Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Chris Aderhold Inaugural Deer Hunt Journal

Approximately 40 hours spent outside in an effort to kill my first deer resulted in two kills. Unfortunately, neither was a deer and both were squirrels. 

So, the cat's out of the bag. That beautiful 10-point buck I posted a couple weeks ago wasn't mine. Rebecca & Kevin's Dad bagged that bad boy during a deer drive near Black River Falls, WI.

However, in all that time spent out in the cold, I learned much about hunting deer, and came away from this experience with some pretty good stories. Additionally, I feel confident that during the special Holiday Hunt in late December-early January, I'll finally take care of business.

So, please sit back and enjoy a few stories and a few lessons I took away from my first Gun Deer Season in Reedsburg, WI 53959.

Odor is Bad

The night before my first day of hunting, I felt like a kid the night before Christmas. I gathered all my cold weather gear, pulled my .30-30 out from my truck, and went to bed early (my brothers famous Christmas Eve speech was ringing in my ears: "The faster you go to sleep, the faster it will be Christmas" - and yes, I'm looking forward to hearing it again on Wednesday).

During hunter safety class, and in talking with friends about hunting, I'd heard that it's important to have absolutely no odor while you're out hunting. I couldn't help but scoff at the notion that deer would smell me and run the other way, mostly because you can't walk anywhere around Camp without seeing their footprints.

Because of this ignorance, I headed out to the far side of Camp at 5:45 on opening morning with a steaming thermos of starbucks coffee (sans sugar because my Dentist recently used the analogy that sugar attacks my teeth more ferociously than Candace Parker attacks the rim -apparently that's really good, and apparently he's a WNBA fan).

Surprisingly, I didn't see even one deer that morning. Apparently, every other shmoe hunting that morning knew not to bring coffee with them because it sounded like I was in the middle of a war zone. I'm guessing I heard close to 60 gun shots that morning. 

The next night we had our Thanksgiving Dinner at Camp, and I had a lengthy chat with Tom - 'The Official Camp Gray Hunting Expert' and one heck of a Turkey fryer.

Tom stressed to me how important it is to be odor free, telling me he even went as far as rubbing cedar leaves on him on the way out to his stand.  He even suggested that I leave all my hunting clothes outside on my porch so they don't pick up odors from my home (which made for some chilly early mornings), and recommended that I go without showering during hunting season, and that I wait to brush my teeth until after the hunt because deer can pick up the smell of soap and toothpaste.  I decided to take this odor thing a little more seriously and tried all of his suggestions (and quite honestly, I so badly wanted to shoot a deer that had he told me to eat black licorice and pee on my leg before every hunt I probably would have tried those, too). 
Because of the amount of effort I took hunting without smell, from that point forward, I think I can officially say that my inability to shoot a deer was not directly related to scaring off deer with my human scent. 

Standing is Discouraged

On one of the last mornings of the initial 10 day hunt, I was perched on a tree stump over looking a creek at the bottom of a valley.  
After waiting for a couple hours, I heard movement to my left.  As I slowly turned my head toward the sound, I saw two decent sized does staring right at me 30 yards away. 
I slowly lifted my rifle, but couldn't take a shot because there were too many shrubs between me and the deer.  Realizing this was obviously my best chance at shooting a deer and not wanting to miss out because of some stupid honey-suckle bushes, I slowly rose up from my stump to get a better shot.  Before I could take aim at the two girls though, they decided they had had enough of me and jogged back into the woods.
I reported this exciting development to Kevin and Jeff (I had finally seen a stinkin' deer!), only to be informed that standing to shoot a deer is dumber than putting cocoa mix in milk before warming the milk (which also recently happened).  You live and learn.          

Sunrises are my favorite

Many people will argue that sitting in single digit temperatures for hours trying to shoot a deer is a waste of time.  It can feel like that somedays.  But somedays, when you arrive in your tree stand at 5:30am and you get an all access, front row seat of creation waking up all around you - the chickadees chirping, the woodpeckers pecking, and the sun rising up over the hills in all its splendor and glory, shining brightly on the snow covered earth - it's so very much worth it.  

Squirrels make an easier target

Although the meat on a squirrel isn't quite as substantial as a the meat on a deer, hunting squirrels with a trusty .22 and a trusty friend can be quite fun. (I watched National Lampoons Christmas Vacation last night, and I couldn't help but laugh out loud - LOL - when the squirrel gets loose in the house because Clark cuts down the tree in the front yard to replace the Christmas tree that Uncle Lewis burns down.  Clark says, "Where is Eddie? He usually eats these gosh darn things", to which Eddie's wife responds, "Not recently Clark.  He read that squirrels are high in cholesterol."  My loudest LOL of the night however, was when Eddie says to Rusty, "Hoo Hoo Hoo, Let's go find your sister.")  

Sledding is as fun as it was when we were kids

As much as I enjoyed hunting this past fall, whether it be deer, racoon, or squirrel, you just can't beat a good sledding hill (and jump) in the company of fine people.  
Last weekend, Nicky, Mo-T, Sean & I built a jump at the sledding hill at Camp.  After enjoying it a handful of times, I wasn't fully satisfied, and knew I had to attempt the unthinkable - a Knievelesque jump over three human beings.  In this unedited, never-before-seen (except for 30 Explorers and the Camp Gray staff) video, you can witness history, as I go for a new amateur recreational sled jump world record.    

Cya Tuesday, friends! 

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