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With Racing Over...It is Hunting Time
Roger, Christian, River and Brent inspect the 6 pointer. - By Bronco
Roger, Christian, River and Brent inspect the 6 pointer. - By Bronco

Deer hunting - More than 'Luck'



This is not your average article about deer hunting in Wisconsin, for I am not your prototype hunter.

The 2009 gun season was the first time I ever went hunting. With my family and upbringing, the sports we played either had a ball or a stick. Growing up in Milwaukee, I thought hunting was for the people that lived closest to the forest. Was I ever wrong!

Since I came to UW-Stout in the fall of 1983, I have lived with, schooled with, and worked with people that absolutely have a passion about the outdoors, and specifically, deer hunting. Scouting out the terrain, the habits of the deer, using digital cameras mounted on trees — I never did quite understand that until recently.

My son Christian, 14, wanted to go deer hunting with his grandfather, Roger Christenson. Without completing the hunters safety education course, he was allowed to go hunting, with me has his mentor. I have previous military experience, including handling a firearm.

That, by no means, qualified me for an expert mentor. We both survived the 2009 gun season, having hunted on state land in Burnett County. Together, we didn’t even see a deer, but the time we spent together was something I would never trade.

Appetite whetted

Now that Christian and I both had the “taste of the hunt,” we couldn’t wait for the 2010 season to arrive. Last summer, he completed his hunters safety education. We started to make trips to the store together, looking at guns, ammunition, blaze orange everything you could think of, and talking with other hunters. A few trips to the Menomonie shooting range, and we were good to go.

According to the Wisconsin DNR, the annual deer hunt season has an economic impact on Wisconsin business of somewhere near $1 billion. It goes far beyond buying guns, clothing, eating at restaurants and bars. For the 2010 Wisconsin gun season, the DNR sold 427,000 permits.

Forward to opening day last Saturday. We are in Luck, on the banks of Long Trade Lake, on Roger’s land, with Brent and River Christenson, Christian and myself. Up early, breakfast and then to the hunting grounds just across the road from the Christenson house, which for the weekend has been transformed into “Deer Camp 2010.”

Grandma Sharon Christenson has left us boys to fend for ourselves and is spending time in Menomonie with her other grandsons. We are all in position just prior to first light, the moon still visible, the crisp morning air and plenty of snow underfoot. There really is excitement in the air.

First impression

River Christenson, 12, of Prescott, took the first shot at about 6:45a.m., his bullet just missing its mark, and taking fur off the back of a six pointer. That miss however, drove the deer right to his father, Brent, who had a clear shot, and dropped the buck in its tracks. Soon, Christian, River, Brent and I stood over the fallen deer, admiring the nice size it was, and discussing the events that lead up to this point.

The boys were both impressed and looking forward to their coming chances.

As evening was fast approaching, the shots heard in the distance started to increase. With the extra noise, the deer were moving around, and soon it was my turn as two yearlings approached my firing line from my right.

I slowly lowered my rifle on the bigger of the two and wait until I had a perfect shot. I noticed that my heart rate had increased; so did the rate at which I was breathing.

I could hear in my head, my old gunnery sergeant from my distant past, “Squeeze the trigger, don’t pull it.” One deep breath, and I squeezed the trigger, the bullet flying right thought the heart, as the young buck dropped to the ground. My first deer, at the age of 45.

Click, click, bang!

We still had about an hour of daylight left, and I was standing on the ground near the stand where Christian was. We both saw the next pair of deer about the same time, I saw Christian slowly take aim at a doe about 50 yards away.

I heard a “click” that indicated the round did not fire. Christian cocked the rifle, the deer started to run away, now 60 yards, and again, an audible “click.”

The deer now at 75 yards, again cocking the rifle, this time a loud “bang.” Christian took aim at the other deer, about 80 yards away and cracked off two more shots.

I could see the way that by the first deer had jumped, she was hit. The second deer scampered off into the woods, right into Roger’s sights. About 10 seconds later, he dropped that doe with a single shot.

As Christian climbed down from the stand, it was obvious to me that he was disappointed. But I told him, “I think that was a hit’ we better go take a look.”

With the snow on the ground, tracking a blood trail was easy, and sure enough, after walking about 200 yards, we found where the doe had fallen in the woods. Christian has gotten his first deer.

Between the excitement and the temperature, which was falling fast, he was visibly shaking. I put my arm around his shoulder and congratulated him, all the while beaming with fatherly pride.

All the anticipation, the waiting, the longing to get out in the woods, this is what it was all about. This is why people hunt.

Not only do I now understand why people can be so passionate towards hunting, but I realize that it’s also about the time with family and traditions being created. And if I needed more evidence, when I walked into my Eau Claire office on Monday, the deer hunting stories where flying about — all told with hand-waving enthusiasm and a gleam in the eye.

Copyright © 2010 Dunn County News
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