Outdoor Notebook: A deer season for the record books
Just one week prior to opening of the Wisconsin gun-deer season deer hunters knew that the 2014 season would be different. Most years deer hunters are praying for tracking snow. This year our area got hit with over fourteen plus inches of snow. This heavy snow made travel on logging roads difficult at best. We had to wait for the town plow the road near our hunting shack. After the town plow went through a friend came in with his pickup equipped with a plow that made it possible to get into deer camp for opening weekend. Good friends are a true blessing!
During the rest of the week prior to opening it seemed that we were getting some snow every day. Then came the rain followed by about a five-inch snowfall just after the season opened.
We have hunted deer in the Monico area in excess of thirty years and we usually heard several shots as much as one-half hour before legal shooting hours. This year I heard the first shot just an hour after shooting hours began. During the entire opening weekend I heard five shots.
It was obvious that the deer were not moving. Of course the snow that continued to fall was not an ideal situation for deer to be on the move.
The weather made it difficult to move about in the woods. The frequent snowstorms resulted in clumps of snow bunching up in the trees. Walking in the woods hunters were often surprised by a clump of snow landing on the back of their neck. Jackets with hoods were a savior.
Opening day we had seven hunters who were hunting from the Spruce Swamp Spike Camp. As we returned to the shack that evening we were each anxious to hear what the rest of the crew had seen. The “Osseo Jinx” (Tom Twesme) was the first to describe his day. He had seen a white tail in the spruce trees and did not see enough of the deer to take a shot.
The rest of our seven-person crew did not see any sign of a deer. Even birds and squirrels were not moving. The highlight of opening day for us was a steak dinner cooked by the “Jinx” over charcoal. Following our early exit from our beds and being out all day our shack was very quiet that evening with the exception of snoring by most of us.
Monday our group was limited to three hunters. We started the day by sitting on our opening day stands. Monday was another day when we did not see any deer. As the week progressed Tom caught a glimpse of two deer as he was sneaking through the thick green cover.
By Wednesday our group had shrunk to the “Jinx” and this writer. We continued hunting from stands in the morning and evening with a few pushes during the day. We usually entered our stands around three in the afternoon with the thought that we would sit until shooting hours were over.
If the truth were known I lacked confidence as I snuck into my blind on the last Saturday of the season. My ground blind was on the edge of some thick, green brush where I had spent at least four hours each day of the season without seeing a deer. In the past I would have climbed into a tree stand, however as more years are added to my age I have switched to a ground blind, which was quite comfortable this year.
At 4 p.m. that afternoon I saw movement in the thick spruce trees. All I could see was legs that I assumed were deer. I rested my rifle on the edge of my stand and began scoping the deer. As it turned out I was looking at a doe and her two fawns.
The deer were carefully examining the area, moving downwind from my position. I was able to watch the deer for perhaps five minutes. That is the extent of the deer that I saw in just over eight days of deer hunting.
Those hunters who survived opening weekend talked about how cold it was sitting in a variety of stands. This year was almost a repeat of the cold weather of last year. For example on Thursday morning the thermometer on the porch of the shack read –18 degrees with enough breeze to discourage all but the most serious deer hunters. The snow squeaked as we walked and it was an excellent test of cold weather deer hunting clothing.
When “The Jinx” checked his trail camera after returning home he was very disappointed. There was a picture of a dandy eight-pointer taken at a time when he had not sat in his ground blind.
Looks as though the deer won this year.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.