Well here it is, October, in my opinion the most magical and long awaited for month of the year. At the time of this writing, September 22, I have just gotten home from a couple days of sitting in my tree stand in the southeast part of NH and wanted to report what I saw. The weather was beautiful, warm but with a cool feel of fall on the wind and no bugs. I guess that cold snap last week took care of them, thank you Mother Nature! Plenty of deer moving around, the usual gaggles of family groups for this time of year. I sat in three different places Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and night and counted 8 deer, 4 does and 4 fawns but nothing to try out my new Hoyt Spyder on,(read that as NH state record) . Lots of fawns this fall, a good sign for the next few seasons if they survive that long. There seems to be plenty of feed this year, white oak acorns, apples and browse. I think we will see an outstanding month here in October.
There are many new folk getting into the shooting and hunting sports and with newcomers come questions on the tools of the trade. I thought maybe I could be of some help if I shared information on some of the guns and gadgets I have used over the years.
At this stage of the game, (approaching the golden years) my kids have most of my firearms and I have only retained one pump shotgun and a muzzle loader. Many of the places I hunt deer are restricted to shotgun only and I really have no desire to collect a ton of rifles I won’t use; besides I can always borrow them back. Over the years I have had many fine weapons in various calibers that have served me well hunting in New England. Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire all share pretty much the same landscape and there are plenty of choices in firearms that will serve well in the pursuit of white tail deer. I have owned lever, bolt, and semi auto actions and found all of them just fine for this region. It all boils down to a matter of personal preference, whatever makes you happy. Out of all of them I enjoyed my lever guns the most, again a matter of personal preference. As far as calibers go the choices are numerous. It seems like every year there are newer and faster offerings from the ammunition and gun maker companies. I found that I never needed any of the super magnums or long range loads, most bullet diameters from .25 to .30 are perfect for the relatively short range,(50-150 yard) shots most common here in the northeast. The calibers I have used over the years have been the 30-30 Winchester, .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, 30-06 Winchester, .257 Roberts, .300 savage and .307 Winchester. They all did their job when called on and is a well-rounded group for the purpose of killing a deer. Although I have never owned one the .308 Winchester is another fine all around caliber suited for the woods of the Northeast. Once again it’s a matter of personal tastes, if lugging around a Lazzaroni custom rifle chambered for the 7.82 Warbird makes you happy then go for it, it certainly will do the job but it’s a tad bit overpowered for this region. Shotguns are a great all-around choice in that with interchangeable barrels your weapon can double as a bird gun and then accompany you in a deer blind latter in the fall. New and advanced technology have made the shotgun slugs scary accurate in recent years. Muzzleloaders too have come light years and sometimes the only difference between them and a modern rifle is the fact that you still need to load them one shot at a time from the front. I first bought a black powder gun almost 20 years ago and still have it today. It was one of the first removable breech plug inline models Thompson offered, a System One, and to this day it still puts them in the ten ring every time. The big drawback to primitive firearms however is you really have to keep them clean, no matter how easy it is to run a patch through the bore they require a lot of TLC at the end of hunting season before going back into the storage safe or gun locker.
Archery is a tough one to talk about to the beginner from my standpoint. I only got into bows a couple decades ago because at a young age I tried it with very bad equipment with very bad results. As I was heavy into firearms I never considered tossing arrows until someone gave me an old compound bow and I discovered I could actually hit what I was aiming at. That was a turning point for me, archery became my passion with each new year, new bow, and getting involved in 3-D completion. Just because it makes me happy I trade in my bows every 3 years for the newest top of the line offered,(one of my few indulgences) but if one is happy with a particular make and model it should serve you well for many years. I would say to a beginner go to a good pro shop and ask about trying some equipment before purchasing a set-up from a big box store. A good shop will work with you and will have you shooting in a shorter time you could imagine. Hunting in archery is truly an art form that requires much time to develop self-discipline, patience, and practice, but there is nothing like harvesting a white tail deer with a bow.
To the beginner going afield there are many gadgets offered on the market to make the hunt more easy and successful. Camo and sent free clothing seems to be the biggie these days. While I’m sure the manufactures claims are in the ball park you really don’t have to spend a bundle on attire to go hunting, or fishing for that matter. Back in the day we got by just fine hunting in the fall wearing plaid woolen jackets and pants, and to this day I enjoy trout fishing in a pair of shorts and sneakers. The only thing I would stress about hunting clothes is keep them clean and stored in a container with hemlock branches or whatever natural vegetation is indigenous to where you live. One thing not to skimp on is warm clothes. Good heat retaining light boots, gloves, hats and jackets will make your days outdoors more enjoyable.
When going afield travel light. A small survival kit, field glasses, knife, flash light, tow rope, jug of water and cell phone is pretty much what I carry, (well, maybe a sandwich) no need for any extra weight. Most everything else I leave back in the truck if I need it. Getting out hunting, fishing, or just hiking should be safe and enjoyable, but not a job.
Tight lines,
Capt Don