Eight days off the grid
An Outdoorsman’s Journal
Hello friends, I recently spent eight days traveling by canoe and on foot while living in a tent on a bow hunt that took place on backwaters of the Chippewa River in Pepin and Buffalo counties. Last week I wrote about the first three. This week it’s the final five.
Monday, Oct. 28 High 38, Low 22
The high and low temperatures are changing dramatically. I have four days max and I will be iced in. In other words, I could not paddle my canoe back to my truck or walk on the ice as it is too thin. This same thing happened to me last year and it was a situation that would have been pretty cool to have on video as I broke ice with my paddle.
Every day starts out with me in a tent that is lit by a propane lantern. I leave my outerwear hunting clothes outside so they do not take on the smell of camp. I wear these clothes over hip boots and they are always soaked from the waist down and in the morning froze solid which means I have to thaw them out just to wear them.
After getting dressed, I paddle my canoe in the dark for about three-fourths of a mile. What is incredibly cool is the relationship that I am developing with the most concentrated population of beavers that I have ever witnessed.
These beavers see me at the start of my day when it is dark and at the end of the day when it is dark.
Generally, I cannot see them, but now they have become so used to me that there are times that there are two to four of them swimming right next to me and they slap their tails on the water to warn other beavers and now they are so close that it gets me wet. This is very comical.
Today I put a trail camera near their lodge and in one night the camera took 160 pictures of them working on it. Where I hunt, I must hike in about 600 yards and the beavers are majorly expanding a dam which is flooding the forest. The hike to my stand is pure HE-double toothpicks because the water is knee- to waist-deep due to my toothy friends.
So the beavers could get to the forest and stay underwater the entire time, they built a canal. It is not much bigger than their body, which is just another display of the beavers’ work ethic and brains.
When I started this hunt, I was having a lot of action as far as seeing deer. I passed up some shots at a good buck and a small buck. One problem was that I was only seeing deer the first and last hour of daylight and the four trail cameras that I have out were not showing any daytime deer movement.
I hunted four different areas and used muskrat droppings for a cover scent so I think it was just that for the time being the deer were nocturnal. This was a real bummer as I was looking forward to this trip for one year. I would be hunting the early rut in an area with lots of white-tailed deer where very few humans are willing to spend time.
On the paddle back to camp every night I would open a can of beer and just enjoy the ride and, of course, the beavers trying to intimidate me. At the tent I would get rid of my hunting clothes and cook a very good meal, such as steaks from a 10-point buck that I whacked last year, walleyes that I caught in Canada and chicken thighs.
On the final hunt I had a very good feeling as I was hunting near a hot scrape. I was in my stand over an hour before daylight and what I am sure was a buck came to the scrape just as I got comfortable.
As night was becoming day a deer came to the scrape without warning. I had been in my tree almost 90 minutes, it was 20 degrees and the deer was a good buck at 12 yards. I went to pull my bow back and my shoulder or something in my shoulder literally locked up, in midpull.
I got my defect worked out but the damage was done, the buck hung out in my area at 15 yards for a good five minutes, but was in too much cover for me to take a shot.
That experience got me thinking on a decision that I have to make. On the canoe trip back to camp I broke ice, which was my sign that I needed to break camp and head to civilization.
In reality, the deer add up, as do the fish. No cares about the buck that got away.