Deer-less, north and south
I spent the final hours of the Northern Zone firearms deer season watching an NFL football game. And when you consider I'm not really an NFL guy, preferring to OD on college football on Saturdays instead, that pretty much tells you I had surrendered to the whitetails this year.
I'm already sitting back and evaluating my 2012 deer season, one in which no tags were filled – even during a couple days in the Southern Zone, where I carried DMPs for two different units and was fully confident I could fill some venison requests for friends back in the Adirondacks.
But it didn't happen. I can't be too disappointed about not downing a buck up north; statistically, most hunters don't. But I didn't connect during the archery season for the first time in a few years, and suddenly it's early December, I'm not a muzzleloader hunter and the reality has hit home: I didn't kill a deer this season.
The easy verdict may simply be that I stink, and that may be in the literal sense, since I'm always dealing with scent control given that I usually have a couple Labs sliming me as I tie my boots and head out the door. But looking at things objectively, I think it's more than that, especially up here in the Northern Zone where your level of hunting intensity has to be kicked up a notch to tip the odds in your favor.
Here's what I've come up with so far:
- the Southern Zone shutout was simply a fluke. I hunted just two days in Tioga County, and sometimes it just doesn't happen. This year it didn't, my one long-distance effort at a lone doe connecting, but not solidly enough to put it down before another hunter did. No big deal there. Well, maybe a little deal.
- I just didn't push hard enough in the Northern Zone, choosing instead to stay on top of work (what was I thinking?) and telling myself I took enough time off in the fall to pursue trout (which was true). I consistently came up with excuses to stay home. The woodpile. A looming deadline for New York Outdoor News. Notre Dame-Pitt. It all added up.
- When I did head into the big woods, I never really spent an entire day out there, and most of it, in fact, wasn't in the backcountry at all. Most of my hunting came in the neighborhood, where deer numbers are decent but the setting falls well short of a big-woods experience. A couple hours here, a morning there. It just didn't add up to the kind of effort needed to tag a buck in a unit with the sparsest deer numbers in the state.
- I reverted to my Southern Zone hunting tactics up north, which doesn't wash. Up here, you need to cover ground and find the deer. Instead, I posted on a tree stump and waited, hoping something would happen. Up here, sometimes you need to make something happen.
So while I'm disappointed, keep in mind this is just deer hunting. It's not life and death, like spring gobblers. I suppose I could scream down to the Southern Zone for a last-ditch effort to down maybe a doe. That probably won't happen. It really never did this season.