Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For November 23rd, 2007 Edition.
Deer Season, More than a Tradition, (Part Two)
The Anderson-Jorgensen Deer Camp, now it its 70th season, is but one of thousands of similar institutions nationwide. In last weeks column I highlighted some of the major events that took place there from 1938 through 1959, some personal and some of general importance.
I was absent during deer season from 1960 through 1965 when membership in the bunkhouse varied from one to three. During the season of 1962 Uncle Bud was the lone individual who kept the tradition alive. He was rewarded with a beautiful 9-point buck opening morning. The mounted trophy can still be viewed on a wall in Blink Bonnie Supper Club in St. Germain.
When my family returned to St. Germain on a year around basis in June of '66, membership in our deer camp rebounded with the addition of four former members. I rejoined Uncle Bud, as did his brothers, Victor and Ed, both charter members of the five original founding fathers of the tradition in '38. Lee, one of my cousins was also on board, which filled five bunks in the deer shack.
Membership in deer camps that have existed for many decades is much like a family. As time marches on new members arrive and the old timers retire or pass on to another world. Newcomers are welcomed like the birth of a new baby and mourning takes place when a senior member departs. Sixty-two different hunters, including seven females, have spent time at the A-J Camp over the past 69 seasons so we've had lots of welcomes and numerous mourning.
Naturally certain seasons and events stick out as major experiences. Here is a partial list from 1960 to the present.
On opening day in 1960 hunters were greeted with a foot of new snow in the woods. Similar conditions also were present in 1978, 1991 and 1997. Conditions were so bad during the entire season of '91 that the DNR extended the hunt to 16 days. On a personal note, not having sighted a single buck during the first 15 days in '91 I bagged a beautiful 8 pointer on the final day, December 7th.
On the other side of the coin hunters hunted in balmy temperatures of 50s and 60s during the seasons of '79, '82 and '98.
While on the subject of weather conditions, there is no argument that the overall fall weather pattern has changed drastically over the past seven decades. From 1938 to 1959 there was but one deer season with no snow on the ground. During the past 30 seasons having little or no snow for major portions of the season is the norm. Years back normally all the lakes were firmly covered with ice by deer season, now musky anglers often fish open water while listening to rifle shots in the surrounding forests.
One of my favorite deer hunting memories occurred during the season of '69. Three members of the camp decided to try some "new territory." Ed Petras, Bob Riley and myself ventured north and hunted the rolling hardwood hills just east of Mystery Lake. Another of my pals and his wife, Doug and "Pinkie" Dean were also hunting in the area and became major players in the event.
About mid-morning Doug had the opportunity to take a shot at a buck. The deer went down, but got up and ran off, only to pass close to Ed's stand. Ed made the finishing shot and walked over to take a look at what he first thought would be his buck. Upon reaching the fallen deer Ed noticed there were two bullet wounds and he had shot but once. Doug arrived shortly hot on the blood trail. Both men knew each other and a friendly conversation developed.
My stand was only a couple hundred yards distance and I became curious about the faint, but obvious, discussion in progress, so I wandered over to investigate. A good-natured argument was taking place as both hunters attempted to convince the other to claim the buck! Doug's shot had not been a fatal one, so he argued that the deer belonged to Ed. Ed countered by stating that the rule in our camp was that whoever drew first blood was entitled to the animal.
After listening to the banter for several minutes I intervened as referee. I suggested a coin flip to see who would tag the deer. The suggestion was accepted and the three of us began a fruitless search of our pockets for a coin! I did extract a book of matches from my jacket pocket, which advertised Hunt's Tomato Ketchup on the cover. I tore off the cover and declared the picture of the tomato was heads and the blank side of the cover was tails. I told Doug to make the call as he had fired the first shot. I tossed the paper "coin" into the snowy air and Doug declared "Heads." The matchbook cover fluttered to the ground and rested on the snow with the tomato up. Doug tagged the buck, we helped him field dress it, followed by a round of handshakes and we returned to the hunt.
A few other notable memories include that of our son, Chris, bagging his first deer in '73 at age 14 and oldest daughter, Cherie, doing likewise in '76 at age 16. The gang moved into a new bunkhouse in '77, which we named "The New Hunter's Hilton."
Permanent tree stands were made legal on private property in '78, which somehow seemed to coincide with baiting becoming a popular way to attract deer.
Uncle Victor spent his last season in camp in '68, Uncle Bud retired from the sport in '73 and Uncle Ed, the last remaining charter member of the camp called it quits in '87 on the 50th anniversary of the tradition when he was 83. Another era had ended.
Another unusual adventure took place in 2002. During a late season drive through a swamp we fondly refer to as "The Hell Hole", Steve Clemens shot a deer at the edge of a small stream that meanders through the swamp. The deer stumbled out unto the ice- covered surface of the creek and then fell through the ice as it expired. Now we were stuck on the horns of a dilemma. Being too thin to support a deer, we knew it was unsafe to support a human.
I walked to my truck and drove home to obtain a canoe and 50 feet of stout rope. With much difficulty the group carried the canoe through the tangled swamp to the location of the deer. Then we loaded Steve in the canoe, tied the rope to the bow and with a great shove propelled him and his unstable craft across the slippery surface to his deer. Steve put his arm around the deer's neck and with much effort the team on the bank pulled Steve, the canoe and the deer to shore. Fortunately, one member of the expedition had a camera and captured the entire episode on film. Much laughter was present during the field operation and well afterwards!
As I finish this column the 2007 season is but six days away. What new adventures and memories await us? Time will tell!
Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin. Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean, both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide. Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.
Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here
Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger
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