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An Outdoorsman’s Journal

An Outdoorsman’s Journal An Outdoorsman’s Journal

By: Mark Walters

Chippewa River Bow Hunt

Hello friends: I am sitting at the driver’s seat of The Chevy Hotel somewhere in Pepin County and I am writing this week’s column. In the last 32 years, I have never written this column on a computer in my truck.

So here is the deal -- I am camping, it is day six of my bow hunt. I have left camp in the dark by canoe and every day I have come back to camp in the dark by canoe.

To be perfectly honest, I am as weathered as possible and still walking. I am supposed to be headed home today but have just decided to stay another 48 to 72 hours. The following are some brief details of my life.

Sunday, October 31 High 56, low 32 It is about a 1-mile paddle to where I am bow hunting. Friday night was my first hunt. I have two doe tags and my buck tag; I want to make meat and as usual enjoy life. On Friday I saw one doe but unfortunately, she saw me first. She was crossing a marsh and I was going from a standing position to sitting in my stand and, lo and behold, she spotted me first.

On Saturday I did not see one deer. Today I had better luck, kind of. At about 8:15 I saw a cow doe about 40 yards away in the forest and I was thinking about backstraps and having one less tag to fill. Too bad for me she decided to go in a valley instead of toward me. Five minutes later I was pretty stoked about my experience and here came a 10-point buck following her trail via his nose, step for step.

That buck was literally seeing with his nose. Five minutes after that, what may be the biggest spike buck that I have ever seen comes down the same trail as the doe and 10-pointer and makes a B-line right at me. I am thinking venison and glory, but when he was five yards away, I made the “it’s too early in this trip to fill my buck tag with this buck” decision. In all honesty, this spiker was not a 1.5-year-old deer. He had a very heavy body and really large spikes.

So, I am living in a tree, tent, or canoe and on the canoe end I have made two new friends. On Saturday I met Lyle Bataglia and Tom Nissley of Plum City. These guys are trapping muskrat and are very cool dudes, about as outdoorsy and natural as you can get. While they were setting their traps on Saturday, they caught seven muskrats. We have had great conversations every day when I paddle in for my lunch break.

Before I forget, here are a couple of handy tips. When I got lost two weeks ago in a deep, dark swamp I unknowingly destroyed both of my Lacrosse Trapper hip boots and on my first hunt of this trip, I found out. The following day I used one 2.5-gallon zip lock bag for each foot and other than sweat, my feet stay dry.

Also, it took me four days to find my toothpaste. I put sea salt on my toothbrush and my mouth is as fresh as a 60-year-old man living under these conditions can get.

Here is another story. I am exploring, I see a deer on what is a ridgeline/shoreline, it is a buck. The wind pushed me to shore within 20 feet of the buck which does not know of my presence. It was a small fork horn. I let him live and when my canoe touched the shore, he saw me and said goodbye.

Next, most people are aware that it is not cool to shoot or hunt any deer other than a super trophy buck. I say BS to that. Last year I killed a very large 10-point buck, Selina whacked a spike, and we put a doe in the freezer as well. The reality of sitting at the dinner table is this: the 10-pointer is like eating an old bull compared to a prime steer. Selina’s spiker is pure pleasure, like the steer that was raised for the county fair.

Sure, if you have the income, you can make sausage sticks out of the old goat but this low-income meat-and-potatoes guy is always thinking venison steaks sauteed with butter and onions. A meal like that makes me a lean, mean fighting machine.

So, I see I am about out of space and that sun clock is telling me that I need to paddle a mile, hike in a ways, and climb a tree. I am on overtime and am just about to the any-buckwill- do kind of point. Super Spiker beware, I want your back straps in a fillet. Sunset

Mark Walters traveling to his bow stand on the Chippewa River.

(L-R) Tom Nissley and Lyle Bataglia trapping muskrat on the Chippewa River.

The view from my bow stand!