My 2014 deer season didn’t start out as eventful as I had hoped… It didn’t help that in September and October I had gone to the Boundary Waters bear hunting and to Colorado elk hunting. The links to those hunts are:
That took away from my whitetail hunting and scouting, but each hunt was a blast! I spent a good amount of time scouting a public riverbottom area close to my apartment in the Twin Cities metro. I made one huge blunder. There was a well used parking lot I had no idea existed. Over the course of my scouting I found several spots that appeared to be hard to get to… accessible only by water or hip boots. Then, after seeing 8 other hunters on the 400 yard walk back to my kayak on the opener, I figured out my mistake. Since that area consumed most of my scouting efforts, I felt more comfortable spending my time hunting familiar land in WI.
Even that was unusually slow. I had a couple deer within range in early season, but nothing I could get a shot at. Since I used up all my paid time off for Colorado, I had only four days to hunt the rut… two in Wisconsin and two in Minnesota. I missed a chance at a doe on a beautiful November morning in WI. She was being chased by a yearling buck. Up in northern MN, I spotted only a spike and button buck. All the sign and trail cam pictures were there. I just didn’t have enough time to make it happen. In those woods, the more time you spend on stand, the better your odds are. My biggest buck ever came after six all day sits up there.
Fast forward to the Wisconsin Firearms opener. I decided to go to a public land area I’d hunted three years prior. Not having scouted it for the past couple seasons, I was a little nervous. My fears were relieved as my flashlight lit up heavy deer trails in the snow all around the tree I planned on hanging my stand in. Sure enough, not seven minutes after legal light, a buck appeared through the fog and the pines. I touched off a shot at 40 yards as he walked through an opening. The shoulder shot buck only went 50 yards before crashing. As much as I would have like to get the shot on film, the speed and way he came in made it seem like an either or scenario. Either get the footage or get the buck. With the heavy canopy and fog, the footage would have been dark and grainy. Plus, after drawing blanks on bear and elk, I was just ready to put some meat in the freezer! I consider this year a big success. I learned a ton. In addition, next year will be the third year I’ll be hunting the Wisconsin public land. In my experience, it takes about three years of hunting a place before you really start figuring it out, despite how much you may have scouted.
Next year I plan on heavily scouting a 30,000+ acre public marsh in Minnesota to do much of my hunting in. Hopefully I’ll save a few extra PTO days too!