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An Outdoorsman’s Journal

An Outdoorsman’s  Journal An Outdoorsman’s  Journal

Hello friends, This week’s column is about the second week of deer camp for the Red Brush Gang whose up to 23 members take up residence each fall on public land in northern Juneau County. We live in our makeshift 18-foot by 36foot pole barn that is home and then take it down on the last day of Wisconsin’s gun deer season.

Monday, Nov. 21 High 34, Low 17

Today’s high of 34 has replaced opening day’s high of 22 with strong winds and this is the first day that the gang starts doing deer drives. Our drives would be in sections of approximately a mile long by a mile wide and there would be 13 of us today. These drives can be man killers. Some in our gang simply have too many decades on their knees, some have injuries and there is nothing that can be done about that. They are automatic standers.

Standers that can hit running bucks are far and few between and the young guys love being mobile and pushing deer with the hopes that they go toward the standers. As the years go by, it seems like more and more of the deer run back behind the drivers instead of forward to the standers. Many times, I have written about the difficulty of traveling these wetlands. One of the causes of our sometimes demise is the failed price of a beaver pelt, and this is a national situation. Simply put there are a lot more beavers and that has created many more wetlands than before fur prices hit bottom a few years back.

Beavers flood forests and lowlands, so then they can swim to where they harvest aspen and willow instead of walking on land and get fed on by coyotes and wolves. What can and does happen in our situation is that though it is mandatory for Red Brush hunters to wear hip boots, some of the new beaver country has deeper water than our hip boots are tall. The worst situation is the dreaded half ice and that is where you are walking on top of the ice and then you break through.

It is very interesting to watch your comrade negotiate this and listen to the occasional grunts and groans as it seems impossible at times to get yourself pulled out to only break through again. All members go through half ice and you feel bad for your comrade and you also think it’s funny. That may sound evil, but what comes around, goes around.

Last night we had the “Sunday Night Party” back at the shack where Jeff Moll served lasagna and we had a big time dart tournament and laughed a lot. Today it was The Cibulka boys, Doug and his son Derek, who both connected on running bucks. Doug came into this group in the late 80s. Doug went through the Poynette school system one year behind Jeff and I and has been fun the entire time I have known him. It does not matter if it’s salmon on Lake Michigan in a canoe, trapping otters, hunting bears or chasing deer, Doug Cibulka is consistently chasing a heartbeat.

The drivers kicked up the buck, which was a real pretty 7-pointer and Doug made steaks out of it. Twenty minutes later Derek Cibulka kicked up a spike buck that ran behind the drive. Derek fired his gun twice and either shot would have sent the spiker to heaven. The best shots at running deer in our group are duck hunters and I believe that it is because we are used to shooting at fast moving targets.

The last two days of deer camp are a blast, kind of sad and kind of a relief. Some of us have spent nine nights here, most at least six, and we are about as tired as a human can be and can still “barely” walk and talk. That’s the relief part. The sad part is that this entire group only gets together in mass once a year unless there is a wedding, graduation or a funeral and, without a doubt, we are well aware that this is the most fun place to be on the planet each November. The blast part is that on the second weekend we all know that we have another night of hooting it up on Friday and on Saturday night. Everyone challenges themselves to stay up as late as possible on Saturday as the shack is coming down in the morning.

For 51 falls I have done this. The only way I will stop is if I die and that might happen someday, but until I do I am a Red Brush hunter!