And it was a disappointing one. Not that it was entirely unexpected- Forest County was buck only, like much of the northern portion of the state, and the DNR was reporting the overall harvest on opening weekend being down 18%. Willy-nilly tag sales, harsh winters, the presence of coyotes, and the growth in the population of bears and wolves has done in the deer population up there.
Don’t get me wrong- there are deer. I saw some myself, and we had plenty of trail camera footage. But they were already mostly showing up at night, and a bunch of yahoos running around with guns only cemented that fact. I watched deer on two different nights. The first night, I had one in my crosshairs, but it was near enough to dark I couldn’t discern antlers, and was hesitating to take the shot until it was on snow for a background, where I could confirm it was a he. He winded me and ran off snorting before that happened. The next night I watched a doe and a yearling come into the bait. The yearling got within 10 yards of me before wandering off.
Matt got to do some under ice trapping sets for the first time, with mixed success- lots of traps set off, but nothing in them. On the last day, we got two muskrats. We set up for some coyote on dry land, and then on the frozen creek when we saw a lot of tracks from Friday night. No coyotes, though.
The most exciting/scary event was on our last morning there- we took a walk up the creek and noticed some very large tracks. Doglike, but not from where our dogs had walked, and bigger. More than double the size of the coyote tracks. And two to three sets. A small wolf pack had walked up the creek and nearly to our cabin. Eerie, and it makes me much more afraid to use the outhouse at night.
I didn’t take my big camera with me, and my poor cellphone was low on battery fighting the cold, but I did take some pictures. And with no deer last week, we’re hoping to get out more for late bow season and black powder. Fingers crossed we get at least one- I haven’t had to buy beef in almost 5 years.