For the first time in my life, I attended the Minnesota Deer Classic, which took place over the weekend at the State Fair Coliseum in St. Paul. Thought I could get some tips both for my upcoming wild turkey hunting seasons this spring and for deer hunting in the fall.
It wasn’t easy finding time to go. I spent most of Saturday at the state high school hockey tournament, taking photos at both the Class A and AA championship games. Then, I had two photo shoots on Sunday.
Fortunately, there was a window of about two hours to check out the show. What I noticed most inside the coliseum were antlers and lots of them – and very, very large. Seeing huge rack after huge rack made me ask myself a fundamental question: Why don’t I see any bucks like these when I’m in the woods?
I’m not sure why, but it’s nice to know they’re at least out there. Hopefully, with at least another decade of deer hunting left, I’ll encounter a trophy like these.
In the meantime, I’m looking for ways to improve my hunting skills. One way came via a product I discovered at the show. It’s called FireBUGS trail lights and will help me with a very annoying problem – finding my deer stand in the dark.
I started using trail tacks this year and they did work. However, you need to turn on some kind of light so they will illuminate in the dark as you’re making your way through the woods. That risks being seen by deer and spooking them. FireBUGS are small, battery-powered lights that are advertised to be visible for up to .8 of a mile away. They are dark during the day, then light up at night. They come in both red and green and are said not to spook game.
I got a nice deal at the show – six lights, plus 12 batteries for $15, half the price that they sell for online. They are supposed to last two weeks or more, so you can attach one to your stand and to key spots along the way a week before the season, and you’re good to go.
There is one stand I hunt out of during the gun season that has always been tricky to find in the dark. It’s only about 30 yards in the woods, and I can see it plainly in the daylight. But, darned if it doesn’t become very tough to find in the dark. I can remember two mornings in particular when I ended up wandering around looking for it in the dark. In one case, I thought it had been stolen.
The good news is, on both occasions, I eventually found the stand – and killed a buck from it both times.
This year, I had a little trouble finding it, but not so bad. And, after sitting in it for more than eight hours, I killed a nice 8-point buck on Opening Day of the gun season.
Another interesting booth was the Wall of Shame, put up by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. There were some impressive mounts (see photo above), plus the set of antlers from the now-famous Cannon Falls buck that was poached in the fall of 2009. It is believed by the DNR to be the highest scoring 8-point buck ever taken, with a net score of 185 inches. Most hunters will never even see a buck in their lifetime that would score that high, no matter how many points it has (generally, more points yield a higher score).
I’m glad I got to see the rack, and I’m really glad I bought a set of FireBUGS. I’m always happy to be able to find a good product at a low price.
Q: What is the best hunting product you’ve ever bought for under $20?