It has been waaaay too long since I have written a blog post! Life has thrown some curveballs and obstacles at me lately. But I am back and want to share my review of this past hunting season. Many hunters will tell you that the actual pulling of the trigger and putting a deer on the ground pale in comparison to all the “work” that leads up to that moment. I am in that group. I enjoy all the planning and scouting that goes on year-round to get myself set up in the right place at the right time. Even with all the fancy equipment we have to help us, success is never a guarantee.

I felt the need to change things up this year, so I installed a few trail cameras in August and decided I wasn’t going to be as traditional in my approach. I wanted to be more flexible in methods and hunt from the ground more. I needed to try and not overthink and analyze things so much. The signs are all there and enough clues are left behind. But your mind must be open to new ways of pursuing your quarry. Tradition is good but sometimes it keeps you from seeing better opportunities and plans.

I started my revised approach this time last year and after evaluating for a bit I think I made the right decision. I saw more deer this past season than I have in many years and if not for an incorrectly placed 209 primer I would have scored the biggest buck of my life during the early muzzleloader season. Another member of our crew also trusted his gut and made an untraditional decision to try and score. More on his hunt later. Our 100-hundred-acre parcel on Maryland’s Eastern Shore felt and looked different from my new approach. All five of us who pitch in to lease this property had high hopes after viewing trail cam pics of several decent bucks since late August.

Early season hunts can be challenging with high temps and bugs, but last season wasn’t bad at all. We had a dry summer and mosquitoes were scarce. Life kept me out of the woods until my first sit on the afternoon of Oct 5th. My first keep it simple plan of the season was to still hunt with the wind in my face along the top of a drainage ditch that typically has many crossings. I planned to set up on the ground just off the first hot, fresh trail I encountered. I did not have to go far. About 250 yards from where I parked, I spotted a well-worn trail with tracks sliding up and down both banks of the ditch. I started to think that the sign was probably done at night but quickly shook off the typical overthinking and the urge to climb into the traditional stand 50 yards away. I am not comfortable shooting at 50 yards with my crossbow, so I planned a simple ground attack. Scanning the woods to my right I picked a spot at the base of a large oak that had good ground cover to my sides and I nice 45-degree open area in front where I expected the deer to travel into. My ambush was about 25 yards upwind from the trail I expected the deer to use so I got settled in and start enjoying a beautiful early autumn afternoon with temps in the low 60’s. Within minutes I had melted into my surroundings and all my senses were on high alert. With a breeze in my face and the sun just starting to slip behind the trees over my left shoulder I spotted the first deer of the afternoon. A young doe stepped from the shadows into a sunny spot about 75 yards out in front of me. Browsing along with no clue I was there she fed out of sight off to my right. A few minutes later I heard movement to my left and turned just in time to see antlers bobbing above the cattails along the ditch. I couldn’t make out the deer’s body, but he fit my self-imposed minimum of 8points or better. Intel from the cameras showed there was no reason to settle for anything less. The buck had now stopped and seemed to be staring in the direction I had seen the doe. I took a quick peek in her direction and she was still there but not interested in the events unfolding. I peeked back to my left just in time to see the buck drop down into the ditch and out of my sight. I eased my safety off and prepared for a shot not knowing if or where the buck may pop up out of the ditch. Nothing. I glanced back to my right to check on the doe and as I swiveled back to my left the buck ran up out of the ditch, into the woods, and stopped broadside directly in front of me at 10 yards. He was staring in the direction of the doe so I could not move or breathe without blowing my cover. At that instant, the deer gods rewarded me, and the buck turned his head to look back over his left shoulder offering me the perfect broadside shot. I leaned up from the oak, put the crosshairs on the shoulder a fired off the bolt. THWACK! The sound of a good hit brought goosebumps to my skin as I watched the mortally wounded buck stumble 30 yards and expire in a motionless heap. I pumped my fist in triumph and caught more movement from where the buck had come from. Two of his friends, a spike, and four-pointer stared at me from the other side of the ditch with that what the heck just happened look. I waited for a few minutes as they finally gave up on the return of their companion and walked off. I could see my buck from where I sat so no need to trail any blood. At that range, the arrow probably exited the deer and landed somewhere on the other side of the ditch so no point in trying to retrieve that. I gathered my gear and walked over to where the buck expired. My cheeks hurt from smiling as I bent down and grabbed his rack. Not the biggest buck I had ever shot but one of the most exciting hunts I’ve ever had. I inspected the carnage of the shot and the 2 blade, chisel point Rage mechanical broadhead performed well. A double lung shot with a devasting entry and exit wound ended this buck’s life mercifully fast. My Dad was going to love this story! I tagged and dragged the buck about 30 yards to the edge of the woods and left him there to get my Dad. Our plan earlier was for me to hunt one end of the property and dad was going to hang out in a ground blind and do a little recon on the other side of the property. He was about 600 yards from me and I made that hike in less than 5 minutes. I got to the blind and waved him out to tell my story.

I’m sure the look on my face and my presence at the blind before dark confirmed that I had scored. He congratulated me and I reenacted the scene picking a nearby tree to demonstrate my position and every detail of the hunt. The camaraderie of sharing your stories with loved ones or passionate hunting friends are some of the most enjoyable times. After replaying the hunt for my equally excited Dad we walked back to where I had left the buck and I laid out the scene once again showing him where I was sitting and where the buck dropped. I gave his flip phone toting soul a quick lesson on taking pics with an iPhone and we grabbed some pics. One of the cool things about this property we hunt on is its accessibility. There is enough room between the woodline and the top of the ditch to drive a pickup through, so I left Dad with my buck and went to get my truck. I returned in a few minutes with my truck and we gutted the deer, checked him in online, and loaded him up. We were out of there before it got dark. Perfect!

Now my not so perfect hunt. Variables and details. Too many to mention and impossible to cover everything no matter how long you stand there at your truck reviewing and thinking before the trek to your chosen spot. Maryland’s early muzzle-loader season is almost just as exciting to me as the opening of rifle season. The deer have not been pressured too much and they are still on semi-predictable patterns. The morning hunt was slow and thought a lot about where I was going to hunt that afternoon. This time, I decided to go traditional and hunt a stand that I had seen many deer out of in the past during archery season but out of range. This stand sits about 40yards back in the woods from a field edge and overlooks a good staging area for deer before entering the field to feed. About an hour before dark I heard deer approaching my spot from behind me and to the left. I slowly swiveled around to my left and spotted two nice freezer sized does about 40 yards out. As I was contemplating a shot, a heard movement behind me and to my right. I slowly twisted back around to my right just in time to see a beautiful 6×4 pal matted buck bed down about 30 yards almost directly behind me. I had several pics of this guy on my trail cam and wanted him badly. If I were lucky, he would be the largest buck I had ever taken. Careful not to alarm the does who were still milling around, I slowly completely turned my self around in the stand. The only way I would be able to get a shot would be to crouch on the platform with back against the shooting rail and the gun barrel resting in a notch between the handrail and backrest. A large Oak between myself and the buck allowed me to only see his nose and antler tips when he swiveled his head around. Just as my knees and feet were starting to burn the buck stood up in his bed. The time had come. After standing up I could only see his head. I centered the crosshairs of my muzzleloader on his ear and waited for a better shot. My mind begged for him to just take one step to my right. Finally, after 2-3 minutes he took that one step and offered a perfect broadside view of his vitals. I tore my eyes away from his rack and aimed just above the shoulder joint. I slowly squeezed the trigger and a sickening muffled “POP” broke the silence. Panicking, I looked down at my gun I saw the gross remnants of a misfired primer! As I fumbled around for another cap, I looked back up just in time to see the buck walk slowly out of sight with those alarmed stiff legs. Upon further inspection, I realized that the primer was not fully seated correctly and when struck, the gap between the cap and load was too great to fire the gun! Lesson learned. With this style of black powder rifle always take a thumb and press the cap to make sure it is all the way on. Back at the truck, I put on another cap and the gun fired as advertised. Frustrating but I was thankful for the encounter.

Digital Camera

I had several more sightings over the next two months, but it wasn’t that 6×4 my mind was aching for. Ending the season on a good note, the youngest member of our small group on this lease managed to down his largest buck to date during the late modern firearms season. He to listened to his gut a bucked tradition (no pun intended). Getting a late start to his stand for a morning hunt he jumped a doe at close range and decided to hang at that spot for a while instead of rushing on to get to his stand before sun up. His change in tactic was rewarded a short time later just as legal shooting light began. He heard another deer moving in the same direction as the doe he jumped earlier. Big body and antlers came into view and he downed the deer in his tracks with a great shot to the neck. When my phone lit up with a text from him at 7:20 am I knew something special happened. When his father and I met up with him a short time later I thought he would tackle us in joy. The buck was a true giant for the area we were hunting, and a lifetime memory was made as he excitedly told us the story of his hunt.

On a final note, when I pulled my cameras in February, I had a pic of the palmated 10 pointer with 9 lives. He had survived the seasons! Looking forward to next fall maybe I’ll try a little unconventional 10 am to 2 pm hunt instead of napping and maybe catch him off guard. The next season never gets here fast enough. Time to dust off the kayak and paddle away from this damn virus for a while. Stay safe everyone.


Once again, the sun has set on another deer season. I am eating tag soup for the first time in quite a few seasons. I don’t, however, feel the least bit disappointed. The gratitude I feel for having the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors far outweigh any hunts (all of them this year) that didn’t go my way. Even though I did not harvest a deer this year I enjoyed changing things up by adding a few twists in my game plan. Trail cameras made the biggest impact on my season. I never knew there were so many bucks visiting our property! Unfortunately, this led to passing up several deer that I would have normally shot any other time. I learned a lot this year but studying the photos to determine the direction of travel and time of day. Marking these encounters and sign on the hunting app Hunt Stand revealed tons of intel for my wild theories on where the deer would be and when. I also turned up the scent control and attractant scent game this year. The buck bomb attractant fogger I tried worked like a champ. The closest buck around was a button buck that came straight into the can. Hunters Specialties fresh earth cover scent wafers kept me from getting busted as often leading to many close encounters.

          Something surprising to me that I learned this year through increased scouting is how long the rut can last. I am aware of the secondary rut, but I was still discovering fresh scrapes up until the last week of January!  Not all does get bred in November. Some get bred in December and even a few stragglers fire up the woods in January. Guess that explains the presence of a few extremely small fawns this season that probably weren’t born until June or July because their moms weren’t bred until January last season. So, the cameras have been pulled and gear stowed. I’ll probably wait a few weeks and then try a bit of shed hunting. After that, dad and I are talking about finally trying turkey hunting in May. Several toms also showed on the trail cameras. Until then, we had only seen a hen or two. When July rolls around I’ll bring out the trail cams again and post on mineral licks and deer trails discovered and marked last year. Hopefully, some of last fall’s rock stars and a few new bucks will parade their impressive headgear by the lens again. All and all another great season hunting with my now 82-year-old Dad. He didn’t make it out for all of the morning hunts but still showed great enthusiasm when he was out and loved the new twists we tried this year.

          Visions of exploring in my kayak and making some casts with the fishing gear are now starting to take up space in my mind vacated by the passing hunting season. During a brief warm-up this week, Dad and I pulled the cover off the boat for a quick peek. We vowed to get her off the trailer more this year to toss some fish into the cooler or crabs in the bushel basket. Not sure if it was the rare 60-degree February Day or another rush of gratitude that warmed me up and gave me chills at the same time. We were both grinning as we slid the cover back over the center console.  Gotta love life’s many simple pleasures.


I don’t like to use the word tough when I describe a hunting season. When you are doing something you love there is nothing tough about it. One thing that does make it rough though is when certain events transpire to keep us from doing the things we love. So, in that sense, this season has been tough.

After enduring the recent loss of two close relatives and watching one prime weekend after the other fly by with many family commitments I now find myself hoping for some late season magic. Fortunately, Maryland provides opportunities for hunters with my dilemma. Now I am daydreaming of a day or two on stand when the late muzzleloader season kicks in the last two weeks of December. After that, we have a two day firearms season at the beginning of 2019 and then a late archery season to finish out January and the season. I will probably face some challenging weather, but I’m prepared to wear ten layers if needed. The woods are calling big time.

Although tough, this brief season for me has been quite exciting. You may recall from earlier posts that I have been trying some different tactics this year. I am now officially hooked on the use of trail cams, Buck Bombs and the Hunt Stand App. Trail cams bring a whole new level of excitement to the sport. Until this fall, I had no idea we had some many bruiser bucks cruising our lease! Unfortunately, that leads to some painful realizations that maybe I should have called tails instead of heads when deciding on which hot stand to hunt. Two occasions found me in one stand while decent bucks passed by the camera during shooting light at other stands. Still, the anticipation of checking trail cams came close to that of an opening day. The buck bomb worked as advertised. The button buck came right to the spent can and milled around by it for several confused minutes. The big guys were probably already locked down with other ladies. Lastly, the Hunt Stand App helped me log tons of good intel regarding trails, sightings and food sources that will help me zero in on deer refueling after a crazy rut.

Should have picked tails!

In a couple of weeks and throughout January I will continue my pursuit with renewed anticipation, energy and altered goals. I have a responsibility as a hunter to help keep the herd in control and to fill my empty freezer. Mature Does have now been added to the hit list and I would be happy to have either. After several weeks away I am again looking forward to treating my senses to the cold, crisp air,  some snow and the heart-stopping excitement of the flash of a tail or flick of an ear. I long for the solitude and to immerse myself into another world.

I want to thank everyone for stopping by to check out my site and I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Hopefully, my next post will have a selfie with a deer instead of just my view from a stand!


For the past few decades, a favorite activity of mine after a day afield has been coming home to kick back with a couple beers and a tattered old spiral notebook to journal my day in the great outdoors. When I was younger this activity would include sketching crude maps and marking various game sightings hoping some new revelation about where the deer were hiding would reveal itself. Nowadays I pull from my head visions, senses and emotions I felt while perched 20ft up or sitting in a ground blind waiting for my quarry. I enjoy skimming through these various ramblings throughout the year when I cant be out and about. This year required a different approach. One that until now, I had been reluctant to try.

Previously I had hunted the same two pieces of property for 38 years. The landowner passed away and the heirs to my hunting paradise had no interest in letting anyone continue to hunt the property. Luckily, I stumbled onto a new piece of property of about 100 acres that a few friends and myself were lucky enough to obtain with a five-year lease. The six of us hunted the property the first year seeing plenty of deer but only one of us was lucky enough to harvest a deer. Knowing that this property held a good population of deer and that I didn’t have another 38 years to figure out what the deer were doing, I decided to take the plunge and try a hunting app on my phone with the hope of increasing my odds for success. For my purposes I chose the free app Hunt Stand for my I Phone and set out one day in late February to document the meanderings of the resident deer population. While the snow fell the night before, I spent some time with the app to set up the property boundaries, parking areas and some stand locations from memory. The app is impressive with icons for pinning just about anything you could possibly encounter while out hunting. I felt like it was opening day eve the night before I went out mapping the property. Sleep was hard to come by and I couldn’t wait to get out and get all the trails, sightings and sign pinned to the overhead satellite view of our property. I spent the better part of the following day walking around marking stand sights, trails, rubs, scrapes, feeding areas, bedding areas; anything I stumbled on relating to deer went on the map. The fresh layer of snow revealed a ton of new information I hadn’t picked up in several earlier scouting trips and now it was all on the map. As you may have figured that map of my 100 acres got a bit crowded with all those icons but by zooming out a bit and using the apps convenient layering features I could customize the view to see only what I wanted. If I just wanted to see stand locations and sign it was as simple as checking the corresponding layering boxes and Boom – the patterns began to emerge. I was kicking myself for waiting so long to embrace this technology. I felt like a kid discovering a new video game. I couldn’t wait to get home and view the customized map on a large screen laptop. Having the ability to overlay deer sign and sightings on an overhead satellite photo of your hunting property is quite revealing! Within ten minutes of analyzing the map, I knew I needed to move the locations of my tree stands. The patterns and funnels jumped off the screen! Next season would not get here fast enough.

Hunt Stand has handy land management tools as well.  The app allows a limited number of land parcel views that give boundaries, size and ownership information of bordering properties or any other property you may be interested in. I am the person in charge of organizing the guys hunting this property and using the Hunt Stand App I was able to get the guys signed up in the App and send them all custom maps showing boundaries and stand locations making management of the property a breeze. Another helpful feature in the app is the ability to easily measure the distance between any two points on the map. We have a safety rule that no stand or blind can be within 100 yards of another and checking distance between stands is easy and accurate. Yet another fantastic management tool Hunt Stand provides is real-time tracking of any of the guys that are signed into the App. If signed in, their current locations show on the map. This feature makes sure that no one gets disturbed and if someone needs help recovering a deer or gets injured we all know where to find each other. Hunt Stand also has separate tabs to keep track of the Weather, Moon Phases and even shows your how your scent will disperse downwind from your chosen hunting location at a given time now or a few days from now!

Even if you have been hunting the same property for several years I recommend downloading this FREE user-friendly App on your phone and computer.  Have fun navigating and using the tools and features too numerous to mention here and rediscover your favorite hunting areas. Chances are you will improve your odds, see more game and have the ability to review and “visit” your favorite spots year-round from wherever you want!