Three hunts in paradise

Twenty-seven falls ago I started writing this column. Fifteen years ago I started hobby farming and became a very active father.

Outdoor columnists and hobby farmers have one thing in common and that is a busy season that runs from the start of planting season until the day that Wisconsin’s deer gun season ends. I am on the tail end of a whale of a busy season that beat the pulp out of me physically, financially and sometimes even mentally.

This week I am writing to you about my experiences in the great outdoors the week before The Red Brush Gang makes it to deer camp.

Monday, Nov. 16 High 44, Low 27

My 14-year-old daughter, Selina, has her very own food plot. We both hunt it during the turkey season and it is all Selina’s for bow season until today. We put a lot of time, sweat and creativity into our alfalfa, corn, turnips and radishes.

The local deer population loves eating them but as our trail cameras and Selina’s hunts have been revealing this fall, most of the deer are in the plot after dark. The beauty of Selina’s food plot is that she can hunt after school and the few weekends that she is home.

A typical bow hunt for Selina consists of her becoming very comfortable in her ladder stand and reading while watching the world around her.

Today, I hunted the food plot for the first time this fall. As soon as I was in the stand a steady rain began that would last for the next 36 hours. I did not see a deer until I was climbing down from the stand and I was thoroughly busted when that happened.

Tuesday, Nov. 17 High 42, Low 35

A little 36-hour trip to deer camp for a duck hunt, a bow hunt and to prepare a very large meal were next on my agenda.

The duck hunt was a 100-percent mind-over-matter issue. It was pouring outside, extremely windy and I was going to have to paddle my canoe a good mile to “duck paradise.”

Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s I had some pretty good duck hunts on what is a flowage for a cranberry marsh. It has been probably five years since I paddled a canoe on it, and the last few hunts did not require many shotgun shells.

Back in the day when I called hunting camp home for a hundred days each fall, I used to ice skate and cross country ski on this flowage while fishing with tip-ups.

Today my paddle was into the wind, my Selina’s golden retriever Fire did not seem too into the adventure and after a half hour of pulling a heavy load with my arms I jumped out of the canoe and started setting decoys.

I had borrowed the pair of chest waders that I chose to wear today. I had no idea that they were toast and I felt cold reality as they filled with water.

I did not see a single duck. I did see ample amounts of muskrat sign. I then paddled back to my truck and then was off to camp where I peeled an entire six-gallon bucket of potatoes and created a big-time meal for the first night of deer camp.

Wednesday, Nov. 18 High 46, Low 37

Everyone has their own version of deer camp and mine is an 18-by-36-foot portable pole barn put on public land each November and taken down the last day of deer gun season.

I love it here and actually say that to myself when I am at camp alone. Today, I cooked, drank coffee and then headed out to the woods for a three-fourths-mile hike with a bow and arrow and a tree stand.

Here in Wisconsin’s central forest, if you strap on hip boots and hike in a ways you have bow hunting all to yourself.

As usual I was running late on the sun clock which was actually blocked out by clouds. My stand is hung where I have seen some beautiful bucks this year. After hanging my stand, I climb down to get my bow, and something is missing and that is all five of my arrows.

I had traveled through some dense brush and began backtracking. Naturally my arrows were at the very beginning of my hike.

As you can see, hunting is certainly not always about dropping ducks and harvesting bucks.

I love this place!

Sunset


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