It seems there are more white tail deer in our area than ever before. I don’t remember the deer versus car collisions being so intense as this past fall. On the roads, highway and even in town, the dead deer litter the roadsides. Many lay with their heads removed, obviously signifying that it was a buck with nice antlers.
We put out our wildlife cameras in early spring and have enjoyed watching all the critters that are trekking around the woods, visiting the stream and tasting all stages of corn and soybeans as they have grown throughout the summer. Raccoon, opossum, wild turkey, coyote and many deer are viewed when the chime comes to the phone, signaling there is some action in front of the camera.
While these activities show us the best places to put out tree stands, it is also a good time to watch throughout the spring and summer as these animals grow through the seasons. Families of raccoons search for bugs in the soil, washing their paws in the creek. Turkeys fly down from their roost, and the hens bring out their chicks from the tall grass where they were hatched to kick around and scratch the ground to show their little ones how to find something to eat.
We have watched deer and their fawns nibbling on tree buds and also tender shoots of corn and beans, watching them move in and out of areas. As the young grow out of their spots, and prance away with the flash of the red light on the camera, we wait to see the big bucks that will be the targets of the fall hunting season.
This was a good bow hunting season for my daughter, Anna, and her husband, Kevin. The cameras and the time investing in scouting for the best spot to put up tree stands paid off when Kevin got a big buck the second time in the tree stand. It was a nice 10-point buck that fell just a few feet from the site where it was hit.
Photos were sent around to all of the family members and posted on social media. Everyone wants to know where this beast was living and the story behind it all. Because many of the family members are older, they too have not seen all of the deer feasting in our corn fields. Cheers and congratulations came rolling in on the posts, and then it was Anna’s turn to get something.
She works in the barn with me in the morning so her time to hunt is in the afternoon. The weather could not be better to sit and watch nature while up high in a stand. She had plenty of time to absorb the sun and feel the warmth. It might have been a different outcome if it was bitter cold and raining, but it was the perfect evening when the doe came over by her stand to nibble the grass and flick its tail around. From the side, she saw a buck coming in to check out this doe. She waited but became too excited and took the shot.
The buck darted away, but there was a lot of blood. She called Kevin to help find the buck, but searching the woods as the sun was going down was not easy. They had on headlights and were able to track it for a while but gave up when the blood could no longer be found.
This was stressful for Anna and Kevin, knowing an injured deer could be alive in the woods. The plan was to head out in the morning to see if it would be able to be found. Hopefully, Smokey and Roy, our bloodhounds, could help find them.
Smokey and Roy are 15 months old and have been the most gentle and friendly pups. We refer to them as the boys. They are brothers and have  different personalities and eating habits. They love to have their bodies rubbed as they are full of wrinkles and drool. Their floppy ears flap as they run around to sniff the cats, chickens and also our other dogs, Bonnie the border collie and Bebe the Jack Russell terrier. Whenever we have a mishap on the farm, the boys seem to find it wherever it is. The boys, like most farm dogs, love to eat the afterbirth of the cow. We try to find the placenta in the fluffy straw, but the boys can sniff it out. They are usually good at sticking around the farm. Usually means most of the time. Every once in a while, they will get on a scent, and off they go. They now have training collars if we go for long walks. They are nose to the ground, sniffing and running to the tree line, most likely after a coyote. So, we know they are good sniffers, but are they good enough to find a deer?
Anna and I finished up chores as quickly as possible and put the boys into the back of the truck and went to the site. We put on their collars and leads, and let them sniff the deer fur. Off they went. They were slowly sniffing back and forth, going right over the trail that Anna and Kevin had seen. Where the trail went dead for the hunters, the boys took the next turn and continued on, finding more scent and trailed us right to the buck in the thicket. All in all, 20 minutes to walk and the boys proved themselves as bloodhounds.
It turned out to be a nice but smaller 10-point for Anna. It was a great hunting experience but also an opportunity for the boys to show us their potential.  
    Tina Hinchley, her husband Duane and daughter Anna milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots.  They also farm 2,300 acres of crops near Cambridge, Wisconsin. The Hinchleys have been hosting farm tours for over 25 years.