Hello friends,

Nature has a way of setting the pace for what many of us do in life and that can be good, bad, or in between. Last week and this week I am writing to you about a hunting, camping, and canoeing adventure that I went on with my 20-year-old daughter Selina and my brother Tom who lives near Denham Springs, Louisiana. The three of us spent a week camped in The Delta National Forest which is in west central Mississippi near Rolling Forks.

This area could be compared to Wisconsin’s, Buffalo County as it is managed for large whitetail deer and has them. Bucks have to have a 15-inch inside spread or a beam of at least 18-inches in length.

Thursday, December 30th

High 81, low 59

Three of the seven days of this hunt we experienced record highs and though that made for very comfortable camping, any form of hiking, which we did often, was a drencher when it came to sweat. We had hoped to hit the rut and though we did find some scrapes, the rut was put on hold.

Each morning Selina and I would canoe in the dark through the cypress trees and then we would hike to our stands. Sometimes together, sometimes to separate locations. It was incredibly cool to either drop Selina off in the dark or wait for her in my canoe in the dark after a day’s hunt.

I don’t care who you are, after helping three boys learn how to become independent in the woods it seems you worry more about the daughter. I learned on this trip there simply is very little reason to worry anymore.

Last week I wrote that this week would be Mississippi’s first week where they can use dogs to hunt deer.

This morning I had been sitting for maybe three hours, which I had canoed for 20 minutes, and then hiked for another 20 to get to.

I heard a group of hunters coming my way on a dirt path and I knew it was dog hunters. When they passed me, I knew they would be setting up a hunt and a wise hunter stays on his or her stand when they run them. When dog hunters move deer and hogs there can be action and, in this situation, Selina saw a buck and two doe. The buck’s neck was covered with vines from probably where it was hiding and was not large enough to harvest.

Tom had two deer come flying by him and I had a doe run by me; up to that point in the morning, none of had seen a deer.

I decided I was going to meet this group of nine hunters and am I glad that I did. At first, I walked up to maybe a 16-year-old boy, and I could tell he was skittish about talking to me but he could soon see I was harmless.

Eventually the entire group, which are from The Delta Camp, came over by me and we had a great talk. There were kids in this group as young as 5 and the man that I spoke the most with and have many times since was Dustin Hariel who is from Poplarville, Mississippi.

These guys have a camp nearby and were they ever interesting and friendly. Their dogs names were Martha and Mary and they were each 3/4s beagle and ¼ Walker. An area is surrounded, one hunter walks into it with the dogs and releases them and the hunters use shotguns with Double 00 Buckshot.

Many deer were moved on this drive, but none were harvested. One of the first things that Dustin told me is that we could not have hit worse conditions for our hunt which I already knew. Dustin had harvested a beautiful 10-point buck earlier in the week and we had a solid conversation where I was asked to come to their camp and they asked if I knew anything about turkey hunting in Wisconsin, as in how they could do it.

If anyone could help them out, I would work with you on it. Dustin is in the earth moving business and a pastor at his church. What I truly loved about these guys is the gazillion pictures Dustin sent me where his boys are harvesting turkey, rabbits, and lots of fish. In other words, old school parenting and outdoor oriented people.

Another very interesting part of this trip was the Asian carp. They were everywhere when we were canoeing and until you get used to them, when canoeing in the dark they can scare the heck out of you as they let you get real close before they jump high in the air.

We really wanted to whack some deer and hogs but not a one of us ever took the gun off safety. What put a smile on my face was at the end of the week was Selina told me that she wants to do this her last two Christmas breaks at UWSP.

I will get good at this with time and when nature allows! Sunset

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