Deer season is upon us
The wait is over. The 2014 Wisconsin gun-deer season began this morning at 6:30 a.m. Many of us have been waiting one week less than a year for the 2014 season since it ended last year. Some hunters are a bit nervous about how the season will progress. This past winter was severe and caused the death of many of our deer. Those deer that were in their first winter and those that were older were particularly hard hit.
The question we have heard for the past month has been, “Are you ready?” For us we have been scouting, looking for deer and hoping to have a buck walk past us while bow hunting. We have not seen many deer as we have been bow hunting however we will put in our time in the woods with the hope that we will get a chance for a buck.
Our Grandson, Jack, who is 15 years old, is not enthusiastic about deer season this year. He has accompanied his Dad, our son, Craig, in the deer woods for four years and thus far has not seen a deer. Jack has not quit, however he is not as enthused as we are. We remember those years when our deer herd was larger and we would see several deer each day.
Our Grandson, William Schroeder, who is 14, is as enthusiastic as ever and will divide his hunting time between hunting with his Dad and spending some time with our hunting party. Our Granddaughter, Gretchen Arneson, who is 16 has already spent quite a bit of time in the woods with her bow at their hunting cabin and will spend as much time as possible hunting with her Dad during the gun-deer hunt. She says she has her eyes on a BIG buck!
For the past few years I have spent most of the days of deer season sitting on the platform of a ladder stand. This year I will spend most of my time sitting at ground level in a ground blind. After spending a lot of time twelve feet above the ground I have come to the conclusion that the two coldest places to be are in a boat in the spring and fall or in a tree stand. Following the 2013 deer season, which was really cold, I decided to hunt where it may be a bit more comfortable – on the ground.
Each year as we prepare for the gun-deer season, we spend some time at the rifle range to insure that our scopes are still lined up. Several years ago our neighbor asked why we waste a few shells prior to the season. I tried to explain our actions to him. After listening to me he said, “Shucks. I checked mine 45 years ago and have killed a buck almost every year.” Alby, we miss you and will think about you as we hunt your area.
The brush has grown thicker each year making it difficult to see deer as they move about. Some tree stands that were formerly set up in areas where we could see deer moving about have been moved to places where we can see into the thick underbrush.
Area hunters who have hunted on the property formerly owned by Consolidated Paper Company are concerned. Late last week the cables were still locked on those properties. There are groups who have hunted those areas for many years. As this column went to press the gates are still closed. The company who currently owns these properties has been concerned that hunters may get stuck on some of the logging roads, which could result in deep ruts.
If you have not been in the woods since we got the heavy snow you may be surprised. Travel in the swamps is difficult at best. The 14+ inches of snow that we have received has insulated the swamps. Some hunters were using snowshoes to get around this past week.
Our group will vary from six hunters for a few days down to just the Osseo Jinx and this writer for part of the season. School activities will take some of the young hunters out of the woods for a few days.
For me this will be my 61st deer season in Wisconsin. In looking back over those years deer hunting in Wisconsin has changed considerably. Today deer hunting in Wisconsin has become a much safer activity.
Recently some friends were walking their dog in the Crescent Lake area west of Rhinelander. They saw an animal running ahead of them on the edge of the road. They stopped and the animal that had a long tail also stopped. They watched for a few minutes, and then started to walk faster. The animal left the road and began to circle them. After checking the tracks a neighbor confirmed that it really was a cougar that made those tracks.
If you choose to participate in the 2014 deer season hunt carefully, legally and enjoy the season.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.