I do not know if I can ever recall being so excited to hunt whitetail deer with a bow. In the past, hunting ducks, bear, moose and elk, along with trapping and hunting deer with a gun have been much of my fall pastime. Bow hunts would still take place, but they were not big part of my late-summer thoughts.
This summer I have been thinking that I want to do some serious bow hunting, and with that thought, I have to find a place to go for an early-season adventure.
A week ago my thoughts were that I would head up to the Turtle Flambeau Flowage and totally hide out for four days. My plan was that I would go up this week, scout by using some trail cameras, put up a portable tree stand, and sit in a tree from five in the afternoon until mid morning the next day.
That plan vanished when I remembered that Iron County had some serious winter kill, and so I came up with a new one. That plan was to head down to Columbia County, put my canoe in on the Wisconsin River, head to a creek a few miles away where there are no roads or fields boarding it, paddle up the creek and find “deer paradise.” In reality, I did this last December with a muzzleloader and harvested a 6-point buck on the first night, but had never explored this vast marsh for a bowhunt.
Thursday, Aug. 2
High 73, low 48
I think it is important to mention that I kind of stink at bow hunting, and like everything else in life, it is due to a lack of effort. So here is my rather unusual plan. I am going to canoe until I hit a very desolate and marshy creek. Next, I am going to paddle up the creek for about 2 miles until I reach so many dead-falls that obstruct my way that I have to walk.
In this case, all foot travel will be done wearing hip boots and most walking is done in a marsh. I walked right by where I harvested the 6-pointer, and paddled past where I have caught many trout, and trapped many raccoon and muskrat. I also paddled past two places where Selina’s golden retriever Fire has made two blind double-duck retrieves.
At first I did not travel with my portable stand or backpack, I just explored. The area would be best described as muddy with plenty of tall marsh grass and lots of raccoon sign. It was also very easy to fall, which I found out more than once, as dead-falls were blocked from view by tall grass. Falling is an art, and my plan always is to not panic when you know the ship is going down.
I did not see much deer sign, and that was because of the tall grass, but I did find an area where there is a marshy forest that borders a tag alder swamp. I set three trail cameras out and then put my portable tree stand in a tree with a plan of sitting in it from 5 in the evening until about 9 the next morning.
It was 8 p.m. and I was really loving life in total comfort as I watched day become night 15 feet above the forest floor. I was positive that I was going to see several trophy bucks.
At about 9 p.m. it was now getting dark. I had quite the show as lots of Canada geese flew right over my head, but no deer came by. At this point I realized that my pants and the inside of my hip boots were wet and I was not very comfortable. I also realized that I forgot my headlamp.
By 11 p.m. I was down right cold. I came up with a plan to take off my hip boots, put on my rain gear and hopefully my pants would dry.
By 2 a.m my pants had gone from wet to damp and I was loving life even though I had not seen a deer.
At 4 a.m. it started to get light, and at 4:45 a.m., even though I was cold, I was fine, and I knew I was going to see a big buck soon.
Long story short, the geese flew right over my head again. A doe came by and busted me and I think this spot will be very good during the rut, but not until then.
For those of you that live in this part of the state I want to tell you a fact. I stayed in the tree until 9:30 a.m. Then I did the one-hour job of getting the stand down and back to the canoe. What was really cool was that on the paddle back down the creek I saw some very large tracks, and was pretty sure what they were.
I beached my canoe and clear as day saw where a large black bear had swam across the creek, got out of the creek and traveled through the marsh.
If anyone has an idea for a cool spot for a bow hunt, I am all ears!