Started out the New Year with my Brother and a couple of long-time Friends from Califon, doing something that I had not done since 1991…..Rabbit Hunting! Geez come to think of it, I had not hunted with these guys easily in twenty five years or more.
So when I was leaving Mom`s on Christmas eve, saying good-bye and all, I shook my Brother`s hand and he asked, “Hey bud, if you don`t have any plans on New Year`s Day, Hanky, Pete and me are going rabbit hunting and we wanted to know if you wanted to come along?”
“Well hell, I have plans now! Sure I would love too” I replied, “Just text me what time we`re meeting”
Let me enlighten you a bit, as to whom these fellas are and why they`re special to me. First off, there aren`t very many folks around these parts anymore, that are actually from Califon. But the four of us, Pete Samski, Hank Stillwell, Keith Beam and of course, myself, are true Califon Natives as we all grew up here. As a matter of fact, both Hanky and Pete, being a little older than me and my Brother, played softball and also were members of the Califon Fire company and hunted with our Dad. So that`s why this rabbit hunt was special for me anyways……..to be able to hunt once again, with these gentlemen that also hunted with our Dad. Both of them know what it was like in Califon, in days gone by……a time when hunting was more of a mainstream activity in town.
So we met up at 9am and finally got to the spot around 9:30….when we got there Keith asked, “Well what are the teams?” Pete said, “Ahhhhh I guess I`ll take Kenny….. can you shoot? he asked busting my chops!
I replied laughing, “Hell yea Pete….. I got three shells in the gun!” and Hanky said, “Hey that might get expensive if you miss a lot!” and we all laughed as we trekked down the dirt lane to begin our hunt.
We took turns driving different patches for each other, in other words, Pete and me drove a patch for Keith and Hanky then vice-versa. The first patch I heard Hanky say “Ohhh…there goes one!” then shortly after that I saw Keith put his gun up……. but never shot. When we got to the end of the brush patch they both said they had seen a few rabbits……. but neither shot! I chimed up and said, “Did you guys come here to hunt or what? Keith give me your gun”…… as I pulled my phone out of my pocket I said, “Here shoot some pictures with this, since you don`t want to shoot your gun!” haha! And we all laughed like hell.
They drove the next brush patch for us……. nothing. No bunnies. So we were up again to drive. As I kicked around in a patch of rhododendrons a rabbit tore from the cover as I quickly fired off two shots……missed. Moments later, Pete fired off a round…..missed. Then in less than a minute, he kicked up another one…..and missed. Keith and Hanky were laughing like hell, “Now that shooting is going to cost you boys some money!”
I said, “Damn….. I swore I rolled that rabbit!”…..”I just need to settle down a bit” as we all laughed.
Over the next few hours, we laughed and joked and just had a really great time……..
To be able to hunt with the three of these guys again was a true Califon camaraderie indeed.
And I did settle down, as you can see….
Someone once said, “It`s more fun to think of the future than dwell on the past”……
Ya know what I think?
I don`t believe that person grew up in a town as magical as Califon with these kinds of Friends way back when. As for this politically correct world that we live in nowadays,…….well…….
“Do forgive my evil ways……
Sometimes I have a real hankerin` for the past with true old Friends and some fine rabbit stew”
Yep…. I`ll be dining on deer all year thanks to a couple of really good Friends! Nothing quite like dining on a venison burger on the grill in the Summertime or dining on a delicious, slow-cooked venison roast that has been simmering in a crock-pot for ten hours. And if it wasn`t for Mark and Jacob, my supply of venison would`ve ran out by this Spring. See since my heart attack, I have to be careful how much weight I lift or drag and I was very fortunate to have two good friends offer to help me get a deer out of the woods if I got one. So on February 9th I had a go at it, jumped up in that tree, the `ol Browning barked and I got `er done. #DeerHunting #DeerInMyFreezer #ILoveVenison #DiningOnDeerAllYear
New Jersey Pheasant Hunting seemed like an ideal alternative solution, when deciding what to do on this very windy Saturday afternoon. Heck I was in my tree all morning before daybreak and the only movement I had seen all morning was a pretty Red Fox that came scampering by right at daybreak.
By the time I was climbing down out of the tree and got back to my truck, it had warmed up to a “balmy” 38 degrees. I decided to scout out another spot and also was considering having a go at some late-Fall Bass possibly that afternoon.
Right as I was leaving my newly scouted spot, my friend Curt called and said he was heading over to Spruce Run that afternoon to chase some pheasants and wanted to know if I was up for it.
“Hell yea” I told him, and said “I`ll see ya around 2pm” as I had to go home, change guns and shells, take the pups out and grab a bite. I ended up getting there about 2:15 and figured we`d have about two hours of shooting daylight by the time I caught up with Curt and Jake.
We weren`t hunting together more than thirty minutes when Curt`s GPS Tracking collar showed Jake on point.
Then the goose-chase began, as the collar was telling us that he was on point in one direction about 150 yards out. As we hustled off in that direction, at about 80 yards out Curt said, “Now it says he`s in the opposite direction 90 yards away!”.- This had only happened to us once before while using the GPS Collar.
But what a pain in the ass as you can`t find the dog! And I literally walked by him when I was within 50 yards away in the brush! Doubling back, I caught a glimpse of Jake on point in the brush and yelled to Curt.
So I did have the Go PRO that afternoon and think you`ll enjoy this short clip that I shot of the day`s adventure;
Though we only hunted a couple hours that windy afternoon, we managed to each get a pheasant and Curt graciously gave me his at the end of the day.
Just two good friends scouring the fields and tramping through the brush searching for those ring-neck and hen pheasants…..and whether we get to hunt for the entire day or just a few hours, there`s nothing quite like the camaraderie that comes from hunting together.
NJ Deer Hunting is a tradition that I`ve been doing for forty-two years. It`s hard to believe that much time has past as I can still recall my first morning ever deer hunting at the age of ten, like it happened yesterday. I can still hear those shots at eight o`clock and just minutes later, three bucks appeared!! I certainly heated up the barrels of that old JC Higgins Double-barrel 12 gauge that cold December morning. Cleanly missing all three bucks! My Dad said later that morning, “I don`t think I ever heard anyone load and shoot a double barrel that fast ever!” Heck those deer were over a hundred yards away out in an open field and I was still shaking and shooting at them! ha! ha!
So here I am at fifty-two still enjoying this immensely and still getting excited when that buck comes through.
Although I like to think I can keep my composure better when one comes through than I did that morning back in 1973! ha! ha!
This December has been unseasonably warm…… very warm for that matter. However I decided to have a go at it on Thursday morning since I don`t work till 1 o`clock that day. It had rained steady the night before and was still drizzling when I walked out to my truck at 4:30 that morning. One thing that I have always enjoyed and have had a decent amount of luck is hunting or fishing in a light rain. The wet leaves would be ideal, as I would be able to pussy-foot easily to my stand.
I got up in the stand at 5:30 as I like to get situated while there`s still a fair amount of darkness. Had my `ol 1960 Belgium Browning Light Twelve Gauge paired with a Full-Choke Browning barrel from a 1938 Belgium Browning that I also have. This combination throws a pattern of Triple 0 Buckshot unlike anything I have ever shot. As a matter of fact, (and I do have witnesses for you non-believers out there) I actually killed a buck with a single shot at 93 yards with this gun using Triple 0! Dropped my hat where I was standing when I shot, called my cousin over and he paced it off from the hat to where I was standing with the buck and was shocked!
At about 7am, that “One-Horner” came scampering by spooked by something and the sound of my old Browning awoke the the quietness of the morning forest. My morning hunt had been successful and now I would have the pleasure of enjoying delicious venison in the months ahead.
I read quite a few conversations on-line lately in regards to NJ Deer Hunting stating that “There just aren`t any deer around this year” ………. And I don`t know what the exact answer to this statement is, but perhaps some of the following factors come into play. 1.)The State of NJ has the one of if not the longest deer season in the country, as the State wants to cut down the population. Heck when I was younger, we had 6-Day Firearm and a Doe-Day the following week. You didn`t have a Permit Shotgun Season that allowed you to hunt deer till the middle of February. So perhaps their plan is working and finally catching up?
2.) Coyotes. Who remembers ever hearing those “Song Dogs” while in your hunting stand years ago? I personally never ever heard them until a few years ago. You certainly hear more and more about them in recent years.
3.) Baiting. Maybe this element has made deer hunting way too easy in the State. I`m nuetral about this and really could care less how anyone chooses to hunt or what they choose to shoot.(Bucks or Does). But maybe this is another factor?
4.) Weather. I don`t ever remember it being as warm as it was for the entire week of 6-Day Firearm, as it was last week. We all know that deer do not move the same when it`s warm outside as they do colder weather. A factor for seeing a limited amount of deer last week? Could very well be.
Well whatever the reason was, I hope we all can enjoy many, many more years of NJ Deer Hunting.
NJ pheasant hunting on Thanksgiving Day, has been a long time tradition that my good friend Curt Ryder and I have enjoyed doing for quite a few years. Heck come to think about it, we`ve probably been doing this a good fifteen years or more. There are always a lot more pheasants stocked on Thanksgiving eve as compared
to the regular, weekly stocking days, so there`s plenty of action!
We met at our usual spot on Rte. 46 this past Thursday and made our way north into Sussex county to have a go at some early morning “birds” at sunrise.
As we got out across the first field, it wasn`t long before a very excited Jake bumped the first bird! Then he settled down and hunted great the rest of the morning.
Here is the Video I shot of our NJ Pheasant Hunting Turkey Day Adventure last Thursday;
A good day of NJ Pheasant Hunting on Turkey Day indeed!
NJ Deer Hunting in the Wintertime can certainly be challenging and today when I jumped up in my tree stand at 5:45am it was a brisk 12 degrees. Fortunately I do indeed like the cold weather, not the wind, just a nice calm, cold winter morning.
After seeing what showed up on my Trail Cameras this past week, I was very anxious to jump up in my tree
this morning! Two very Big Bucks showed up during the week, one is an absolute Trophy! A Huge 8-Pointer
with very high tines on both sides. Have a look at the pictures below –
Quite the Big Bucks eh?!
Now I do read about this quite often, hunters on various threads around the internet saying, “Ohhhhhh they`ve gone “Nocturnal”….. Really? No no……. see they went “Nocturnal” because nowadays we all have trail cameras and can finally see Monster Bucks like this at night! Big Bucks have always been Nocturnal feeders and are very wise deer, hence the impressive “Crown of Antlers” they usually exhibit like the Big Boys above. So I have been regularly jumping up in my tree stand, hoping that one of these Big Bucks would walk out of the cover…….. but to no avail as of yet. While I am routinely in my stand, I`m not taking that bet that either will show up before the NJ Deer Hunting Season ends. I really think my opportunity to see either or both will be in the Fall of 2015 during the Rut. But I have my fingers crossed and maybe if we get a little snow, these Big Boys will show up in the daylight hours.
As it is getting along in the NJ Deer Hunting Season, it is also time to fill the freezer with some meat!
My opportunity came this morning around 11:30am as four does approached “Ken Beam`s Big Big Buck Deer Feeder”, I cracked the one below, loaded the doe up in `ol Big Red and drove it over to my friend`s place, Tommy the Butcher in Washington to have it processed. By the way, if you`re looking for an excellent butcher in NJ, I highly recommend Tommy! All of the cuts are vacuumed packed and you can`t beat his prices!
Last Saturday as I walked out of the house, I turned back and grabbed my hunting coat out of the garage as I couldn`t believe how cold it was. Normally I like to hunt Quail wearing my vest, but with temperature at a very frigid 14 degrees, I decided to go with the coat.
I met my buddy Curt and “Jake” at our usual meeting spot in Clinton at 4:45am to head back
down south to the Pine Barrens to do a little NJ Quail Hunting in Greenwood Forrest. We always leave very early as it`s a 110 mile drive to our destination in Whiting New Jersey.
As we pulled into the parking area at right about 6:45am, I commented, “Wow……. looks like we got more than just a few hunters here today huh?” as there were quite a few more vehicles than the previous week.
We got out of the truck, threw on our coats, grabbed our guns and made our way out into to woods about 15 minutes or so, before the legal shooting hour, sunrise.
As we hiked out down an old logging trail, we noticed a person chatting with a few hunters. When we got closer we realized it was a Game Warden. When we walked by “Her”, we both said “Good morning”
I also said, “Geez…..we were wonderin` who the heck was out here today without any orange on!” She smiled & said, “Ohhhh I have it right here in my pocket.”
We made our way down an old abandoned road and the first shot of the morning rang! Then another…. and another!. I looked at Curt and said, “Time to hunt!” and with that Curt let Jake off the leash. It was only a matter of minutes before he was on point in a hedgerow. Curt worked around one side trying to get into position, while I was coming around the other side towards Jake.
As I made my way across the hedgerow, the bird broke out behind us and Curt spun around, took the shot and got our first Quail of the morning.
Wasn`t too long after that Jake was on point again. This time on the edge of an open field. Curt made his way towards the dog and told me to “stay out in the open as it will probably break across the field.” Jake held point very well and just as Curt was about twenty yards away the bird did indeed break across the open field. I immediately shouldered my .28 gauge over-and-under Beretta shotgun and had my second Quail of the morning.
Here is a Video with some action-footage from our Quail Hunting Adventure that morning.
Turned out to be another fine morning NJ Quail Hunting with Curt & Jake as we each ended up with our limit of four birds each.