This year was perhaps my best deer season ever. Let’s recap..
Regular Firearms Season
This was the first time in 15 or so years that my dad has hunted with me. While he didn’t get to fire a shot it was great having the old man at deer camp to swap stories with. Hopefully we can keep this going as a tradition.
As always we had to spruce up deer camp a little bit. So this year we added lighting:
I stepped outside of my comfort zone and left the deer stand and opted to hunt the ridges (which was physically taxing!). This blessed me with the biggest buck of my lifetime (which isn’t saying a whole lot) – a seven point, 159.98 pound buck.
That buck decided to fall all the way down the bluff and enter a farmer’s pasture. A pasture in which he rents out to campers. So there are campers surrounded by cows. Weird. Getting the deer out was a pain due to one hot-head camper that didn’t think I had any right to retrieve my deer. Long story short, I got my deer.
That deer scored me first place for the 160 and under division in the Big Buck Challenge (www.usbigbuck.com). First place earned me a 5′ x 10′ utility trailer! This was undoubtedly my 15 minutes of fame that put me on cloud nine for about a month. Make that two months.
My cousin and I were lucky enough to get drawn for the special management hunt at Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve near Prior Lake, Minnesota. With UNLIMITED tags, we had high hopes. The first day was cold, windy, and the only deer I saw were 2 does and 2 fawns 5 minutes before shooting time. My cousin kept getting busted before he could get his gun up.
Day 2 was much different. I did get to shoot early in the day but it was a swing and a miss (I’m blaming the brush). So I got mobile (since that worked for me earlier in the season) and began slowly creeping through the woods. I jumped a doe that was bedded down under a fallen tree and she ran over a ridge. Thinking maybe I could get a shot at her I went to the top of the ridge and meandered in the direction she went. Out of the corner of my eye I saw three deer crossing a land bridge between two sloughs and walking in my direction! So I reverse course, go to the side of the ridge where the deer couldn’t see me and circle back to try and cut them off. My guesstimate paid off because when I came to the top of the ridge the adult doe was standing broadside at 75 yards. I put the crosshairs on her shoulder and the CVA Accura ignited 110 grains of Triple 7 powder, sending a 300 grain Parker Productions Ballistic Extreme down range dropping the doe in her tracks.
The other two ‘fawns’ (it’s a management hunt, everything was a target, and they didn’t have spots) didn’t know what happened and just stood there. After fumbling for my reloads I reloaded as fast as I could, found the next deer standing broadside and fired. The deer bolted 10 feet and dropped. At this point my adrenaline levels were through the roof!
The third deer was still there and eating acorns. So I reloaded again (still fumbling), and shouldered the Accura and found the third deer facing me and trying to figure out what I am. My only shot was a neck shot at 65 yards. I centered the crosshairs right below the white patch on her neck and fired. She dropped instantly. All of this happened within 3 minutes (it could have been faster but time flies when you’re dropping deer left and right).
We spent the rest of the day pulling deer out of the woods. Another first was we got to put our custom made ladder stand game getters to work. When the idea was conceived in The Wizard’s head, I’m sure three deer on one ladder stand was never in the vision. But it definitely got the job done! For the record, I would limit it to two deer per ladder stand going forward.
Muzzleloader season found me on private land for the first time this year. It was my wife’s first time out this year and we spent some quality time in the blind overlooking a deer highway. Apparently there was a traffic jam somewhere because no deer made in our view.
I also spent a few hours on some public wildlife management areas. My hopes never get too high this time of year and it was as expected. No deer. But four deer in a year is a pretty fantastic year in my book.
One thing I did notice while hunting public land was how cordial and courteous other hunters were. I think people are starting to understand that we’re all out there trying to have fun and nobody should expect to have the woods to themselves when hunting public land. Definitely a good sign for deer hunting in Minnesota.