After hunting hard for six weeks, my 2017 deer season ended last Saturday afternoon. I stood on a mountain in my home town of Newfield, Maine. Not too far off was my brother Billy. I often get pretty reflective at the end of the season. For five years in a row I shot mature bucks of 8 points or better and over 170 lbs. For the last two years I’ve had my chances, but I wasn’t able to seal the deal. This year was a year of absolute frustration. I saw over 50 deer. Out of those 50 deer 6 were bucks. (7 if you count the one my brother Jason hung his tag on.) Out of those 6 bucks 2 were shooter class for me. Both of those two were smarter than me, faster than me, and better than me.
We got very little snow. I live for tracking snow. The little we got was crunchy and as loud as an out of tune high school garage band. When in the north woods I do very little sitting. The deer density is so small and the land is so vast I feel that you have to move, even if it’s 100 yards in an hour. When you move on cornflakes you see nothing. When you hop from rock to rock, and fallen log to fallen log you are quieter but you get right tuckered out quick. Sure I could have planted my ass in an area with a lot of deer sign and hoped for the best. If I just wanted to kill a deer that’s exactly what I would do. If I was guiding someone in the conditions I was hunting in that is what I would do with them. But for me, and the way I want to hunt, well I just do it my way. As the saying goes, you reap what you sow, and I whipped up a giant pot of tag soup that I can sip on all year long.
But here is the funny thing, I’m ok with it. Remember what I said at the beginning. My brother Billy and I were on top of a mountain in our hometown. How lucky are we? He spent two years in Iraq as an infantryman with the 82nd Airborne. I spent 15 months in Fallujah with 2nd Tank Battalion. I know that both of us experienced moments when we thought we’d never be back on that mountain, but there we were. Just like when we were kids.
How luck was I this year? My youngest daughter got to experience youth day, and see a deer! I got to spend an entire week at deer camp with my dad, my uncle, my best friends, and my brothers. We laughed so hard that my sides hurt. We ate so well that we all went into food comas, we enjoyed each other so much that we all left not wanting it to end. And my father’s eyeball fell out and rolled across the table. True Story.
My family came to camp for the second week and we played board games and enjoyed each other for no other reason than we love each other. My wife wrote in the camp book that the kids whispering in the loft after bed took her right back to when they were kids, not young adults with their own apartments and jobs.
I guess as I reflect back on 2017 that is the question, how lucky am I to have all this? The deer on the tailgate, well that’s just a bonus.
Almost time for the 2018 season. We’ll start with icefishing and some coyote hunts, but come spring I go back to work on tracking and killing the biggest buck of my life. Stay tuned for booking opportunities and updates on jimnevilleoutdoors.com