I am sitting at the driver’s seat of the Chevy Hotel, somewhere in Pepin County, writing this week’s column. In the last 32 years I have never written this column on a computer in my truck.
So here is the deal. I am camping, it is day six of my bow hunt. I have left camp in the dark by canoe and every day I have come back to camp in the dark by canoe.
To be perfectly honest, I am as weathered as possible and still walking. I am supposed to be headed home today but have just decided to stay another 48 to 72 hours. The following is some brief details of my life.
Sunday, Oct. 31
High 56, low 32
It is about a one-mile paddle to where I am bow hunting. Friday night was my first hunt. I have two doe tags and my buck tag; I want to make meat and, as usual, enjoy life. On Friday I saw one doe but unfortunately, she saw me first. She was crossing a marsh and I was going from a standing position to a sitting in my stand and lo and behold she spotted me first.
On Saturday I did not see one deer. Today I had better luck, kind of. At about 8:15 this morning, I saw a cow doe about 40 yards away in the forest and I am thinking about backstraps and one less tag to fill. Too bad for me she decided to go in a valley instead of towards me. Five minutes later I am pretty stoked about my experience and here comes a 10-point buck following her trail via his nose, step for step.
That buck was literally seeing with his nose. Five minutes after that what may be the biggest spike buck that I have ever seen comes down the same trail as the doe and 10-pointer, and makes a B line right at me. I am thinking venison and glory, when he was five yards away, I made the “it’s too early in this trip to fill my buck tag with this buck” decision. In all honesty, this spiker was not a one-and-a-half year-old deer. He had a very heavy body and really large spikes.
So, I am living in a tree, tent, or canoe and on the canoe end I have made two new friends. On Saturday I met Lyle Bataglia and Tom Nissley, of Plum City. These guys are trapping muskrat and are very cool dudes, about as outdoorsy and natural as you can get. While they were setting their traps on Saturday, they caught seven muskrats. We have had great conversations every day when I paddle in for my lunch break.
Before I forget here are a couple of handy tips. When I got lost two weeks ago in a deep, dark swamp I unknowingly destroyed both of my LaCrosse Trapper hip boots, and on my first hunt of this trip I found out. The following day I used one, 2.5-gallon zip lock bag for each foot and other than sweat, my feet remained dry.
Also, it took me four days to find my toothpaste. I put sea salt on my toothbrush and voila, my mouth is as fresh as a 60-year-old man living under these conditions can get.
Here is another story. I am exploring, I see a deer on what is a ridgeline/shoreline and it’s a buck. The wind pushed me to shore within 20 feet of the buck, who does not know of my presence. Must be the sea salt, it was a small fork horn. I let him live and when my canoe touched the shore, he saw me and said goodbye.
Next, most people are aware that it is not cool to shoot or hunt any deer other than a super trophy buck. I say BS to that. Last year I killed a very large, 10-point buck, Selina whacked a spike and we put a doe in the freezer as well. The reality of sitting at the dinner table is this; the 10-pointer is like eating an old bull compared to a prime steer. Selina’s spiker is pure pleasure, like the steer that was raised for the county fair.
Sure, if you have the income, you can make sausage sticks out of the old goat, but this low-income meat and potatoes guy is always thinking venison steaks sauteed with butter and onions. A meal like that makes me a lean, mean, fighting machine.
So, I see I am about out of space and that sun clock is telling me that I need to paddle a mile, hike in a ways, and climb a tree.
I am on overtime and am just about to the “any buck will do” kind of point. Super spiker beware, I want your back straps in a fillet.