down further off the trail. This was perfect, I could see about 200 yards in each direction.
By now I was sweating pretty good and I knew that I had to unzip my layers a little more or I would be in trouble. I had no more than set down good for about 5 minutes when I noticed movement in front of me across the swamp! I pulled up my binoculars and began to glass the opposite tree line and saw a flash of blaze orange! It was another hunter walking along the edge of the swamp. I pulled the front of my vest together so he would be sure to see my orange as well. He walked around for a minute or so and then disappeared. I don't know if he sat down or walked away, so I was extremely cautious of where I last saw him.
It didn't take long until the birds started flying and singing. I had a redheaded woodpecker in the tree above me! He was playing his tapity tap tap routine on the tree and I could feel the vibration of his jackhammering tingling in my back as I sat agianst the tree. The time passed quickly and when I first looked to see what time it was, it was already 8am. I called Mikey and he wasn't seeing much either, except for an owl that was in the tree next to where he was sitting.
As the sun rose it finally started to break through the forest canopy and shine against the limbs of trees whose leaves had all left them exposed to the cold morning air. It felt good to feel the sun shine against me, it made me shiver just a little when it hit my face. Maybe it wasn't the sun on me that made me shiver, it was probably the cold breeze that was creeping through to the damp base layer beneath my coat and bibs. My toes were now beginning to ache a little. Oh no, I've had this feeling before! I knew it wouldn't be long and I would have to move to keep warm. Even thought the sun was out now, it was still bitter cold. This is why it is better to walk in with a few clothes on and then bundle up after you get to your stand. This way you won't break a sweat and get damp.
I began to wiggle my feet and toes in my boots to keep the blood flowing through them. It also relieved the aching feeling in them. My hands were another story though. I didn't have very thick gloves on, I used a thin neoprene style glove so I could grip the muzzleloader tightly. My fingers were now beginning to ache also. I pulled my hands inside my sleves and laid the firearm across my lap. This worked well, my fingers managed to stay limber and pain free for the rest of the morning. By now it was 9am and I called Mikey again, his first words were: "I'm not seeing anything and I'm cold!" Ok bud I told him, I will stalk hunt my way back to you and I will be there in about 15 minutes I told him.
I got up slowly and quietly made my way back to where he was at. He met me on the trail and we walked back up to where Tim was setting. I wondered how he did this morning as we walked towards his area. I had heard about four or five shots this morning, but none were in his direction or any of the other two guys directions either. We picked up Tim and decided I would call Kevin and see if he had his cell phone with him to check in. He answered and told me to meet him at the trail crossing where there is a downed log we sit on for a meeting place. We made our way to the log to meet him and as I sat down, I looked over my shoulder towards the nearby swamp and I saw two flags waving good bye at me! I told Tim and Mikey, "Deer, Deer"! I watched two deer wave their tail flags at us and make their way across the swamp and out of site. I saw their bodies only, I assume they were does, but there might have been a buck in there who knows.
Kevin made his way to the crossing and he debriefed us on his morning activity, we then headed back towards the trucks and Chuck. We made it to the parking area and called Chuck to let him know that we were back. He then got his gear together and Kevin went down to pick him up as well. We all spent another 30 minutes at the trucks talking about the morning's hunt and what we were going to do for the rest of the day. For our first offical "Up North Journal" outing it turned out to be pretty adventurous. We didn't bring anyting home to put in the freezer, but we did bring some memories home with us to remember forever. I can't wait to get back out with all of them again!
2 years ago