The gun seasons didn’t shape up too terribly for the crew at Müütka Lodge.
My dad filled his doe tag on the closing day of the four-day doe hunt. Our crew of five ended up with four deer over the 23-day span that includes all of the firearm seasons.
With the cold, deer were moving just before dark instead of after. This is behavior that we have noticed over many years of late season hunting, and Dad reported a number of deer sightings.
It used to be late bow season that we keyed on after the nine-day gun hunt, but we’re able to tote muzzleloaders into the woods now. It’s a fun variation, and the guns are quite effective.
From a purely hunting point of view, if I had to choose one or the other, I’d likely opt for the muzzleloader season over the regular gun season.
It’s quieter and colder. Also, deer generally resume more regular patterns, moving from bedding to feeding areas, without the craziness of the rut and regular gun season hunting pressure.
It might not match the potential entertainment of the rut, but as December wears on, deer are simpler creatures to figure out. Of course, a too-warm December can be a hope killer.
I hope the down deer year is a product of the cold weather on opening weekend and that there are more deer than we sometimes think. Fingers crossed.
‘Tis the season.
‘Tis the season for shivering off calories and damaging credit ratings.
I’ve adjusted my caloric intake to more than make up for those shivered off, but I’ve not significantly stalled the credit rating thing. You pick your battles.
My wife, Cheryl, is a busy elf during the Christmas season, preparing gifts, baking and decorating. And she doesn’t leave out the bucks. There are a number of shoulder mounts in our house, and each is outfitted for the season.
Even our yellow Lab, Gracie, sports a bell and a bit of ribbon on her collar.
I don’t usually write out a personal wish-list for Christmas. My interests and needs are abundantly clear for those around me. I need one of everything practical, and want one of everything fishing- and deer hunting-related.
While many people require thought, I am a fairly simple person to shop for. If anyone is in doubt, I am a fan of beer and meat.
I especially love outdoor-related gifts, though.
I recall such favorites as a .22 rifle with scope – my very first scoped rifle – and a Swedish ice auger from my parents.
The auger still cuts holes (though I now also posess a power auger) and the .22, though it’s gathering dust now, has always remained on my gun rack and has downed many squirrels and rabbits, along with the occasional varmint, in the past.
The auger has probably seen four sets of blades in its life. They can be sharpened only so many times before they grow too stubby.
I once used to outrun power augers with it, at least until the ice exceeded a certain point in thickness (and I exceeded a certain age). I wouldn’t take the challenge now, except on ice I now regard as too thin to stand on.
Many times that auger was precariously fastened to my snowmobile, an old Johnson Skee Horse, as I rode toward mid-winter battles with the 6-inch perch residing in the lake near my home.
The lake was small but deep, so I could find the perch in 10 feet of water, or in 50. Either way, they were small.
I discovered that my dog, Shadow, enjoyed the small perch. On days that I decided to keep some for a meal, regardless of size, he was apt to eat them fresh.
Shadow was all black, tall, lean, and powerfully built. He brought a natural ease to whatever he did, including scaring people who didn’t know him. In short – he was awesome.
Once, on a late ice trip, Shadow accompanied me on a walk to the small island in the lake. One side of the island had solid ice, but the sun-exposed side had seen significant melt.
I can still see Shadow perched atop a boulder in the water on the sun-exposed side, bunching his muscles for a leap to the ice.
“No!” I yelled as he leapt. He landed on his intended target, but it was much too thin to support him and he went straight through.
Luckily, Shadow’s claws proved to be effective tools for getting back onto solid ice. He pulled himself out and headed for terra firma.
Of course, Christmas is about family, if you’re as fortunate as I am.
Christmas morning was always fun growing up. Despite my greed as I anticipated the day, I was never disappointed, even one year, as a teenager, when an extreme warm spell melted the snow and flooded our basement/garage.
We opened gifts, then quickly set to digging trenches to get water diverted away from the basement, and sopping up water that had breached the garage door with towels and mops.
Of course, deer hunting can still be good this time of year. I have, in the past, had my mind on late bow season as I attended Christmas get-togethers. Time was growing short, I knew, and any tag I still possessed was burning a hole in my back tag holder.
In 1998, I saw five deer on Dec. 23 as I endured single-digit temps on stand. I was eager to get back out, but the festivities kept me away for two days.
The day after Christmas, I saw three deer, including a pair of bucks – a seven-pointer and an eight-pointer – traveling together.
The seven was the bigger deer, and it offered a shot. My arrow hit home, and he piled up 40 yards away. A late Christmas gift.
So, if you’re inclined to, keep hitting the woods, the deer will come out on cold afternoons.
Still, if you opt for the fireplace, the cookies, and the company of loved ones, I totally understand.
From us to you, Merry Christmas. May it be all you expected.
Craig Turk may be reached at email@example.com.