Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The SoCal Bowhunter Travels to Western NY for a Whitetail Hunt

Rocky Athletic Mobility boots and Badlands Approach camo make a great combination.

Patience and planning. Two things that make an out of state hunt much more enjoyable. Even though I am from NY and have hunted there my entire life, I still remain abreast of the new or updated laws and regulations before I plan. You don’t want to assume everything is the same as prior years. For my 2016 NY whitetail deer hunt, I opted to hunt with my 300 WM rifle and leave my archery tackle at home. This would be the first time I have hunted deer with a rifle. During my planning phase, I was in constant contact with my dad and brother. We were checking weather, the rut and if it was in full swing, and what I needed to travel with. I absolutely love the planning phase of a hunt. It gets me energized, excited, and makes sure I am ready.  

As I planned out my gear bag to hunt whitetail in NY, I knew that my boots were in need of an upgrade. I needed something that would not only be waterproof, but also be warm. In fact, they needed to be more than warm. I love my Rocky Broadhead boots for warm weather, so I contacted Rocky and asked what they would recommend for the area I was hunting and the crazy weather that comes with it. A new boot for Fall 2016 was at the top of their list, the Rocky Athletic Mobility Waterproof 800G Insulated Outdoor Boot and there were some available in my size ready to ship. Check that off the list!

I also knew that I needed to protect my rifle and wanted to find a new case to load it and my shotgun. After much research, I found that Seahorse Cases makes a solid firearms case that would be exactly what I would need. I'll post a review in the next couple weeks, but let me just say that it is now my favorite firearm case!

I decided for this hunt I would travel with my ORCA cooler and not buy a cheap one in NY. Usually what I do to save money is to fly with only a checked bag of clothing and my weapon of choice. Then if I am successful in killing a deer, I will hit up a store and buy a cooler. This time I had a good feeling and opted to bring the best of the best.

The weather on day one was supposed to be a high of 67 degrees with a light breeze. Perfect, but would it be enough the get the bucks moving? My answer came fifteen minutes after being on watch. I was up in ‘The Big Hickory’ as I had 250 yards I could shoot. My 300 WM was loaded and ready to eat. I knew I would be able to see far off with my MINOX binoculars, so I scanned the hedgerows. Bam! Right away I noticed a buck skirting the edge of a brush lot, nose to the ground, and on a mission. He was over 200 yards away. By the looks of him I thought he was chasing a doe, but I saw no other deer. As I looked at my watch, my heart sank. I still had fifteen more minutes before legal shooting time. I had to be patient, but he was heading off toward private property.

Earlier that morning (and I mean really early), when we packed our bags, he asked me if I had brought a doe bleat. Crap! I hadn’t packed it and when I looked for my grunt call I remembered I left it on my work bench back in California. A lot of good it was going to do me there! My brother handed me his doe bleat and said it might work that day, so I packed it to be easily accessible. Little did he know it, but he was my hero that day. I reached into my Badlands pack and pulled out the bleat. I bleated three times, all while watching the buck head further toward the property line. Once he heard that sound he stopped, turned, and bolted back 50 yards and stopped. He was looking right at me! Now I had a decision to make. I put the binoculars down and traded them for the rifle. I set the rifle on the shooting rail and that’s when I noticed the rail was super low! I wasn’t used to shooting like this, but I needed to improvise. With my hand like a fist as a rest, I placed the rifle on it and settled in on the buck. He hadn’t moved. A glance at my watch told me I had ten more minutes of waiting ahead of me. Argh!!! Looking back through the scope, I saw that he had started feeding and not moving much. Now I had to wait.

My 2016 NY six point buck taken on opening day.

Ten minutes on opening day with buck at 200 yards broadside is an eternity to wait, but wait I did. I heard a single shot from far off about a minute before I was ready to shoot, so I waited. The buck raised his head and I settled the crosshairs on his shoulder. CRACK! In a cloud of smoke, I watched him bolt downhill and he picked up in a heap 70 yards form where I shot him. I was shaking like a leaf! Not only had I never shot a buck with a rifle, I can’t remember if I had ever shot one on opening day at first light. It was a first for me! All of the time I spent sighting in my rifle and getting the MINOX Z5i scope dialed in just right had paid off! Walkie-talkies being a thing of the past, I texted my dad and brother with the three letters we all wanted to see…DRT!

The temps dropped considerably by the evening and light rain changed over to sleet. I watched doe after doe walk through brush to escape the wind. I had bundled up well and decided on the first day of cold weather I was not going to put foot warmers in my boots. I wanted to see how well they would perform in the cold weather by themselves. They were great all over, except for my toes. Extremities are usually the first to feel the chill, so I knew that was a big factor, but I also noticed there really isn’t much Thinsulate up over the toes in these boots. I am not sure why, but it would be a big benefit to have a bit more insulation over the toes to keep them toasty. As the sun set, I watched the far edges of the field and watched a nice buck appear and walk down to an apple tree to feed. What a great first day!

The 67 degrees dropped to about 7 with the wind chill and I felt it all over, even down to my toes.  Day two was brisk, to say the least. The morning had deer moving, but the winds were ever increasing and we decided to hunt BJ's property in the evening. The choice was a great one as I filled a doe tag with one shot. Two days and two deer. I was grateful, full of excitement, and thrilled!
By the third day, we were ready for some action. We just didn't see the bucks we were looking for. The winds were intense and bitter cold. After carefully watching the weather we knew a cold front was coming in rapidly. We had decided not to hunt the next day due to impending hazardous conditions. We started to get some heavy snow by the evening and we had to go rescue my mom in the middle of dinner. By the time we got her back to the house, we were beat. There were cars and trucks stranded all over, most in the middle of the road! Having a day off would give me time to butcher my deer and get everything vacuum sealed. Plans changed a bit when my brother got me up at 4:30 AM to help him plow snow. I didn't help much, but it was great to see him work and chat along the way for three hours. After a much needed nap, I spent the rest of the day cutting up deer meat. I have to say that I am glad we took a day off!

With snow on the ground and my last day to hunt, it was time to test out the Rocky boots some more, hike a bit and see what would happen. Not only were the boots waterproof, they kept my feet very warm all over (except for the toes after time) and they remained comfortable. The grip in the snow was exceptional! I climbed over logs, through brush and over slick areas of dirt to try and get the boots to slip. They held fast and true. I am super happy about that. 

Not to be outdone, my brother filled his buck tag with a beauty of an eight point.

We all ventured to our stands and waited patiently. It was cold and I was ready to meet up for some coffee after three and a half hours on stand. My phone buzzed and my brother informed me that we had deer movement and that he was staying put. The rush of adrenaline had me warmed up quickly and I decided to stay in my treestand a bit longer. A few moments later I hear a rifle shot, followed by another.  BJ texted us that he had a buck down. A short time later, my dad and I met up with my brother and drove down to the deer. He had filled his tag with a nice 8-point and the body was big! It was a dandy. Congrats BJ!

Quality boots and my first attempt (with BJs help) at a European mount.

Hunting with my dad and brother is something I love to do every chance I get. Between the jokes, the strategy, and success, we simply have a great time. This was one trip when I missed my girls, but I really didn't want the hunt to end. Even so, we had one of the best hunts ever and I cannot wait to start planning the 2017 whitetail hunt. The big question is do I hunt with my bow or my rifle. Decisions, decisions.


  1. Nice work, Al! Glad to hear about so much success in NY! Very cool that you blooded the .300 also.

    I agree that it's handy to pick up a cooler at the destination when/if you need it. Another good trick that I've used for travelling hunts is to pack my clothes and kit in the cooler for the trip out, along with a good duffel bag. After meat is on the ground, I pack the clothes and kit in the duffel, and put the meat in the cooler. If I should be unsuccessful, everything just goes back in the cooler. It works pretty well, and saves money... not to mention that you don't end up with a dozen coolers sitting around the garage.

    1. Thanks Phillip! That's exactly what I did. After doing it a couple times, I realized I had too many coolers. I packed my boots, camo and knives in the cooler. I left a change of camo and the boots in NY for next year. Save me some time and hassle. Worked out great!