Time For Governor Dayton To Go Sit In The Woods

Ever since 2003 the Governor of Minnesota, then Governor Tim Pawlenty, has honored the deer hunting tradition in our state with the Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener celebration.   It mostly just amounts to a bunch of pomp and circumstance for the Explore Minnesota Tourism Department and the Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Association, but rightly so it spotlights a big industry in Minnesota which includes lots of orange-clad participants who enjoy their time spent in the woods.

IMG_0279In full disclosure, back in 2006, I got to host Governor Pawlenty here at the farm for that annual deer hunt.   Each year it bounces around to different areas of the state and this year the 2013 celebration is in Fergus Falls, Minnesota beginning on Friday and lasting into Saturday.

Okay, further disclosure I am not a big fan of our current Governor Mark Dayton.   Fair to say we don’t share many similar views on politics.   But apparently we also don’t share similar views on deer hunting.   Ever since becoming governor he makes a token appearance and departs the GDHO event stating he is not a deer hunter and doesn’t want to take part in the actual hunt.

Therein lies my frustration with the current Minnesota Governor.   Oh, sure, when he took office he was quick to leave his own impression on the sporting world by starting the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunt.   But he refuses to hunt deer.   Why?   Claims he’s not a deer hunter and doesn’t care to shoot a deer.

Fair enough, but there’s much more to deer hunting than actually pulling the trigger.   How the hell is a politician going to adequately claim they can relate to me as a sportsman when they refuse to experience the sort of outdoors activities that fuel my soul.   In Minnesota each fall there are over 10 deer hunters afield for every pheasant hunter, and that ratio is growing each year as folks give up on the AWOL pheasant population.

When Governor Pawlenty hunted with me he spent time with other hunters in my camp.   He learned what motivates a person to get up at outrageously early times, dress in layers of warm clothes, and then head for the dark woods to sit and wait.

When Governor Pawlenty hunted with our group he got to experience nature come to life as the sun peaked over the horizon to slowly warm the frosty morning air.   He witnessed nature at what I believe is its finest hours of the entire day scurrying to life.   Indeed, the deer hunter is sitting in a balcony theater seat watching the drama known as nature unfold 360 degrees in all directions around them.   How can life get any better than that?

Deer hunting is very different than pheasant hunting.   Oh, sure, both activities enjoy nature in its own unique way…but calling yourself a pheasant hunter in no way provides any understanding as to how life as a deer hunter is enjoyed.   There simply is no substitute for experiencing deer hunting first hand.

It’s almost like the backyard bird watcher who enjoys feeding and watching birds from the kitchen window.   Gives them a better sense of nature when they can observe it with their own eyes.

But remove that wall and pane of glass and suddenly it opens up a new dimension to be sitting out in the woods motionless and have a Black-capped Chickadee land on the barrel of your rifle completely oblivious to your presence.   Or a flock of wild turkeys completely surrounding your tree scratching in the leaves unaware they are being watched ever so closely from a perch above.   Or a pair of red squirrels frolicking in the nearby tree attempting their death-defying acrobatics.

Notice I made no mention of deer.   That’s right.   Deer hunting is so much bigger than just killing a deer and bragging about it to your friends.   Of course, I would expect a non-deer hunter to assume bringing home the venison is the sole motivation for being in the deer woods this time of the year.   Yet, that’s the sort of misguided notion people have about things when they don’t take time to experience an activity first-hand for themselves.

Surely, if deer hunting is important enough for 500,000 Minnesotans to spend countless hours out sitting in the trees this coming weekend, our state’s chief executive officer can share a few hours of his precious time discovering for himself the many wonders of deer hunting.   Governor Dayton, deer hunters deserve that sort of respect and showing of support from you when acting in the capacity of governor of a sportsman-oriented state like Minnesota.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Deer Camp Rules Gleaned From Over 35 Years Of Hunting Experience

With the Minnesota firearms deer hunting season just around the corner (on November 9th) I thought it might be appropriate to share some of the wisdom gleaned by attending over 35 years in hunting camp.   As you prepare for your hunting camp this fall, please take this sage advice into careful consideration:

  1. Never trust a skinny person to pick up the morning donuts for deer camp.  They will either severely underestimate how many are needed or pick up some healthy crap nobody wants to eat.SLD_1557
  2. The snoring in deer camp will be far worse than ever imagined.  Just trust me on this.
  3. Never complain about the cook’s grub.  They might actually tell you what they put in it.
  4. Don’t be the first hunter to come back to camp because you’re cold.  Deservingly so, this person should receive a great deal of harassment from the other hunters who all wished they were back toasty and warm near the camp stove.
  5. Don’t bring your clothes and hunting gear to camp stored in garbage bags.   Duffel bags tend to reduce the chances of getting old coffee grounds and food waste being thrown into your pseudo-luggage bag by mistake (or on purpose)?
  6. Position your sleeping cot as far away from the bathroom door or tent entrance as possible.  Is it necessary to elaborate on this one?
  7. Don’t be the youngest person in camp.  Always make sure there is someone more junior than you who has a stronger back for chopping and carrying heavy firewood (or a host of other menial tasks likely to be assigned by camp elders).
  8. Never bet more than $1 on either the first deer or during a game of camp poker.   There are always hunters in the camp who will find a way to take your money.
  9. Beware the hunter who seems overly willing to let you use his favorite deer stand.   What they’re failing to tell you is it was their favorite deer hunting stand a decade ago when it last witnessed a deer kill.
  10. And finally, even if you get a cell phone signal NEVER TELL YOUR SPOUSE or significant other that fact.   Let them continue to think how you’re hunting so deep into the woods reaching you by text or voice is simply not an option for the upcoming few days.

There you have it.   Just a few suggestions (some tongue-in-cheek) on how to best survive deer camp.   What other thoughts might you add from your years of experience hunting in deer camp?   Leave your thoughts below in the comments.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

10 Sure Signs Today Isn’t The Day You Will Score On A Deer.

Let’s face it, we’ve all had those days when things just don’t seem to go the right way in our lives.   This can be especially frustrating when out deer hunting.   Consider these ten sure signs that today probably isn’t that day you will score on that trophy deer you’ve been dreaming about.

  1. You somehow find your deer hunting clothes laying on the floor and the dog slept on them all night.   Guess what?   You’re not shooting a deer today.   Go back to bed.
  2. You open the door to the house to walk to the truck.   Suddenly you see a blur of movement over near your garden catching a glimpse of white tails swishing in the air.   Guess what?   You’ve just seen the only deer you will likely see all day today.   This is a bad omen before even getting to the woods.   Go back to bed.
  3. You turn on the truck radio and instead of Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” you hear, instead, the Little River Band song “Lonesome Loser.”   Turn the truck around as you’re not shooting a deer today.   Might as well go back to bed.
  4. While driving to the woods you see a shooting star and immediately make a wish that contains 12–points.   Moments later a black cat goes dashing across the road in front of your truck.   You swerve trying to hit it…but miss and nearly drive into the ditch.   Face it…today’s not gonna be your day.   Might as well drive to the nearest truck stop and have breakfast instead.
  5. You stop at your buddy’s house to pick him up to go hunting.   The house is completely dark with no signs of movement inside.   Outside the house you gently tap on his bedroom window in an effort to get his attention.   Instead you hear other strange, but obvious noises inside.   Turns out he has a change in plans and you’re not included in them.   Might as well head to the woods alone to ponder what you are missing out on at home.   You’re not getting a deer with distractions like that!
  6. You finally make it to the woods and park your truck.   You exit stepping in a fresh pile of Timber Wolf scat.   There ain’t a deer within a mile of you right now and you reek of a feared predator.   Things just aren’t going well…might as well check your watch to see how long until the local pub opens.
  7. You say to hell with it and start hiking in on your trail.   Damn, it’s dark this particular morning and you get a bit disoriented and veer somewhat off path.   Suddenly a resilient sapling snaps up and nails you right in the crotch.   You’re breathless…you’re fighting off systemic shock from the sheer acute pain…you fall to the ground and let out a large groan.   It’s not your day.   You won’t shoot a deer.   Might as well go home and start working on that “honey-do” list—ice packs inside pants included.
  8. You finally make it to your deer stand only to find the recent windstorm has blown over your tree and completely crushed your expensive new deer stand.   You drop to your knees and start sobbing repeating “Why me?   Why me?”   Do you really think with this kind of luck you’re getting a deer?   Not today!Qrrq1orm
  9. You’re sitting in your deer stand.   The woods has been unusually quiet.   Suddenly a ruckus erupts beyond the tree line over by a small meandering stream.   A great blue heron takes to flight lumbering and bee lining towards your location.   An uneasy feeling is growing inside you…and suddenly your worst fear has been realized.   Your equipment and clothing is splattered with loose, disgusting fecal matter.   It’s not your day.   The entire woods community is telling you to go home and you haven’t listened.   You’re not scoring on a deer today.
  10. You head home and unload all your equipment from the truck.   The spouse once again shoves that “honey-do” list toward your face.   You notice several tasks require a trip to the hardware store…so you drive back to town.   Time to make this day productive in finishing projects if not connecting with a deer.   Just when all thoughts have turned to re-caulking window sills and cleaning gutters it happens.   Brakes squealing!!…SMASH!!   Damned if you didn’t just nail a deer in the front quarter panel of your new truck.   The damage is extensive…but you finally got your deer.   Oh, wait…where did it go?   Crap!   It’s just not your day…now might be a good time to believe the signs and go back to bed.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.