An Outdoorsman’s Journal
By: Mark Walters
Chippewa River Bow Hunt
Hello friends: This is one of those all-over-the-map kind of stories. In a nutshell, I headed over to Pepin and Buffalo counties near Durand to camp, travel by canoe and hunt deer with a compound bow. Crazy as it may sound, my goal was to harvest a doe, not a buck. I have been having some great hunts in my food plot and passed on a good looking 10-pointer two nights in a row just before I left for this hunt. In simple terms, unless I saw a really nice buck, I did not want my buck tag to be filled quite yet.
Saturday, Oct. 10 High 63, low 44
So here is the plan. I build camp, and my fouryear- old golden retriever Ruby is my companion. On a side note, Ruby would have been due this week had I had her bred back in August. Realizing that the pups would be born in the peak of my busy season, I had to pass.
So, this would be the third fall that I have explored this vast area of public land and I actually spent the night in a tree here in July scouting out this spot. I have been dreaming about returning with a bow and my canoe for months.
Here comes the bad news. I paddle to where I am going to do a very short hike to what is a natural deer funnel and a small but very good spot to hunt. I set my stand down at the tree I am going to put it in, and I am about as happy as I can be. All of a sudden, I feel the presence of a human. I look and here comes the same fella that I met last fall at this exact same spot.
He is carrying a crossbow and has permission to cross through some private land, so he actually has a short walk. Just like last year I am informed that he has had a trail camera at this location all fall and I am supposed to assume that even though it is public, he is the owner.
Like a fool I chose to walk away without a negative word, just like I did last year.
Monday, Oct. 12 High 61, low 43 One of my main thrills on this type of trip is the challenge of not using lights in the forest when hiking in the dark or paddling in the dark. You would be amazed if you just trust yourself how easy this can actually work. Today I made an executive decision. Since I lost my spot, I am making this a five-day trip instead of three. Back in the late 80s and early 90s when I did not have a home, I basically went from trip to trip, hand-wrote and snail-mailed this column, and went to a one-hour film developing business and made photos which I also snail-mailed to everyone. I loved that era of this career; after my “paperwork” was done I headed my trusty pickup in the direction of the next adventure. Before I paddle away from camp in the dark long before dawn, I throw a softball as far as I can several times and Ruby always finds it. I repeat this game even before bed and that is all Ruby asks for. Last year I saw a five-point buck several times and he appeared to hang out in a small area. I swear that today I saw my old buddy in the same area and acting just like he did last year. He is now an 8-pointer with a massive body and not a big rack, maybe 14 inches. I could have made an easy shot on him but as I said earlier, I want to hunt my food plot, but it would have been so cool to paddle back to camp with a buck in the canoe.
Here is a crazy story. I had not driven my truck in four days but had a 140-watt inverter plugged into the cigarette lighter. I use this to charge cameras, headlamps, and my phone.
Today I opened the door to my truck and could smell that ugly taint of an electrical fire about to happen.
Something went wrong with the inverter and it was literally melting a charger and its cord. I picked it up without hesitation and melted the end of two of my fingernails. Long story short, had it been an hour later I think my truck that now has 311,000 miles on it would have been gone as gone gets.
Another interesting note is that on a recent duck hunt camping trip I kind of abused my flip phone and it died, and I lost all 370 of my contacts. Text me your number if you know me. I would destroy a smart phone faster than snow melts in May. Sunset
The old Chevy just about met its Waterloo on this adventure.
This is the buck that Walters passed up two nights in a row while hunting his food plot.