I, like many deer hunters, have unique deer hunting stories.
One year, a doe got up right in front of me when I was crossing rows, and we both knocked each other over in the field. Another year, I shot half the tines off an 8-point buck, giving it whiplash or a concussion before somebody else in the hunting party finished it off. Another year I crossed rows in a cornfield and shot an unsuspecting deer.
These are just some of the many great memories I have from deer hunting the past 30 years.
It is memories like these, along with the hope that I will shoot a nice-sized buck, that bring me back every year.
All the previously mentioned stories happened several years ago, so I was extremely excited about this year's hunt. I had high expectations that this would be a memorable year. I was due.
I started out my Saturday morning deer hunting like I have the past several years: in the barn doing chores with my brother, Chuck. My nephew, Jarrett, works full-time for Chuck, and usually milks every morning with him.
But he loves to be in the stand early in the morning on the opener. I don't carry that much patience to sit and wait for a deer to come by when I'm in a stand so I help Chuck milk his 90 cows and then feed all the animals silage before finishing by 9:30.
Jarrett usually comes over at that time to update us on the success of the hunt so far. This year he said we weren't off to a good start. Part of that had to do with the fact that we had no doe permits in the main area we hunt. The rest had to do with the fact that only one of the seven guys we had out in the morning fired a shot, and unfortunately we didn't have anything to show for it.
That is an awful start for us, especially since the area where we hunt is 160 acres of CRP land with water, cover and this year a corn plot that had been in the middle. To have nothing was disappointing, but I thought we would change that when we start driving.
So off we went.
We drove a wildlife area first and drew up nothing but does. Next we drove a bunch of small woods on the way to a slough hole. No more than 100 yards after we started driving the woods (where we usually never see a buck), a buck jumped out and cut back between two of our guys. We only had rear shots on him so he got away.
I thought this was disappointing but encouraging. If there was a buck in this little woods, wait until we drive the slough. We drove the slough like we normally do: one out on each side, one way ahead and three down the middle. I love the swamp walking so I volunteered to go down the middle. The cattails in the slough stood over seven feet tall and the three of us made quite a racket trying to scare anything out. Unfortunately for us pheasants were the only animals we chased out. We finished, quickly regrouped, and headed to a dairy farm south of Sauk Centre.
On this place last year we had saw quite a few deer, so again I was highly optimistic, but to no avail. We went through a swamp and two woods and came out empty.
We quit driving at 4 p.m. so everybody could get back in their stands. That turned out to be a good move as we got a buck moving around before dusk. The next morning we got another buck and we were two for 10.
A lot of us either went to church or had family obligations on Sunday morning, but by Sunday afternoon we rounded up the gang for one more drive along a creek in the CRP land. Usually it's great walking through the bunch of poplars, but this year a beaver had dammed up the creek so we were walking through a foot and a half of water with boots that were six inches short. But it was worth the wet as we scared out a deer and got our third for the weekend.
Later on that night, our local priest, Father Jeremy, who drove with us, went in one of the stands and shot a six-point buck and we had four for 10 through one weekend.
Normally our group, excluding me, does quite a bit of hunting during the week, but that didn't happen because of the 10 inches of snow we had. Add on the bitter cold temperatures and our hunting season was really shortened.
Our deer season finished with lots of drives the second weekend but we only saw does the entire time. One was on land that allowed doe harvesting and I had a decent shot, but I must have been shooting with my closed eye because I didn't drop it.
But it was enough to make we want to come back next year.