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Hunting the Dead Zone

Paul Jones

Who says Mature Bucks move only at Dawn and Duck?

By Paul Jones
Photos Courtesy of Paul Jones

In the dozen vigils from my pond-side stand during New Jersey's almost three-month-long bow season in 2006, I never saw the buck that chose to show itself during the doe-only blackpowder season. Seeing such an off-limits animal in that mid-November setting was like looking at one of those paintings showing a monstrous whitetail behind a fencepost marked "No Trespassing."

During the first three days of the muzzleloading season, only does are legal game. I was out with my grandson, George, that Monday afternoon. We reached my homemade ground blind about 2:00 and were just sitting down when he said, "Hey, Pop ... Big buck! Shoot him, shoot him!"

I couldn't shoot, of course, without breaking the rules.

Slack-jawed, my grandson and I watched the buck for about five minutes before it walked back into deer world.

Paul JonesDuring the next two and a half weeks, I devoted about 36 hours to sitting in that blind - first with blackpowder rifle, and then with my shotgun (the firearms season opened Dec. 4). But I saw only does.

On Tuesday, Dec. 5, I took a nice 8-point buck at another location while hunting with friends. In New Jersey, you are allowed two bucks during the six-day firearms season.

On Saturday, Dec. 9, I went to visit my friend Tom. He owns the property I hunt in Hunterdon County. Tom told me he had sat in the blind the night before and saw two small bucks.

When I told him I was going to go on out and sit in the blind, he said, "It's too early to go sit; the deer do not come out until after 3:00!"

I didn't care. I pointed out that it was a nice day and I was going to sit in the woods and enjoy it.

I got settled in the blind about 1 p.m., ate half of a roast beef sandwich, had a little coffee and enjoyed being outdoors. Within 15 minutes, I saw three bucks coming through the woods.

Subscribe Today!I turned on my video camera, zoomed in and watched the deer. It took about three minutes from the time I turned on the camera until the deer came into view. The first one was the only one I was watching. It was the same deer I had seen while hunting with my grandson. It slowly made its way through the woods and then came out next to the pond in front of me.

The deer was extremely wary and in no hurry. When it finally stepped into the open and turned broadside, I put the scope on it and fired. The buck dropped on the spot and never moved. It was 1:25 p.m.

I called Tom and said, "Get your butt out here. You are not going to believe this."

Not bad for a 61-year-old hunter from New Jersey!

Hunter: Paul Jones
Official Score: 161 5/8
Composite: 183
Shotgun
Typical

-- Reprinted from the Winter 2009 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine.

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