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WOODS ‘N’ WATER: On the trail of the white-tail, get in the thicket of the things

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: On the trail of the white-tail, get in the thicket of the things


Many, many moons ago, I was told by one of my high school English teachers not to believe everything you read.

I was trying to point out the reason I had put an answer on a test he had given us, but it was not the answer he was looking for.

The same goes for deer hunting — only, in this case, I would say don’t believe everything you see, especially on those canned TV hunts in which the hunters always seem to get that big buck they are after from the comfortable confines of the hunting blind they occupy over a baited area.

The only thing missing in those videos is a lounge chair and wood stove.

Here in the Northeast, including New England, New York and Pennsylvania, deer hunting takes on another tone. Here in Connecticut, it is illegal to hunt deer over a baited site unless you are in areas 11 or 12.

Over the years, hunting whitetailed deer had become a passion with me. I spent many hours trying to learn more about deer and how to hunt them.

Years ago, when I hunted the big woods of Maine, I would spend the entire day pursuing deer, but for the most part it was a learning experience. The deer did not come easy and not every hunt was successful.

The first mistake many first-time deer hunters make is selecting an area to hunt. I was guilty of that mistake also. I figured the cleaner the area (no underbrush), the easier the deer would be to see. WRONG!

Actually, I found that out purely by accident. I was up in Maine and had stopped to take a break by an area that was heavy with underbrush. The wind was in my favor and I heard some crunching in the underbrush and caught a glimpse of deer movement.

While the opportunity for a shot did not arise, it did make me rethink the way I was hunting. The next two years of hunting in Maine, I was successful, and both deer came through a heavily underbrushed area.

This discovery enhanced my deer hunting endeavors quite a bit. In New York and Connecticut, I used ladderstands simply because I felt safer in them. It did take a bit of extra labor to get them into the brushy areas I wanted to hunt, but I was rewarded with quite a number of filled deer harvest tags.

To me, it seemed that the deer were less spooky in the brushy areas. I have had them so close to my ladder stands you would have to be there to believe it.

A number of years ago, I had a private land permit on a nice piece of abandoned farmland in Connecticut. I set up a ladderstand in a very brushy lot and it produced a number of deer over the years.

One time I was sitting` in the stand, sort of daydreaming about the deer I was hoping to see, when a light noise at the bottom of my stand caught my attention. It was a four-point buck and, to me, it looked like he was sniffing my stand as if to figure what it was.

It made for some mighty tasty venison meals.

The deer had come up behind me and, of course, I was facing an area where I usually saw them. Over the years, a number of deer I have tagged came up from the rear of my chosen stand. I credit this to putting the stands into a brushy area where the deer seem to be more relaxed.

As I have told you in earlier articles, I like to name my treestands so no mistake is made while hunting. When we had the property in New York, one of my favorite stands was “The Road to Hell,” and believe me when I tell you it deserved that name.

Again, the stand location was picked because of the brushy area that encompassed it, However, I made the trail to it during the winter when the terrain did not look so overgrown. By the time hunting season rolled around, using the trail, especially in the dark of the morning, it earned the name “Road to Hell.”

But, like I said, the location of your stands can be the key to a successful hunt, and some really nice deer were tagged off of this stand during the New York deer seasons.

Most deer I have encountered seemed to prefer the heavier underbrush while traveling from spot to spot. You might want to keep this in mind when setting up your treestand for a hunt. Granted, hunting the heavy undergrowth can at times limit the distance you can see, but the deer you do see will be close up — and personal.

Bear attack

Attention Connecticut legislators! There has been another black bear attack, this time on a 7-year old boy. The child was playing in his backyard about 45 miles from New York City when the bear attacked the child.

Thankfully, the child was rescued by the child’s parents, who it was said exhibited extreme bravery. The child was hospitalized and the bear stayed in the area, continuing to present a danger. It was euthanized and was being tested for rabies.

According to the report, black bear incidents in New York have been considerably lower this year. It makes me wonder if hunting to control their numbers has anything to do with the lower incident number.

Here in Connecticut, we have had three black bear attacks, and one has to wonder if the next one will be serious because the black bear population increases every year with no means (YES, I MEAN HUNTING) to keep them in check.

We have one of the best DEEP Wildlife Divisions going, Legislators, give them the tools needed to do their job concerning the black bear problem here in Connecticut!

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving this great country of ours.