An Outdoorsman’s Journal,
Eight Days off the Grid
Hello friends, I recently spent eight days traveling by canoe, and on foot, while living in a tent on a bow hunt on backwaters of the Chippewa River, in Pepin and Buffalo counties! Last week, I wrote about the first three, this week, the final five!
Monday, Oct. 28 • High 38, Low 22
The high and low temperature is changing dramatically, and I have four days, max, and I will be iced in. In other words, I couldn’t 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, lit by a propane lantern. I leave my outerwear hunting clothes outside, so they don’t take on the smell of camp. I wear these clothes over hipboots and they are always soaked from the waist down, and in the morning, frozen 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 3/4 of a mile. What is incredibly cool, is the relationship I’m developing with the most concentrated population of beaver I have ever witnessed.
These beaver see me at the start of my day, when it’s dark and at the end of the day, when it’s dark.
Generally, I can’t see them, but now they have become so used to me, there are two to four of them swimming right next to me. They slap their tails on the water to warn other beavers and now they are so close, 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 H.E.Double.Toothpicks, because the water is knee to waist deep, because of my toothy friends.
So the beaver could get to the forest and stay underwater the entire time, they built a canal, which isn’t 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, passed up some shots at a good buck and a small buck. I was only seeing deer the first and last By Mark Walters
hour of daylight, and the four trail cameras 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, as I would hunt the early rut in an area with lots of whitetail deer, where very few humans are willing to spend time.
On the paddle back to camp every night, I opened a can of beer and just enjoyed the ride, and of course, the beavers were 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 I harvested last year, walleye 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 to work, 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 I have to make, and on the canoe trip back to camp, I broke ice, which was my sign 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! Sunset