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Woodland Trails: Deer hunting set to begin

The rut is on! I was sitting in what we call the 7 Pines Tree Stand Sunday night when I saw two deer running across the CRP. It was a doe being chased by a buck. You could hear the buck doing it's grunt. His hormones were out of control. The doe was obviously not quite in season but it was obvious the game was on.

That's good news if you are an archer. The time is right and the time is now. Things will only get better from now on until the deer gun season that historically takes place Thanksgiving week in Wisconsin. Nothing is as much looked forward to or anticipated unless it's another Packer appearance in the Super Bowl. The jury is still out on the Packers but the verdict is in on the rut.

This year we have a new deer hunting location. It's in an earn-a-buck zone. That means you have to take a doe before you can take a buck. Earn-a-buck zones are created to get deer populations back under control when the doe/deer population is too high. The doe to buck ratio is out of control. Either hunters have simply chosen to not harvest enough does or they simply are not able to take enough doe.

Last year my family, son Josh and daughter Erin lost our long time favorite deer hunting locations. The area around Clay Corners is where I grew up as a kid. I know all the land well because I walked and hunted it all for miles. But it has all new land owners. The old farmers who owned the land where I grew up have all either past on or moved on. New ownership have taken control of the land and have new plans our old deer haunts. But life is full of change and success in life is all about how you handle change.

When we lost our hunting land last year we had only a month to find a new location. Although we ended up in the far north woods around Dairyland with good friends we went into the hunt blind so to speak. We had never hunted that area and had never even seen the new area. We got blanked, except for a fawn that son Josh took with his bow early last fall.

But this year we have had 10 months and the entire bow season to scout and learn our new area. We set a couple tree stands and we are learning the habits of the deer. We planted a dozen small food plots but the drought devastated all but the green clover and root plots. They are full of deer sign and turkey as well. So far we have two stands set up - the Junction Stand and 7 Pines Stand. There were several mowed trials on the property in the woods and along the river and we connected some with a brush cutter in late summer and set out a mineral block with a trail camera.

The camera was neat. We had a few little bucks stop in and have their pictures taken. We also had lots of doe pics. Either we have plenty of doe or maybe just a couple doe who like to have their pictures taken. We had up to 161 pictures in one week. Mostly doe and turkeys. I was a bit disappointed because we had no sightings of big foot, mountain lions or aliens!

Living in an earn-a-buck zone we figured it should not be too hard to take a doe. Josh broke the ice when he dropped the first antlerless deer Saturday. A nice fawn came to within 10-yards of his stand. At that range the shot was perfect and I am full of tender loins as I write this.

I was sitting down in the Junction Stand when I heard Josh nail his deer. I was amazed at how much noise that arrow made it hit home. It went right thought the deer and it crashed dead in less than a minute! Now Josh doesn't have to worry about taking any buck now because he has broken the ice with his little antlerless buck fawn! As long as it's antlerless he has earned his buck!

I had one big doe come within 20 feet of me in the Junction Stand but it came form a side where we failed to cut a shooting lane. That mistake will be taken care of this coming week. And we have plenty of turkey in the area to and we have a couple fall turkey tags to fill as well.

Although the rutting buck chased the doe to within 20 feet of the 7 Pines Stand they stayed in the thick brush behind me. But that's OK. We have plenty of deer on our new hunting grounds and a couple of weeks to take another doe so we can all still earn our bucks! With the cold weather coming this week it's feeling much more like deer season. I even heard second reports of the possibility of snow. That's the beauty of life in the deer woods and all of us who choose to walk the deer woods love this time of year! It's a great place to be!