Opening weekend of the 2011 WI firearms season was a productive one! For me, it was the first time hunting a new area of public land. I had scouted in the spring, which gave me a good idea of where to start; however, I hadn’t prepared for the rare SE wind that was predicted opening morning. I looked at the topo map once more, and went in blind to an area on a NW facing bench. After crawling through 40 yards of thick brush to my idealized waypoint, I popped out into a small opening in the dark. I spotted a large oak tree. On closer inspection, it already had some old, rusted screw in steps. I knew better than to trust them, and instead used my climbing sticks to get to the top. Two does came trotting through after a couple hours. My shot sailed clear over the top of one of them. So bad, in fact, that I went to the range to discover my scope had been bumped. After re-zeroing, I went back out into the woods. Two inches of snow fell with no more deer sightings. The next morning had a SW wind predicted. I walked into the same area, then crossed the ravine so that I could set up on a NE facing bench. Not finding a suitable tree, I sat about a foot off the ground. Not too long after light, an eight pointer came trotting through the pines. I pulled the trigger on an opening, then started tracking after a half hour. No blood for the first 35 yards made me nervous. I continued tracking through the thick brush and snow until I found a fleck of red. This was followed shortly by drag marks, a sign that the deer’s shoulder or leg was likely broken. After 30 more yards of following an increasingly wide blood trail, I found him. Had it not been for the fresh snow, tracking would have been very sketchy to say the least, given I had no idea if the shot had even connected!