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Hunt 6 November 30 - December 4
Preliminary reports from several credentialed biologists back before the season predicted an "above average" year, but not much more. We are almost to our half-way point, and already it seems fair to lay claim to a GREAT season here at Adobe Lodge.
Why, you ask? Back on Hunt # 2, Jacqui Hunter collected a buck that ties the # 4 in our All Time Best list. Here on Hunt 6, Ken Austad's buck moves into the slot just below her with a 160 3/8" whopper. Want more proof? Cheryl Moon on this Hunt 6 collected a picture-perfect 20 3/4" ten pointer that taped 147+ inches, joining eight other bucks this year which exceed the best taken a year ago at our Home Camp. So it's fair to say that some of those early predictions were way-too conservative. Maybe giant whitetails have learned to hide their antlers from helicopters and census takers?
All but two hunters on this date were here together on an earlier date a year ago. Those six wanted to move to this after-Thanksgiving date. Interestingly, they were a party of three, a party of two, and a party of one, all of whom came together a year ago as certified hunting amigos. A father/son pair, formerly here back in 2017, joined-in enthusiastically, and before the hunt even concluded, they all re-booked for 2020 and will be bringing a couple of others, as well.
The single hunter, Raymond Jordan from North Carrollton, MS, was back for his second year. He collected the hunt's first buck, a 17" ten, plus three does. Indeed, Raymond wasted no time and was tagged out across the board by noon, Sunday, only a quarter-way into the event.
Stephen and Cheryl Moon, from Freeland, MI plus their cousin, Pete Mousseau, Macomb, MI made-up the party of three. Remember Pete's name: he will be returning in three weeks as a non-hunter as he accompanies his daughter, Amber, on her first-ever buck hunt. Stephen was the second to tag a buck, a 15 1/2" nine pointer on Sunday night. Next morning, Cheryl got her whopper. Similar to Jacqui Hunter earlier, it was impossible to get a photo of Cheryl without a giant, huge, beautiful smile spread across her attractive face. "Them good looking bucks have that effect on them good looking girls."
Pete Mousseau just never found the one he was looking for, which can happen on low-fence, fair-chase hunts. That's the real benefit of our Trophy Option price. If you don't see him, you have saved plenty of money. Pete did, indeed, collect his quota of three does.
Californians Peter Ruseski and Ken Austad first hunted here way back in 1996. They returned annually after that long ago visit. But somehow neither of them were seen until a few seasons ago when Peter showed up driving a Porsche, of all things, with doe hunting on his mind. Ken was left back home in San Diego for the next few years to care for an ailing parent. But last year, he returned to join Peter in that doe harvest quest. Both were interested in meat, not antlers.
As aside here, when Peter managed to somehow get five boned-out does into that little sports Porsche, he should have qualified for some kind of record. How many of those cars have ever been loaded down with that much deer meat? No doubt, his is the only one.
Once again, Ken was only in quest of does. Hunting our "Trophy Option" plan, he vowed to forego any buck unless he found a true monster. Boy, did he ever do just that. We had to show two photos of him below just so you can see how truly tall that rack is. The only such height ever seen here was back in 1991 when Donald Harris from Cary, MS took a 19 1/4" 15 pointer that was similarly tall. He taped just shy of 150. Ken's 160 class buck had main beams at 26 and 25.75", the longest ever measured in our camp, if memory serves. Peter Ruseski held true to his goal. He turned down one "almost" as good as Ken's, he said, preferring to take another doe instead. For sure, Peter, a former naval aviator, can target them correctly. Shown below are two of his shots, right smack into that sweet spot on the shoulder.
Veteran hunters live for the highs but must endure and suffer the lows. We've all "been there and done that." And so it was for both Kevin Yeater, Snellville, GA and his son, Ben, who lives in Monroe. As said earlier, they were here back in 2017 but had a conflict for the following season. Now here they were to join the lively group which had formed back in 2018. Kevin and Ben patiently waited for a butter-melter. Seeing Cheryl's and Ken's outstanding trophies was sufficient motivation. But, as things happen in our world of hunting whitetails, both men lost bucks which could not be found despite exceptional efforts by their guide, Bill Scott, a retired game warden from Illinois, plus others, as well. Father and son had to be logged-in as DNFs on their bucks. A real, sho'nuff bummer, that's what it is. But their spirit is strong. Both will return next fall.
Here, then, is the summary: eight hunters tagged four bucks. There were those two DNF bucks. Two hunters failed to take a buck. Five hunters took three does, one took two does, two took only one doe. Critters, javelinas, and turkeys did not appear on our tally board. Oh, one more thing. The weather was perfect: 35-75 and no wind.
Hunt 5 November 23 - 27
Up until now anyway, what bad weather we have had so far this fall has been between our hunt dates. And so it was on Hunt 5. The mild days all during the hunt dates lasted until the very last morning when the temperature dropped with a bit of rain falling. By then, the Fat Lady had begun to sing. Hunters found 30s in the morning and almost 80s in the afternoon. Thankfully, there was not an abundance of wind. Of note: this hunt overlapped the date of the new moon.
Of the eight hunters booked on # 5, all but one had been here numerous times. Steve Thompson, the newcomer, and a very experienced hunter, joined South Carolinians Lyle Olson and Ed McFarland with 15-18 Adobe Lodge trips under their camo belts. Both Steve and Lyle chose to hunt under our unique "Trophy Option." Neither found that special buck he was looking for, but that will happen when your goal is something extraordinary.
Georgia hunters, Brad Milner and wife, Catharine (Cat) Cato have relocated to the mountains of North Carolina. There's no telling how many times Brad has been here, both for deer and spring turkey. Back in 2014, he introduced Cat to hunting and now she is addicted, as well. Wait until you see the 19" ten-pointer 140 class buck below collected by Cat. Brad got himself a good 19 incher, too, that had nine points. Brad chose the Trophy Option; Cat hunted under the regular price.
Frank Kollar, now living in Colorado and his son, Scott, presently from Austin, but soon to be moving to Dallas, both chose the Trophy Option, vowing to harvest only does unless something melted either's butter. Scott never found him, but Frank did. And when you see his photo below, you'll see why. Frank's buck, a 17" nine pointer, was the heaviest of the hunt at 148 pounds. This far into the rut and with a dry fall staring us in the face, the 150 pound-plus bucks will be few and far between from now on.
The friendship between Jim Davis, from St. Louis Park, MN and Ed McFarland, Anderson, SC goes way, way back. Ed introduced us to Jim a few years ago. Ed collected his buck on the second night of the hunt, a dandy ten pointer that was 17 1/2" wide. Jim held out looking for something to rival Ed's buck. But he just couldn't find him. It was time to take action.
Finally, late in the hunt, Jim, along with his guide, Charles Westbrook, spotted a "last-minute" candidate. Unfortunately, he was plenty far out there. Jim found a comfortable rest and touched one off. The buck disappeared in the waist-high broom weeds which have infested all of West Texas this fall. Did he go down? If he was hit, conventional wisdom says it's best to let him bleed awhile. So while Charles went to pick up his other hunter, Steve Thompson, Jim kept his eye on the far-away location where the buck had been. Anyone who's been there and done that knows how difficult it is to locate a distant spot once you are actually "over yonder."
Finally arriving on the scene of the crime, Charles methodically worked the blood trail, a time consuming and laborious task. When the story finally came to an end, Jim's buck hadn't traveled more than 25 yards. Without that maze of broom weeds, the search party could have seen him easily. It was later determined that Jim's shot was 240 yards. Well done, Jim. Very well done.
Seems like each Adobe Lodge hunt has something unique and special. Lyle Olson provided us all with a delicacy rarely found here in the wilds of West Texas. Recently, Lyle collected an alligator back home in South Carolina that taped 12' 8", less than a foot shy of the state record. Lyle treated all in camp to several samples of alligator meats, summer sausages and other delights harvested from that monster. Best of all was his account of the catch. Lyle and his two amigos worked the gator seven hours to finally get him alongside of the boat to ensnare him in a loop before the execution by gun as dictated by the game laws of that state. The adventure was a wild one. To give you an idea of Lyle's feat, of the 1200 available alligator permits drawn in SC, only about 300 gators are finally taken.
We are glad our odds on whitetails are a bit better. Here is what we got done on this hunt: Of the five Trophy Option hunters, two found bucks they liked; three did not. All three of the regular hunters took bucks. Twenty-one does were tabulated with one hunter taking zero females while another took only two. Six collected the limit of three does. No critters were taken.
All eight slots on this hunt date are now taken for 2020, but three slots have opened on the previous date, Hunt 4. See details on the "Deer Dates - 2020" page, left menu.
Hunt 4 November 18 - 22
For the first 3 1/2 days of Hunt 4, the weather was plenty mild - in the 30s at daylight going up to almost hot a couple of times. One day saw a bit of wind, and only one brief shower consisted of a few drops here and there. Deer movement ran from very active to not-so-active. On the final morning, a cold front moved through just after daylight. Sure enough, two bucks and a doe arrived back at camp. Trying to predict deer movement by studying weather is a futile effort.
Both guides and hunters affirm that the rut is most definitely here. But like the weather, it runs hot and cold from day to day. The singer John Denver must have been a deer hunter when he sang about some days being diamonds, some being stones.
Six of the seven hunters on hand for Hunt 4 were multi-year veterans. Only two of the bunch came as a pair, the rest being singles. Three Floridians drove here all by themselves (maybe one flew part of the way), two drove from Alabama, the lone rookie drove in from Nevada, but only one arrived by plane at our local airport from New Jersey. Are we now properly politically correct from all this diversity?
To make things even more complicated, a couple of my old and dear friends from up Ft. Worth way joined us for the first day. If you had all the quail taken by Ron Norman, Smiley Irvin and me on our collective quail hunts back 30-40 years ago, you could feed the entire Dallas Cowboy organization, and another couple of teams, as well. These cherished amigos wanted to see what I'm up to these days, now that quail numbers have dwindled to un-huntable numbers. The stories and laughter during their stay were endless.
Adding to the group at the kickoff meeting was my associate, Beaver McManus who dropped by to see three of his former hunters, Lee Wilson, Matt Shubert, and Dave Hitchner. So that first day or so was a busy and exceptionally fun time, as is the norm around the old camp. It only got better each minute.
Tom Peterson, accompanied by his non-hunting wife, Diane, and who has hunted on every continent around the world, was back for his third hunt with us. Unfortunately, Tom did not see the buck he wanted. But he did collect the largest female bobcat ever taken by an Adobe Lodge hunter. That obese hussy weighed, get this, 32 lbs. With another nearby whitetail hunt in our area set to begin, Tom had to forego the last day of his stay with us. But he re-booked again for 2020. Having gifted that beautiful cat to us, he will get to see her mounted on our lodge wall when he returns next fall.
Taking bucks early in the hunt were Dave Hitchner, Bridgeton, NJ who collected a good 18 1/2" nine point. That night, Dude Phelan, Ocala, FL and Lee Wilson, Gulf Shores, AL tagged ten point bucks. Dude's buck was mighty tall; Lee's buck was mighty old and gnarly.
Deer movement slowed a bit, but Ken Carter, Orange Beach, AL got himself a 130 class eight, 20 1/4" wide. Nothing like a Big Eight, that's for sure. But the middle part of the hunt found slower deer movement. Any ideas, anyone?
On that final morning with the cold north wind blowing, Matt Shubert, Titusville, FL, who has been one of Adobe Lodge's most faithful hunters at both camps for more than a dozen years got himself a good eight point. John McIntosh, Sparks, NV, who was on his first Adobe Lodge adventure, took a 21 1/2" wide nine point. John's buck was his second-ever whitetail. No telling how many Matt has collected over the years. Both drove here, of course - one from the east, one from the west. See there, the diversity continues. The Politically Correct Police can't get us yet.
Despite our admonitions and pleadings, the doe harvest was not close to what we needed. Only 15 were taken by the 7 hunters. We had hoped for almost 21. Six of the seven got bucks, so that's good. Four of the seven re-booked for 2020. The open slots on this date will first be offered to those on our waiting list. Openings, if any, will be posted later on the "Deer Dates" page on this website.
Hunt 3 November 13-17
Well, the string had to come to an end sometime. So far this season, the next hunt produced a buck larger than any buck taken on the previous hunt. Although there were several dandies taken on Hunt 3, none could match Jacqui Hunter's beauty from back on Hunt 2. But there were a couple of unusual dudes taken, unlikely to be matched anytime soon. Read on.
Back for the 2nd year in a row, we had a group of friends from the Canonsburg area of Pennsylvania, a few miles south of Pittsburg in the southwestern parts of the state. Six of the guys were here a year ago. Two new names, at least to us, were added this year. The titular leader is Gerry O'Hare, accompanied once again by Dan Papak, Brian King, John Crumrine, Zach Airhart, and Max O'Hare. The newcomers were Scott Hareza and John Pleskovick.
Interestingly, Scott was the first to put his tag on a buck; John was next-to-last to do so. Scott even succeeded in taking a 2nd buck while John, 88 years-old, and as hard-of-hearing as is your friendly webmaster, was mighty choosy in his buck selection. In fact, when John finally collected his 19" eight point, he told his guide, Dick Irons, that they could finally be friends again.
That second buck of Scott's has a most unusual configuration to this antlers, as you will see below. After an absence from hunting for many years, Scott's goal, he confided to Gerry, was to take a drop-tine buck, . He almost did it. Or not, depending on your classification of a "drop-tine." Judge for yourself if the unusual appendage meets the definition of a drop. No doubt, everyone will see it differently. But there is little doubt a similar buck will not be taken later on during the season. Scott got himself "one of a kind."
Just after Scott took that first buck, Brian King got his, but he either misjudged or got mixed up with another - a not-so-unusual occurrence here with our plethora of bucks. Especially this year when mistakes are easy to make.
The next morning, John Crumrine and Dan Papak got two different kinds. John's 18" ten was tall; Dan's 17" nine looked flatter. Despite the dissimilar racks, both were mighty handsome.
Zach Airhart got himself a good 16" eight on the second morning. The doe harvest moved along steadily with 3-4 finding their way to the skinning shed each half-day.
By Saturday, there were three buck hunters yet to tag out, but the attention of the entire group turned to a most unusual sport: shooting aluminum cans into the air to be shot-at by a three-barreled shotgun. The propellant inside the weapon used to launch the cans was a blank .223 shell. If only one can was muzzle-loaded, the travel distance was well over a hundred yards, easily over the top of our hundred-yard target on our gun range out behind the lodge. Two cans didn't go so far, but several of the shooters managed to draw liquid out of both containers before they returned to Mother Earth. The weather was sunny, mild and perfect for such shenanigans.
That last night of the hunt, John Pleskovick finally found one that suited him. Max O'Hare, who had a mighty sore shoulder from launching all those cans with that kicking-mule weapon, got a buck with antlers that appeared at first glance to have double G-1s or eyeguards. He's a good'un, for sure.
The only hunter who failed to collect a buck, Gerry O'Hare, had photos of candidates he had seen along the way that were equal to any of the bucks taken. Unfortunately, the buck that was clearly larger than all the rest, was missing his right main beam along-about the half-way point. No telling how large he had been originally.
Once again, the entire group voted to return in 2020, following the same decision of those on the earlier hunts. Very encouraging. 100% repeat business so far for next year. And it's easy to see why when the success rate on bucks and does has been so impressive. These eight hunters took eight bucks, but remember one got two while one got zip. They took home coolers and coolers of frozen venison off the 18 does and eight bucks. Unfortunately, there were three DNFs from lost/unrecoverable does. Oh, almost forgot: Zach Airhart got himself a big javelina, too, the only non-deer taken.
Dan Papak and Max O'Hare somehow got the job of pulling their loaded-down cargo van trailer back home to Canonsburg, while the rest of them drove the rental unit back to Dallas for the flight back home. Thankfully, the weather on departure day was blue-bird beautiful.
Hunt 2 November 8-12
All this should have been posted a couple of days ago. But when I started on the project, a belly ache nagged at me for a few hours. Not being prone to such problems, I finally gave up and went to a Doc-in-the-Box. Several hours later and after many tests, surgery to remove my gall bladder was scheduled for the next day. Thank God the hospital staff and Dr. Thomas got me out of there after the 2nd night. Here I am back where I left off.
Hunt 2 was our largest group of the year. What a spread-out bunch, literally arriving from border to border and coast to coast. Most all, save the two rookies who accompanied veterans, had been here before. Coming from the Montrose area of Pennsylvania were Bruce Legg, Greg Maxey, Will Tripp and Ron Brown, all of whom can trace their first hunt (of 6-8 total trips) with us back to the early 2000s. Actually, nowadays, Will and Greg live mostly in Florida. Brian Baker, nephew of David, an original member of the group,now deceased, was the only first-timer in the bunch. Will's daughter, Jacqui, here for a 2nd time, collected a monster of a buck that will rank near the top of our All-Time Best list.
For the fourth year in a row, Craig Nowell from southern Louisiana, teamed up with Craig and Marie Boehler from Mayfield, NY. Craig Boehler, who has been coming here a decade or more, has morphed into a guide for Marie and the other Craig.
Finally, Cliff Milner, Charlotte, NC, who hunted turkeys with us a few years ago, brought his son, Carson, who now lives in San Francisco. Both were on their first deer hunt here at Adobe Lodge.
With ten hunters in camp, and with the limit being a buck and three does, and with eight half-day hunts on the four-day schedule, mathematically we needed five deer each morning and another five that afternoon to collect all 40 whitetails. Things would be mighty busy in our skinning shed.
The first couple of days found beautiful fall Texas weather. That first afternoon, Bruce Legg put his tag on a 19 1/2" nine pointer. A great start to a super hunt.
Next morning, Brian Baker got himself an 18" eight while Carson Milner collected a 16" ten. But dad, Cliff, moved into the season's lead by almost ten inches with a super-heavy horned 19 1/2" 15 pointer. The dude taped 156 5/8." The photo below doesn't quite capture the sheer mass of those antlers. That afternoon, with no wind or clouds, it was 85 degrees, hardly deer hunting weather, but several does were taken anyway.
Tee-shirt weather continued on Sunday with Greg Maxey getting a high-horned 15" eight point and Craig Nowell finding an 18" ten pointer he liked. That afternoon, with several being tagged-out or mostly so, many chose to hang out at camp to watch NFL football. But Jacqui found better things to do. She put down one monster of a whitetail sporting 24" main-beams, the longest we've seen in years. The ten tines on the 18 1/4" rack were plenty long, too, making a total of 162 3/8 inches. To give you an idea of Jacqui's accomplishment, her score ties the fourth-best-ever, taken by Bill Knapp (The Legend of Adobe Lodge), back in 2006. So much for the adage of poor hunting during a full moon, eh? Oh, wait. That event would not occur for two more days.
But did the approaching cold front affect the deer movement? Going into the final three half-day hunts, we lacked three bucks and 15 does to fill the tally board. That front hit mid-morning on Monday with much, much wind and a slight amount of moisture. Nevertheless, Will Tripp finally found the one he had been looking for - a 21 5/8" ten pointer. No bucks were taken that afternoon with the weather getting ever-more grim. Even Craig Boehler, who has a lifetime of experience driving in upstate NY, complained about the icy conditions.
The final morning, as the temperature hovered in the low 20s, Marie Boehler was the final hunter to get her name on the tally board, leaving only one blank slot in the buck column. Having seen several extra-ordinary bucks taken earlier on the hunt, Marie was a bit disappointed with her fifteen-incher. But the rascal sported seventeen - count'em - seventeen points. We all thought that Marie's handsome buck was one heck of a trophy. It's mighty rare, rare-indeed, when a buck has more points than he does inches-in-width. So apparently, weather, at least on this hunt, played no role in the success of the group when our camp thermometer went from almost hot to mighty cold.
Only one of the ten failed to find a buck, but thankfully, he was hunting our unique "Trophy Option," a good choice for those who are only after super-sized bucks. Nineteen does were counted on our summary sheet, plus two DNFs (did not find). No critters were taken, but the good news was that all the Montrose, PA hunters re-booked for next year, as did Marie Boehler plus Craig Nowell. So the hunt in 2020 is once again full. Cliff Milner wants to find a date where he can bring his other two sons, so the Milners, too, will be returning sometime.
Hunt 1 November 4 - 7
Our brochure says that we cater to corporate groups, families, friends, and solo hunters. It was families which dominated this hunt date - a dad from Houston with three children, a dad from southern California with his son, and a father from PA with his son. All, save one female, are multi-year veterans. In fact, Tom and Hunter Biehl can date their first trip with us back to the early 2000s.
Once again, our early November weather was near perfect, bordering on being too hot for hunting whitetails. That would change to cold rain and wind the final morning, but by then, we had an empty camp: all had departed, having tagged-out early.
Joe Ivey found us at the Texas Trophy Hunters show in Houston several years ago and now comes every year to host his three grown children. Daughter Narie was to have been here last year but couldn't make it. She made up for lost time this year by taking a mighty good nine-pointer plus three does. Joe and son Russell took nine and eight points,respectively, but it was Tony Ivey who collected a most unique 14 pointer, 19 1/2" wide. If memory serves, Tony's buck is the first we've ever had in camp that lacked a tail. Can you then call him a "no-tail white tail?" But he made up for that deficiency by growing one heck of a set of antlers, as you will see below.
John Seps and son, Sam, from San Jacinto, CA knocked the ball out of the park by taking two bucks plus six does to fill their limit. But it didn't stop there. John got himself a turkey and a coon at one sitting. After downing one of his does, sometime later a buck shows up and John got a fatal bullet into him, as well. Just to be sure the buck was, in fact, dead, John went for a look. Yep, he was dead alright. Upon returning to his blind, he checks the field of view once more. Uh-oh. Something was perched atop his doe, staring at him. What was it? Wisely, he put his scope instead of his binoculars to his eyes. He was therefore instantly ready to shoot whatever. Turned out to be a beautiful bobcat. A 28 lb. male, he was, with exceptionally defined spots on his hide. What a mount he will make.
Not to be outdone in taking critters, Sam Seps got a limit of javelinas, 42 and 60 pounds.
Finally, it was the Pennsylvania Biehl's - Tom from Fleetwood and Hunter from Wyomissing, who each collected their lifetime best Adobe Lodge bucks after hunting with us for the past 15-20 years. Hunter's buck sported such spectacular antlers that it was impossible to properly capture all 12 points on that 21 inch frame with just one photo. So below, you will see a couple of views of this magnificent trophy. By an even one-half inch, Hunter moves into the lead in this year's list of top bucks with the 147 7/8 inches on that beautiful buck's head.
Father Tom, having been a regular with us for almost 20 years now, knows what one of our good ones looks like. But he had a huge challenge in his effort to best his son's buck going into the final hours of the hunt. Arriving back in camp on the final night, Tom admitted he was forced to take a "last-day buck. Just an eight-pointer," he moaned. Some eight pointer. Wait till you see the photo below. The 21-inch monster taped out at 137 3/8 inches. After supper, we reviewed our recently reorganized bookshelf of photo books. Tom's previous best buck with us was an eighth-inch smaller. So now at the age 84 years-young, Tom has taken his lifetime Adobe Lodge best with that incredible eight-point rack. An eight point with that many inches is a trophy for sure.
All eight hunters collected bucks. All but one took a limit of three does. Let's not forget the bobcat, the turkey, the javelinas and the raccoon, either. And they all left camp with a half-day yet to go. But the most important news was this: they all re-booked for the 2020 season. It will be great to see these three family groups again next year.
We are indebted to John Seps for sending the two final photos in the collection below. With his camera, he captured an image of a buck he found after taking his buck, doe, and bobcat earlier in the hunt as described above.
October 27 - 31
The weather could not have been more perfect at the kickoff of Hunt A. The next day, it got worse. Misty rain and low 40s for three days. The final morning saw clear skies but 19 degrees on the camp thermometer - our first freeze of the fall and a full two weeks earlier than normal. Often hunters ask: "what weather can I expect on my hunt?" Who the heck knows? Our advice: check accu-weather to know what clothes to bring.
Five first-timers and three veterans gave us our first look at what this 2019 season might bring. Judging by the bucks they took and the numbers written on our tally board, things will be much different and better than a year ago.
John R. Newsome and his faithful amigo, Myron Woomer, both from central Illinois, have been here more times than we can count - 2 or 3 times each season for 25 years.
Driving in from Southern California and here for his third time with us was Jim Gillard.
Adobe Lodge rookies were Chris Coffin plus his son, Grayson, and nephew, J.D - all from Austin, TX. Jim West, originally from northern California but now living at Wimberly, TX, near Austin, came as a single. The 8th hunter was Freddy McCall, from Pollock, LA. He brought along his lovely wife, Kathleen, as a non-hunter.
From the pre-hunt information sheet returned to us by each hunter, we learned that many of them had taken only a few bucks. So, at the kickoff meeting following the introduction event where we all learn everyone's name, home town, occupation, etc., all were encouraged to pass on bucks that first afternoon to prevent anyone taking a lower-end animal. You will see plenty of bucks, we assured the group, so wait until you know what's out there. Even though one hunter passed on what his cell phone photo told us was surely an exceptional shooter, most waited patiently and finally took great bucks. Indeed, two of them were better than the Home Camp's "Buck of the Year" in 2018.
Myron Woomer, who collected our season's best back in 1996 (just to show you how long he and Mr. Newsome have been coming) knew better than to pass on what he saw that first afternoon. Myron got himself a drop-tine dude, 19" wide with ten points. John Newsome took a 22-incher with ten points the next morning. But John is always more interested in the shot presented to him than what might be the size of a buck. Shooting through a small opening in the heavy brush, John's 2nd buck was a 16" ten pointer, as well.
That second night, Jim West's buck amazed us all. The 20" ten pointer put an impressive 188 pounds on our super-accurate scale (provided to us by Craig and Marie Boehler who sell all kinds of measuring devices in upstate NY). That is the heaviest buck we have weighed in years, and with 142+ inches on his head, he topped last season's best at the Home Camp. Not to be outdone however, next morning the other Jim in camp, Mr. Gillard, found an 11 point whopper with even five more inches of antlers. Already, we had two bucks larger than last season's best.
By noon on the third day, with the weather still somewhere around 40 and super damp, all the other hunters had collected bucks. Chris Coffin's ten pointer had split G-1s (eye guards) to give him 12 points. All the rest were ten's except for one nine. Remarkably, Grayson Coffin's 16 1/2" ten moved into # 1, size-wise, with 191 pounds. And speaking of weight, all but one of the 18 does taken by the group put 80+, 90+ and even 100+ pounds on our board. Jim Gillard's first doe topped out at 122 pounds, but Freddy McCall, Jim West, and all three Coffin's collected does in excess of 100 pounds. Yep, they took home lots and lots of venison.
Freddy McCall elected to take a 2nd buck on the final night as a second cold front dropped temperatures to the low 30s. Although he was the only 8 point taken on the hunt, the 18 1/4" monster topped all weights at 193.8 pounds.
The final statistics on Hunt A are mighty good. Eight hunters took ten bucks and 18 does. They set the bar pretty doggone high for the rest of the season. Especially in the weight category. Yes, range conditions from late 2018 to July 4, 2019 were the best in memory. From here on, now that dry weather has its clammy fingers looped around our necks, and with the rut just around the corner, buck weights are sure to drop by 10-20%. And with no green forage, to be found no-where, all the rest of our ruminant animals will struggle.
But the harsh range conditions make for extra-lively activity around the corn feeders. Lots of deer are being seen, unlike the strange and unlikely situation a year ago. The fall of 2019 compared to 2018 is 180 degrees different.
The best news of all: every single hunter re-booked for 2020 before leaving camp, including the first-timers. Already we are eager to see them all once again.