Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake Herald, Minn.

November 17, 1997

Opening weekend of deer hunting

As usual, my stand was creaking, uncomfortable, and very nervous. The stand, even with a ton of buck sign around it, just didn't have enough patience to hold a hunter - me - for more than one hour at a time.

Although it is proven that deer hunting from a stand is much more successful than hunting from the ground, I just don't have the patience to spend much time in one. When I'm up in that tree, I always get the feeling there is a deer just around the corner that I can't see.

Actually, most of the time I'm right. This year, on the opening day of deer hunting, I pushed myself and stayed in the stand until about 9 a.m. While I was in my stand, deer managed to stay invisible.

Minutes after I was out of the stand and back on the forest floor, there they were two deer looking right at me. Soon they were gone. An opportunity for a good shot was there, but no antlers were seen.

As the day went on, I stalked my way through woods and several small pine groves, and saw six more deer. In addition to the deer, grouse, chipmunks, geese, and hundreds of ducks had been witnessed.

When the opening Saturday ended, my hunting party had seen a good number of deer in the woods south of Cross Lake, Minn., but hadn't harvested one. We were hunting bucks only and we were starting to believe the deer knew that.

Sunday was about the same. Grouse flushes were common, geese on their way south were honking, ducks (especially bluebills) were flying in big numbers, and antlerless deer were around and about. But again, no bucks.

Our hunt was surprising in many regards. First of all, we were thrilled to see the number of deer we did.

Second, the weather was warm and balmy for a deer opener, and third, there was a definite decrease in the number of hunters and hunting pressure compared to last year and other years.

The hunting pressure was so light on Sunday that hardly a shot fired was heard and deer movement from hunter activity was almost nil. Deer we saw on Sunday were animals that we had pushed out of heavy cover ourselves.

The deer were sitting so tight that on Sunday morning, while stalking through a pine grove, I walked within five feet of a small doe and yearling that were bedded down.

From the sonic whistle of blue bills in flight, the honking of Canada geese, the heart-stopping flushes of ruffed grouse, and the beauty of a doe and yearling, our hunt was spectacular without harvesting a deer.

This year, there just wasn't a buck around the corner from my deer stand and after a year of waiting, I don't blame my stand for not having much patience.

Locally

In our neck of the woods, the opening weekend of deer hunting was a good one.

There were no reports of injuries or accidents. Trespassing problems seemed to be absent and most hunters I spoke with did see deer.

Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake reported 105 deer registered and also stated that most hunters saw a good number of deer. Eighty deer were registered at Joe's last year after the first weekend of hunting.

Look for more info on the 1997 firearms deer hunt in next week's column.

Ice

It came to a majority of smaller lakes and ponds on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

In fact, lakes like Emma and South Lake near Winsted were completely froze over, with ice on larger lakes like Howard just starting to cover up the bays and creep towards the middle.

With the ice here, we have to remember that ice is never safe, especially early ice. The best piece of advice is just to stay off.

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