Every year deer hunting comes around it’s a time to remember all the could of dones, should of dones, successes and disappointments from the previous years hunt. As with most years, we attempt to prepare and organize everything; put stands up and down but we are most likely, behind schedule. If our daily work routines wouldn’t interfere we would be fine but the reality is, we need to work to hunt.
On Saturday morning November 7th, I was joined by my daughter Christie, her fiance Neal, my brother Ron, his son Mik, son-in-law Freddie my life-long friend Noel and Ron’s Brother In Law Jeff and his son Josh. So as you can see it’s a family affair and I’m sure most people will agree that the camaraderie among a hunting party is a special bond.
As the sunrise approached, it was probably the most quiet I can ever remember sitting in a deer stand. Besides the cloudy morning, the temperature was near perfect and the little to no wind, provided a very relaxing setting. As I scanned across the field and grove I was sitting next to, I was alerted many times by a good population of red squirrels that appear to be well nourished….I have never seen such fat and happy squirrels that were obviously very energetic since they continued to run up and down trees and across the leaves, that always mimiced a deer approaching….
As the morning progressed, many deer were sighted but there were a couple “stories” . Freddie had an ancounter with a buck and a herd of does at first light but for “reasons unknown” could not get positioned to shoot. My brother Ron who has more hooks above and around his stand for hanging everything from “soup to nuts”; had a buck run behind his stand. While attempting to find a clear path through the clutter, he had two shots at a full gallop, which did not find the mark. To Ron’s defense, behind his stand there was new windfall that was not cleared out and some other natural obstacles so I will give him a “hall pass” on this one…..I do know that he had made some changes to his stand, so I will keep you posted.
As we all converged and had lunch at about 11:30 it was determined that we would all go back on stand for the remainder of the day. As everyone dispersed after lunch, Christie and I drove home to check with the grand-daughters and Grandma (Lisa) and also get some new boots for Christie since her feet were cold. It was 1:45 when I crawled back up in stand an settled in for the afternoon.
As the afternoon went on, nothing new was happening and based on a significant reduction in the shots fired around the area, the deer had decided to lay down and wait for the cover of darkness! Right on cue, as the sun set, there were a few shots fired in the area but no one in our party. We did spot a few does and possibly a buck or two chasing but nothing in range; opening day had passed with a few chances, but nothing harvested.
Sunday morning began the same as the opener but it’s Noel’s turn for the “story”. About 8:15 I heard three shots from behind my stand in a small woodlot where Noel has his permantent stand. Noel did call me and ask if I could come over and discuss the plan for looking for a “wounded” deer…..As I approached Noel he indicated to have me walk through the grove from the north to the south and hopefully determine if the deer had laid down or was piled up in the grove. Keep in mind, when deer hunting comes around and the ground is dry and hard, tracking becomes an issue and finding deer that don’t bleed immediately, can test the most experienced hunter. Ironically, we did receive some moisture on Saturday and Saturday night so the ground was damp but tracking was hard. I did cut some tracks that appeared to have been recent since the leaves were turned over and the dry side was up. As I followed, I encountered a few small scrapes and some new rubs on some willows and small trees and ended up about 45 yards from Noel’s stand. As we continued to search methodically, we determined it was a clear miss…..
As the party reassembled and had some coffee and sandwiches we decided to do some small drives. The first drive we did push some deer out but as is normally the case, the posters are not in the right time but the deer did run to another area we hunted, so we organized our next plan and continued on.
As we positioned Mik, Freddie and Noel as posters; the rest of the party started walking towards a couple cattail swamps that usually have deer and with a couple already running there, our optimism was high! When Josh, Jeff, Ron and I were about 100 yards from the truck a nice buck jumped up on some private ground east of the swamp that we could not hunt on and 3 deer came running from the west, so before we even got started, 4 deer were running the wrong way, hmm…? We reached the first cattail swamp and no more than 45 seconds later a deer jumped up in front of Ron and with me on his right, hollered out,”buck, shoot”! As the deer lunged forward, I shouldered my Benelli, which I have a scope on and seen some deer and mostly weeds; first shot behind him, second shot the deer had an instant headache. Not where I would like to shoot them, but it was down and I guess my lead was a little aggressive but effective. So after about 15 hours of hunting we had our first deer!!
The remainder of the day started and ended as it had started. A few deer spotted but nothing in range. We will continue our hunt sporadically throughout the week and thru next weekend, so I will keep you posted.
Last weekend our luck continued to dwindle since we spotted many does and fawns but no bucks. With the weather changes that we experienced and the accompanied wind, most of the deer were very content to lay low and only come out at sunset. Our trail cams showed most of the buck movement was done in the evening so we know they are there, just need to be patient. In addition to being nocturnal, the rub and scrape activity has proven to be more active, too.
Overall it was disappointing deer season so our sights will be set on the muzzle-loader season in Minnesota and the upcoming South Dakota deer opener this coming weekend. In the past, the South Dakota season has always provided a positive impact since our success has been very consistent. I will be joined by my son Tyler during this trip so for the first time all year, we will have the opportunity to hunt together. Something we took for granted unfortunately, until Tyler moved to Dickinson, ND in June….
Joining us on this trip will be Noel Nemitz, Dan Rathman and Jeff Clausing; all from the Twin Cities area. In addition to deer hunting, we will also be doing some pheasant and turkey hunting, so our time spent in SD will be active.