An Outdoorsman’s Journal
By: Mark Walters
D Deer Camp/The Best Place on Earth Hello friends: This week I am going to write about what I experienced at my deer camp over the first three days of Wisconsin’s deer gun season. I camp and hunt with The Red Brush Gang; this would be my 49th year in a row of being here for the opener and this is the most fun group of people on the planet.
Saturday, Nov. 21 High 44, low 26 Sixteen of us would be spread out in groups of two to three over six locations in both The Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and The Meadow Valley Wildlife Area in northern Juneau County. Only five of our people would be hunting in the same spot that they did last year and that is due to the simple fact that wolf are so dominant in this area that they had not seen any deer last year and were hoping a move would help.
My daughter Selina and I would be doing a 1.5-mile walk into some new country and, like everyone else, we had extremely high hopes for today. At dark, all 16 of us had the same story, not a shot had been fired and it did not even seem like it was opening day.
Sunday, Nov. 22 High 45, low 25 Most of us were up at 4:00 this morning and hunted until dark. Ambition and high hopes are a requirement to get up this early, put on either hip boots or chest waders, drive to wherever you walk in, do the big walk, (which usually means breaking ice in the dark) and climbing into a tree for the day. Today there was some deer movement, plenty of wolf stories, and at dark we had our first deer, which was a spike buck shot by 21-year-old Derek Cibulka. At dark Selina and I pulled our stands and made the trek back to the truck and when we arrived every bit of my clothing was wet with sweat. Tonight was the annual “Sunday Night Party” at camp. Each night a different person cooks and tonight it was Jeff Moll, who is in his 46th season as a Red Brush Hunter without missing a year.
We have a dart tournament. The wood stoves create an excellent atmosphere along with propane lights and either country or classic rock music and we laugh a lot.
Monday, Nov. 23 High 42, low 24 Today and for the rest of the season all our hunting is done by deer drives. We are a well-trained unit that understands each person’s physical abilities. We push large tracts of land and we go through mostly red brush that often has from six inches to four feet of water in it. Compasses are a must and without a doubt breaking through the ice with each step forward is horrible. Pure sweat, pain from past injuries, and shredded hip boots are the norm.
Drives that we used to see from 8-20 deer are now 1-4. Wolf sign is by far more dominant than deer but as we always have, we push on. I was a driver on our best drive today and was getting my rear end kicked as I did my best to travel in chest waders while hoping to move deer to our standers.
Good luck came my way when I kicked up a large buck and would only have one quick shot as it was running back and out of our drive. I put a round from my .300 BAR right where it had to go and had me a beautiful 10-pointer with a perfect 18.5inch rack with nothing broken.
Our success would begin to improve steadily after that bullet was fired and it took six very tough men to get him back to the truck. Most of us were hurting units for days after that drag/tote out of the red brush.
Neither wolf, half-ice, nor Sunday night parties have ever stopped us and never will. Sunset
Opening morning of the Wisconsin deer gun season in the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.
Some of the Red Brush Gang hauling a good buck out of the swamp.
This ten point buck was a tough 1.5 mile tote to get out of the swamp.