The Quality Deer Management Association sells a map ($7.50; www.qdma.com) detailing the top trophy-buck counties in the country. If you look at northeastern New York on this map, you'll see that it's mostly white--a blank space that represents a total of zero B&C; and P&Y; record-class bucks taken during the last decade. You'll also notice that the counties in white aren't named like the rest, which apparently indicates that when it comes to big bucks, they aren't even worth naming. This is where I hunt.
Whenever I mention the two bucks that I didn't shoot to local hunters--folks who also hunt where there aren't a whole lot of deer and where most any buck is considered a good buck--the most common response is Are you an idiot?
I'm not exactly obsessed with antlers. Sure, I prefer to take a buck with a decent rack, and that occasionally weighs into my decision whether or not to shoot. But I've got no problem with taking a small buck. I've done it before and I'd do it again. In the end, I'm more interested in a good hunt and at least a winter's supply of venison. However, this year I will not procure that meat by taking a doe because I missed the application deadline for doe tags. This proves that even if I'm not an idiot, I definitely do idiotic things. The deadline for doe tags in New York State is the same every year, so remembering it should be a no-brainer. A person shouldn't even have to use his brain for this purpose, which should make it feasible for someone like me. But I spaced on it nonetheless.
Around here (and I suppose just about anywhere) you only get so many chances in a season. I've already had two very close encounters with a pair of 8-pointers, neither of which would take that final step into an opening where I could make a clean shot. But I had the spike at about 70 yards with open sights, and the forkhorn was a chip shot at no more than 30 yards with a scope. I'm afraid I may have used up my chances for this year. Two seasons ago, I passed up a spike during the first week of rifle season, and a forkhorn about a week later. I never saw another buck, endured an entire winter without venison, and swore I wouldn't make that mistake again. Now, with only a couple weeks left to go, I'm staring at a repeat of that void in the freezer.