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I always enjoy other folks' "year in review" type threads, so thought I'd share my own. Mods, if you think I'm in the wrong forum, move this. Posting here because this is not so much about great photography as it is about telling a story. It's also not all "hunting", but I find that, as I get older, hunting encompasses far more than the few days per year that I spend with a firearm or crossbow in the crook of my arm.

I may max out my photobucket account, but here goes:

As I've mentioned in other threads, we bought a piece of property in Kentucky early in 2012. We spent quite a bit of time there over the year, but found time to mix in a few other things too.

By early March, we had a cabin shell.



The kids got to be the first to hunt our new place in the youth turkey season. My youngest (8 y.o.) missed his first-ever opportunity at a turkey, when a longbeard showed up the first morning (and hung around for three shots before skedaddling!). We heard and saw some other turkeys, but had no further shooting opportunities. We did plant 300 seedling trees and shrubs, to begin creating some visual screens from the road and the neighbors.





After a pretty good streak of successful spring seasons in PA, I finally hit a slow one in 2012. We had a great longbeard in to 25 yards for Syd on the youth day, but he busted us and was gone before she could make the shot. I only had one weekend to try for a Kentucky tom, and the last weekend of the season, at that. I hunted with my friend from Snyder Co, who also owns property near mine in Kentucky. On the next to last day of the season, we worked a group of three longbeards for 4.5 hours before finally closing the deal on our first ever double!



On my friend's porch:



We also found time for a little trout fishing this spring. My son had a good day at a local kids rodeo, landing this pair of 21" bows.



We also did some fishing in Lycoming Co over the Memorial Day weekend, with the Gman sporting a "school's out!" celebratory 'hawk.




 

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As summer set in, our trips to Kentucky included plenty of this, as we kept the weeds down around our seedlings and began work on a couple of small food plots.



Between projects and as the year progressed, it was cool just to see what grew on the new place.





And we found that Syd has a bit of an eye for photography. The next couple are hers.





We built a shooting house.



And just enjoyed having a place to call our own. Some of the best coffee I've ever had, straight from a "tea bag" type single.




The bluebirds were happy with the nest boxes we put up, and raised a couple of broods in the cabin yard.

 

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We enjoyed a summer weekend at the Bay.



Got to watch eagles and ospreys right next to where we were staying. This one had a blue fish. Raining and poor light, but cool to watch him with his catch.



Summer turned to fall, and Labor Day weekend found me in Kentucky, planting a couple of fall plots. Of course, since it was the archery opening weekend, I found a little time for some hunting too. Although I saw 10 or 12 deer in my beanfield the night before the opener (including a really nice buck), I didn't see much from the stand, as hot temps slowed the daytime deer movement and a persistent south wind foiled some of my plans for stand locations.



The neighbor's tobacco was ready to be cut.



We did have a few interesting bucks on camera, so our hopes stayed high.





But the youth weekend in mid October showed us we still had a lot to learn about how to hunt the place.



But our little pond produced a nice bass.



And we had beautiful weather, so what wasn't to like??

 

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The kids and I spent a lot of time together in a tree in PA with the crossbow, and in the early youth antlerless season, but this pic pretty well sums up how things tended to go for us.



While we had a couple close calls, nothing quite came together for us. G vented his frustration on a couple of squirrels one evening. His first ever.



I didn't have much time to hunt the archery season myself, but the couple of times I did go alone, I saw some young bucks.



I had two rut hunts planned this year, and the first finally arrived in early November. I made a trip to Minnesota to hunt the firearms season there for four days. 17 hour drive, but with four of us to share the driving duties, it wasn't so bad. We had all hunted there at least once before, some of us two or three times. We get one either sex deer tag. We always see some really good (130-150 class) bucks either with the spotlight or in the evenings/mornings on adjacent private land, so this year I decided to hold out for 130+, or not shoot a buck.

The first afternoon, one of the guys shot a nice eight point, the fifth buck he'd seen. Public land.



Day 2, huntforfood missed a fleeting chance at a 120" eight, also on public land. I was seeing bucks, but nothing to meet the 130 mark.

I took this pic about three minutes before this buck met his demise when he crossed from the public onto the private, only to encounter some hot lead.



By the end of the second day, I'd seen a dozen bucks, with these two being the biggest.





 

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The last two pics in the post above were taken in the morning on Day 2, but that evening this same buck was in the adjacent cornfield, and was obviously the boss, as he ran off every other buck that came into the field (and there were about five others). I dubbed him the "bully ten".

Nels was antsy to trade me spots since he'd seen a few really small bucks, but he would happily shoot about 4 of the bucks I'd passed. I was ready for a change of scenery anyway, so we traded for Day 3.

Day 3 was slow starting and warm, but Nels saw the eight in the first pic in the morning, but couldn't get a shot. At 2:30 pm, he rattled up the bully ten to directly under his tree, then killed him at 15 yards. Grossed 119 and change. Public land.



Huntforfood killed a nice six point that evening on our host's private farm.

The morning of Day 4 was basically a windblown washout, but I hunted anyway. No deer movement, but kicked up a doe and fawns on the way out. The other three drove our host's woodlot for me, but only moved a rooster past me. I was ready to call it a hunt and get started on the road home, but the other three really wanted to go home with the group tagged out, so they talked me into one more drive at "my" spot on public. They went so far as telling me if I killed one, I didn't have to drag it a foot; they'd drag it out for me. At the end of the drive, a young doe came skipping under the stand, and I made them make good on their promise.




With Minnesota behind us, my brother and I turned our attention to the firearms hunt in Kentucky. We hung a couple quick stand sets Friday afternoon and checked trail camera cards. We still had good bucks showing up.



The first two days were very warm, hitting the low 70s through the afternoons. The first morning I saw a decent rack buck 10 minutes into shooting time, but he was 15 yards onto the neighbor, and I don't think he was one of the big boys. About an hour later, I passed on a chance at this buck.



The pic above was on the camera near the same stand I saw him from, at the end of the fourth day of the season. Not all of the neighbors are trophy hunters, so it was nice to see him still alive and well.

The second morning around 8:45, my brother saw a doe cross the corner of my property, followed by a shooter buck, but the buck got through without offering a good shot. Around 9 am, the buck in the pic below followed a similar route, and also didn't offer a shot, but a minute later, one of the neighbors shot near my property line, and the buck came running down the ridge by my brother.



Bro stopped the buck, and dropped it on the spot.



He climbed down and headed over to the buck, but realized that in the heat of the moment and given that he was just learning the property lines, he'd killed the buck while it was still 15 yards from my property. About that time, the neighbor came along and introduced himself. While he was very polite, he felt that after his shot the buck was dead on his feet. Given that the buck wasn't on my property, my brother relinquished the buck without an argument. He was pretty disappointed though, as it would have probably been his biggest buck to date.

On Monday, a big front came through, with the rain starting at daybreak with the temperature at 62 degrees. When the rain finally ended after 4 pm, the temperature had dropped to 40 degrees, but the wind stayed strong until dark, and we didn't see a deer all day in that mess. Tuesday was great weather, and both of us saw young bucks cruising, but no shots were taken. We gave it a couple hours Wednesday morning with ideal conditions again, but only saw some does, a few turkeys, and a pair of bobcats. My brother did see a buck standing in the middle of the field, 100 yards from the cabin, around 9 am when he looked out the window while packing up. By the time he uncased his gun, hustled outside, and loaded up, the buck was over a crest in the field, headed on into my sanctuary, lol.

Did see some absolutely awesome sunrises on the trip.

 

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Back home in PA, the kids and I made plans to hunt at camp as much as possible, but with three kids to take turns (two of them mentored), that meant half day hunts with lots of early morning driving for me.

Opening morning found Syd and I perched in a two man ladder, watching a narrow finger that funnels deer up from a large hollow below. A few deer slipped past at first light, but stayed well hidden in the laurel to our right. Around 8 or so, a nice tall six point with no brows came crunching in from behind and to our left. Unfortunately, he walked straight in to 12 yards, noticed the blobs in the tree, and promptly vacated the area. We were bummed, as Syd was still looking for her first PA buck. An hour later, we heard another deer coming, and Syd's first PA buck presented a 45 yard quartering away shot. He piled up 40 yards later.



We took a few pics, tagged him, and I dragged him to the stand without gutting him. Syd said she was warm enough to sit a bit, so we climbed back up at 10:37.



At 10:45, I dropped the hammer on this buck, who followed a lone doe to 30 yards.





A pretty good day for the two of us!




On the first Saturday, my son made a clean, one shot kill on his first deer, from the same two man ladder stand in Clinton County.





My second daughter ended the season the "odd man out", with no grip & grins to show, but it wasn't for lack of effort, and the two of us still had a lot of fun together.

And there's always 2013!!
Can't wait to see what it has in store!
 

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Those are sweet pics for sure and a super nice re-cap. The photodocumentation takes everything to a whole new level. Congrats on a great year as well, NG.
 

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Wow what a year you had. Congrats to all of you. I love that shirt your son has on in the pic with the 2 nice trout. That really reminded me of my boy.
 

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Great thread. I enjoyed reading about your season. Thanks for posting all the pics. I hope you keep a photo album and document all the great times had in the field.


The ground you hunt in Clinton Co. is it public or private?
 

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Without a doubt one of the best posts ever...you nailed the forum to put it in ng270. Incredible photos of fantastic times.

BTW, I went photobucket pro...for $30 a year it is worth is for us photo story tellers, heck you keep posting stuff like this and I'll cover your PB fee for ya...
 
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