OUTDOORSMAN: Raising The Bar

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By John Arkwright

The opening of duck season wasn’t overwhelming by any stretch of the imagination but we did well on the wood ducks. They’re tasty, especially cooked in the cast iron pan on the wood stove at the camp. Once again, the Canada geese laid a lickin’ on us. I swear they have a trail camera tracking our location.

Brandon won the Good Guy Award. He volunteered (cough) wearing Jim Brogan’s neoprene insulated chest waders to push a string of ponds for ducks. That boy must have sweated off 20 pounds. We didn’t want him to catch cold, but I don’t think he’ll fall for that one again.

We weren’t successful in the moose lottery for an adult but Kirk Gore (our Mad Trapper) and I were confident we could round up a calf.

The forecast was light snow and just below freezing. No need to fire up the oil stove, right? Wrong! I was awakened just before dawn by Kirk as he had been to the outhouse and was covered in snow. That “trace” of snow was eight inches of heavy, wet stuff and the road into camp was littered with downed trees. It took over three hours of cutting and brushing to go the mile and a half to the county road.

Two weeks later when deer season opened the weather had turned around 180 degrees and we were hunting in short sleeves. On the opening day, my nephew, Brandon, was in for the morning hunt.

By 5:30am Brandon was out the door heading to what we call the Rock House. As he was approaching the tree stand he could hear a buck scraping on the poplar trees.

Brandon’s buck finally showed himself and just after daylight, he unloaded on him. Result: buck, 1: Brandon, 0. We ranged it later that day at 100 yards and determined he shot high.

The week remained unseasonably warm. We saw lots of does and fawns but no one was shooting. Excuses galore – too warm was our favorite one. Bottom line was, four days into the hunt and the meat pole was empty.

Brogan told Brandon & Darren not to worry, as his daughter Jaimi (aka: The Deer Slayer) would be in Friday night to give the boys a hunting lesson. This is where it gets good. On Friday, Brandon missed a doe out of the same stand.

We were late getting going on Saturday morning and Jim and Jaimi headed out on their ATVs just after daylight to our dry marsh stand.

Meanwhile, back at the camp, Brandon was sitting in the outhouse with the door open with minimal clothing on, (running shoes, boxers and a tee shirt). He hears a thumping sound, looks up and here goes a buck with his nose to the ground running right past the outhouse.

Brandon jumps up, runs to the cabin and drags Darren out of the camp to go after the buck. About this time they hear a single shot.

Jim Brogan is just coming back to the camp after dropping Jaimi off and sees Darren and Brandon coming back to the camp in non-traditional hunting apparel: Runners, boxers and tee-shirts.

Brandon tells Jim about our official new watch, the outhouse and asks Jim if he heard Jaimi shooting. It turns out, Jaimi had been in the blind less than ten minutes when this nice six point buck paid her a visit – POW! She never even had time to get her book out.

That is less than thirty minutes of hunting in two years with two deer in the book. Jaimi doesn’t say too much but her tee-shirt speaks loudly. It says: “As a matter of fact, I do hunt like a girl!”

Saturday night, at the end of the first week is family night. Our families all come in for a turkey dinner. Mark & Ted Daub, who own a camp near us, showed up in full force.

The girls in their camp were also giving the men a lesson as two out of their three deer were shot by women. It seems like women sure brag a lot when they’re the main contributors to the meat pole. I think we just give the girls the best watches.

The weather co-operated during the second week of deer season. A bit of snow, cool weather and the deer started to move. I had yet to see a deer but late Tuesday afternoon I nailed a nice 6-point buck that was trying to sneak out behind me.

I heard a branch break and as I slowly turned around all I saw was a rack go thru a small opening and then it stopped. It was about a 50-yard shot through about a 6-inch opening in the trees. My 270 Browning Bar flattened that deer like it had been hit by an Exocet.

It was an awesome shot and when Jim and Kirk showed up, I had to do several re-enactments. You’ve gotta love hunting tales.

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