This year’s northern opener couldn’t have been much different than last year’s. The weather, for one, was nothing short of amazing- 80s and sunny, with nights dipping enough to make sleeping bags a necessity. Second, we never bothered with deer hunting in the evenings, but more on that later.
That’s Matt and I on the road, just north of Wausau. He’s towing that enormous boat (26 foot), and I’m riding behind, blocking the lane for him when he needs to change, as his mirrors aren’t big enough to see behind it. He got that 26 footer from a guy up in Oshkosh for $500. It’s in better shape than Ditchboat was, even though I prefer Ditchboat’s roof and toilet. He intended to take the trailer out from under it, and leave the boat itself with his dad for a later project. I later learned (I left early) that didn’t work out as planned.
Decoys and mirror-like water at 8:57 on opening morning.
Guess whose waders are the really short ones.
This year left me really pondering a 9 AM start time for the season. We saw, no lie, upwards of 50 birds between 6:30 AM and about 7:15. Two were wood duck drakes that landed not 30 yards from us. By 9, not a tail feather. I understand that it’s meant to give the birds the absolute best chance, given how large a percentage (something like 60%, if I recall correctly) of the season’s take is on opening day alone. So, opening day for us is generally getting up at 4:30, being in the blind by 5 or so, and then sitting and waiting for four long hours. This year was at least warm. We ended with just one duck on the whole weekend. I left Saturday evening, and Matt stayed on. They got 4 ducks Sunday morning, but lost them in the rice. This has Matt dead set on getting another dog.
Prepping our decoys.
Sun breaking over the hill
Cabin in the woods.
We didn’t bother with trying to bow hunt this year, for two reasons. First, that this part of the state is buck only this year. Second, we only caught one, lonely trail camera image (out of thousands, literally) of a little forkhorn. It was all does. We’re even hoping no one shoots him, so that he at least has a chance to breed the does we did see. We also found some wolf tracks, which would explain the absence of fawns, as would the presence of a bear.
Mysterious lonely buck.
One very fat doe.
So that was that with opening weekend. Next weekend is the opener down here in our part of the state. However, we’re considering driving back up so that we don’t have to both wait for another 9 am start, and contend with alllllll the other people who come out that morning.