The past two days I was just where I said I'd be- in Savage's pocket. He bird dogged for myself, Charlie and Bobby Rowe, both on the farm and airport land. The "airport" is 6700 plus acres that is now NYS forest. The Rowe family has farmed this land for generations. In the 60's the MTA took it by eminent domain. The Rowes are a few of the last to farm it (even though now they rent land they once owned.) It's incredible whitetail habitat. Savage and Bobby have hunted it for years. I was along for the ride.
The first day on the farm I saw 3 doe. I could've taken a shot at the lead doe, but passed. Even though Savage wears a dog bell, I still wasn't sure where he was on the drive. Bobby saw two red fox and one swam the Otterkill when he spooked it. By sunset we'd never fired our guns. I went to Savage and Junebug's for dinner. She made a nice ham. On the way home I crested Joyce's hill, above Kaisertown road and there stood a big buck- an 8 or 10. I locked the brakes, skidded and his horns gently scratched the back door of my Neon. I was getting close. Savage must've sprinkled his fairy dust on the car instead of me.
The next day we hit the airport all day. That tinkling dog bell was through every swamp, thicket and dale. All he pushed to me was a big coyote. Lucky for the critter, Bobby had told me they don't shoot them, because they kill the woodchucks. The Rowes grow crop, not livestock. Coyotes get a pass. The coyote bolted across the snowy field. It was amazingly beautiful. We saw 29 wild swans on the reservoir. By the end of the day Savage had barely seen a fresh track. A front was coming in and again we were skunked.
This morning I awoke to six more inches of snow, sleet, and rain. I knew of an old stand with a roof on it, behind Gene's. I could hole up there in relative comfort. By 8:30 nothing had come through. The wind was from the east, perfect for sneaking into the swamp where they bed. I got down. I could move silently with the wind in my face. I didn't go 200 yards before I saw a doe- and another- and 1,2,3,4....I counted 8. They were on their back legs, browsing on branches. I was ready to take a doe. Then I hesitated. Maybe there was a buck. I was standing in snow, my gloves off, hands freezing, scope icing up, in a steady sleet. Then I saw a horn against a tree.
The does eventually moved off, but never winded me. The buck stayed in the thick branches. I had no shot. Plus, I was still freaking over the exploding bullet. I had to wait for a clear shot. Then he stepped out. I fired. He ran. I ran. I fell face first in the snow. I got up. He was still there. I fired again. He went down. Both shots were within a couple of inches of each other. He's a four on one side and a two on the other, with a good spread. He's no pretty boy, but a good solid Sullivan County buck. And, it turned out he had a broken back leg. He must've been hit by a car. Man, did I work for this one. I still have a doe tag and muzzle loader is next week. I couldn't be happier.