Jan 10, 2016

Opening Day

By: Marc Drewek

Saturday November 21st was the opening day for the gun deer season here in Wisconsin. Ushered in with cloudy skies and a brisk northwest wind the conditions were prime for deer movement. I am celebrating my 16th season sitting on my little piece of heaven in Iola, Wisconsin. Every year I have to come up with some way to keep myself entertained during the ten hours I spend in the tree stand. This year I’m writing this article, the challenge will be to keep my hands warm while I take some field notes.

The stand I sit in every opening day is by far is my favorite. It also serves as my bow stand for hunting the rut and late season. It sits on the back side of my property a half mile walk thru a creek bottom and over a small trout stream. It then passes between two alder thickets and ends in an oak flat that borders my food plots. Fortunately for me, there is a road to make traveling easier. The tree stand itself is an old twelve foot ladder stand attached to an oak tree. When the climb is completed I overlook a small pond with a food plot behind me. The distance between the two is about forty yards making this a perfect travel corridor. Over the years, many deer and even a few turkeys have been shot out of this stand. Every few years I like to move stands to switch things up and adjust to changes in deer movement. For obvious reasons, I’ve never moved this one. It faces due north with the sunrises just to my right, when the sun just clears the trees it illuminates the whole oak flat. The fall season produces some of the most beautiful sunrises, every time I see one I know I’m alive and all is well.

This year’s quest started with my good friend Kirby and a ninety minute ride to the grail. As we pulled into the property we could see the eyes of several deer in the field. After getting organized, the hunt was underway as I made the fifteen minute walk to the stand. I never use a flashlight so on dark mornings like this one it’s somewhat spooky. After getting myself and my gear up the tree it’s time to melt into the outdoors. Over the years I have had chickadee’s land on my gun, grouse land in the tree and many upset squirrels bark at me. The one thing that amazes me the most is how quiet the woods is just before daybreak, it seems almost deafening.

Opening day started out as most do, not much action. But by 9:00 am I had several small bucks and does with fawns pass along with a big flock of turkeys. My main entertainment for the day was a pair of red squirrels doing their best imitation of all-star wrestling. Along with a black squirrel and a group of blue jays, I was kept occupied. Even with all this activity I did manage to dose off for a few minutes. You would think with this going and a stiff northwest wind at 29 degrees who could nod off…….me. As the closing time was quickly approaching the hopes of an opening day deer were waning. Fifteen minutes before closing nine does made their way into the food plot. As I pulled up my binoculars I could see them looking back into the woods. My past experiences have taught me that a buck was heading out. Just as I set the glasses down, out he came, a nice 8 point buck. I slowly grabbed my Thompson Center Muzzleloader, hit the range finder seventy one yards. With the deer recovered, I put the three year dry spell to an end.

Driving home with a beautiful deer in the back of the truck, I had a chance to reflect on the weekend’s hunt. As time goes on and I look back, I have been blessed to have harvested several nice bucks. This one is no different. All too often we qualify ourselves as hunters by how big the deer are that we harvest. Be grateful for every opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, and embrace the chance to pass that along. If you understand and appreciate this, every day you hunt is an opening day.