Back in the fall of 2022, I described how my daughter Deanne’s deer hunting stand had finally given up the ghost.
I’ve often wondered where my fascination with muzzleloaders began, and why I’ve never moved on from the more traditional style of rifle, with an outside hammer that falls in an arc.
I stumbled on this photograph of me and my brother, Tim, when I was the ripe old age of 5, standing next to my grandfather’s sedan (a Dodge?) in 1954, with a buck stuffed into the trunk. He’d obviously just returned from his Houghton County deer camp east of Twin Lakes in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and we were proud as peacocks to pose by the deer.
Oh, I have a couple with some value; an older Morseth and a Ruana custom semi-skinner that’s no longer made, but they’re all legitimate “working” knives that have seen time in my deer pack, archery web-gear, and upland gunning bags. Two of them stand out; however, with a lot of unknown history.
It’s not that I’m afraid of deer.
I really enjoy deer. I like watching them, scouting for them, and hunting them with bow and gun. I like getting excited when I see them. I just don’t like getting excited seeing them as they flash across the highway amongst traffic that’s wheeling along at 60 mph or more.
To say deer are common in Wisconsin would be a gross understatement. In many areas of the state they are vastly overabundant, and have been so for some time. In the northeast corner of Wisconsin, where I’ve lived and worked for 50 years, this change has been inexorable.
I was going through an old photo album the other day. By old, think black and white photographs from the early 1950s. Glancing at a couple of them, I was reminded of the Rod Stewart tune “Every Picture Tells a Story,” a classic rock and roll song from 1971. Boy, am I dating myself!
I’ve hunted ducks in Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, North Dakota, and Saskatchewan over the decades, but those days slogging through the beaver ponds at the base of the Rawah Wilderness will always hold treasured memories for me.
We’re probably past the point where in-person deer registration would return to Wisconsin. People have adapted to and accepted electronic deer registration, and the convenience(s) it can provide.
Hunters must, however, be aware of the trade-offs and loss of ability to collect some important biological metrics regarding deer in Wisconsin.
I built my daughter Deanne’s deer stand in 1994, the year she turned 13. It finally gave up the ghost this past fall, after 28 years of hard use.
Camp records show she’s shot 15 deer from the stand. Almost everyone else in camp has shot at least one deer from it, as well.