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Hunting: A Strange Kind of Balance

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December 03, 2012

Hunting: A Strange Kind of Balance

By David E. Petzal

Every November, I assemble with a collection of fellow coots, geezers, and codgers to hunt deer in northern Maine. There are not a lot of deer up there, and if you see a buck you’ve had a good week, and if you get one you’ve had a hell of a good week. In 10 years I’ve collected two, which is probably about average.

However, one of our party hunted for nine years and never got anything. One thing and another went wrong and at the end of every camp he went home empty-handed. This year, however, his luck changed. He got a buck that weighed 239 ½ pounds with its guts out, which probably put the animal at around 300 on the hoof. The neck was colossal; the antlers went around 140 B&C, which for up there, is very good. In short, it was one hell of a deer after all those years.

There seems to be a strange kind of balance to hunting that says if you put in the time, eventually things go your way. When I hunted elk every season I had a stretch of seventeen years when I never got one. Either they were scarce or I did something wrong, of fate was just against me. Then I got elk in five or six successive seasons including one that would go into Boone and Crockett.

I’ve seen it again and again; years of coming up empty-handed are suddenly ended with something spectacular in the crosshairs. But you have to put in the time.

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from rock rat wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

One thing I've noticed with elk is that those who hire a private guide do a lot better than those who just go on out to a piece of public land. Knowing where and when an elk is apt to be somewhere helps, so does having someone point it out to you. Oh the stories those guides tell.

Love tales of heavy deer. Good for your friend.

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from chuckles wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

What a great summation of the hunting experience. Your article underscores the importance of loving the act of hunting and the camaraderie of camp as much as the reward. It makes putting in the time much easier.

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from GrandSlamDreamer wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I think that every person who hunts or wants to get into hunting should read this. Nothing is more frustrating than going year after year without success, but that only makes the reward so much sweeter. Great description, great way to start off monday. (especially after missing a buck this past weekend)

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from sahd4god wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

This is an encouraging post. I've been hunting for 21 years, since I was 12 years old, and have NEVER killed a buck. A handful of does and a few close calls on buck during archery season, but have never had a good opportunity. Maybe it's the state I'm hunting in, or maybe I just need to wait for "something spectacular" next time.

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from 1uglymutha wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

where i live you can drive by private land(on which you have no hope of hunting) and literally see herds of nice bucks and bulls. i have always believed that any buck or bull, taken legally, on an unguided hunt on public land is as good a trophy as anything in b&c. try it and you'll see what the word "hunting" really means.

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from Harold wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Good point Dave! I hunted hard for eight days this year for elk and while there was plenty of elk around, it was always "close, but no cigar". On the ninth day it all fell into place and my friend and I had our elk down by eight AM.
In a related matter, last year a friend of mine got his first trophy elk, a real doozy, after decades of trying. A few months later he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Perhaps that elk was a last gift from that which controls these things.

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from huntnow wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Good post and a big congrats to your friend. That is a very long time to be unsuccessful. My dad always reminds me that is why it's called hunting and not killing.

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from tootall75 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I am right next door in New Brunswick and yes, the deer can get very large in these parts, 239 on the hoof is a monster....but for some reason those big deer do not sport a huge rack..case in point; there is a rack in out camp shot by one of our senior members in 1978, the deer weighed about 220 dressed and it has great main beams but the tines look like an after thought. One of my buddies shot a big buck 5 years ago (that we unfortunately didn't find till the week after) and he was an easy 250-260 on the hoof and although we didn't have him scored, he is 150, maybe 160.

That said, in relation to your friends luck, I hunt hard and have had my chances but so far am 0 for 19 in deer season so let's hope the hunting gods will soon take pity on me.

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from tootall75 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

It should read those big deer do not always sport a big rack.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

We had a hunting cabin that sat on 160 acres in prime deer hunting country in Michigan...not that far from Alpina, Michigan. We hunted Ruffs, and woodcock on the property as well. A successful deer hunt for my dad, was to make a short walk not far from the cabin, and come back, and shuffle the deck of cards hoping his hunting partners would soon return, and hands of Gin Rummy could be delt out. A successful hunt was one that you had to buy dinner at the Grove Restraunt in Alpina the last nite because you cleaned up at Gin Rummy No messy hands having to clean deer.

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from Teodoro wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Mr. Petzal,

I want to thank you for giving my morale a considerable pick-up. It's been a long few seasons for me down here. This puts it in perspective.

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from Tom-Tom wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Thank goodness your seasoned compadre tagged that deer instead of a first time hunter. The better you know the bitter, the better you enjoy the sweet.

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from JettPack wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Good post, Dave! I killed a deer a year for five years, but it's been a long 4+ seasons since my last one. Changing habitat, development and a missed opportunity or two, and frustration has set in. I haven't even been seeing deer the last couple years. But I am confident the payoff will come at some point.

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from fox4 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Was not finding any deer this year despite knowing they had been around all summer and into the fall. They ate all the wild grapes out of a fence line in one of my pastures, saw 4-5 running through the field several times leaving tracks everywhere. Found scrapes and trails leading to pecan trees and water. Had a "fool proof" plan for gun season which resulted in not even a single sighting.
Now I'm finding carcasses of deer and small animals along the fence lines. Coyotes have destroyed my deer season. Best laid plans of mice and men…
Will hope that Dave's maxim pays off next year, after a little coyote pay back this year.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I think I just hit my dry spell after 4 straight years of bulls in Colorado. Three out of the last four hunts have been woulda-shoulda-coulda years. I feel blessed that I have been able to hunt all those years however. The sun shines on every old dog's butt sooner or later.

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from 99explorer wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I find your story about the shortage of deer in northern Maine very believable. Many years ago, I hunted in he area of Eagle Lake for a week, and I don't think I saw one deer.

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from TM wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Dave, it's called hunting karma, and it's true of fishing too.

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from benjaminwc wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Dave, it's all about luck. And luck is when opportunity meets preparedness.

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from Roderick K. Purcell wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Thanks for the perspective. One of the down sides of hunting media (be it TV, online, or print) is it sends the message that hunters usually kill something, when the fact is just the opposite. When was the last time you saw the headline "Ten hours in a tree-stand for zippo"? It took me four years to get my first deer and seven to get my first elk. In the long run, that was far better for my hunting spirit than had I lucked into them the first year I tried.

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from Diane Boyle-Mather wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

dave show us a pic

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from weedless97 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Just starting now, hopefully I'll get mine someday

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from Carney wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

WAM, that dog butt has to be pointed "up" to get any sun... NOT a pretty picture!

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from Carney wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I've been hunting the same kind of area (apparently) as DP. In 11 years, 1 deer. This is the first year I didn't feel a bit cheated though. I must have mellowed some.

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from Carney wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Fox4 -- If you want fool proof hunting plans that become epic failures, I'm your guy! I could (and maybe should) write a book on my experience with the seeming inseparable merging of Murphy's laws and hunting.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Carney,
Just hoping to make it through the year again without knee surgery on the other one.

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from Carney wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

WAM, "Handicap" designation? The States has lots of opportunities!
Of course, you could just pray for healing and claim it in Jesus' Name!

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I ponder that hunter/success ratio quite interestingly as well, Dave. While in the deer woods, I am content to watch the snow fall and not shoot a thing and still feel it has been a memorable hunt. While sometimes it's nice to bag a deer home for the freezer, too!

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Carney,
Perhaps I should. I usually pray just for others.

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from nc30-06 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I too am in a long dry run. The only venison I get to eat is that that is given to me from others successful hunts.

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from fordman155 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

A good or a bad run of luck has little to do with the ability of a hunter, but the experience gathered in a bad year can all help make someone a better hunter or a good guide for someone else. We don't always come out with a B&C buck at the end---that's why its called hunting and not shopping.

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from keithjoyner wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

In Arizona, just getting drawn to hunt is a major step toward success. With a number of years of not drawing ANY hunt tags, this year I really lucked out. I drew a spring gobbler, an archery bull elk, a buck mule deer, and sandhill cranes. Filled all tags except the deer tag, and wouldn't you know it, the only buck I saw was a whitetail! My bull elk was the biggest I've ever taken with bow or rifle, and that includes many years of hunting Colorado and Oregon which is as close to a sure thing as hunting for elk gets.

Yup after years of no tags or poor hunts, this year has been one for the memory book!

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from fox4 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Apparently my biggest failure is an underestimation of my skill as a fool. I've begun to believe I brought the coyote problem on myself by trying to trap the critters that were digging holes in the pasture. I think the trapped possums and racoons attracted the coyotes.

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from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

A HUNTER never knows what may happen in the next 10 seconds That is one of the reasons that keep me coming back for more. I will post this if the #$*&^%$#^ website ever works properly

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from tom warner wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Dave, I spent 6-7 years during the 1980's and a couple during the 90's hunting just east of you in New Brunswick. As you correctly point out, time spent is absolutely crucial in that country. I was fortunate in being in a position to be able to hunt dawn until dark every day for the entire hunting seasons and that made the difference. That country is known by many of us as harboring some few colossal bucks. Through a combination of luck, time, persistence and sheer stubbornness I have eight of them hanging on my wall. My best missed 170 by one inch due to lack of a brow tine, and that was killed during the last hour of the last day of the 1983 season. You must be dedicated to the point of insanity to hunt that country, willing to go day after freezing day seeing nothing, but being crazy certainly paid off for me. It also helped that the country was much wilder when I first started hunting there, so I had vastly greater undisturbed stretches of country to hunt than exists now, due to the ruination perpetrated by the GD paper companies.

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from tom warner wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Dave, I spent 6-7 years during the 1980's and a couple during the 90's hunting just east of you in New Brunswick. As you correctly point out, time spent is absolutely crucial in that country. I was fortunate in being in a position to be able to hunt dawn until dark every day for the entire hunting seasons and that made the difference. That country is known by many of us as harboring some few colossal bucks. Through a combination of luck, time, persistence and sheer stubbornness I have eight of them hanging on my wall. My best missed 170 by one inch due to lack of a brow tine, and that was killed during the last hour of the last day of the 1983 season. You must be dedicated to the point of insanity to hunt that country, willing to go day after freezing day seeing nothing, but being crazy certainly paid off for me. It also helped that the country was much wilder when I first started hunting there, so I had vastly greater undisturbed stretches of country to hunt than exists now, due to the ruination perpetrated by the GD paper companies.

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from Drew McClure wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

With no acorns deer descended into food plots this year in record numbers. The Ol' boys still managed to flip most of us off with their whitetails. Cheers to hanging the big uns.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I'm sixty years old now. I shot thirteen elk in thirteen years, over sixty deer, with a moose and antelope thrown in before I moved to Canada in 1989. Didn't take up moose hunting for a couple of years and shot five by 1996. Haven't shot one since. Big deal. I still went out and spent up to two weeks in the bush alone every year till the season before my son died three years ago. Done big game hunting now but not because of the dry run but because I just can't use up that much meat. And I find I now enjoy bird hunting more. Anyway, it's all about getting out there not shooting stuff. Expect to have a good time with your friends and/or Mother Nature and you'll never come home busted.

Perhaps my dad and clinchknot's came from the same brood stock. I think Dad enjoyed seeing others, especially his kids, get their animals more than he did shooting them himself. And he always wanted to hear the story about the trip. Glad there's a lot of time in an eternity because we are going to have quite a lengthy sit-down when we get together again.

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from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I am sorry to change the subject but I am pissed. Bob Costas attacked the second amendment last night on Sunday Night Football and I think it was totally inappropriate. I called and asked for his firing and anyone who owns a gun should do the same.

NBC Sports 1-212-664-444

Oh and I hunted for close to ten years before I got my first buck. Of course I was learning it on my own as there were no deer hunters in my family and I made every mistake possible... plus there were just not a lot of deer in middle Tennessee in the late 70's and early 80's. Now I usually get two or three a year. These are the best of times for deer hunting in my area. The "golden age" as it were.

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from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

NBC Sports 1-212-664-4444.... left off that last four. It was neither the time nor place for political grandstanding. He should be questioning why all these pro athletes that have had concussions are killing themselves. That would have been more relevant.

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from jcarlin wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I'm with you Dave. Prior to this year I've taken 2 deer, one a buck, both with a rifle, in something like 12 years of hunting. I've been archery hunting for 10 of those years. This year either the gods or the law of averages are smiling on me and I had taken a buck and a doe during archery, and just took a second doe with a rifle over the weekend, more than doubling my lifetime totals. Either things are turning around, or I won't see another deer for 18 years.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I have a lot of respect for the guys who hunt the sparsely populated big timber. It is much more a trophy than the farm yard bucks I shoot in the Midwest.

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from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

after reading all these posts i feel pretty lucky!! i live in what i will call a target rich environment. very high deer and turkey populations around my house. its disappointing for me if i only see a deer or two during a sit, and some of you guys dont see a deer in a season! however i seem to have been plagued with small buck syndrome. i hunted one weekend in archery, a friday and saturday. saw 9 different bucks, nothing bigger then a 5 point. didnt see any bone during gun season either when i hunted over thanksgiving, just girls. i havent encountered anything over a 6 point in about 4 years. starting to really chap my a$$.

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from tom warner wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

scratchgolf72: I too live in such a "target rich" environment and that is one of the reasons I have spent a lot of my life hunting elsewhere. The range here is over browsed and is in bad shape because we have had too many deer for too many years, and so few of them get the nutrition to grow big. In addition there is also too much hunting pressure, and so few bucks get to grow old. It sounds to me as though that may be exactly your problem. It's the same problem in many other places as we all know. I would rather hunt where I seldom see another hunter and will willingly pay the price of seeing far fewer deer, but when I do see one he might be a dandy. Many years ago I grew bored with shooting undernourished dinks.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

This reminds me of the good Ol'Days, Military Personnel would gather and talk about one mixed bag of hunters from all parts of the continent. Both enlisted and officers with experience to no experience but that didn't matter, we all had a blast!

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from cbanks wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

There's something to be said about 'putting in the time', and it's not just the product of the law of averages. Some of the best 'hunts' I've ever had involved never pulling the trigger.

First, it's great just to be out there, and away from your other life.

Second, the folks you meet in camp are people you have much in common with and you'll make lifelong friends, and learn much from fellow hunters.

Third, you'll discover a world full of fascinating critters, not just huntable ones. I remember particularly spending a day watching a memorable battle between two families of grizzlies ( total of seven) fighting over an elk carcass. And I became an avid birder during many hours of sitting and waiting for elk to show up.

Lifetime box score: three elk in nine hunts, but a lifetime of memories.

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from coachsjike wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

just sounds like deer camp to me dave. our camp is in new york northwest of the catskills. the owner shot two nice bucks back to back two years in a row. this year he came up empty. my buddy shot a buck this year. took him eighteen years since his first. me i am yet to get a buck. its frustrating when you pay $140 to hunt out of state and get nothing but when you are with great buddies from college, eat good food, and after the hunt is over that day, everyone is by the firepit with cocktails in hand, who cares! deer camp is something i look forward to EVERY year and the second its over, we start counting the days for the following year.

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from Del in KS wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Carney, I can hook you up with some very good Whitetail hunting in Missouri (Kirksville area) or Kansas if you send me an email. It took me from 1963 until 1972 to get my first buck, a Ft Benning, Ga. 8 pointer. Since then have lost count of deer taken (Sitka BT, Whitetails and mulies). We in the Mid-West are blessed with great deer and turkey hunting. Most years I take 4 to 6 but so far have taken only 3 this year.
Now have been elk hunting 3 times (Colorado twice, Alaska once) and so far close but no cigar. Maybe next year will be the one.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Harold;
It's seems, to me, a fellow should start with a rifle, and after becoming a real deer hunter, graduate to the bow.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

deadeyedick;
I'm all with you buddy.
I love uncle Dave and Phill's post but get so dammed mad at trying to post.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

And someone was surprised at Bob Costos attacking the 2nd Ammendment? lol! Within hours of a murder that has been committed by a well-known, highly visible deranged individual, the liberals, and the leftist media are all over it emphasizing the need for gun control. Better wise up America. I told you many times what was happening, and many on this thread deny it.

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from jim in nc wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

DP:
Thanks for this one. I'm presently stumbling thru my least successful (in head count)deer season in 20 years. As you say, it's been "one thing and another." This helps put it all in perspective.

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from woodrat wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

This makes me feel so much better! I've been "teaching myself to hunt" for four years, by just going out there and trying every year. No one in my family hunted, and so my pestering as a child fell on deaf ears. A few years ago, in my forties, I decided I just needed to get out there and try. I usually hunt evening and/or mornings on most of the deer season days, and then I hunt every day of elk season, every year.

I actually ran across a legal buck last year, and took a shot and missed, I was so jittery and shaky, and kicked myself for days over that. And this year I saw elk on 9 out of 11 days, but never could get a clean view of a legal bull. So, I'm 0 and 4 with the large game, and this year I was feeling pretty incompetent, I have to say. I did notice, though, that I slowly stopped getting all jittery when I saw elk, after seeing them so many times this year.

But one of my older, wiser neighbors told me that even SEEING as many elk as I was seeing is progress, and that I shouldn't get too down about coming up empty every year, and that coastal rainforest elk, hunted solo, like I'm doing, is one of the hardest things to do in the world of hunting.

So, I'll be back out there again next year, and every year after that until I can't anymore. Thanks for the encouraging words.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Wood rat, you're not coming home empty-handed. Thanks for sharing what you did bring home. And look at the bright side: you didn't have to get all messy gutting one out and dealing with the butchering, etc. Don't worry, it'll happen for you.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Like my son once said when we were pulling out the boat after an unsuccessful day of salmon fishing, "Look at it this way, Dad; at least we don't have to clean fish." Sage wisdom....

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from chaslee wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

I always say its not the size of the kill its the experiance of the hunt

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from outdoorsman170 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

I've been deer hunting a couple many times and still have not got a deer yet. So this is encouraging to hear; Although I hope it won't be 17 seasons haha

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from 1uglymutha wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

where i live you can drive by private land(on which you have no hope of hunting) and literally see herds of nice bucks and bulls. i have always believed that any buck or bull, taken legally, on an unguided hunt on public land is as good a trophy as anything in b&c. try it and you'll see what the word "hunting" really means.

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from chuckles wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

What a great summation of the hunting experience. Your article underscores the importance of loving the act of hunting and the camaraderie of camp as much as the reward. It makes putting in the time much easier.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Roderick K. Purcell wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Thanks for the perspective. One of the down sides of hunting media (be it TV, online, or print) is it sends the message that hunters usually kill something, when the fact is just the opposite. When was the last time you saw the headline "Ten hours in a tree-stand for zippo"? It took me four years to get my first deer and seven to get my first elk. In the long run, that was far better for my hunting spirit than had I lucked into them the first year I tried.

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from GrandSlamDreamer wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I think that every person who hunts or wants to get into hunting should read this. Nothing is more frustrating than going year after year without success, but that only makes the reward so much sweeter. Great description, great way to start off monday. (especially after missing a buck this past weekend)

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from Harold wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Good point Dave! I hunted hard for eight days this year for elk and while there was plenty of elk around, it was always "close, but no cigar". On the ninth day it all fell into place and my friend and I had our elk down by eight AM.
In a related matter, last year a friend of mine got his first trophy elk, a real doozy, after decades of trying. A few months later he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Perhaps that elk was a last gift from that which controls these things.

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from huntnow wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Good post and a big congrats to your friend. That is a very long time to be unsuccessful. My dad always reminds me that is why it's called hunting and not killing.

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from Teodoro wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Mr. Petzal,

I want to thank you for giving my morale a considerable pick-up. It's been a long few seasons for me down here. This puts it in perspective.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I have a lot of respect for the guys who hunt the sparsely populated big timber. It is much more a trophy than the farm yard bucks I shoot in the Midwest.

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from rock rat wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

One thing I've noticed with elk is that those who hire a private guide do a lot better than those who just go on out to a piece of public land. Knowing where and when an elk is apt to be somewhere helps, so does having someone point it out to you. Oh the stories those guides tell.

Love tales of heavy deer. Good for your friend.

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from sahd4god wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

This is an encouraging post. I've been hunting for 21 years, since I was 12 years old, and have NEVER killed a buck. A handful of does and a few close calls on buck during archery season, but have never had a good opportunity. Maybe it's the state I'm hunting in, or maybe I just need to wait for "something spectacular" next time.

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from tootall75 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I am right next door in New Brunswick and yes, the deer can get very large in these parts, 239 on the hoof is a monster....but for some reason those big deer do not sport a huge rack..case in point; there is a rack in out camp shot by one of our senior members in 1978, the deer weighed about 220 dressed and it has great main beams but the tines look like an after thought. One of my buddies shot a big buck 5 years ago (that we unfortunately didn't find till the week after) and he was an easy 250-260 on the hoof and although we didn't have him scored, he is 150, maybe 160.

That said, in relation to your friends luck, I hunt hard and have had my chances but so far am 0 for 19 in deer season so let's hope the hunting gods will soon take pity on me.

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from fox4 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Was not finding any deer this year despite knowing they had been around all summer and into the fall. They ate all the wild grapes out of a fence line in one of my pastures, saw 4-5 running through the field several times leaving tracks everywhere. Found scrapes and trails leading to pecan trees and water. Had a "fool proof" plan for gun season which resulted in not even a single sighting.
Now I'm finding carcasses of deer and small animals along the fence lines. Coyotes have destroyed my deer season. Best laid plans of mice and men…
Will hope that Dave's maxim pays off next year, after a little coyote pay back this year.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I think I just hit my dry spell after 4 straight years of bulls in Colorado. Three out of the last four hunts have been woulda-shoulda-coulda years. I feel blessed that I have been able to hunt all those years however. The sun shines on every old dog's butt sooner or later.

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from 99explorer wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I find your story about the shortage of deer in northern Maine very believable. Many years ago, I hunted in he area of Eagle Lake for a week, and I don't think I saw one deer.

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from weedless97 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Just starting now, hopefully I'll get mine someday

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from Carney wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

WAM, that dog butt has to be pointed "up" to get any sun... NOT a pretty picture!

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from Carney wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I've been hunting the same kind of area (apparently) as DP. In 11 years, 1 deer. This is the first year I didn't feel a bit cheated though. I must have mellowed some.

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from Carney wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Fox4 -- If you want fool proof hunting plans that become epic failures, I'm your guy! I could (and maybe should) write a book on my experience with the seeming inseparable merging of Murphy's laws and hunting.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Carney,
Just hoping to make it through the year again without knee surgery on the other one.

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from Carney wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

WAM, "Handicap" designation? The States has lots of opportunities!
Of course, you could just pray for healing and claim it in Jesus' Name!

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I'm sixty years old now. I shot thirteen elk in thirteen years, over sixty deer, with a moose and antelope thrown in before I moved to Canada in 1989. Didn't take up moose hunting for a couple of years and shot five by 1996. Haven't shot one since. Big deal. I still went out and spent up to two weeks in the bush alone every year till the season before my son died three years ago. Done big game hunting now but not because of the dry run but because I just can't use up that much meat. And I find I now enjoy bird hunting more. Anyway, it's all about getting out there not shooting stuff. Expect to have a good time with your friends and/or Mother Nature and you'll never come home busted.

Perhaps my dad and clinchknot's came from the same brood stock. I think Dad enjoyed seeing others, especially his kids, get their animals more than he did shooting them himself. And he always wanted to hear the story about the trip. Glad there's a lot of time in an eternity because we are going to have quite a lengthy sit-down when we get together again.

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from cbanks wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

There's something to be said about 'putting in the time', and it's not just the product of the law of averages. Some of the best 'hunts' I've ever had involved never pulling the trigger.

First, it's great just to be out there, and away from your other life.

Second, the folks you meet in camp are people you have much in common with and you'll make lifelong friends, and learn much from fellow hunters.

Third, you'll discover a world full of fascinating critters, not just huntable ones. I remember particularly spending a day watching a memorable battle between two families of grizzlies ( total of seven) fighting over an elk carcass. And I became an avid birder during many hours of sitting and waiting for elk to show up.

Lifetime box score: three elk in nine hunts, but a lifetime of memories.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Wood rat, you're not coming home empty-handed. Thanks for sharing what you did bring home. And look at the bright side: you didn't have to get all messy gutting one out and dealing with the butchering, etc. Don't worry, it'll happen for you.

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from tootall75 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

It should read those big deer do not always sport a big rack.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

We had a hunting cabin that sat on 160 acres in prime deer hunting country in Michigan...not that far from Alpina, Michigan. We hunted Ruffs, and woodcock on the property as well. A successful deer hunt for my dad, was to make a short walk not far from the cabin, and come back, and shuffle the deck of cards hoping his hunting partners would soon return, and hands of Gin Rummy could be delt out. A successful hunt was one that you had to buy dinner at the Grove Restraunt in Alpina the last nite because you cleaned up at Gin Rummy No messy hands having to clean deer.

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from Tom-Tom wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Thank goodness your seasoned compadre tagged that deer instead of a first time hunter. The better you know the bitter, the better you enjoy the sweet.

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from JettPack wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Good post, Dave! I killed a deer a year for five years, but it's been a long 4+ seasons since my last one. Changing habitat, development and a missed opportunity or two, and frustration has set in. I haven't even been seeing deer the last couple years. But I am confident the payoff will come at some point.

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from TM wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Dave, it's called hunting karma, and it's true of fishing too.

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from benjaminwc wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Dave, it's all about luck. And luck is when opportunity meets preparedness.

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from Diane Boyle-Mather wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

dave show us a pic

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I ponder that hunter/success ratio quite interestingly as well, Dave. While in the deer woods, I am content to watch the snow fall and not shoot a thing and still feel it has been a memorable hunt. While sometimes it's nice to bag a deer home for the freezer, too!

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Carney,
Perhaps I should. I usually pray just for others.

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from nc30-06 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I too am in a long dry run. The only venison I get to eat is that that is given to me from others successful hunts.

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from fordman155 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

A good or a bad run of luck has little to do with the ability of a hunter, but the experience gathered in a bad year can all help make someone a better hunter or a good guide for someone else. We don't always come out with a B&C buck at the end---that's why its called hunting and not shopping.

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from keithjoyner wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

In Arizona, just getting drawn to hunt is a major step toward success. With a number of years of not drawing ANY hunt tags, this year I really lucked out. I drew a spring gobbler, an archery bull elk, a buck mule deer, and sandhill cranes. Filled all tags except the deer tag, and wouldn't you know it, the only buck I saw was a whitetail! My bull elk was the biggest I've ever taken with bow or rifle, and that includes many years of hunting Colorado and Oregon which is as close to a sure thing as hunting for elk gets.

Yup after years of no tags or poor hunts, this year has been one for the memory book!

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from fox4 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Apparently my biggest failure is an underestimation of my skill as a fool. I've begun to believe I brought the coyote problem on myself by trying to trap the critters that were digging holes in the pasture. I think the trapped possums and racoons attracted the coyotes.

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from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

A HUNTER never knows what may happen in the next 10 seconds That is one of the reasons that keep me coming back for more. I will post this if the #$*&^%$#^ website ever works properly

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from tom warner wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Dave, I spent 6-7 years during the 1980's and a couple during the 90's hunting just east of you in New Brunswick. As you correctly point out, time spent is absolutely crucial in that country. I was fortunate in being in a position to be able to hunt dawn until dark every day for the entire hunting seasons and that made the difference. That country is known by many of us as harboring some few colossal bucks. Through a combination of luck, time, persistence and sheer stubbornness I have eight of them hanging on my wall. My best missed 170 by one inch due to lack of a brow tine, and that was killed during the last hour of the last day of the 1983 season. You must be dedicated to the point of insanity to hunt that country, willing to go day after freezing day seeing nothing, but being crazy certainly paid off for me. It also helped that the country was much wilder when I first started hunting there, so I had vastly greater undisturbed stretches of country to hunt than exists now, due to the ruination perpetrated by the GD paper companies.

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from tom warner wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Dave, I spent 6-7 years during the 1980's and a couple during the 90's hunting just east of you in New Brunswick. As you correctly point out, time spent is absolutely crucial in that country. I was fortunate in being in a position to be able to hunt dawn until dark every day for the entire hunting seasons and that made the difference. That country is known by many of us as harboring some few colossal bucks. Through a combination of luck, time, persistence and sheer stubbornness I have eight of them hanging on my wall. My best missed 170 by one inch due to lack of a brow tine, and that was killed during the last hour of the last day of the 1983 season. You must be dedicated to the point of insanity to hunt that country, willing to go day after freezing day seeing nothing, but being crazy certainly paid off for me. It also helped that the country was much wilder when I first started hunting there, so I had vastly greater undisturbed stretches of country to hunt than exists now, due to the ruination perpetrated by the GD paper companies.

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from Drew McClure wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

With no acorns deer descended into food plots this year in record numbers. The Ol' boys still managed to flip most of us off with their whitetails. Cheers to hanging the big uns.

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from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I am sorry to change the subject but I am pissed. Bob Costas attacked the second amendment last night on Sunday Night Football and I think it was totally inappropriate. I called and asked for his firing and anyone who owns a gun should do the same.

NBC Sports 1-212-664-444

Oh and I hunted for close to ten years before I got my first buck. Of course I was learning it on my own as there were no deer hunters in my family and I made every mistake possible... plus there were just not a lot of deer in middle Tennessee in the late 70's and early 80's. Now I usually get two or three a year. These are the best of times for deer hunting in my area. The "golden age" as it were.

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from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

NBC Sports 1-212-664-4444.... left off that last four. It was neither the time nor place for political grandstanding. He should be questioning why all these pro athletes that have had concussions are killing themselves. That would have been more relevant.

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from jcarlin wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I'm with you Dave. Prior to this year I've taken 2 deer, one a buck, both with a rifle, in something like 12 years of hunting. I've been archery hunting for 10 of those years. This year either the gods or the law of averages are smiling on me and I had taken a buck and a doe during archery, and just took a second doe with a rifle over the weekend, more than doubling my lifetime totals. Either things are turning around, or I won't see another deer for 18 years.

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from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

after reading all these posts i feel pretty lucky!! i live in what i will call a target rich environment. very high deer and turkey populations around my house. its disappointing for me if i only see a deer or two during a sit, and some of you guys dont see a deer in a season! however i seem to have been plagued with small buck syndrome. i hunted one weekend in archery, a friday and saturday. saw 9 different bucks, nothing bigger then a 5 point. didnt see any bone during gun season either when i hunted over thanksgiving, just girls. i havent encountered anything over a 6 point in about 4 years. starting to really chap my a$$.

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from tom warner wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

scratchgolf72: I too live in such a "target rich" environment and that is one of the reasons I have spent a lot of my life hunting elsewhere. The range here is over browsed and is in bad shape because we have had too many deer for too many years, and so few of them get the nutrition to grow big. In addition there is also too much hunting pressure, and so few bucks get to grow old. It sounds to me as though that may be exactly your problem. It's the same problem in many other places as we all know. I would rather hunt where I seldom see another hunter and will willingly pay the price of seeing far fewer deer, but when I do see one he might be a dandy. Many years ago I grew bored with shooting undernourished dinks.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

This reminds me of the good Ol'Days, Military Personnel would gather and talk about one mixed bag of hunters from all parts of the continent. Both enlisted and officers with experience to no experience but that didn't matter, we all had a blast!

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from coachsjike wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

just sounds like deer camp to me dave. our camp is in new york northwest of the catskills. the owner shot two nice bucks back to back two years in a row. this year he came up empty. my buddy shot a buck this year. took him eighteen years since his first. me i am yet to get a buck. its frustrating when you pay $140 to hunt out of state and get nothing but when you are with great buddies from college, eat good food, and after the hunt is over that day, everyone is by the firepit with cocktails in hand, who cares! deer camp is something i look forward to EVERY year and the second its over, we start counting the days for the following year.

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from Del in KS wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Carney, I can hook you up with some very good Whitetail hunting in Missouri (Kirksville area) or Kansas if you send me an email. It took me from 1963 until 1972 to get my first buck, a Ft Benning, Ga. 8 pointer. Since then have lost count of deer taken (Sitka BT, Whitetails and mulies). We in the Mid-West are blessed with great deer and turkey hunting. Most years I take 4 to 6 but so far have taken only 3 this year.
Now have been elk hunting 3 times (Colorado twice, Alaska once) and so far close but no cigar. Maybe next year will be the one.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Harold;
It's seems, to me, a fellow should start with a rifle, and after becoming a real deer hunter, graduate to the bow.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

deadeyedick;
I'm all with you buddy.
I love uncle Dave and Phill's post but get so dammed mad at trying to post.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

And someone was surprised at Bob Costos attacking the 2nd Ammendment? lol! Within hours of a murder that has been committed by a well-known, highly visible deranged individual, the liberals, and the leftist media are all over it emphasizing the need for gun control. Better wise up America. I told you many times what was happening, and many on this thread deny it.

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from jim in nc wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

DP:
Thanks for this one. I'm presently stumbling thru my least successful (in head count)deer season in 20 years. As you say, it's been "one thing and another." This helps put it all in perspective.

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from woodrat wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

This makes me feel so much better! I've been "teaching myself to hunt" for four years, by just going out there and trying every year. No one in my family hunted, and so my pestering as a child fell on deaf ears. A few years ago, in my forties, I decided I just needed to get out there and try. I usually hunt evening and/or mornings on most of the deer season days, and then I hunt every day of elk season, every year.

I actually ran across a legal buck last year, and took a shot and missed, I was so jittery and shaky, and kicked myself for days over that. And this year I saw elk on 9 out of 11 days, but never could get a clean view of a legal bull. So, I'm 0 and 4 with the large game, and this year I was feeling pretty incompetent, I have to say. I did notice, though, that I slowly stopped getting all jittery when I saw elk, after seeing them so many times this year.

But one of my older, wiser neighbors told me that even SEEING as many elk as I was seeing is progress, and that I shouldn't get too down about coming up empty every year, and that coastal rainforest elk, hunted solo, like I'm doing, is one of the hardest things to do in the world of hunting.

So, I'll be back out there again next year, and every year after that until I can't anymore. Thanks for the encouraging words.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

Like my son once said when we were pulling out the boat after an unsuccessful day of salmon fishing, "Look at it this way, Dad; at least we don't have to clean fish." Sage wisdom....

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from chaslee wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

I always say its not the size of the kill its the experiance of the hunt

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from outdoorsman170 wrote 1 year 18 weeks ago

I've been deer hunting a couple many times and still have not got a deer yet. So this is encouraging to hear; Although I hope it won't be 17 seasons haha

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