Friday, December 3, 2021


 PHOTO: Richard Kern


 Savage's motto is "Those who stick get." The deer hunting guru swears by climbing in your tree stand and waiting for that target buck to matter what. Day after day of empty woods are to be met with resolve and persistence. Eventually the tactic will pay off. For Savage it always seems to work. It's hard to argue with a man who spends the entire season not seeing deer only to shoot a ten point on the last day. I wish I had the patience. But hunting to me is more strategy and tactics. I like to switch it up. Those who creep may get meat. So yesterday with wet, quiet woods I decided to still hunt around the farm. 

   My morning started at 8:00 am (late) behind the schoolhouse. I kicked two does out just this side of the late Extension Road John's house. Then I saw the back of a deer. It was a buck. Wouldn't it be nice to shoot a slammer while still hunting and prove the guru wrong? When the deer raised his head two little spikes came into focus. Ugh. Another teenager. But, the tactic was working. I was on deer.

   By noon I'd only made it half way around the ridge. I hadn't planned an all day sit, but when a half dozen does busted I knew would put in the daylight hours at a spot I call Butch's nipple. I crawled under and through a tangle of laurel and set up on top of a fifty foot ledge, a rocky nip that gave me a view four hundred yards into open woods. No sooner was I settled than I saw a deer move. It was a four point at the outer edges of my panoramic vista. A good sign.

At 2:30 I saw movement coming from my left. A flash of antler brought the gun up. Could it be the ten? No. But it was a nice main frame six and maybe an eight. The scope fogged as I strained to see brow tines. My thumb found the safety. Unable to grow tines on that six I lowered the gun. I was so far back in the woods that shooting and dragging out any deer would require help. I couldn't very well assemble the troops to help me drag out a little six point. A full court press could only put on to drag out a shooter on the ground. Then, at 3:00 pm that buck bedded down 100 yards in front of me. As turkeys gobbled across the river and squirrels frolicked that buck went to sleep. Sitting stock still for hours on end is a kind of endurance performance. I'd like to see Marina Abramovic try sitting still in the cold without spooking a buck staring her down. 

    The six point was still bedded when I crawled out of that laurel patch at 4:45pm. No other deer showed. I walked home in the dark. It was a great day's hunt. The time passed quickly and I'd seen nine does and three bucks. Savage may be right. His tactic may be the best. But, when all's said and done I need to move. I'm going back to same spot today. It's already daylight and the wind is blowing 30 mph gusts. Whether hunting Butch's nipple, John's nob or the Majestic taint, I like to mix it up. I'm trying to be one step ahead of that ten. All he has to do is make one mistake.....        

Monday, November 29, 2021


 PHOTO: Marianna Rothen


 As the less than promising rut ends and the traditional "dead time" of the next two weeks begins, so to my blog posts may be spotty. There's just not that much to report. Other than Savage's five and Wader's seven nobody else has blood on their hands. Bird is still seeing good movement and PhotogGeorge had to cut his season short and visit his sick mom in Tennessee. As for me, I had one great morning: a dozen does, two bucks fighting, two eagles and a pass on a pretty nice seven point. It all happened within forty-five minutes one morning a few days ago. Most days it's been only spikes and a few does. The teenagers seem determined to get some action now that the does have been released from the rapey lockdown of the mature bucks. As bad as I've had it recently, it's nothing compared to my hunting buddy UB on his family farm near Rock Tavern. The cause of the lack of deer? EHD.   

"EHD is a viral disease that’s endemic in North American white-tailed deer populations. It is transmitted by biting midges, also called “no-see-ums” or “punkies.” External signs of EHD in deer include fever, small hemorrhages or bruises in the mouth and nose, and swelling of the head, neck, tongue, and lips. The hooves of infected deer often crack or slough, which makes infected animals appear lame. Deer with highly virulent strains of the virus may die within 1 to 3 days of becoming infected. Dead or dying deer are commonly found near water in late summer or early fall. The DEC examines dead deer by necropsy with tissue samples tested to confirm the disease. DEC officials also opportunistically collect carcasses and tissue samples from deer on the fringes of known EHD outbreak areas for testing.

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has monitored this year’s outbreak since it began in the lower Hudson Valley in late July. More than 30 counties have reported some level of outbreak. Counties clustered along the Adirondack Mountains appear to have escaped the outbreak so far, as have about half of the counties in the western portion of the state. DEC officials can’t point to a specific known reason why the outbreak happened where it did this year, but note that the disease does not affect deer populations uniformly. Hunters may see variable impacts on hunting success depending on the specific locations they chose to hunt."- Field and Stream

   EHD appeared late last summer 2020 in the area and has been with us since then. Anecdotally there were reports of piles of deer carcasses blocking the dam in Wallkill and big bucks discovered floating in local ponds. In a world where everyone carries a camera on their phones where are the photos? Sadly, hard scientific information is lacking which leads to speculation and conspiracy theories. One such theory is that the DEC (urged on by Insurance Companies) is experimenting with bugs and invasive species on the 6,700 acres of Stewart State Forest in the Towns of New Windsor, Newburgh and Montgomery in Orange County, New York. UB still farms parts of this state land and according to his report nobody took a deer opening day on the large state parcel. Again, statistics are hard to find. Is the DEC some sort of Wuhan virus lab funded by Big Insurance in order to decimate the deer herd and stop hunting? That's a stretch. 

    Chronic Wasting Disease and EHD have been around for decades. I don't think a NYS governmental agency is nefarious or smart enough to pull this off. But, what is undeniable is the deer are gone from UB's farm. Yet, less than twenty miles away on Bird's property the deer are plentiful. My lack of deer movement cannot be blamed on disease. I've found no carcasses in the ponds, woods, or the river. My theory is that these late summer hurricane systems are blowing the southern midges north and randomly depositing the nasty little critters hither thither across the state. It's just bad luck to be in one of the infected areas. These so-called "weedy species" thrive in the new world of climate change. We must adapt. If the DEC was that smart they'd figure out a way to stop the Debell Egg Breaking facility in Town of Fallsburg from polluting the air and Neversink watershed with their residue. I can smell the idling egg trucks from my tree stand and see the pipe belching egg waste into the Neversink year round. I've repeatedly contacted the facility and the DEC engineers. No action has been taken. Nobody seems concerned but me. Or maybe it's all part of the big plan to rid the world of hunter/gatherers. Some hunters can just forget venison this year. Every sick and dying deer represents one less car insurance claim. And what about those Covid deer? Bat asshole anyone?     

Thursday, November 25, 2021





Dear Senator Durbin,

   As a lifetime hunter and gun owner I have watched in horror as innocent citizens of this country (of all ages) are randomly mowed down by increasingly lethal and efficient weaponry. I have never belonged to the NRA and find their politics appalling. But, what I also find appalling is the lack of the most basic expertise surrounding firearms, each time one of these mass shootings occurs. You don’t have to be an expert to know that firearms fall into two simple categories: handguns and long guns. The “actions” of these weapons are also simplistic: bolt action, lever action, pump action, revolver, semi-automatic and the illegal “automatic.” Because a firearm has no built in obsolescence (a good gun will last generations) the industry must come up with another way to sell product. That is why the gun industry and its lobbying arm the NRA made the AR (and all the knock offs) the most popular weapon in America. These guns are made to be accessorized. Scopes, slings, bi-pods, bump-stocks, sound suppressors (silencers) and massive, high capacity (200 round) magazines are a few of the ways shooters customize ARs. The danger seems obvious. 
   I’m not an activist nor do I have any political agenda. I’m an artist who knows Jen, Michael and the kids. You seem to have the ability to work across the aisle. This is why I am disregarding proper channels and reaching out to you directly. The one concrete step I can see that would have a positive effect immediately would be to ban all high capacity magazines. These “accessories” (like bump-stocks) are what allows anyone to kill on a grand scale in a matter of seconds. It is not the gun or the action, but the magazine that is so dangerous. This fact gets lost in the discussion. This also omits the 2nd amendment issue, that scares so many politicians. Banning these high capacity magazines would be a start. 
    Hunters are heavily regulated. Seasons, bag limits, hours, caliber, etc. are all part of legal and ethical hunting. Because of previously unregulated market hunting you can’t hunt ducks with more than 3 shells in your shotgun. Recreational shooters should also be regulated for public safety. Most shooters and hunters would agree and gladly accept commonsense regulation on their weaponry. Even the military doesn’t issue these insane high capacity barrel magazines. They are on sale for $125 online. I realize I may be preaching to the choir. I hope, if you read this, you consider it in the spirit it is meant; not as criticism but encouragement. I hope somebody has the political will to act. Time is of the essence.

         *Full disclosure: I'm a friend of Senator Durbin's daughter Jen.     

Wednesday, November 24, 2021