My usual greeting when arriving at Afognak Wilderness Lodge for a blacktail deer hunt goes something like, “You should have been here last week! We had a ton of snow and the hunting was phenomenal!” Well this year I finally hit it perfect. I arrived two days before Thanksgiving and right after a big dump of snow to spend the holiday hunting with my buddies Josh and Luke Randall.

We immediately jumped in the boat and hit the water. While we were cruising around to pick up two of the lodge’s guests, Kevin and Adam, who had been dropped off in the morning to hunt, we managed to get two beautiful red fox that were down feeding on the beaches. Kevin and Adam didn’t get any deer that day, but they did get me pretty good with a “welcome-to-camp” prank. That night we had Mexican food for dinner, and as I was making my tacos Adam handed me a bottle of hot sauce with most of the label missing. I should have known what to expect when I saw that all that was left of the label was a skull, but I was too hungry to care. After wolfing down my first sauce-drizzled taco, I paused, then it hit me…and it soon became apparent that everyone except me knew what was going on. Luckily the sauce had worn off by the next morning and we were back after deer.

In just the first couple days we got a sense of how good the deer hunting would be. The bucks were rutting hard, and many of the deer had been pushed down to the beaches by the new snow. On my second day there, Kevin took the very nice buck in this video, and things were looking good.