I recently returned from what has been the longest adventure I have had in years. My bow hunting, camping, canoe trip to Pepin and Buffalo counties, to Tiffany Bottoms, was to start on a Friday and end on a Wednesday. A few observations of a few big bucks and I added five well spent days to my adventure. There’s a ton to write about with this week’s column, so I’ll be vague and all over the map.
When this adventure ended, I would have canoeed ten times from my camp, one mile in the dark each morning and one mile in the dark to camp ten times. I did twenty hunts and didn’t miss a single one.
The swamp I hunt is full of beavers and there are two interesting stories about it. One is the warning shot up front. In total darkness, at least 80 times, I saw beavers snapping their tails on the water to alert other beavers to my presence. Kits that weigh maybe ten pounds do so from at least 15 feet away. Adults seem to enjoy trying to do it at five feet and hitting me with water.
Another interesting fact is that where I hunt there is a steep cliff on one side of the water and a semi-flooded forest on the other. Since I’ve been here I’ve seen the beavers add six inches of mud to the top of their dam and they’re now flooding the forest.
This morning I was sitting in my booth and saw, if I had harvested it, what would have been the biggest of my life. I am talking about maybe 19 inches but very tall and a lot of mass. When I saw him he was only 30 meters away but there was brush. At 25 yards, I could have shot the top half of the body with the rest obstructed by brush, so I chose not to.
Just like that, my trophy took a trail away from me, and the game was over. This leads to a very common conversation in the bow hunting world. I am sixty years old, I climb 16 feet in a tree, it is below zero, a male passes and here are some scenarios.
My balance is excellent, but I’m sixty, not thirty. It can really affect your shooting with a compound bow. It is very easy to get stopped by Mr. Buck when you are in a tree trying to shoot a bow in cold weather and sixties.
Two years ago I was at this same spot and a nice ten point gave me an easy shot. I was halfway through my pull and my shoulder got stuck, so the buck pulled away.
Every hunter will pass this way or go to a crossbow or give up the hunt. Today’s money would have been killed with a crossbow.
I rowed in the dark, climbed a tree in the dark, saw an average of one deer per day, but still haven’t touched it for today and I love life. At 7:45 a.m. I saw a buck about 80 meters away about to cross a swamp and walked towards me. I’ve never been a big guy or anything at all, but the last few years I’ve let little ones go by.
Today is the seventh day of this trip and so far I have seen six bucks and four does. This money was world class. I’m by no means exaggerating when I say he was the biggest buck I had ever seen in the wild and no one in my gang killed that much money. Thirty yards before I got to my stand and in some brush he took a right that would take him away from me and that was basically the dagger of this trip.
I lived a simple life for 11 full days and loved every minute of it. The majority of my food has been grown at home or captured or slaughtered during my adventures. My work ethic was great and I have to admit that the crossbow issue is of great concern to me. I also could have collected a ten-point, not huge but pretty on the third day if I had used a crossbow. I won’t shoot a deer over 25 yards with a compound bow and in reality my comfort zone ends at 22.
During this trip I had a lot of friends on adventures texting me and one sent me a picture of a buck moose in Adams County and I heard that there were two, rifle hunters had better think before they shoot.
Also, my good buddies Jeff Moll and Doug Cibulka were on an annual duck hunt on the Menominee River in Marinette County, and it was great fun communicating with them via text message while sitting in a tree.
Soon we will be hunting fish on the frozen water, enjoy each day as if it were the last! Sunset.