Is it possible that nearly 600,000 people are outdoors for the weekend and many will remain for most of the next week? As mentioned last weekend by big game wildlife biologist, Jeremy Holtz, this outdoor activity creates approximately 16,000 Wisconsin jobs and pumps nearly 1.4 billion dollars into our economy. This activity, of course, is the annual Wisconsin gun deer season.
For many Wisconsin families, the gun-deer season is an activity that is planned for all year long. The Wisconsin gun deer season is much more than an opportunity to shoot a deer. Some of us have been scouting for the signs that there are some deer around the area where we hunt since last year’s deer season. Even when we are grouse hunting, we are looking for deer sign.
As mentioned, deer hunting for many of us is much more than killing a deer. We have been doing a variety of small maintenance projects over the past month on our hunting shack. For us, the hunting shack is the gathering place for our family and friends.
In camp right now are my regular hunting and fishing partner, the “Osseo Jinx,” Tom Twesme, and his son, Troy. Troy is teaching at the Air Force Academy in Colorado and flew in for the season. During the past 20 years he has flown here to hunt with us all but two years. Our son, Craig, and his teenage son, Jack, are with us. To round out opening weekend, longtime friend Duane Frey is hunting with us. During the nine-day season there will be several hunters stopping in to hunt a few days and some will stay for a night or two. There will be an ample supply of laughs each evening. Craig always says that deer season is the only time that he gets the opportunity to talk with some of the fellows that he went to high school with. Craig lives in Appleton and does not get back to our area often.
This will be the 59th year that I will spend most of the deer season in the woods. Even though I have spent that many years hunting deer, I still have trouble sleeping on the Friday night before opening day. Over those many years, there have been several seasons when it was easy to fill our deer tags. Then, during the past several seasons, we have had to hunt very hard to kill one or two bucks.
One opening weekend that stands out in my memory happened when Craig was about 14 years old. He was hunting with a new .30-06 semi-automatic rifle. At that time, the “Jinx” was farming near Osseo and we were hunting on his farm.
Craig was sitting on a straw bale that Tom had dropped in a small grove of oak trees. He was about 200 yards from me and below a slight rise in the picked cornfield. Around 8 a.m. I heard a shot from the direction where Craig was sitting. I am sure that it did not take any time at all and I was standing next to Craig. He was shaking a bit and out of breath as he tried to tell me what had happened.
He described watching a doe through his scope, trying to grow antlers on the deer, as it walked next to the oaks. He convinced himself that it was a doe and lowered his rifle. Much to his surprise, he saw another deer walking in the same place that the doe had walked. He said he scoped the deer and this time he could see a nice eight-point rack on the buck’s head. Craig took a rest aim on a tree, put the cross hairs on the buck’s front shoulder and squeezed the trigger. When the gun went off, the buck disappeared and Craig was worried that he had missed. He pointed to where the buck was when he shot and just shook his head.
I told Craig to stay on his bale and direct me to where he last saw the buck. About halfway to where he last saw the buck, I was able to see half an antler on the ground under a small tree. I motioned to Craig to come to where I was. The buck was a nice sized eight-pointer with a well-polished rack. Craig’s shot hit the buck right behind the shoulder and through the heart. Those antlers still hang on the wall in his home. Hopefully Craig’s son, Jack, will get the opportunity to shoot a buck this season.
We have been disappointed at the lack of deer sign in the Monico area. Of course, we could hunt in different areas but we have invested in property and a shack in that area.
The wish from our house and the C&R Spike Camp is for a good, safe deer season. Following the gun deer season, there will be a week of muzzleloader hunting for deer.
The question to ponder is, “Will you hunt differently if you hunt alone or with someone else?”
The Musky Fraternity will miss Rollie Besset, former owner of Rollie & Helen’s Musky Pro Shop, who passed away last week.
Have a great, safe hunt!
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.