Monday, November 28, 2011


  Since opening day it's been slow. The weather's been a bitch, warm, calm. The rut's over. Everything's ground to a halt. Even on the weekend, with the Italians and Serbs and Russians running around in bright orange camo, I've barely heard a shot. The last good buck sighting I had was the day it rained last week. I set up my pop up high on GNJohn's mountain and waited out the downpours, dry and comfortable. When it let up around noon, I backed out and got in the truck. I figured on going home and grabbing a bite. As I looked behind Gilkey's barn I spotted a large deer, head down, munching the grass. He raised his head. Nice buck.
  I continued to the writer's cabin turn off and opened the truck door. Big mistake. He had a direct line of sight. I closed the door and the buck spun into the swamp. I quickly backed the truck up and parked in the mush by Deniston Hill House. I had an old ladder against a big cherry tree on the roadside edge of the swamp. The wind was in my face, right off the river. I crept up on the ladder and waited. If he had a hot doe in the swamp, I was sure he would run her by me at some point. I waited. A doe skirted the field and went in the thick stuff. The afternoon passed...... At dark I went back to the truck, now sunk up to the hubs in mud. Thankfully a good soul stopped with a 4X4 and a chain and pulled me out. But before I could head back up the hill, another car pulled over. It was two women passing out posters of a lost pitbull. I told them I had their dog outside my house that morning, with his front paws on my french doors. My suggestion was for them to go up to the church and call. I went home to straighten my legs.
   Within the hour, one of the women was at my door trying to stuff a twenty in my palm. They'd found "Diesel" the pitbull. I wouldn't take the money. Getting that dog out of my woods was payment enough. The only other story worth telling is getting 12 year old Church Cardinal Tristen Epic up at 6:00 am and out in the woods. We walked straight up his mountain in the pre-dawn. Within 5 mins. he had informed me "We aren't going to see anything." I told him to think positive. In another 5 mins. he told me that again. I heard leaves crunching and told him "Heads up." Then I saw it was a squirrel. Fuck. I really wanted to get a deer in front of him. I had him out in the Spring for turkey and all we saw was a deer. "Fucking squirrel." The Cardinal informed me. I made a couple of soft grunts on my call, explaining "It may get a buck's interest." Then as if he was planning it all along, the Cardinal farted, looked at me and in a whispered voice said "Butt grunt." He was right. We didn't see anything.

Monday, November 21, 2011



    The night before we went down to Mupp and Ginger's for Betheroo's birthday bash. I was beat. Up every morning at 5 am was taking it's toll. Nonetheless the next day still held the mystique of Xmas morning. I couldn't wait to get home and snuggle in the covers. I told Shewho and Smokey to follow me in their car. Shewho does not have the best sense of direction. By the time I reached 17K her headlights had disappeared in my rearview. That was a record for even her. I turned the truck around and pulled up along side her. "I hit a deer." she moaned, still shaken. Peta member Smokey was on full meltdown. I surveyed the damage. The plastic bumper and grill were cracked but not much else. Deer are tough creatures. I reassured them that the deer was most likely OK and we continued up the mountain. Either way the shooting started at dawn.
   I had set my stand high on the mountain, in the back of the Majestic Farm. I love this spot. I'd hunted it last year and got a big buck during muzzle loader season. The Budde's (who own the farm) are gracious enough to give me free rein. It's away from the usual Sullivan County rat-a-tat-tat of city hunters over by the church. Buddy Budde and I had it to ourselves.
   A lone doe slowly walked through at first light. Then another one, followed by a spike. By 9 am I'd had a big 3 pointer and 5 more does bedded down within 20 yards of my tree. The weather was mild, but not warm.....perfect. By noon I decided to go home, have a bite and quickly get back in the stand. I lowered my rifle, barrel first. Because I was strapped in I couldn't quite get the rope down. With 6 inches of slack I let loose. The shock loosened the knot and the gun stuck like a spear in the mud. FUCK! Luckily it hadn't hit a rock, but the barrel was jammed with dirt. I reamed it out with a green stick, but couldn't be sure it was clear. I remembered horror stories of hunters shooting with barrel obstructions. The lucky ones were blinded or disfigured. At lunch I cleaned the .243.
   The afternoon sit started slow. But then about 2:30 pm I heard leaves crunching. A buck was coming right towards me. I put the scope on him. He was a big bodied deer with a wide heavy rack. I could only see 6 points, but decided in a matter of seconds that I would shoot. I settled the crosshairs on his front shoulder and fired. He kicked, spun and took off on a dead run. Had I missed? Slowly I lowered the gun and got out of the tree. I went to the spot where he stood when I shot. The leaves were kicked up. I looked for blood or hair. Nothing. Damn. I followed the faint trail, scanning the forest floor. No blood. At about 50 yards I stopped, devastated. My heart sank. Had the scope been thrown off by the gun's fall? Then I turned to the right, convinced I had missed. There lay my dead deer. I breathed a sigh of relief, thanked the deer, the LGM and my lucky stars.
   The buck was a wide heavy 6, and the biggest bodied deer I'd ever shot. I gutted it and started the long drag down the mountain. A couple of hundred yards down the trail I was so sore and out of breath I realized this old man was not going to be able to get the buck out without help. I left him lay and went back to the farm. Sarah "Birka" Budde called Slick and Levi and as one of the Budde's cur dogs followed us and Sarah snapped iphone pics, we got that big buck in the truck.  Thanks to all. Sometimes it takes a congregation. Today I butcher him up. Drop by for a beer and a backstrap to go.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


   But first, lets back up a little. The last week of bow I worked a little and hunted hard. The beginning of the rut was warm, mooned up and disappointing. But late in the week, with a cold snap and a dark night, things heated up. I was hunting the hillbilly stand and every day I saw the end 3 good bucks. Oh, and I stumbled across the lost ladder stand. It was right where I had set it. In the summer I just couldn't find the thing. So I sat there a couple of times and saw nothing. Thursday I decided to walk the cemetery drive nose into the wind. But barely into an open pine woods, I spotted a steaming hot scape right under a tree, that had been gouged and rubbed by a big set of antlers. I found a big half dead tree I could climb up in and settled in for the afternoon.
  By dusk I'd seen 3 does and had a small spike right under the tree. Then about a half an hour before sunset the place exploded. I was on the bottom edge of a brushy field. Does were running in all direction. I grunted and waited for the buck to step out. But nothing followed. I turned my head and looked up the hill, across the field. There stood a massive bright white eight. As he turned to disappear into the woods, I grunted again. He spun, stopped and stared me down. I didn't dare move, peeking through the bow I had propped in the crotch of the tree. I was shaking.  In retrospect I probably should've grunted again, but I didn't. The buck was gone. By sunset Friday I hadn't drawn blood.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011



  After seeing two good bucks in as many days I was back in the stand before first light. The wind had died down and things were quiet. Around 10 am I went back to the house to grab a bite to eat and ready for the long sit. I called Mupp and caught him up on the rut activity. The cap on my bottle of doe pee came off in my shirt pocket, so I stank like piss. Maybe that will work in my favor.  Within an hour I was headed back to the stand.
   As I headed down the road I noticed a large flock of grackles (black birds) was spread out in the woods maybe 100 yards. There must've been a couple of thousand of them. As I continued towards the stand, they would flush with a loud whoosh, only to settle right back down and continue scratching in the leaves. This was perfect cover for me. Twenty feet from the stand I looked to the right. There was a large 8 pointer (a different buck) walking slowly away. I let him get out of sight before scurrying up the tree, as quickly and quietly as I could. I knocked an arrow and grunted into my tube. In the less than a minute I spotted the buck crossing at about 50 yards. When he cut my track I grunted again, stopping him. He stood there for what seemed like an eternity. I didn't dare grunt again. I waited, release clipped, trying to stay calm. Then he just disappeared into the woods.
   Every night I call Shewho to let her know I'm safely out of the tree and update her on my day. All conversation revolves around the animal kingdom. I've finally let the cats in for the winter. Nicole and Ray immediately go to sleep- Ray in his chair and Nicole under the wood stove. Spooky is not welcome by the other two, so meows incessantly and clings to me. Eventually I can't take it and toss him out. The mice have taken over the kitchen. The cats are no help. Yesterday I got a double in the trap and had one run across the windshield of the truck at 50 mph. The grackle phenom. continues throughout the area and the rut activity is spotty, due to a full moon and warm weather. Now it's raining and 60 degrees. My plan is to hunt. Can't kill 'em from the couch. I wonder what's happening amongst the humans?

Friday, November 11, 2011


  According to Savage Lynch 11/13 is the hot day to be in the woods. But for me, I like 11/11. I always seem to see deer on this day. But this morning there wasn't hide nor hair. I started the day watching the sun rise from the orchard stand down by the river. It's not usually a good morning spot but I was stuck. Between the Budde dogs and Scapegoat Dave's cacophony I couldn't take the Majestic stand first thing. As I sat there my mind wandered. Then a startling thought- did I shut the wood stove door? Hmmmmmm? This happened once before a few years back. It was a foggy afternoon. The same thought went through my mind and then I heard the fire alarm. The trucks seemed to stop directly east- right about where my house was. That time I got out of the tree and drove up the hill. Through the thick fog I could see flashing lights. My heart was in my throat. A fireman stopped the car at the fork in the road. I couldn't see flames, but I smelled smoke. Then the fireman waved me through. It was the neighbor's house. Damn. That was close.
   This morning I got home to a house filled with smoke. I HADN'T shut the stove door. Luckily it was just a smoldering log. I grabbed another cup of coffee, counted my lucky stars and warmed up. There was a stiff, cold NW wind. My plan was to hunt behind the cemetery, creeping into the wind. I got back in the truck. I hadn't gone a 1/4 mile before a nice 8 point buck sauntered across the road into the woods behind the church. I turned the truck around. Change of plans. There was an old hillbilly tree stand on the other side of those woods. I headed for it. One of the steps fell off in my hands on the way up...but I made it. I knocked an arrow and grunted, scanning the woods. It wasn't two minutes before I heard leaves crunching behind me. There was a big 7 point mature buck 30 yards out and closing the distance. I couldn't believe my luck. I slowly raised the bow and as I did he stopped broadside at about 20 yards....raised his nose and spun. He was down wind and I'm sure I smelled like a fucking forest fire.
   The rest of the afternoon was slow. I saw a doe and some chasing, but nothing close. As the sun set and the wind died down I huddled in the cold, disappointed but far from discouraged. In fact I can't wait to get back in there in the morning. What I lack in ability I make up for in persistence. 11-11-11- two good bucks. I made a wish. Tomorrow,,,,,,  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

IFF (I'm fucking flabbergasted}

   This morning I hunted Majestic. It was 60 degrees. All this warm weather and a full moon has shut things down. I never saw a deer. So about 9 am I decided to move the stand. There's a spot on the edge of a pond, with some apple trees. It's a pinch point. I detached the stand and ladder and humped it down to a split crooked tree at an opening. I sat for a bit and then decided it would be better to come back in the afternoon.  The Hollie Witchey Project is starting up again, but today I have off due to client indecision. That's OK. It gives me time to sweep out the shack, do laundry, wash dishes...etc. Oh, and check in on the latest fb/Christies auction results.
   This morning was a shocker. A Cady Noland b. 1956 multiple went for $6 mil. plus. Now I don't begrudge any artist making it big, big, BIG! But I missed this one. Cady is the daughter of Kenneth Noland the painter. I like his work and Cady's, but I had no idea her work commanded such prices. I'll be the first to admit I'm out of touch in such matters, but if a Cady Noland print goes for that I'm sorry,  I am forced to raise my prices. All you people out there saving your pennies in order to buy a Kohl, a Gary Ray, a Richard Mauwra, or even a Tobias Yves Zintel, forget it. There's no way you can afford me now.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011



  I'ved settled into a routine. In the morning I get up around 6:30 am, make coffee, turn on the radio and check my email. Then I click that little facebook icon. Since we don't have another church until Spring I can only post so many variations of blackface and tweek the themes so much. That leaves other people's worlds. So I comment. You have to be very careful with comments, especially if you don't really know the person your commenting on. They can take it wrong in a hurry. But that's the challenge. I like my art world "friends" for my comments. For God knows what reason I have a simultaneous fascination/revulsion for the art world and all it's twisted complexity. I so much want to be an art fag. So instead, I comment on some real art fag's page and off I go to work.
     While I'm working I'm thinking about two things- where I'm going to hunt the afternoon and why is it, at 58 I'm still ripping up carpet and stuffing other people's garbage into the back of my pick up truck for hourly wage? Then I calm down, get some perspective (the wage isn't bad) get some shit done, while I ponder rejoining my facebook friends after work in an interesting discussion concerning Richard Serra and his black cube, recently sold at auction with contextual considerations attached. Pro or con?
   But before I can do this I decide to move one of my stands up at Ralph's. I grab the shotgun, in case i see those turkeys and head up into the hay field. Just as I come upon the stand I hear a deer bust out of it's bed. I just see back and tail. Moving and hanging stands is one of my least favorite parts of deer hunting. This particular stand is a bitch. It has a hard spring catch and dangling from the stick ladder 16 feet in the air, wrestling it off the tree, can be challenging. I almost have it when feel something slip.......Im losing my footing and I'm not strapped in........then I somehow get a grasp on the branch. Jesus! Then I hear leaves crunching behind me. I stopped clanking and cussing the sign, catch my breath, turned my head and saw a 3 point buck headed right for me. He got within five yards, stopped and nosed the leaves. I couldn't believe my eyes. He was completely oblivious to me. Then he was right underneath me.
   I snorted and wheezed and he just looked at me blankly. Eventually he sauntered off. I let the stand hang, went and got some lunch, camoed up and got right back in the tree. But as you must know by now deer hunting is a frustrating business. I sat the beautiful warm November afternoon, seeing nothing. I thought of my morning comment on the disconnect between an actual working artist and a Lictenstein painting going for $43 mil. I saw a red squirrel and a woodpecker. Around four that sex crazed 3 pointer came back. I could've shot him. The rut is on.

Friday, November 4, 2011




  I hunted Mupp's last night for the first time. I got in the woods about 3pm and wasn't in the stand 15 mins. before I caught movement coming down the hill. A doe and 2 fawns worked their way down into the brushy flat. They milled around and eventually bedded down a couple of hundred yards to my right. Then I  saw a fourth, bigger deer, behind them. It looked like a buck.
    It's just before the rut kicks in here in the northeast and things are beginning to heat up. I've missed two, count 'em TWO, does. In the low light with my bad peepers I can't even tell if I'm shooting over or under them. "I don't know what I'm doing wrong." I whine to Evets Snidely, my electrician. "I know...." he offers "You're missing them." Thanks. There is not much sympathy amongst my friends. In fact they seem to get quite a kick out of my failures. Oh well. I have no choice but to get back in the stand. So I say a little prayer to the LGM and go at it again. The only thing I've changed are my arrow tips. I've switched from broadheads to expandables. The other day I even I climbed up on my roof, after setting up the target at 15 yards. I let loose. Not a bullseye, but close enough. It's not the angle.

  Hours in the stand always gives me plenty of time to ponder things. Two of my main areas of interest and subsequent expertise, are art and religion. I believe in art and do whatever I can to fuck with religion.  My credentials are in order. I have degrees from both art school and seminary. I was even accepted into the phd. program at Columbia on the strength of forming my own dis-organised religion. I decided to forgo this. It was an ego thing. Academia is now cranking out "art docs" along with MFAs. It's a new boutique industry. I don't need $50,000 in debt and 4 lost years in order to be called Dr. Osterhout. You should think of me as a Dr. anyway.
    So when I read that a Boston theologian had recently written an article in a Catholic publication, citing proof of the Devil's existence in gay lust, it caught my interest. In the ensuing Gay Rights bru-ha-ha the Catholics retracted the story. This is why belief systems have gotten such a bad rap all around. I feel I'm as much of an expert on these issues as anyone. So let me just say that Organized religion of all denominations- Christian, Moslem, Hindu, Jew invented the Devil for their own political agendas and she is very easy to spot. Her bloody handprints are everywhere. So when I make fun of all these so- called organized religions, it is not without good reason and a relatively qualified voice. Now, lets get back to hunting and pray I'll make a good shot.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011




Two snow storms before Halloween and I still don't have a deer on the ground. I've been hitting my spot on Majestic most mornings and sitting the orchard in the afternoon. It's been hit and miss. The freak October snows had shut them down until yesterday evening. Things are changing.
   I was to go out to The Hollie Witchey Project to celebrate Mystery Girl's birthday around 7pm so I got in the stand a little early. Gilkey's fields were still covered in snow, but under the apple trees there was plenty of green and tracks. The deer had definitely been feeding at night. I didn't have to wait long. A big doe worked her way quickly across the field, right towards me around 3:30pm. I slowly rose out of my seat, clipped the release and waited......and waited. She was in no hurry. I watched her munch apples, protected by the thick canopy of still green leafed trees. Then she bedded down. It took her about an hour before she presented a shot. I came to full draw.....and she turned. Fuck. But she came closer. I let off the string and waited. Again I came to full draw. She was right below me. Before I could release the arrow, she turned again and ducked under the trees again.
   When I let off for the second time she caught me and spooked, bounding across the field towards the river. What a beautiful sight. That's how the afternoon went. More does (some big, some small), a little spike, weaved in and out of range. The wind was out of the SE. Perfect. Finally I had a shot at a small doe as the bigger one snorted and stomped behind me in the field. I pulled back and let loose. The place exploded, deer running in every direction. The little doe joined the spike and big doe heading for the opposite ridge. I'd missed clean. I shot right under her belly. Damn. In retrospect I don't think I was thoroughly committed to the shot. I felt disappointed, but not too much. What an afternoon!
   After a great supermodel birthday dinner with Nun of your business, Popol-U and Mystery Girl I drove home after midnight, beat. Just off 17, right before Fred Rd. my headlights caught a deer standing in the middle of the road. It wasn't moving. I turned the truck to light it. It was a beautiful big 8 pointer. I literally drove right up to it before he slowly headed down the ridge. Nice. First big buck sighting of the season. Things are changing.