Wisconsin whitetails

October 13, 2008

Faith Outdoors

My son, Andy, was excited about the youth deer hunt in Wisconsin over the weekend. He was looking for his first deer and hoped it would come Saturday or Sunday.

We opened the weekend on a nice piece of land near Somerset owned by Buzz Kriesel, a parishioner of St. Michael in Stillwater. Joining us were Mark Druffner of Hudson, who also belongs to St. Michael, and his two oldest sons, Jake and Julian. Jake is Andy’s classmate in 10th grade at Trinity School in Eagan.

Buzz had three spots set up for us. Andy and I took a two-man ladder stand in a cow pasture where deer like to cross. Jake and Julian hunted in ground blinds in the woods. I had planned to take my shotgun in case we saw any wild turkeys, but I forgot to take it out of the van. That would prove costly.

None of us saw any deer Saturday morning, but a flock of turkeys showed up about 10 a.m. and entered the cow pasture about 100-125 yards away. I called to them just to see what they would do. They all looked, then continued going through the pasture.

Surprisingly, within a few minutes, they turned and started walking right toward us. I got upset that I didn’t bring my shotgun. It looked like they were going to come right to us. So, I climbed down the stand and ran toward them to try to break up the flock. If you do this, you can sit down and call them back in.

I was amazed that they didn’t spook as I climbed down. Even more amazing, they stood there as I started running at them. I’ll bet I got to within 25 yards before they all flew off. Sure enough, some of them flew in a different direction.

I got my shotgun, went into the woods and started calling. Immediately, some responded. After a few minutes, I heard a gunshot in the woods. They had flown right over to Jake and Mark, and Mark shot one. I was glad somebody was able to get one.

Later in the afternoon, we went to a farm near Prescott that has both alfalfa and soybeans. The person renting the land was harvesting soybeans when we arrived, but was done soon after we sat down in the woods. Also, the landowner’s son had a group at one end of the farm that was shooting trap.

We told him we were going over to the other end, then headed over to an area I had scouted in the spring. At the corner of the property, there was a trail leading into the alfalfa from the neighbor’s land, which had a tall grass field on the border. I knew deer would be using this trail, so Andy and I set up across the corner about 40 yards away.

Sure enough, a doe appeared about 20-30 minutes after we sat down. I had fallen asleep and saw the deer when I woke up. I was a few yards behind Andy in some cover. Meanwhile, Andy didn’t see the deer until it was in the field and found himself locked in a staredown with the doe.

He stayed still as the deer continued to look at him. Then, it took a step toward the alfalfa and stopped again. Andy started to raise his gun, then the deer got nervous and turned to go back the way it came. Andy then mounted his gun, aimed at the deer’s shoulder and fired. It went down, but was still alive. Andy got up, went over and took a finishing shot.

We pulled the deer back over to where we were sitting and laid it down in some brush. Then, we sat back down and waited to see if more deer would show up. Nothing came out near any of us, so I started field dressing the deer, while Mark went and got his truck.

We hastened the process when we saw an approaching thunderstorm. Within about 10 or 15 minutes of leaving the property, it started pouring. But, the storm passed quickly.

We were able to register the deer and drop it off for processing in Prescott. One thing I like about Wisconsin is that there are plenty of registration stations and deer processing facilities. We never seem to have trouble finding them, even when we don’t know where they are. I should have researched this ahead of time, but Mark made a few calls on his cell phone and we found what we needed.

All in all, it was a great hunt. There is something special about your first whitetail and Andy was thrilled to harvest this nice doe, which was full of alfalfa and will provide some good eating. On Sunday, we followed our tradition of grilling the tenderloins. They were delicious. Can’t wait to get the rest of the deer back.

This is the beginning of the hunting season for us. We have the Minnesota firearms deer opener Nov. 8, then it’s on to Montana for an elk and mule deer hunt in late November over Thanksgiving weekend. Stay tuned!

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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek