Up here in the Northern Zone, things can get pretty hectic around Oct. 1; actually on Sept. 27 when the archery deer season kicks off for those with leftover tags from the previous season. With the Adirondacks' early bear season opening in mid-September, then the archery opener of Sept. 27 and fall turkey and various small game seasons launching on Oct. 1, deciding what species to target – and, by extension, what implement to carry afield – is no easy task.
That's especially true this season, when black bears are on the move and the possibility of encountering one really exists; when turkey numbers have exploded on the heels of an easy winter and superb nesting and brood-rearing conditions this spring and summer; and, as always, deer remain the marquee attraction for most hunters.
That's why, at various times over the past week and a half, I've toted the .270 in hopes of blundering into a bruin; the old Mossberg 835 in an afternoon search for a flock of turkeys; and the Mathews Z7, obviously, when I climb into the treestand for whitetails.
The possibilities of a wrong encounter at the wrong time are always out there. Imagine, as I always do, having the shotgun in tow when a bear decides to show itself. Or the rifle, when I'm actually hunting bruins specifically, when a nice buck strolls into bow range. It's a real possibility, and the only "safe" pick is the bow which, on paper, can be used to take either a bear, deer or turkey.
Right now, I'm getting ready to head out the door, and the Mossberg is coming with me. It's been warm, the deer movement has slowed a bit, and I've decided to rest a particular stand through the youth deer hunting weekend, when cooler weather is supposed to arrive. I think I'm making the right call, but if I encounter a bear it would be tragic, given my record of never having tagged one.
Still, it's a chance you have to take. And at least I'm getting out there, between deadlines, an eye doctor appointment, a trip to the vet for our youngest Lab Haley that has turned out to be more serious than we had hoped, and the college football season, which does grab my attention on Saturdays.
By the time the Northern Zone firearms deer season opens, no doubt I'll have given the bow, shotgun and rifle some fresh air. Hopefully my encounters with deer, turkeys and maybe even a bear will come when I have the right implement in my hands.