The Minnesota Deer Opener has once again arrived only to be best characterized by describing the 5 C’s:
It seems everywhere I look there is corn. Oh, sure, corn attracts deer and provides them with food…but it also provides deer with one of the best shelters available. In this part of the hunting world when there are massive amounts of standing corn still in the fields during the firearms deer opener it can only mean one thing – bad news!
I like hunting deer the traditional way by finding a nice tree stand (or a ground blind) and then waiting in ambush. But when corn fields remain unpicked at the start of the season it has a way of messing with my “traditional” hunting plans.
I know some might argue with me that standing corn is one of the best elements to work in the hunter’s favor. Indeed, I can’t even count how many times I have stalked deer in corn…in fact, I have had some great experiences in the fields walking up to deer where I have literally kicked them in the rump. But I don’t enjoy the stalk like a predator ready to pounce on its prey. I like the ambush type of hunting style.
This year a great deal of the pasture land where I hunted still had cattle roaming the terrain. While I have nothing against cattle, and I certainly don’t think their presence spooks the deer, having cows approach your hunting position somehow distracts from the hunt. Then again, if you’re not seeing any deer you might as well watch something for entertainment.
Perhaps a better way of phrasing this is the LACK of cold. Today the temperature rose to near 70 degrees and I actually got swarmed by a bunch of hungry mosquitoes. At first I couldn’t believe it…but I had to slap one out of the air against the back of my hand just to confirm it. Whatever happened to the days of old when it was blustery and snowing on the deer opener? This is not early November deer hunting weather in Minnesota. Heck, I didn’t even need to open my hand-warmer packets and that is ALWAYS a bad sign during the deer hunt.
One of the best aspects of deer camp each fall is the group of guys who show up to pursue the wily whitetail. This year we had a total of ten guys who make up a great camp. The camaraderie is second to none. One of the guys, John Fick, shot his second deer, in so many years, only minutes into the season…raising the bar for the rest of us to match his performance. With a good group of guys like this in camp…you don’t have to shoot a deer to know you will still have fun.
For almost as long as I can remember, I have found it fascinating to count the number of shots I hear on opening morning of the hunt. I used to use a notepad and pencil, but as I grew older I became more sophisticated so now I use a tally counter with a push button.
I know counting the number of gun blasts is not a very scientific way of measuring success in the woods…but as you are sitting there pondering what will happen next it is so easy to imagine what must be going on with each shot.
Two decades ago when I counted it was not uncommon for opening day to have 100+ shots fired during the first hour. Well, times have sure changed and so has the hunting pressure. Today it is possible to go all day and not count 100 shotgun reports. In fact, today I counted 57 shots fired assuming that at best I might be able to hear a blast from as far as maybe 4 miles away. These were 57 shots counted during the morning hours. I suspended my counting after that.
The point I am trying to make is hunting pressure is not what it used to be. The deer numbers are just as high if not higher…but the hunter pressure in this area just is not there.
All in all it was a decent opener…but here’s looking forward to tomorrow when a cold front is supposed to move in hopefully making this feel like an honest to goodness deer hunt.
© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.