It was another successful week of Wisconsin deer gun season in northern Wisconsin, although I don't recall a deer season that I'd call unsuccessful even if no deer were shot. This year we opened with the GurneyGranny taking a large 6 pointer at 8:30am opening day and the KingOfIronwoodIsland following up at 9am with a bigger 10 pointer. Podman took an equally large 9 pointer as daylight faded on Monday afternoon and RugerMatty took a pepperoni doe (his favorite venison product) about 1pm Friday. I finished things out with a medium sized 6 pointer about 2:30 that same afternoon. The weather was cold for the most part, which made for some cold tree stand sitting, and it also froze the viscous red clay. The wheelers got frozen solid a few times from crossing the creek, which resulted in pounding, cursing, jumping on the shocks, frenetic kicking, and and yanking them back and forth to try to free up the wheels. We also had snow, about 7" in two small storms, which let us know what creatures were out running around in the woods besides us. As I said it was a pretty good week.
I had a conversation with the owner, founder, and chief supervisor of the camp, HuntmasterSteve. We talked about the changes over the years since 1982 over some Black Bush Irish whiskey and Early Times bourbon, and how it might be fun to have a retro hunt. "I'd like to see no baiting, no wheelers, and no cameras" was the discussion topic. I could easily do without the baiting or the cameras but these days if you don't have something to hold the deer on the your land, the surrounding landowners will make sure the deer are on their land with massive feeding. Self defense baiting. I like the cameras and its a similar feeling to a kid on Christmas morning when the camera is checked to see who visited during the night, but I could certainly do without them. Regarding the four wheelers, I have unfavorable memories of dragging deer up to a couple miles, sweating profusely, heart pumping, clothing soaked, and having to cross to multiple creek ravines. I believe I'll vote on the side of the four wheelers for that job, especially for we greybeards. One thing that hasn't changed since the beginning is that we have welcomed women to camp since day one. None of our surrounding neighbors can say that and more than a few have looked askance at us but all of us look at it as completely normal.
MadCityMary, wife of HuntmasterSteve, has been hunting with us since day one. She is normally a first weekend/last weekend attendee and has shot a number of bucks. The GurneyGranny is a more recent addition and has hunted as hard if not harder than any of us and has the racks in the Eight or Better Lounge to prove it. Quarters can get a bit snug in a 20x24 foot building but the addition of the porch, the famous Eight or Better Lounge referred to above, and last year's Cutup Shack have spread things out a bit. Privacy can still be a bit scarce and walking around in underwear, slippers, and a hat is the normal uniform for happy hour. I personally find that I can't cook nearly as well with pants on and have avoided wearing them for decades now. Bodily functions can be an issue as well at times. At any time a person could walk out the door and find someone peeing off the north deck. However this too has become a gender equitable activity since the invention of the GoGirl. As you can see from the photo, there is potential for a back up at the outhouse, but people pretty much take things in stride. Everyone is comfortable, camp chores are accomplished equitably, and most everyone takes care of handling and processing their own deer. Gender lines have pretty much been erased and that's a good thing.
Once again most of us have hormone and antibiotic free, extremely low fat, tender, free range red meat in the freezer. KingIronwood and I dropped off our trim at Jim's Meat Market in Iron River, WI and will soon have roughly 120 pounds of wieners, bologna, pepper sticks, bratwurst, and venison bacon to get us through the year, not to mention the steaks and chops that we cut up in the warmth and comfort of the new Cutup Shack. I anticipate and savor my nine days in the 19th century every year and so does everyone else, male or female. While I may not have any lovely backlit photos of my grandma cleaning her Browning A-bolt, .257 Roberts caliber, I do believe its a fine thing and part of what makes our camp what it is.