Lost in Meadow Valley

Every fall for the month of November the majority of my outdoor experiences take place from my hunting camp in the Meadow Valley Wildlife Area which is located in northern Juneau County.

The Red Brush Gang is 25 family members and friends with the vast majority having grown up in Poynette. Other hunters named us back in the late ‘70s because we are always wearing hip boots and hunting as far away from the road as we can get.

We hunt public land of which most is state or federal and all told there is over 200 square miles that are connected and made up of oak and jackpine forests and marshes that, as you are about to find out, a man can get lost (temporarily disoriented) in.

Thursday, Nov. 12 High 54, Low 30

A large part of my history is that I always have to see “new country” while trying to stay away from the crowd. Last fall I was talking to some trappers who told me where they had been seeing some big bucks.

That same day I strapped on my hip boots and went exploring. Long story short, there were a lot of deer close to the remote road where I would park and that kind of kept me from going in deep and exploring.

On Sunday and Monday of this week, I bow hunted here and saw five bucks on one hunt but had to walk a mile through a swamp with no trail to get to the area that I chose to hunt.

Last night I came up with an idea of going to a different spot that would shave close to a half mile off my hike. It would still be through a swamp and a half-mile through.

So this morning I begin my journey in the dark and I am carrying a load, tree climbing sticks, a stand on my back and a bow as well as a light pack. I am overdressed and most importantly I realize that I have forgot to bring a compass along.

Long story short, about threefourths of the way to where I wanted to hunt I unknowingly made a right turn and for one hour had no clue where I was. In the end I relaxed, worked with the little bit of sun that there was and found the tree and deer trails that I wanted to hunt.

I have been playing this game for a half a century and have realized that when you get disoriented, and I truly did today (which destroyed my morning hunt), you need to relax and cool off if you are overheated. There is no reason to panic.

I still hunted, did not see a deer and hiked back to my truck, having shaved a half a mile off my journey for all future hunts.

Saturday, Nov. 14 High 56, Low 28

My daughter, Selina, and I are staying at camp and bow hunting the area that I just wrote about. I hunted here yesterday and saw a heck of a nice 10-pointer that was about 50 yards out of range but still a thrill to watch.

Today, I had Selina use a compass and taught her how to get to where we would hunt. Selina was flawless and actually hunted a good quarter-mile past me. She made her way back to me in the dark and it was pretty cool to watch her find her dad in the dark in an area where she had never walked today.

On our hunt we both saw a beautiful eight-pointer that I am sure was the same deer. Like every buck I have seen the last 10 days, it had its head down and was obviously looking for companionship.

The following morning Selina led the way in the dark and found her tree without me. I saw a spike buck on a perfectly comfortable hunt and after a very relaxing evening at camp the night before it was another excellent week in The Meadow Valley Wildlife Area.

My dad taught us by experience to find our way through swamps, forests and river systems. Those lessons were always while we were having fun and that is what I am doing with Selina.

Get out and play!


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