Over the past several years, I’ve been traveling to the Adirondacks to do some late season tracking. It’s a long commute from Vermont so I try to find the best conditions and book the closest motel. This year, Mark Scheeren extended a generous invitation to stay at his camp and I took him up on the offer.
2 inches of snow had fallen overnight and I parked where I could hike into a series of long hardwood ridges. There was a steady wind and 6-8” of snow to muffle the crunchy leaves underneath…almost perfect tracking conditions.
I plotted out a rough 7 mile loop on my onX app and set off shortly after first light.
I snaked my way over the spine of one ridge, checked a couple knobs and headed up a steep ridge towards a high mountain top. Every track I crossed looked like 4-day old dimples.
I continued to force myself to cover as much ground as possible as I knew I’d eventually cut a track. In order to stay moving and focused, I told myself I wouldn’t change my wet wool gloves until I cut a track worth following.
At 10:15 I finally cut a set of fresh tracks. I could see he was wide and long and was clearly in no hurry. After about 50 yards, he dipped his head into a blowdown to grab some mushrooms and I saw the telltale tine marks. After about 4 miles of searching, I cashed in on my personal promise and grabbed a dry set of wool gloves.
Based on this time of the year (December 1st) and the amount of feeding I had already seen, I knew he had to be close, I just hoped I hadn’t jumped him already. Fully committed to this track, the death creep was on.
I took one slow step at a time, totally clearing the woods before my next move. All indications continued to suggest he was near. I found some droppings and used the end of my electrical taped barrel to confirm my assumption…just barely starting to freeze. An empty bed with walking tracks exiting. Again, I used my barrel to test the freshness. The snow was packed but not glazed.
As his tracks worked up the mountain, I could see lines of tracks zigzagging left and right from blowdown to blowdown. Making the assumption he was still alone, I decided to crosscut the tracks to further cut our separation.
I had just gained some precious time and distance by skipping over 3 heavy feedings so I was on the ultra death creep. One final 1/2 step. I crested a small rise and he appeared…laying there chewing his cud about 15-20 yards away. My bead was already on him but with the depth of snow and my angle, I could only see his head. For a moment, I was trying to determine where his body was and whether I was going to have to shoot blindly through the snow…but on queue, he made my job easy and stood up perfectly broadside. Before his brain could tell his legs to run, the 270 corelokt had already passed through his ribcage.
The day consisted of a 4 mile search, a 1-1/2 hour successful death creep, followed by a 4+ hour drag. I couldn’t have been happier!!!
11 points 174 pounds