I was fortunate enough to be able to join Best Bud Ed up at his cabin for another deer hunt this year.
It was the last weekend of the season for this area of the state, and (for me) a last minute trip. I left directly from work, and after a couple of stops I arrived to the cabin around 10pm. In addition to Ed, two of his nephews joined us. It was one of his nephew’s first trip deer hunting, so Ed really took him under his wing and spent the weekend mentoring him. We spent some time catching up around the campfire, but since “pre dawn” arrives pretty early – we all hit the sack not long after I arrived.
After a short slumber, we all got geared up and then headed out to our stands in the darkness and chill of the pre dawn hours in the northern Minnesota woods. We walked along the trails until various “forks” in the path took us to the various deer stands. It was not long before I found myself walking alone down an ATV trail in the darkness. I would click on my flashlight momentarily to get a glimpse of the next reflective marker that would lead me through the woods to my stand.
About three quarters of the way to the stand, during one of those “flick on the light” moments – I scared up the first of four deer I saw this weekend. Actually this doe started me as much as I startled her. I stood still as I watched as the tell tale “white tail” flick up, then bound through the woods and into the darkness.
Eventually, I made it out to the deer stand (located in the yellow circle on the map below) where I climbed up, situated myself and my gear, then nodded off until legal hunting hours.
A couple of hours into my vigil of the northern woods, I spotted another deer (the second one of the day) off in the distance walking my way along a ridge line. It was off to my left, and quite a ways out. I sat up, focused my attention, readied my gun, and waited. As the deer drew closer I was able to determine that it was a doe. I did not have a doe permit but since Minnesota allows for “party hunting” there is an option to take the doe. That’s when I realized that I had not asked if anyone else had a doe permit – so I set my gun down and decided to simply enjoy the experience. I watched as the deer came closer and closer, pass behind me, and then I nodded off again.
Over the next couple of hours I saw two more deer.
The third deer crossed right in front of me, from my right to my left. This deer was close enough that I was able to immediately identify it as a doe. So instead of readying my gun, I whipped out my iPod and readied the video camera! I was amazed how close this deer came to the stand. I watched as she passed off to my right and towards the same deer trail that the first deer traveled along. She then continued down the path behind me and out of site.
The fourth deer followed the same path as the third one.
Same scenario. I identified the deer as a doe, and grabbed my iPod.
After the forth doe passed, I decided to sit tight and wait. With that many doe around there is a strong likelihood that there is a buck somewhere not too far away. Forty minutes (and no activity) later I packed up my gear and headed back to the cabin to share my experiences (and video) with the rest of the group.
Back at the cabin I also learned that Ed’s youngest nephew (the one he was mentoring this weekend) did have a doe permit. This being his first hunt, and with the heavy doe population around the cabin, I am glad I didn’t “fill his tag” – and had high hopes he would get his first deer!!
Between the morning and evening hunts, Ed and I ran a couple of errands and stopped off for a nearby GeoCache too! I also checked out the early ice on the lake!
Just before sunset, we all headed back out for the evening hunt. I took up a position at the same deer stand as I did in the morning (yellow circle in the photograph) – unfortunately, I saw no activity.
Ed and his nephew on the other hand, DID see a deer. Not only did they see a deer, they bagged one. It was a great lesson for Ed’s nephew – after taking the shot, and waiting patiently (as a good hunter does)they trailed the deer for a bit until it was located. Ed taught his nephew how to field dress the deer, and they pulled it about half way back to the cabin before Ed’s older nephew and I met them. He and I then took the deer back to the cabin while Ed and his younger nephew went back to the deer stand to collect their belongings.
Afterwards, we celebrated around the campfire!
The next morning we all got up and once again headed out into the darkness and chill of pre dawn hours in the northern Minnesota woods. This morning we switched deer stands and I headed off to the stand that Ed and his nephew took the deer from the previous evening (the blue circle on the map). I sat and watched for any signs.
After several hours the only thing that I had seen suck up on me from behind. It was blaze orange and had a big cheesy grin on its face!
Ed had left his stand and met me at my stand. We located the site where the deer was hit, and (for practice) tracked the path the deer ran to the site where the deer fell. Ed and I took an off trail path (bushwhacking) through the woods locating another older site that he would like to update with a new stand.
We headed back to the cabin and helped the nephews pack u. They were heading out a little earlier. Once the nephews left – Ed and I once again took to the woods. This time instead of sitting in a stand, we decided to make the HUGE loop you see in the map. We left the cabin, walked along the trail, then went off trail and “bushwacked” our way around the swamp, to the creek, north along the creek back to the lake and then back down the trail to the cabin. I had seen many areas of the back woods that I have never seen before.
There were some breathtaking views!!]
We arrived back at the cabin, and loaded up our belongings. We packed our cars, and then headed out for the final evening hunt. Once again, Ed took a spot at the yellow circled stand and because I left a number of items at the blue circled stand, I headed back there.
Once sunset hit, I trudged back to the cabin, loaded up the last of the items that needed packing, and we closed up the cabin for the winter.
After a very relaxing and pleasurable weekend, it was time to say goodbye to Ed, and begin my long journey home.