Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For November 20th, 2009 Edition.
(Reflections Covering 7 Decades of a Northwood’s Deer Camp – (Part one of three)
As I begin this historical account of The Anderson/Jorgensen Deer Camp, the date is November 8, 2009. The opening of the traditional nine-day gun season is but 13 days away from my 55th deer-hunting season. For the first time since the season of 1952 my normal optimistic outlook is lacking.
What follows are some “snapshot” recollections taken from the meticulous records that have annually been recorded by participants in the hunt since 1938, the year the A/J Camp was founded. I am presently in possession of three massive photo/diary albums that accurately record the highs and lows of the camp’s seven decades.
Enjoy a trip down memory lane!
The “deer hunting tradition” of the A/J Camp began quite innocently in November of 1938 after my parents purchased 40 acres of wilderness in the township of St. Germain in Vilas County, Wisconsin. During the summer and early fall of ’38 a small, one room log cabin rose on the north shore of Dollar Lake, a location which was destined to become a deer camp, a year later the Anderson’s family home, and ultimately, Kasomo Lodge.
Five hunters used the tiny, rustic shack for their deer hunting headquarters during the then traditional seven-day rifle season and all five hunters bagged a buck. The founding fathers consisted of Roy “Andy” Anderson, three Jorgensen’s, Ed, Bud and Jim, all residents of Mountain, Wisconsin, plus Norb Winkler of Rhinelander.
At this time the landscape was much different than today. The logging era came to an end in Northern Wisconsin during the early 1920s and very little of what could accurately be called “forest” existed. Much of the environment was open and barren, except for small patches of young aspen, birch and maple plus scrubby jackpine. Deer often roamed in herds of a dozen or more animals.
During the deer season of ’39 seven hunters, plus mom and I crowded into what had become called “The Homestead.” Mom was appointed chief cook and bottle washer, and three of the new members of the camp paid the princely sum of $5.00 a day to be housed and fed, a tradition that continued through the season of 1955!
A second log cabin was built during the summer of 1940 to house an ever-expanding number of deer hunters. By the time November of 1941 rolled around a third cabin existed to serve not only deer hunters, but summer vacationers also!
The November deer season of 1941 was unusual because of a total lack of snow the entire seven days! Several photos in album number one from that year clearly show hunters enjoying the out-of-door in shirtsleeves.
During this era, and up until 1956, a legal buck needed to have at least one tine on at least one antler measuring at least one inch in length, commonly called “a fork-buck.”
In 1943 the WCD, (Wisconsin Conservation Department) decided there were “too many deer” up north, which actually was the only area in the state that had good numbers of deer. All deer were declared to be fair game and it was estimated 268,000 deer were killed during that first “all out” season! All 15 hunters at the A/J Camp easily filled their tags! Another “first” also was recorded, the camp’s first female hunter took part in the hunt and Hildagard Krautkramer continued to be a camp regular for many seasons.
From 1944 through 1948 the state returned to a “bucks only” season. In 1948 I was considered to be old enough to join the ranks of the hunters and carried my first gun in the woods following dad or uncle Bud around, but did not have an opportunity to shoot at anything. However, - I became hooked on the sport after watching dad drop three bucks out of a herd of more than a dozen running deer with three shots from his Winchester Model ’94 -.30-30!
By November of 1949 more change occurred at the site of the A/J Camp. Our new “lodge/home” had been completed after five years of construction. The Homestead became a third cabin and the hunters dined in the new lodge dining room.
Deer were still roaming the landscape in herds in 1949 when the state once again made all deer legal targets. This senseless massacre continued through the seasons of 1950 and ’51, leaving only a small population of whitetails remaining. (I shot my first deer using dad’s Remington 12 gauge pump with slugs, a modest yearling buck, in ’51.) It was the opinion of many hunters that this was the beginning of making our deer herd a “money making program” rather than a sound management program.
Records from 1938 through 1949 show an average of 10 hunters participated each season. They killed a total of 37 bucks for a success rate of about 28%. By adding in the antlerless deer harvested the success rate jumps to a bit over 40% for the period.
Besides dad and the Jorgensen side of the family, most members of the camp came from Wrightstown, Kaukauna, and the Green Bay area. Most common were the family names of Reaganfuss, Krautkramer, Kitto, Van Geane, Miller, Paschen and Everhard.
Dad and I, plus many other dedicated deer hunters boycotted the season of ’52 by not buying a hunting license. Nine die-hards returned to camp and killed but one buck. Uncle Bud shot a majestic 12-point monster, which dressed out a bit over 200 pounds. Sadly, no photos exist of this camp record setting buck.
The deer seasons of 1953-55 turned out to be the final chapter for what is now called “The Early Years” of the A/J Camp. Upon the completion of the 1955 season mom decreed her days as the chief camp cook were over, which ended an era spanning 18 deer seasons!
Dad had a highly negative experience during the deer season of 1954, which “soured” him deeply concerning what he called, “the new breed of deer hunters.” Dad shot a buck opening day on our property and sat in his stand for a few minutes to let the buck that had stumbled up and over a small knoll, lay down and expire. Upon following the blood trail to the downed buck he discovered a trespasser had tagged his buck.
A heated discussion followed but the unethical hunter clung to the “I tagged it first” argument. Dad then emptied his gun into the choice eating parts of the buck and kicked the guy off our land. So much for sportsmanship!
I shot my 2nd deer in ’55, a modest fork-horn, on opening weekend while on a short vacation from my freshman year in college.
Beginning in 1956 bucks supporting “spike horns” of more than three inches in length became legal game. Only three hunters occupied the Homestead bunkhouse for opening weekend, uncle Bud, Leo Reaganfuss and I. Dad had given up deer hunting and mom and he had obtained winter jobs in Chicago. A half-dozen of the “old guard” booked reservations at a nearby resort and hunted with the three remaining A/J Camp members.
Opening day of ‘56 found the temperature at –10 degrees with a howling northwest wind. I was about to head for the bunkhouse by 7:15 due to the bitter cold when a spike buck presented me with an east shot. An hour later my buck was suspended on the camp “meat pole” and I was soaking up heat by the wood stove.
Late in the afternoon a serious snowstorm moved in and dumped nearly a foot of snow on the landscape. Uncle Bud filled his tag Sunday morning with a big spike buck, and that was the total kill for ’56.
1957 was a memorable season. There was ample snow, temperatures were moderate and all eight hunters filled their tags by the third day of the season. This was the first year doe permits were issued. Four hunters could form a “team” and purchase one doe permit for what was commonly called, “camp meat.” Another new rule dictated that all deer must be registered at an official WCD “check in site.”
My college roommate, Tom Dean, hunted with me and bagged a trophy 12 point 200 pounds plus buck just minutes into legal shooting time on opening morning. The buck and his girlfriend nearly ran Tom over and his point blank shot was made at a distance of 12 feet! The deer was a “piebald” with large areas of white hair mixed within the normal brown hair. This specimen caused quite a stir when we checked it in.
Tom bagged three additional bucks, two spikes and a fork, helping to fill our companion’s tags, and I bagged a six-point buck and another spike.
A genuine blizzard hit the north late Monday afternoon and by Tuesday morning 22 inches of snow had fallen! Yes, 1957 was a highly memorable opening weekend!
There was no snow during the season of 1958 and seven hunters could fill but three tags. 1959 presented a similar scenario and for the time being, ended my association with the A/J Camp.
During 1950 – ’59 the camp averaged 10.1 hunters per season. There were 28 bucks killed for a success rate of 28%. When adding antlerless deer bagged the success rate climbed close to 70%.
In January of 1960 I graduated from college. My wife, Peggy, plus our six-month old son, Chris, and I, traveled to sunny Florida to join my folks. I found a teaching job at a Junior High School in Orlando and continued to teach there for the next six school terms.
The A/J Camp descended into a short era we have dubbed as ‘The Dark Ages.”
(To be continued next week.)
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: email@example.com 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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