Deer Hunting 2011
Scouting was done up pretty well. Many conversations with various folks who are better hunters than me. Planning was intact. Anticipation was more than notable. Excitement re acquiring meat was notable. Well.
My viewscape (looking south) from 4 AM to 5 PM on opening day. I had set up a little blind on the south side in the strip of woods, but the strong wind was from the south, so I made a change on the fly and set up in the corn looking south at the line of scrapes depicted in the air photo. The scrapes smelled like piss and the branches were chewed up above them. I got up periodically in the afternoon and walked the corn a bit, looking carefully for any bedded deer.
My viewscape on day two (Thursday). I blew off the scrapes and hunted a sidehill, looking down onto the river. I could just make out some riffled water through the trees. I propped a folding chair against a tree on that steep slope, and sat sideways. No reading. Looking and listening only. One doe came into my viewscape for ~2 seconds; just the top of her back and her head; then she dipped down below the crest of the hill. Never saw her again. I spent most of this time fascinated with anticipation, thinking what a struggle it would be to get a deer out of that bottom.
Didn't take any pictures on day three (Sunday). It was a dutiful, disappointing day. Left around noon to salvage part of the day to spend with family.
(1) I know a guy can't just decide to get a deer and get one. To think so would be an insult to studied deer hunters. That's why guys who luck into deer without any work are sometimes insults to deer hunters I'd think.
(2) The nature of a hunt like this is interesting: a lot of sitting and waiting. Without trail cameras or first-hand observation of deer, and without extensive knowledge of their habits, you are asking for favors. Like still fishing with bait. Asking for something to come along. In contrast to the fishing I usually roll on: fishing water in which I know trout exist; sight-fishing for carp. If you aren't getting the fish, you go find them and feed them something and watch them eat it. Not really asking for favors. So feeling a little helpless, sitting and hoping was a bit of a torment. Set up best you know, then sit and wait. Get up and walk around, stalking deer... That one got me a bit. I tried it, and I'd tried it last year. I can't see how that can work really well at all; how a person could be quiet enough. But I know folks do it. Seemed positively futile to me though.
(3) Hunted for 27 hours; $1/hour on the license cost.
(4) Wow, effing wow do I hate sitting on my ass for that long. My ass is sore. Can't stand that. I stood up a lot in the woods; leaned against trees when possible.
(5) Frustrated or not, you can't really argue that it's a bad thing to sit out in the woods, listening to a river or maybe the wind all day.
(6) The public land factor was in play on opening day. I figured I'd be the first guy out there: got up at 3 AM, at the parking lot by 340 AM. Already one vehicle. Turns out he got there at 1 AM. Well. I got set up. The watched the cars roll in. Listened to the doors slam. Voices rise and fall. Then a group of about five headlamps peeped in and out of sight... bobbing closer. Voices louder. I flashed my headlamp. They stopped. Heads turned sideways. They went away. Second group of guys came right on though. Walked right in front of me, over the line of scrapes. Then a solo guy came along. He came right up to me and talked a while. Not clear on any etiquette. Interesting to be a part of something like that.
(7) Very few gunshots on any day. Opening day included a couple 1-2 hours spans of no shots heard.
(8) 65 pounds of venison in the freezer, taken via roadkill a couple months ago. Turns out that's all we'll have going into winter 2011. I buried the head in the backyard with the antlers sticking up above the ground.
Back next year, due to sense of duty, interest and the fact that I like SE MN November and being on that land.