Now that a little time has passed I feel like I can share some of my experiences from the Minnesota Deer Hunting season. The season ran for 10 days starting on November 3rd. Because of our zone we are limited to hunting with shotguns. I hunted with a my 20 gauge slug gun. My father-in-law graciously worked out a lease for a piece of land near their place north of the Twin Cities. The farm is 68 acres and is highlighted by a massive, nasty swamp in the middle of it. We knew deer were in there so we targeted and hunted around that swamp.
Weather Report: I hunted opening weekend and then again for two days (Friday and Saturday) for the second weekend. Typically during the deer hunting season you hope for cold temperatures and maybe some snow. We had neither. The first weekend consisted of temperatures in the upper 30s and lower 40s. Overnight lows were in the upper 20s and lower 30s. When it is that warm, deer don’t want to move (they have their thick winter coats on), nor do they need to move (cold temperatures force deer to eat to maintain calories). Conditions were nice with fairly light east winds and partly sunny skies. For the second weekend it was even warmer with temperatures in the upper 40s and 50s! Same story on the deer movement, plus it rained over a half inch on Saturday. Yuck!
So to recap my hunting it comes down to missed opportunities (aka missed shots). Opening day was pretty quiet in my stand, I had it set up in a pretty sweet spot but didn’t account for some obnoxious neighbors and their loud dogs. I actually had a woman stop on the road near my stand and start yelling at me asking if I had permission to hunt. There is nothing I hate more than dealing with other people when I am hunting! On Sunday morning of opening weekend. I sat in a different stand, I called a doe out of the swamp and took a 60-70 yard poke at her (missed). My comfort zone is definitely within 50 yards. That being said I felt like I should have made the shot, and this began my battle with the Red Dot scope I was using. Later that morning my father-in-law pushed the swamp and chased out a couple of deer including a nice little buck. I took a shot at him while he was running but didn’t connect. The deer of course came out exactly where I DIDN’T expect them too, and I had my back to them. The deer stopped for me but I couldn’t get my gun up in time to get a good shot. Later that night I sat in a different stand and had deer all over me, but I couldn’t get any shots. Of course the deer were all milling around under one of our other stands.
Some pictures from my deer stands:
I saw deer during the second weekend as well. I saw a few on Friday and passed on a couple of marginal shots. After my hunt on Friday night I decided to take down my stand and move it to another small property. The problem was it was pitch black dark when I decided to do so! It was pretty freaky and the hair was standing up on the back of my neck the whole time. I am fairly familiar with the woods and walked in to where I thought I should be. I found a good tree and set up my stand. As I was walking out of the woods I tried to remember landmarks but as I walked out of the woods I had some serious doubts that I would be able to find the stand in the morning. Sure enough on Saturday morning I walked out in the rain and couldn’t find my stand anywhere. I leaned against a tree and waited for first light so I could look for my stand. After finally finding my stand (it wasn’t really close to where I wanted it!) I climbed up in it and sat for awhile. The rut was in full swing so I decided to do some calling and did several sets of bleats and grunts. My brother-in-law and I had a plan to meet that morning to do some walking on the other farm so I was getting ready to pack it in when I turned to my left and saw two deer! It was a buck and a doe and they had clearly responded to my calling. I can admittedly say that a little buck fever set in at that point. I knew I had to move quickly as the deer were walking behind me and about to get downwind of me. I turned and brought up my gun, the combination of rain on my glasses and both ends of my scope made it nearly impossible for me to see anything (UGHHH). Even at that the deer were only 20 feet away and I thought I had enough of a sight picture to take a shot. I fired once and clearly missed. As the deer ran I was able to stop the doe two more times and MISSED. Needless to say I was VERY frustrated. I felt like a good hunter but a bad shooter. I just couldn’t seal the deal. After confirming that there wasn’t any blood I took my stand down and got out of the woods. With my gun issues and complete lack of confidence that was the end of my season.
That hunt was also the last hunt for my Red Dot scope. I just didn’t trust it anymore and wanted to get back to open sights anyway. The very next weekend was the opener for the Wisconsin deer season, I swapped out my barrel on my trusty 12 gauge and went to the range to get it sighted in. I will be taking that and a lot more confidence into the deer woods in Wisconsin. I will be posting a recap of that season soon.