Cast Off for Trophy Whitetail Bucks

Cranberry Lake, Stillwater Reservoir

Whitetail bucks often grow big in the Adirondacks and then die of old age without ever catching a whiff of a stinky human. Why? Few people are willing to take up the pursuit more than an hour's walk from the nearest trail or unimproved road.

That's too bad, because you don't need to be Daniel Boone to give chase to unpressured wilderness bucks. All you need is a topographical map, a compass and a sturdy canoe.

The strategy is to paddle to the far side of a large body of water and hunt state land that goes virtually unhunted all season long. You can begin by zeroing in on places like Cranberry Lake, Stillwater Reservoir (although everybody hunts the unimproved road to Beaver Flow on the south shoreline) and Big Moose Lake, where there always seems to be a racked buck or two hanging around the inlet. Other good areas include Long Lake, Utowana Lake at its Route 28A access (which is part of the Raquette River Flow) and the east side of Raquette Lake, where you might even bag a bear.

The trick is to hunt the transition zone between hemlock swamps, where bucks bed, and hardwood ridges, where bucks feed. Also, don't be afraid to try rattling downwind of any scrape line you come across. Just be ready to shoot before you start rattling, as any buck within hearing distance is likely to come in fast and furious!

Contact: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Region 5 (518-897-1200); Region 6 (315-785-2239).
-Bill Vaznis