-By Brandon Wikman
Wisconsin is best known for 3 things. . . Cheese, Packer Football and, most importantly, deer hunting!
This past weekend a barrage of 650,000 hunters sporting blaze orange freckled the state of Wisconsin. Opening weekend of firearm season has been a Wisconsin family tradition for years, hunters with buck fever and good times makes the season unforgettable. I’ve been fortunate enough to score big whitetails for the past five years during gun deer season. This year was no different, but I must say, a little luck and the use of a good rule-of-thumb put a giant whitetail in the crosshairs just in the nick of time!
The second day of gun season began with a boom, literally. The blasting usually begins at daybreak and slowly piddles down by noon. I was hunting with Bluff Bucks Outfitters, once again this year as I have for the past three years. We were overlooking a vast marsh, which was surrounded by towering bluffs. The only tree that was suitable on the entire 200-acre swamp for a tree stand was a crooked cottonwood.
The cameraman and I planned to sit until noon before going back to the cabin to defrost our frozen bodies and grab a snack. The morning was rather slow, although consistent shots ringing from the nearby bluffs gave us enough confidence that deer could potentially barrel down the side of the hills and vanish into the tall weeds, cattails and bogs where I called home, for the time being.
The marshy sanctuary was where I shot my buck during archery season. It’s one of those sweet spots where only time will tell whether you bag your buck or not. Without any deer-sightings other than a few doe during daybreak, our minds began itching for the cabin. By 11, we were cold from the brutal winds, considering there were no windbreaks in the valley. I looked at my cameraman and he had the same look I had; it was go time. We began packing our stuff when something told me to give it a little more time. If I wasn’t going to make it to noon, at least wait it out for a few more minutes. I did just that, wincing and wondering if I was making a good decision or not. My purple hands told me I wasn’t, but a couple years of experience told me I was right, sit it out!
We both gave it another ten minutes, but no deer crossed the empty marsh so we began our way down the tree.
As we got down, I looked across the other side of the marsh and saw a doe crashing through the brush running. I was back in my stand within 30 seconds with my gun ready when out stepped a gnarly, 6 ½ year old buck that called this swamp home. He trailed the doe with his nose on the ground completely unaware of my presence. At 100 yards I put the crosshairs on his chest and fired a bullet into his vitals.
If I learned anything, let this be a lesson for all hunters: You aren’t going to shoot a deer back at camp or in bed. Sometimes putting your time in goes a long way, and your chance of killing a buck increases more than you realize. I always cringe when I have second thoughts about putting my time in; if only I were in the stand 10, 20, or 30 minutes longer.
There’s always a chance to shoot a deer in the woods. You never really know when your moment can happen, be ready, be prepared and most of all be there!