By Mike Sievwright
-- Wisconsin's 2004 gun deer season is one I will soon not forget. Each year, hunting season generally means my oldest son and I spend time in a rustic cabin located in the northern Wisconsin woods. By rustic, I mean no running water, no electricity and bunkbeds in a one-room shack at the back of a 40-acre swamp and thick trees. Over the past 25 years that I have hunted the land, I have seen very few bucks and shot none. I have managed to take a number of very nice sized does in the 130- to 140-pound range.
My son was not able to make the trip for opening weekend this year because of obligations at school. So the season started out as kind of a bummer. Added to this was an unseasonably warm and rainy opening day. Eleven hours in the stand and soaked through! Not an animal in sight. The woods were silent until later in the evening, back at the shack, when I was serenaded by a pack of hungry coyotes on a blood trail. It seems that they had a better opening day than what I experienced.
A cold front moved through in the early morning hours. I awoke eagerly, ready to sit for another day. The previous day's rain, coupled with the cold weather had turned the ground to a crackling crunch and as I approached my treestand in the dark, I spooked a couple of does from their beds. I was hoping to see them later in the morning!
Around 8:30 a.m. I climbed down from my stand and took a walk around the field edge that my stand overlooked. I freshened the scent pads, which I had hung the day before with a new dose of doe estrus. As I turned to head back to the stand, I heard a crunch-crunch noise in the woods to my left. I froze and waited to get a peep of the raucous culprit but the sound moved away from me and over a small ridge. I decided after a few minutes to follow, not having seen what it was that I was following.
As I made it over the top of the ridge, just off a gravel road, I spotted a whitetail disappear behind a large pine tree about 15 yards away. It was here that I again made like a statue. I listened to the creature making noises from behind the tree for several minutes and could tell it was heading away from me.
Knowing that I could lose this opportunity, I bent down, picked up a stone and threw it out ahead of the sound. The deer stopped and turned to its left, heading into a swamp. I immediately picked up another stone and hurled it with all my might. The deer turned and came back up over the rise right toward me!
As the buck ambled my direction, I could see a set of large antlers cresting the hill. The buck stopped and stared at me, with only its headgear showing. I had raised my .30-06 to my shoulder, but not to my eye as of yet. I looked at that deer, and it looked at me from just 25 yards away. The staring contest lasted for what seemed like an eternity. I don't know what possessed the buck, but it took three more steps up the hill and stood broadside to me. The Remington barked as I raised it the remainder of the way and found the buck's vital region in the scope.
The buck turned and ran away in a dead sprint.
I walked shakily to the spot where the buck had stood and to my amazement, there was hair and blood! Knowing that the buck needed time to expire, I waited patiently for what seemed like an hour. I trudged back to the cabin, had a cup of coffee and called my wife. I told her I had just shot the biggest deer of my life, probably an 8-pointer; all I had to do was find it!
I then returned to track my trophy. About 20 yards from where I had last seen the deer, I came upon the most beautiful sight I had ever seen in the woods, a monster 11-point buck. This fantastic specimen scored a 153 2/8, weighed over 215 pounds, and now hangs proudly on my wall.
To make things even more special, my son arrived on Thanksgiving Day and by Saturday had bagged the first deer of his life, a nice doe. I was as proud of his accomplishment as I was of mine. The passing on of my passion to the first of my three sons was complete.
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