An Outdoorsman’s Journal,
By Mark Walters
Deep Swamp Bow Hunt
Hello friends, Hunting whitetail deer with a bow and arrow has never been one of my strong points. A little over a year ago, I made the decision I was going to find a large piece of public land that was not overrun with wolves and get better at this awesome sport.
Last fall, I learned about and explored the Tiffany Bottoms, which is an incredible piece of public property that has the Chippewa River running through the heart of it, in Pepin and Buffalo counties.
I had problems back there last year, with getting iced out, but have been looking forward to returning ever since!
Wednesday, Oct. 23 • High 54, Low 27
A canoe, hip boots, camping gear, tree stands and my compound bow, were all required equipment for every part of this trip. As I have mentioned numerous times, Wisconsin’s water table is rising, and once again, I saw that today, as the piece of land I would live on, is becoming smaller and very waterlogged.
My campsite is a solid canoe trip, I hunt about 3/4 of a mile by canoe from camp. All foot travel requires hip boots.
The location I hunt is a natural funnel that has been created by beaver, water and ease of travel. It is high ground separating two forests and the only high ground, and it was caused by a beaver dam. The water in this area is a good 6 inches higher than it was a year ago.
As an example, the tree I am hunting has 6 inches of water at its base, there is zero dry land to place anything that cannot get wet.
Tonight, was hunt No. 1. I have a doe tag; I want a doe as much as I want a buck. Because there is so much water, there is a rapids going over the beaver dam, which is my constant background noise.
At this place, you cannot see the deer until they are in bow range, because of dense tag alders. I thought I heard footsteps in the water and that was confirmed, when a large doe got by me before I saw her.
Thursday, October 24 • High 56, Low 25
The canoe trip to my stand is in the dark for my morning hunts and I am constantly under attack from beaver. It is hilarious and could make some people fill their undershorts. I cannot see the beaver, they are swimming and let me get about 20 feet from them, before they splash their tail in warning as hard as they can, to warn other beavers.
This morning’s hunt was really cool. I waited until 7:15 to do my first grunt of the season and a doe came out of no- where. At 7:22, I repeated the process and a beautiful buck, maybe a 17-inch, eight to 10-pointer, comes by at 32 yards, with no warning and no time for a shot.
On my afternoon hunt, I had a five-pointer by me for an hour, looking for a doe in heat. The five-pointer would be much better eating than the big buck and I eat a lot of venison.
On the canoe trip back to camp, I was attacked by every beaver on the Chippewa, and lived to tell about it.
Friday, Oct. 25 • High 51, Low 24
My water jug froze last night...oh yeah, I almost forgot... while canoeing back to camp yesterday, a bull canvasback flew over me and I dropped it, as I keep a shotgun in my canoe. This bird is a dandy, best I’ve ever gotten and he is going on my wall.
This morning, while canoeing in the dark, I got lost four times in a very narrow channel and every time, I had to lift my canoe up to turn it around.
At the stand, the five-pointer is pushing his luck, as he came within 10 yards of me. At 7:22, the big guy came by at 32 yards and I just about let fly, but did not have enough time for an ethical shot.
When I got down from my stand, I checked my trail cameras and had pictures of two true brutes, taken after dark.
I had to leave camp today, for a day, as I had a family deal, with super cold weather coming, and with ice and all these deer experiences, my life will not be boring.
If I come up missing, look in the beaver lodge for my remains! Sunset