Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Report From the Northwoods

This weekend was the beginning of the Minnesota deer hunting season. As in the last 25 years I hunted with my good friend Jack Taylor. Jack has a cabin on Platte Lake, west of Onamia and we use it as the hunting base. About 5 years ago he befriended a local land owner Rich, who was more than happy to have a couple more guys hunting his land. Rich has turned into a fabulous friend, and in turn we have met a number of his friends Eugene, Kevin, Austin, his brother Bobby and a new guy this year "Z". I started a Friday night tradition making Steak a la Kienitz for everyone. This is a special recipe from my good friend Troy who would take thick juicy steak, sprinkle Tabasco sauce, hot buffalo wing sauce, and hot salsa on it and let it sit for a few hours before putting it on the grill. It is quite a surprise to have one of the most flavorful steaks ever. Jack brings the potatoes and Steve does the Coleslaw for a royal feast.

Rich's land is somewhat low and in a wet year it can be quite an adventure getting back to the high ground. We can get back with our ATV's but after a few trips it can get pretty hairy. I hunt in the middle of a small peninsula which has an adjacent tamarack stand with a neck down area. When I learned to deer hunt in Wisconsin we never hunted out of a tree stand however in Minnesota, it was the preferred way. My first tree stand was a homemade contraption made of plywood, hand made tree spikes and a seat belt out of a junked car. We would use screw steps until one day I stepped on one half way up a tree and it broke. After visualizing a certain part of my anatomy hanging from one of the steps I moved up to larger, safer stands and ladders. Today I have a nice 18 foot ladder stand complete with a full body harness and arm rests strong enough to allow me to sleep in total safety for hours at a time. The picture is of me 22 feet up a tree waiting for the big buck. I am not much for self portraits and this was the best out of about 10. Yes, if I look bundled up it was because it was very windy and cold.

I sit in my stand almost all day, taking an hour break for lunch. I usually have a couple of MRE's for the weekend with this years menu being Sloppy Joe's on Saturday and pork ribs with clam chowder on Sunday. Sitting in the stand is very relaxing and gives one time to reflect on the past. The first time I went deer hunting was with my uncle Dewey. He had 4 girls and was probably as excited as I was. My dad deer hunted however like many guys, he went up north near Solon Springs, WI with his hunting buddies. I could never understand why my dad did not take us deer hunting, however today I realize that this was his only time he could get away with his friends. No doubt there was many a beer consumed on those trips, much like they were 15 years ago when I went up north. 35 years ago you could really hunt anywhere around Eleva. Few if any posted their land and the deer population was a fraction of what it is today. Most of the land was owned by farmers who had better things to do than chase around a deer for a week. Deer hunting in Wisconsin always included the Thanksgiving weekend with some schools shut down for the week and everyone had the bonus long weekend to hunt. Deer drives were very popular. After the first weekend guys would meet at the bar or restaurant and discuss the days strategy. Usually 8 to 10 guys would group and head to a number of predetermined wood lots, posting half the guys around the woods and the other half would "drive" the deer towards them. This was a very successful way of bagging deer however it's surprising no one got shot. Any deer shot was destined to hang in one of your trees long enough to make sure everyone knew you were successful. Unfortunately there is no deer hanging in my tree at the moment. I will probably go back this weekend as you see in the picture, the deer are there, just need to get somewhat closer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice story

from your buddy Kevin