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An Outdoorsman’s Journal - The Red Brush Gang/ deer camp

The Red Brush Gang/  deer camp The Red Brush Gang/  deer camp

An Outdoorsman’s Journal

Mark Walters sponsored by

Hello friends, It is Thanksgiving, and I am home from deer camp until tomorrow. This past Saturday was the 52nd year in a row that I have hunted deer with a rifle in the Necedah National Wildlife and/or the adjoining Meadow Valley Wildlife Area, which if you look on a map, is part of Wisconsin’s Central Forest. Our deer camp is called The Red Brush Gang and my father, the late Robert Walters, started it back in 1955 when he was attending UW-Madison. To me, deer camp is probably the funnest place on earth. By the end of the nine-day gun season about 25 people will have stayed there.

When I first started hunting here, there were no bears, fishers, turkeys or wolves in the area. Whitetailed deer populations were literally exploding, and it was a given that you would see 25 to 45 deer on opening weekend. The size of the racks were very small and our average camp contest winner was a fork horn, but it was a lot of fun to see so many deer and so much sign while in the forests and marshes of this beautiful part of the world.

Saturday, Nov. 18 High 46, Low 34

Seventeen of us slept at camp last night. As you can imagine there are a lot of individual stories. My main story, and it was a stresser, is that the afternoon before both my daughter Selina and I became ill. Selina vomited at least 40 times. I felt disoriented and extremely tired.

At 4 a.m., Selina told me she was good enough to hunt, which in her case includes a walk that is just over two miles, and we hunt from dark to dark. Selina’s brother, Joey Dushek, would also be in our neck of the woods, and we were in the part of the refuge that had thousands of sandhill cranes, geese, swans and ducks. If you ever wanted to see an example of a refuge that is dedicated to waterfowl that really works, come here in the fall or spring. Long story short, the first two days our background music and view were of the above birds.

Concern came into my world when two hours after daylight I had not hardly heard a shot, seen a hunter or a deer. About 10 a.m. I started getting texts from Red Brush hunters and many local friends, all with the same theme. Nonetheless, beautiful weather conditions and the view are what I thrive on. I was watching a marsh with a 500-yard view, and well aware of how cool it is to be immersed two miles from my truck with two kids that are a huge part of my life was all I needed.

My buddy Jeff Moll, who has never missed a deer camp in his 49 years, had the real theme when about 2 p.m. he sent a text that he just saw a huge doe, his first deer of the day and right behind it was a wolf. Text after text was wolf stories and very few deer being spotted.

I mean the following. The attitude in our camp is excellent and no matter what the health issue, every one of us gives our hunt 100 percent. Tonight, at camp, not one of us out of 17 had a deer on the pole.

Sunday, Nov. 19 High 51, Low 28

I have been running hard for eight months and this morning I arrived at my stand 35 minutes before first light. I laid on the ground and took a beautiful nap. My daughter is kind of getting her health back and tonight is what the camp calls the “Sunday Night Party.” The Sunday Night Party had good energy because today Tim Rittmeyer, who is one of the kids in this gang “about 35,” had harvested a buck. It was a fork horn, but we had a deer on the pole. Our deer camp buck contest ends on Monday night even though everyone is at camp the following weekend and Tim’s fork horn would be the only buck harvested and the smallest contest winner in 30 years.

I respect the wolf. I also respect common sense management of all forms of wildlife!