Friday, November 11, 2011

Deer Hunting in Minnesota

Last weekend I left the warmth and comfort of the Chevalier PR office and flew home to Minnesota for a four-day deer hunt. I hadn’t been home for ten months and the opportunity to visit the family farm was a welcomed one.

On opening morning, I snuck down to my stand (which we call “The Hotdog Stand” because of its shape) with high hopes. Because the leaves on the ground were wet, I made it to stand about as quietly as it is possible. As morning light made its presence known, so did a six-point buck about 25 yards away from me. It came out of the woods to my right, alert and head held high. It stepped out into the corn field and began eating. This buck was not in full rut. I pulled my gun up and eyed him through the scope. It was a small six-point "hat rack" buck. I had to make a choice because he wouldn’t be in front of me for long. I thought about how much more time I had to hunt, about how many small bucks like this one I’ve shot in the past, about how many bigger bucks are probably in proximity to my stand….and he was gone. About an hour later, I saw a fork-horned buck approximately 200 yards away. This took less deliberation to let go.

Weather: The first two days of hunting were plagued by 30 mph winds coming from the South. I think it was because of this that the deer weren’t really moving. The wind certainly made the stand sessions seem longer than they were. Monday afternoon, the wind stopped. While on stand that evening, there was no sound. There were no deer either. Tuesday morning displayed an impressive frost but the temperature and wind during the day were ideal.

My dad is a hunter (in it for the food) and I suspect that my failure to down that buck opening morning raised concerns in his mind that his son has become a sportsman (in it for the trophies). On Sunday morning, my dad was sneaking around in our pasture and spotted two fawns on a knob quite a distance away. He worked his way closer, then crawled on his hands and knees to get close enough for a shot. Instead of shooting one of the fawns, he called out on his deer grunt. A small six-pointer immediately came out of the woods behind the fawns. My dad dropped it where it stood.

For me, the most treasured aspect of the hunt was doing small drives with my dad and my uncle on Monday and Tuesday afternoon. My dad always does everything in his power to put me in a position to kill a deer. We’ve done little drives together since I was just starting out and he is usually able to chase me a deer. For this hunt, I thought it was kind of neat that my dad, my uncle and I were doing drives together. We didn’t see one deer while doing them but in this case, the act is more important than the outcome.

Tuesday evening was my last change to get a deer. Before going out on stand that night, I pledged to my dad and my uncle that I would shoot any deer that stepped out in front of me. They were in agreement. Instead of going out on my stand, which I’d hunted religiously all season, I chose a different stand for a change of scenery. Within 45 minutes of being on stand, I had a tiny fawn on the field in front of me. He walked around the field, eating, for well over an hour. Eyeing him closely the entire time, he refused to grow any bigger. I let him be.

All total, here’s what I saw for wildlife during the hunt: 32 wild turkeys, 3 ruffed grouse, 1 red fox, 2 bucks and at least six or seven fawns.

In summation, I probably should have shot the six-pointer I saw on opening morning. Hopefully I see him next year as an eight or a ten-pointer. That said, deer hunting to me is more than just shooting a deer. It’s a time to be with family and enjoy the land I grew up on. It’s also a time I use to reflect on where I’ve been, amuse at where I am, and wonder where I’m going. These thoughts pile on top of one another until ultimately, I reach one of man’s most satisfying realizations: life is good!

1 comment:

  1. Never pass on the first day what you'd gladly take on the last. Unless, of course, going home empty-handed is OK.

    The experience you wrote about is a trophy in itself, and I can't say you made a bad call.