By Jordan Gerard
Editor, The Caledonia Argus
The wind carries the crisp taste of fall, the skies are a smooth blue color set against a forest full of turning leaves, and the deer are getting nervous.
I’ve filled up on my apple quota thanks to Bauer’s Market in La Crescent, fueled up with pumpkin spice lattes (fight me, pumpkin spice haters) thanks to Jo’s Coffee House and The Wired Rooster and I’ve sighted in my Remington 16 gauge.
The only thing left to make my fall season complete is trekking around the woods looking for those elusive brown creatures we call whitetail deer.
Preferably one with antlers, but I wouldn’t say no to a lady deer either. I’m not picky. Whatever puts the venison in the freezer to later make weiners, brats, bologna and our coveted jerky.
Last year, my dad and I didn’t get anything. No meat to process, no jerky to eat while fishing the next summer. Do you know how depressing it is to not have homemade venison jerky while fishing? Makes for a very poor fishing trip.
I’ve only ever really been attracted to deer hunting. I’ve tried squirrel hunting, turkey hunting, pheasant hunting, but none of them really add up to deer hunting.
I haven’t tried duck hunting, but the deer are hard enough to hit when they’re blazing out of the woods, so I can’t imagine trying to hit something that flies.
The ducks don’t have to contend with fences or muddy fields like the deer, and in fact, there’s nothing to keep the ducks in your line of sight. They can fly wherever and be out of sight in a few seconds. Deer might be held up by brush or a fenceline, where you might have a second chance. Sneaky little creatures.
This year, I’ve got my spot all picked out on a nice patch of state land, where there is a lady deer still running around from last year. All I need to do is get up early, trot out there, get into a tangle with a hunting blind before finally getting the beast set up in the dark and then sit and wait.
Usually I prefer tree stands where I have a height advantage over the deer (being a 5’4” hunter has advantages and disadvantages). Sometimes I can chill out in a brush patch, and other times I can’t find a good vantage point on flat ground. It’s a struggle.
I am looking forward to hunting season, this being my 14th year of hunting. I made a pretty good choice in a hobby when I turned 11 and decided I wanted to try hunting with my dad. A successful firearms safety course, trying out two guns before settling on a .410 and one hunting season later, I was in love with the sport.
I’ve gotten a total of six deer, graduated to a 16 gauge and taken a liking to tree stands since my first hunting season. I still remember that first frosty morning where my dad and I went out, sat in a cattle path on our cousins’ land and waited for the deer to come out of the woods.
I remember the first time I shot a deer, hiding behind a round bale in a field and hearing hooves clatter on the hard ground, taking aim and knocking it down.
I remember the first big buck I shot from a tree stand, who was chasing a doe and didn’t even notice me until I shot at him and got him. The doe got away.
And I remember the biggest buck I’ve shot to date, a nice 10 pointer that I tracked for a good 3/4 mile and finally found it. Memories that last a lifetime.
Here’s to another successful hunting season for all of the hunters out there. Good luck!