My first hunt in 27 years just completed. I hate to admit that a quarter century plus had passed since my last deer hunt, and that my math in my previous article understated my absence by 10 years. I guess I am not ready to admit to anything for 25 years.
Opening day started on public hunting grounds in Waupaca County. An early arrival to the woods occurred to make sure our party could obtain our previously scouted “secret” spots. We had an advantage to get to the backside of the large public acreage via some private land owned by our hunting party. After about an hour and a half in the moonless night, the sun rose above the horizon. To my surprise, there was orange everywhere.
As the morning progressed periodic gun fire would erupt, but nothing ever emerged. Suddenly gunshots were heard, with each blast getting closer to my position. My son had a look at two does in full stride, but the shot was just too long. Two other hunters unloaded their rifles with 10 misses. The deer were approaching fast, but, unfortunately, even with a perfect target zone, I had other hunters behind my shot and could not take my long awaited shot at some meat for the freezer. The rest of the weekend went off without any other excitement.
On Tuesday, we set out for a two hour afternoon hunt in the Eden, WI area. A quick drive of a small marsh produced no results. My son, Travis, set up on a tree line on top of a hill on one side of a marsh, and I positioned myself on an alfalfa field on the other side. After about an hour, three midsized deer worked their way onto the field feeding on the alfalfa.
After about 15 minutes of observation, and with the hope that a buck would emerge before closing diminishing, I decided to take a highly improbable uphill long shot (with the shotgun) to fill our first tag. With careful aim, I dropped the deer in its tracks. Moments later I took a second shot to complete the harvest. The two remaining deer worked their way into the marsh. After 27 years, I could still make the improbable shot.
The next day, we worked the same 2 hour timeframe with my son in a different location -a tree stand. I had given him the option to hunt the alfalfa field but he opted for the tree stand. With almost 8 tags to fill from the rest of the group (I still had multiple tags left myself), the plan was to harvest another doe. Almost like clockwork, the two other deer emerged on to the field again. I had set up at the other end of the field due to a wind direction change and previous movements of the deer from the day prior.
Well, I was proven wrong as the deer emerged on the opposite end of the field. Again I waited for the buck, which never emerged. After about 30 minutes of observation the deer started working back toward the marsh, with the deer being at the far end of my shooting range. Could I duplicate the ridiculously long shot from the day before? Careful aim resulted in a missed shot, but the second shot appeared to be a hit, as I saw the deer drop from view below the hill’s crest. As I walked up the hill, I was mentally patting myself on the back for the marksmanship I had been exhibiting.
Reaching the crest of the hill, two deer were staring back at me – alive. Unprepared to shoot, they had a good head start back to the swamp. My finally three shots missed their white tails as they bounded into the marsh. No blood trail was found, and my phone was now receiving the “was that you?” text messages from the rest of the party. My day was done, and I walked back to the truck in disappointment.
As I was packing up, I heard a shot ring out nearby about 7 minutes before close. Soon, my son texted that he had shot a doe he had been watching for a while. The deer ended up being a nub buck and was his first deer harvested ever. He was so excited; as was I for him. His excitement was overwhelming, and you could see that he was now forever hooked on hunting.
I anticipate the next few years will allow my son and I hunt together again. I want to thank Cody Maeder, who asked us to hunt with his party, and did much of the heavy lifting of the week.
Because of Cody’s efforts, a new tradition may have been forged for our families. As sportsmen, getting other individuals involved in our passions is the greatest goal for the sport, in my opinion. This time around, I was the student, rather than the teacher. With more to learn, I am sure to return to the woods again soon.