2014-11-15 Opening Day of New York Rifle Season: Catskills

Posted on November 17, 2014


One of my friends with land upstate was kind enough to let me put a Browning Strike Force trail camera on his property. I’d hunted his land three years earlier, but without knowing where the deer trails were, I was really operating on hope and prayer. This year, however, we had a chance to review trail camera photos. I was amazed to see a bonanza of bucks, squirrels, coyote, and turkey:

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Having found a suitable place, we set up my treestand, a Muddy Outdoors Bloodsport.


Setting up a hang-on treestand without assistance would be pretty challenging I must admit. Having to hold up the treestand with one hand while inserting the ropes through the eyelet was downright tough. I sweat pretty profusely, despite the <30F weather.

After getting the treestand set up, we returned to the house and at 1:45am, I was asleep.

In the morning, I put on basically every layer I owned in anticipation of <25F weather and a cold sit in a treestand. My preparation was not for nothing as it was very nippy. I stuffed hand warmers in my pocket which kept my fingers from getting too stiff.

I sat from about 5:40am to about 9am, getting progressively colder by the minute. Beyond the windchill, fatigue also made it a tough hunt. The lean angle of the tree made it impossible to relax without testing out my TMA-approved safety harness, a mixed blessing. As with my prior hunt, I heard a cacophony of gunshots (many pre-dawn) signalling that some folks were “getting lucky.” Unlike last hunt, I did see several squirrels, but with a Tikka T3 in 7mm Rem Mag, I was a bit ‘overgunned.’

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Heading back after a cold morning hunt

After the morning hunt, I went back to the house, ate some breakfast and took a much needed. Then in the afternoon, I went out to see about small game for dinner.


My tool of choice was a Marlin Glenfield Model 25. The rifle has an interesting back story as I bought it many years ago to teach novices the basics of rifle safety. Bringing it into New York was a challenge as Marlin never made a factory five round magazine for it. As a result, I had to have an FFL in Nevada permanently weld my mags down to five rounds and individually serialize them. Today, I learned that he erred on the side of “tightness.” (i.e. if the mag holds 6 you go to jail, if it holds 4 it’s NBD) so at least one or more of the mags won’t even hold five. Back to the main story.

Squirrel hunting was pretty relaxing. I ended up seeing a baby red squirrel, but it was very small and I wasn’t that hungry.

Getting ready the dusk hunt, I again, put on every layer I’d brought:

It seems pretty obvious, but hunting from a stand requires a LOT more insulation than spot and stalk hunting. At around 3:30pm, again, I used the climbing sticks to get up to the treestand. Perhaps it’s the fact that only a few pieces of rope and cams stand between you and a big fall, but 11′ always FEELS damned high.

I used a line to haul up my pack:


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This is my “disappointed” face:


I stuck around until it started to get quite dark before climbing down.

Again, I went home empty-handed. I did however learn some valuable lessons from the trail camera. The first lesson was, even if you have a spot has decent traffic, you are still subject to randomness. Out of two weeks of footage, we maybe saw 4 passages of deer. Perhaps the deer picked another person’s land to traffic through yesterday. Time in the stand really increases your probability of bagging a deer.

After returning to the house for dinner, we visited Les Armstrong, the proprietor of Armstrong’s Elk Farm, an impressive jack-of-all-trades. He build a log-cabin bed and breakfast, himself. He’s also a taxidermist by trade. I plan to return to visit his place soon.

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Posted in: Hunting