Deer Camp and Thanksgiving

I finally make my return after a several day absence. We returned from Deer Camp and Thanksgiving late on Saturday night. This will probably be the first of three or so posts on the last weekend of gun season. On the one hand, we had incredible luck- we returned from northeast Wisconsin with two deer strapped to our cargo carrier. On the other hand, we had what I can only call Pech. It’s the German word for bad luck, but it’s also the German word for pitch (pine tar, not the action in baseball). The German word for good luck, Glück, only really has positive connotations, and making the straight antonym of it doesn’t quite reach as far as I’d like. Pech describes our circumstances so much better, both because of the negative connotations, as well as the idea that it just sticks to you and doesn’t come off.  The bad luck enters when I didn’t fill any of my tags or see deer, when Matt backed the truck into a tree, mangling our cargo carrier, and when the scope on my rifle came loose. Oh, and the fact that the week before we arrived, most of Matt’s younger cousins had been running amok all over the hunting land. The roads were rutted all to hell from inexperienced teenagers attempting to drive off road, we found bottle rocket leftovers in front of the cabin, they’d shot two porcupines, and the deer were spooked for miles around.

Short linguistic tangent and rant about Kids These Days over, I’ll sum things up with words before throwing up a huge gallery of photos. The two deer were both Matt’s work. I got video of the first, as we were sitting next to each other on the edge of an unused cow pasture. The video is saving as I type, and I have yet to even upload it to YouTube- it will go up this afternoon, I suspect. It was a great shot, and he was happy to get it out of the way. That one he got on Thanksgiving day, as we headed out from dinner at his grandparents to hunt that pasture down the road. She was a little doe- probably a yearling.

We hunted that same pasture Friday night after helping his dad with some projects, and getting the blower fan in the truck replaced (in other news, the Durango has heat for the first time since we bought it. Hooray!). However, Friday night, his dad and his youngest stepbrother also hunted the pasture. Poor little kid has both inadequate gear and instruction in hunting- it was about 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit all day, and he got cold fast. He was shivering audibly, and left his stand with about 35 minutes of light left. His stand was right on the trail the deer came from on Thursday night- we weren’t going to see anything. I doubt anyone told him he has to stay out until damn near full dark.

Saturday morning, we hunted but didn’t see anything. The trail camera we put out over a bait pile the night before picked up images, however, so it was heartening. The deer were getting unspooked after a couple quiet days. Saturday afternoon, we replenished bait piles that were gone Saturday morning, after not having been hit for days. Saturday evening, I didn’t see a thing, in spite of heavy sign and a rub near my stand. I would hear Matt shoot, and that’s when he got his second deer- a much bigger doe we had captured at the same bait pile the night before, and I suspect the one I passed on back in September. She’s a biggun. Lengthy summarization over, let there be photographs.

So, the video should go up this afternoon. Tomorrow I’ll have a post about the last evening of gun season down in Madison tomorrow. Black powder rifle season started at sun up today, and goes until this Sunday. We basically get a chance to fill any tags left over from gun season. According to Matt the moon phase today and tomorrow is good for hunting- I may make it out tonight. This weekend we hope to be heading to a kind acquaintance’s out in Richland Center to hunt with our muzzle loaders.

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10 thoughts on “Deer Camp and Thanksgiving

  1. yessss! i’m glad you guys got something. i’ve been following your progress and cheering you on from my living room. glad it finally paid off.

    matt’s second deer looks like she has some weight to her. do you know off hand how heavy she is?

    • We were pretty thrilled. And the doe was big, but unfortunately there weren’t any scales nearby- I’d have liked to know, too. But I had to help drag her back to the garage when we got home, and I’d be willing to bet she weighs at least as much as I do, if not more. If the old wive’s tale is true, and deer do fatten themselves in direct proportion to the harshness of the coming winter, we are well and truly screwed. Every deer we saw, both here in Madison and up in Wabeno and Armstrong Creek were pudgy. Though 4 snowfalls and mid-teens temps in November led it credence.

    • We’ve still got muzzle loader and late bow, so I’m holding out hope for maybe one more. But yeah- jerky, sausage, snack sticks, steak, roasts. Matt’s hoping to practice a head mount on one of them, we’ll tan the hides, and I hope to attempt making venison bone broth. We made nothing but summer sausage last year, which is fine, but I’m hopping for breakfast links, myself. Or brats.

      • I’ve never made summer sausage before, but it’s on my list for this year. I already have the casings and seasoning. I just don’t have a smoker. How do y’all make yours? Is it possible to make it in an oven?

        I always get a lot of steaks out of mine and then turn whatever is left into ground meat for jerky and etc. This year I experimented with mixing some with hickory smoked bacon and pork loin. It tastes a lot better for sure.

        • The oven is totally doable. You just have to make sure you watch them- we dried ours out really bad. The flavor was there, just zero moisture. I have a post on it from way way back here: https://playoutdoorsblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/play-outdoors-had-a-sausagefest/
          In it I mention we let the sausage go over night. We had 25 raw pounds of it, and I would say to check the internal temp of them every couple hours. You want 165, or just a hair over. Overnight was definitely overkill, even with our large volume of sausage. I don’t know if we’ll be purchasing a smoker this year or not- we need to get a vertical stuffer, too. We’ll see- the oven may just serve again.

    • Hey- venison is venison! The first doe was little- maybe 80 or 90 pounds. Much like the button buck from two years ago- he was tiny. The second doe is over 100 pounds, easy. Possibly close to my weight, around 120. Do you have a healthy chunk of season left? We do. Bow goes until Jan 6th in WI, and I have my IL tags still till Jan 12th. It’s muzzle loader right now, and then there’s some holiday antlerless hunts through December.

      • Yep, we’ve got a late muzzle loader season that runs a few weeks after January. Of course, there’s always pork to chase. Have you looked at the Kettle Moraine State Forest? We visited that area when we were up there–beautiful and perhaps chock full of deer. We say a herd of 6 or so.

        • I meant to ask how your trip up to these parts went- I still haven’t been to Kettle Moraine- it’s a big landform, and I have the idea that it’s vaguely east-ish of us- Google Maps says down by Whitewater, so that’s not bad at all. This season I think finally convinced Matt we really do need to scout more than one chunk of public land , so we’ll hopefully be looking at some more places. I’ll keep it in mind- they recently passed a law that we can hunt state parks, particularly here in the CWD zone for herd control.

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