Sunday, January 4, 2015

Trip Report: New Year’s Eve In The Woods 12/30/14–12/31/14

Hey guys. I know it’s been  while since my last post. My intention was to at least put up some of my trip reports, but I’m behind even on those. Here is my trip report for a short outing I did during the last days of the year:

During my previous trip, I did some exploring in the Vernooy Kill State Forest. I decided to go back there again. Initially I as going to try my luck at squirrel hunting again, but I spoke to a guy who told me there was some good hedgehog hunting country there. Here in NY hedgehogs are not protected, so we can hunt them year round. I just hadn’t seen any great habitat for them. I figured I would give it a try.

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What’s that next to me? That’s my other dog, Dexter.

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I usually don’t bring him out with me because he doesn’t like the woods much. I adopted hi when he was older, so he never got used to it.

That being said, he does have some characteristics which would make him a good dog for the woods. He has a great sense of smell, and is good at following scents. He is also good at retrieving. My hope on this trip was that he would run around and flush out whatever may be hiding in the woods. It wouldn’t be great for hunting, but it would be interesting to see what he could do.

So… he put all of his skills to work, and as expected, started picking up scents. Unexpectedly however, his favorite scent to follow turned out to be deer scat. Apparently it reminds him of dog food. He would sniff it out and find it without fail. Not much use considering I can’t hunt deer with dogs here in NY, but very amusing.


This time around I brought my rifle, the Savage 93R17. Last time I was short on range with the shotgun, so I thought the rife would be a better option, as was recommended by a reader.


Most of the first day was spent walking through the woods, searching for the area where I was told there could be porcupine. The guy who told me about it had reached it by using a 4x4 partway, but since there was no way my car could make it there, I had to hike my way there.

Towards the early afternoon I found an area which I though was promising, and then shortly after another one.



I stayed in the area for a little over an hour. I didn’t see or hear any movement. Perhaps that’s not too surprising with Dexter doing his best to find every pile of deer poop in the area.

It gets dark in the forest around 4:30 pm. It was getting close to that time. Without much warning the temperature just plummeted. The weather had been nice most of the day, hovering just under freezing. Within minutes however, it fell to about 15F (-9C). Dexter had a very hard time dealing with the cold. I’m used to backpacking with Rhea, who is a bit larger and can deal much better with the cold, but Dexter wasn’t having any of it.

I quickly found a sheltered spot and set up camp for the night. With the temperatures what they were, there was no chance of rain, so I didn’t bother with the tent. In fact, I didn’t bother with much else either. I ate, fed Dexter, and we jumped into the sleeping bag.


The night was relatively cold, about 10F (-12C). We were perfectly fine in the Western Mountaineering Antelope MF sleeping bag. We woke up shortly after sunrise.


The previous evening I just ate dry food. For breakfast I cooked up what would have been my dinner.


I had gathered some rose hips the previous day. Clearly it’s past the season, but there were still some let.


I used them to make some tea, which wasn’t very good. I usually like to let them boil for a long time to make good tea. Simply bringing the water to a boil doesn’t do much good. Back home we used to dry them out and store them to use during the winter.

We ate, packed up, and started to make our way back to the area where I had seen porcupine sign. Unfortunately t was still very cold, with the temperature still being in the teens. Walking around wasn’t a problem, but whenever I would slow down or stop in order to hunt, Dexter would start freezing.

After a while I abandoned my hunting pursuits and decided to explore the are some more. During my last trip to the area, I had bushwhacked to a lake. This time around, during my searching for porcupine, I saw a road that paralleled the river on the North side that I had followed to the lake. I decided to follow it and see where it went.

The road ended rather abruptly shortly after the lake. It didn’t seem to lead to anything in particular. It does however offer an easier way to the lake, even though some bushwhacking is still required.


Even though the road ended, there was a small foot path that continued into the mountain. None of this is marked on any maps, and I don’t see where the trail would lead, but I decided to follow it. It just followed the route of the rive, now stream.


I followed the trail for over an hour, and it just kept going. I still have no idea where. Early in the afternoon I decided to start making my way back. If I wasn’t home by midnight my car would turn back into a pumpkin.


Dexter was very happy to be back in the car. Clearly this is not the activity for him.

The biodiversity in the area seems very good. It is much better than most other parts of the Catskills I’ve seen. I’ll be back here again for sure.

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