I recently returned from what was the longest adventure that I have gone on in years. My bowhunting, camping, canoe trip to Pepin and Buffalo counties, Tiffany Bottoms was supposed to start on a Friday and end on a Wednesday. A couple sightings of some big bucks and I added five well spent days to my adventure. There is a ton to write about with this week’s column so I will be vague and all over the map.
Wednesday, Nov. 3
High 46, low 28
When this adventure would come to an end, I would have canoed from my camp for one mile in the dark each morning ten times and one mile in the dark back to camp ten times. I did 20 hunts and did not miss a one.
The swamp that I am hunting is loaded with beaver, and there are two interesting stories on that subject. One is the warning shot across the bow. In total darkness, at least 80 times I had beaver slap their tails on the water as a warning to other beaver of my presence. The kits, which weigh maybe 10 pounds, do this from at least 15-feet away. The adults seem to take pleasure in trying to do it from 5 feet and actually hitting me with water.
Another interesting fact is that where I am hunting there is a steep bluff on one side of the water and a semi flooded forest on the other. In the time that I have been here I have watched the beaver add 6 inches of mud to the top of their dam and they are now flooding the forest.
This morning I was sitting in my stand, and I saw, if I had harvested it, what would have been the biggest buck of my life. I am talking maybe 19 inches but very tall and lots of mass. When I saw it, it was only 30 yards away, but there was brush. At 25 yards I could have taken a top half of the body shot with the rest obstructed by brush, so I chose not to.
Just like that my trophy took a trail that led away from me, and the game was over. This leads to a very common conversation in the bow hunting world. I’m 60, I climb 16 feet up in a tree, its below freezing, a buck walks by and here are some scenarios.
My balance is excellent, but I am 60, not 30. This can really affect your shooting with a compound bow. It is very easy to get busted by Mr. Buck when you are in a tree, trying to pull a bow back in cold weather and 60.
Two years ago, I was at this same place and a beautiful 10-pointer gave me an easy shot. I was halfway back on my draw and my shoulder locked up, so the buck walked away.
Every hunter will go through this or go to a crossbow or give up hunting. Today’s buck would’ve been dead with a crossbow.
Thursday, Nov. 4
High 52, low 30
I paddled in the dark, climbed a tree in the dark, was on average of seeing one deer a day but yet to hit it for today and loving life. At 7:45 a.m. I saw a buck about 80 yards away about to cross a marsh and headed my way. I have never been a big buck or nothing kind of guy, but the last few years I have passed up some smaller ones.
Today is day seven of this trip and so far, I have seen six bucks and four does. This buck was world class big. In no way am I exaggerating when I say it was the biggest buck that I have ever seen in the wild, and no one in my gang has killed this big of a buck. Thirty yards before he got to my stand and in some brush, he took a right that would lead him away from me and that was basically the dagger for this trip.
I lived a simple life for 11 full days and loved every minute of it. The majority of my food was grown at my house or caught or shot during my adventures. My work ethic was excellent, and I have to admit the crossbow question is a big one on my mind. I also could have harvested a 10-pointer, not huge but pretty on day three had I been using a crossbow. I will not shoot at a deer over 25 yards with a compound bow and in reality, my comfort zone ends at 22.
While on this trip I had a lot of friends on adventures that would text me and one sent me a picture of a bull elk in Adams County. I hear there are two of them. Rifle hunters better be thinking before you shoot.
Also, my good buddies Jeff Moll and Doug Cibulka were on an annual duck hunt on the Menominee River in Marinette County, and it was a lot of fun to communicate with them by text while sitting in a tree.
Soon we will be chasing fish on frozen water, enjoy every day like it’s your last! Sunset