Sunday, November 9, 2008
The arrows were flying
For the first time since last March we headed north without kayaks on the roof. This was the weekend to get the deer stands ready for the opening of deer gun season in Wisconsin on 22 November and I thought that eliminating paddle temptation would be a good plan. Other members of the camp would be bow hunting but I didn't buy a license this year. A combination of limited hunting weekends plus aggravation at the State of Wisconsin for charging out-of-state landowners the full non resident fee, combined to make me decide to take a year off. Charging taxpayers in the state, who don't utilize many of the services their taxes support, full $165 out of state license fee rankles me considerably. There needs to be a middle ground but since we out-of-state taxpayers have no representation locally or statewide this will be never happen. As James Otis, a Boston politician circa 1775 famously said, "Taxation without representation is tyranny". And I'm confident the tyranny will continue indefinitely.
It was a fine weekend however, and winter was in the air. Rain turned to sleet and then to snow on Saturday but there were breaks in the weather. Bucks are in the rut this time of the year as is evidenced by ground scrapes, where they paw all the leaves away from an area and add their footprint 'signature', and rubs where they scrape the bark off trees with their antlers. Deer are running all over the place, lovin' on their minds, and its a great time to be up in the bowstand. This weekend I had the rare pleasure of having a cup of coffee with the hunters before daybreak and then crawling back into bed for a couple hours. I was just starting breakfast for the crew when GurneyGranny stormed in. "I missed an eight point buck because something's wrong with this GD bow! This was GG's first year of bowhunting and an 8 pt buck with a bow would not only be quite a coup but it would also get the rack into the prestigious "Eight or Better Lounge", (aka the porch) at the camp. My first thought was an accusation of 'buck fever', that malady that causes your heart to race, breathing to become shallow, and arrows to fly over the backs of deer when you glimpse the big buck. I checked out the bow however and it was indeed an equipment failure; a shaft that held a small plastic keeper had slid forward, releasing the keeper and knocking the arrow off the knock when the bow was drawn. Extremely disappointing when you're out all morning in the nasty weather.
But that was not the only eight point buck that was missed last weekend. On Sunday morning TheKingOfIronwoodIsland came dragging back to camp half frozen after sitting in the 26F (-3C) weather. He had his game camera, which had been out all night, and wanted to see what had wandered past his stand. He mumbled something about wanting to see 'if the one I missed' is on there. My ears perked up. "One you missed today?", I asked. His stand that was relocated after the timber sale was called 'Four Strikes' for now obvious reasons. All of the stands have names denoting some event, usually mildly humorous, that occurred there. Excalibur, Wounded Knee, Twin Towers, Freefall, and the Invisible Woman are all well known locations that anyone in camp could walk to as easily as a downtown building or park in the city. Sure enough, the lucky 8 pointer was on the camera and the story came out. "There were does watching so I had to move slowly, it was a brand new stand I was unfamiliar with, my fingers were frozen, the arrow hit a twig, etc, etc,. Dr Dave's diagnosis was immediate: Buck Fever! Dr Podman and Dr GurneyGranny offered a second and third opinion but the diagnosis remained the same. The sheepish yet guilty expression below says it all.
Its actually kind of cool that after all the years and all the deer hunting that a person can still get all fired up with adrenaline to the point that something almost automatic becomes difficult. Walking the woods with the VOR and pointing out the buck sign has me all fired up for deer season. Frying up the last package of venison bacon is another major motivator. Maybe I should have bow hunted and maybe $165 isn't so bad for the priveledge of filling your freezer with three deer. The lure of the kayak on Lake Superior is powerful but the lure of the hunt trumps it. I am officially in rut!