By Matthew Simone
Matthew Simone, from left, Joe Popolizio and Anthony Simone harvested these bucks within a span of 30 minutes on the second day of the 2008 New York rifle season.
-- Upstate New York might not be known for its spectacular white-tailed deer hunting or its monster bucks, but it is home to many outdoorsmen. About 30 years ago, my father, his brother, their uncle and cousins formed a hunting group called the Mountain Boys.
They pooled their funds together and purchased property they could call their own. Each year, their hunting tradition grew larger as younger generations began to take part. There was so much more to this tradition that I truly did not understand until I actually became a part of it.
A day I will never forget took place Nov. 16, 2008. It was the opening day of rifle season in Worcester, N.Y. The "young bucks," a name given to the younger hunters, made everyone in the Mountain Boys group proud by achieving something that had never been done before.
My brother, Anthony, my younger cousin, Joey, and I shot the three biggest bucks of our hunting careers, but it meant a great deal more. Those three bucks are going to be mounted on the camp wall, which signifies the younger generation as being accepted as a part of our family's hunting tradition. Not only were they trophies to each of us, but they are the three biggest deer harvested from the mountain in the last decade. What's more, the deer were taken within a span of 30 minutes.
Another fact worth mentioning was that it happened right in our own back yard, so to speak. Our land is like a second home to us. We would drive ATVs all around in the summer, fish in the stream, scout in the early fall and share our stories around the camp fire as kids. And we did not have to travel very far to enjoy each others' company.
The hunt began on the second day of rifle season when my brother, father and I started walking to our spots. I climbed up in my treestand for the second morning, hoping to see a little more action than I had the day before. The temperature had dropped about 20 degrees. I put out some doe-in-heat scent around my stand. About 6:45 a.m., the sun was just sneaking over the mountaintop.
Less than 30 minutes later, a small doe walked up the mountain and bedded down underneath my stand, just like it had done a few days during bow season. Now my nerves were really on edge because I did not want to scare the doe. The woods were extremely quiet when, all of a sudden, I heard a gunshot. The sound was so loud it almost made me jump straight out of my treestand. I knew exactly where that shot came from - it was my brother.
He was 150 yards away, using his new Browning .270 short magnum rifle. I immediately called him to ask if he shot a buck. All he could say was he saw antlers. I stayed in my stand and sent my dad a text message that I was going to help Anthony track the deer.
After that, it was time for me to get back to hunting. I got out my deer call and let out a few grunts to see of any bucks would respond. Little did I know there happened to be one coming in from a field below. I heard the buck immediately respond. My heart started to race, and I knew this was going to be my opportunity. All I could think about was how great it would be if my brother and I could both shoot trophy deer on the same morning.
A few minutes went by and I could not hear anything walking. Then, out of nowhere, a buck was standing directly in front of me about 50 yards away. I froze until I had an opportunity to get my gun up. The buck started walking in front of me at a perfect broadside angle. By the time I got my rifle into position, the buck had walked behind a pine tree in front of me. I knew then I was only going to a have a small window for a shot before it reached the thick line of trees to my left.
I waited and waited for what seemed like forever. I was wondering if the buck somehow escaped without me seeing it. Then it stepped out. I took the shot with my Remington 740 and dropped it on the spot. It was a perfect shot, and now I was getting a call from my brother asking what happened. I climbed down from my treestand to help my brother follow his buck's trail when I heard my cousin, Joey, shoot. A few moments later, I received a photo of Joey's 8-point buck on my phone.
That morning we did not come back to the camp empty-handed, but instead the three youngest hunters each brought back a trophy to remember. Looking back, that hunt was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will always treasure. I cannot wait until next year when I get to go back and teach my little brother how to hunt. Hopefully, he will have a chance to share in a hunt like this with his two brothers in the years to come.
Niskayuna, New York
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