Fall seasons require some decision-making
I jokingly say I like to visit a taxidermist once every 30 years or so, but when I look back at that statement, it’s really no joke. I’ve only taken two decent bucks over nearly 50 years of hunting – a fine 8-point back in 1979 and a bigger 10-pointer a few years ago that actually required a tape measurement, netting 136 inches.
There’s a reason my wall isn’t adorned with big bucks – actually a few reasons. I’m not one of those dedicated hunters who are haunted by big whitetails and spend every waking minute thinking, planning and hunting the big creatures. Instead, I’m out there enjoying the outdoors (and I’m not saying hardcore whitetail hunters don’t), sitting as an observer with Paula as the gunner, killing time until spring gobbler season, and wondering whether I should be running Finn on pheasants instead of sitting in a tree.
Also, it’s rare that I pass on a buck. I have a longtime hunting buddy who simplifies it all, saying “if you want to kill a big buck, stop shooting forks.” He doesn’t impose his philosophy on others and is always ready to congratulate a hunter who tags the buck of their choice, but let’s be honest – he’s right.
That same friend used to debate over whether to take a smaller buck with his bow so he could get back on the Chemung River when the walleye bite was on. He’s pretty much focused solely on bowhunting now, but his dilemma is one I grapple with each season.
I’m heading out shortly to a Chemung County stand, and I’ve already decided – I think – that the first buck (or doe) that strolls into range is going to be a shooter. Our energetic Lab Finnleigh is perfectly fine with that; when I’m in a tree that means I’m not running her on pheasants and woodcock.
And there are always other options on the table, weather and water conditions permitting. Chemung and Susquehanna river walleye and bass. A trip up to Oak Orchard Creek for salmon and brown trout. An invite from a serious angler to fish Cayuga Lake for prime time smallmouths. Throw in work and home duties and other fun outings with friends, such as a the Penn State-Iowa football game this weekend, and suddenly the archery season is winding down and firearms season looming.
So I have some decisions to make. I have, in fact, passed on a couple small bucks in recent years, but at this rate, my evolution as a big-buck hunter will reach its peak when I’m 137 years old. Venison for the freezer isn’t really an issue this year, given that Paula’s moose has all three filled (the third freezer one we had to purchase for the moose meat).
Today, it will be the bow. Tomorrow, probably a quick run with Finn. Paula wants to do some fall turkey hunting as well. In fact, she sometimes heads out to another area while I bow hunt for whitetails. And maybe the rivers will settle down sometime. They’ve been running high and off-color for, it seems, a couple months now.
Decisions will be made daily. But chances are that I’ll be out there doing something.