Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For November 27th, 2009 Edition.
(Reflections Covering 7 Decades of a Northwood’s Deer Camp – (Part two of three)
Part one, which appeared in the November 20 edition of the Lakeland Times, traced the early years of the Anderson/Jorgensen Deer Hunting Camp from its inception in 1938 through 1959. Part two will cover the decades of the 1960s, '70s and '80s.
For six deer seasons spanning 1960 through '65 the annual November A/J Camp tradition hung precariously by a slender thread, held tightly by one of my uncles, Bud Jorgensen. With my temporary departure from the camp only three members were involved in the hunt during 1960 and '61, Bud Jorgensen, his older brother Edward and Ed's son, Lee.
The tradition was saved in 1962 when only Bud occupied a bunk in the A/J Camp. His determination to keep our deer hunting tradition alive was rewarded with a trophy nine-point buck, the mounted head of which can still be viewed at Blink Bonnie Supper Club in St. Germain.
During the next three seasons Bud enlisted his boss, Jim Keppinger, to share the woods with him. Two bucks of undetermined size were bagged
In June of 1966 Peggy, our two rug-rats, Chris and Cherie, our black Lab, Duke, and I returned to my family home in St. Germain on a permanent basis. Bud and I successfully re-enlisted three former A/J Camp members to return to camp, and with the addition of uncles Ed and Victor, plus my cousin, Lee the November tradition was on the mend!
In the fall of 1967 a new recruit signed on and became a loyal camp member for the next 16 deer seasons. Long time friend of mine from Chicago, Ed Petras bagged his first ever buck in 1967 and added nine more to his credit over the next 15 seasons. Eventually Ed's two sons, Doug and Kenny also spent time in camp beginning in 1979.
Mixed emotions filtered through the camp during the season of 1968. On the plus side, another friend of Ed Petras, Bob Riley, joined our ranks and served with distinction for 28 seasons. Eventually four of Bob's sons and a daughter spent time in camp beginning in 1979. Mike, Paul, Sean, Chris and Shreise all collected fond memories of the A/J Camp.
On the negative side uncle Victor spent his final and 14th season in camp but went out with a bang, (pardon the pun) by filling his buck tag opening morning!
Opening day of 1969 created one of the most cherished and re-told tales in the camp's history. Ed Petras, Bob Riley and I were hunting an area well beyond our camp's private domain. Unknown to us, my longtime pal and best man at my wedding, Doug Dean, and his wife, Renie, were also hunting in the same general area.
Shortly after 8:00 a.m. a shot rang out, followed less than a minute later by a shot from Eddie's stand. I wandered over to investigate. Doug arrived at the scene about the same time I did, following the blood trail of the buck Eddie had killed. It soon became apparent that Doug's shot had been a non-fatal hit, but Eddie's was.
Back then most deer hunters subscribed to an unwritten "law of the woods", which simply stated whoever drew first blood owned the right to the deer. Eddie and Doug knew each other, so the resulting discussion took place in a quiet and friendly atmosphere.
Eddie insisted Doug tag the buck. Doug disagreed, as he rightly claimed his had not been a fatal shot. A good-natured discussion followed with neither hunter willing to tag the deer. Finally, I suggested they flip a coin to settle the argument so we all could get back to hunting. But none of us had a coin!
I discovered a book of matches in my pocket and on the cover was the picture of a tomato advertising Hunt's Tomato Soup! I ripped the cover off the book of matches and decided the tomato would be "heads" and the blank side "tails." I told Doug to make the call, as he had been the first shooter. I tossed the "coin" into the air - Doug called "heads" - and when the paper coin fluttered down to the surface of the snow the tomato was visible. Doug tagged the buck, we all shook hands and had a good laugh, then returned to hunting!
During the decade of the '60s the average number of hunters per season dropped to 3.7. Thirteen bucks were bagged, making the success rate 35%.
The decade of the '70s began with the camp's nucleus consisting of uncles Bud, Ed and cousin Lee Jorgensen, Ed Petras, Bob Riley and myself. Our son, Chris, earned permanent membership in 1971, Lee's son, Eric, in '72, and our oldest daughter, Cherie, in 1974.
Chris bagged his first deer in 1971 - Cherie snapped her tag on her first in 1976 - Eric's first came in 1977.
Due to failing health, uncle Bud spent his final year in camp during the season of 1973, completing his 37th consecutive deer season.
During the seasons of 1976 and '77 the camp's ranks temporarily ballooned to 14, but then dropped to eight again in 1978.
The season of 1978 was memorable, partly for the ten inches of snow that fell Friday, the day before opening, and a rule chance that allowed deer hunters to use tree stands. Also, Chris Anderson temporarily withdrew from membership due to a four-year commitment to the United States Air Force.
Hunting conditions were terrible opening weekend with the camp's eight members only sighting seven deer, none being bucks. However, later in the season conditions improved greatly and four hunters were successful.
The decade ended with opening weekend temperatures hitting 60 degrees, melting all the snow. Cherie Anderson's affiliation with the A/J Camp came to an end due to her accepting employment out of the area. The camp's population rose slightly to nine, with the addition of Ed Petras' son Doug and Bob Riley's sons, Mike and Paul.
During the decade of the '70s the average number of hunters per season increased to 9.1. Only 14 bucks were taken making the overall success rate drop to just 15%.
The north's deer herd began a definite rise during the early 1980s and probably peaked by the beginning of the 1990s.
Ed Petras' youngest son, Kenny joined our ranks in 1980, keeping our numbers at nine.
Mike Riley had his name added to the camp's "honor board" on opening day in 1981 by bagging his first ever buck, at 6:35 a.m. Only Tom Dean had scored earlier with his 12 point piebald on opening day in 1957. Lee Jorgensen also set a camp record by bagging a buck prior to 8:30 three years in a row!
The Ed Petras family moved from the Chicago area to LaCrosse, Wisconsin in 1982 and Eddie announced the season of '82 would be his final year as a member of the A/J Camp. He ended his membership on a high note bagging a buck the second morning, a slightly bigger one than his son, Kenny bagged opening day. Eddie's wit and dedication to the sport, and his nickname, "Lucky Eddie" will always be remembered.
Opening weekend of '82 was devoid of snow, with the temperature hitting 58 degrees with light rain. Chris Anderson returned to camp after completing his tour of duty in the USAF. Hunting conditions remained sub-standard all season and the trend continued during the two following seasons of '83 and '84
Lee Jorgensen was honored by bagging a trophy eight- point buck opening morning in '83, the largest deer taken by an A/J Camp member since Bud Jorgensen's 9 point in 1962!
Chris Anderson left our ranks again, and missed the next four seasons due to accepting employment in Indiana.
Only six bunks were filled during the season of 1985. Ma Nature returned the Northwood's to normal with a cold, snowy season. On opening morning Buckshot Anderson slightly wounded a buck but kept on its tracks for four and a half hours and finally drove it past Bob Riley who ended the ordeal at 2:45 P.M! The camp diary records this buck as "The B & B Buck."
The season of 1986 was mild, but with snow cover all season. Buckshot Anderson set a record he's not too proud of by firing 14 shots at a buck on opening day. He did bag it - then much later discovered his scope was defective causing each successive shot to strike in a different spot.
The A/J Camp celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1987. Chris Anderson re-joined the ranks, as did Kermit Momsen, who hunted with us in 1976 &'77. And Lady Luck really smiled on our celebration!
One major rule change also took place in 1987. The DNR FINALLY legalized something that had been standard practice since deer season was invented! The law now allowed "group hunting." This means one hunter can shoot more than one deer, providing his hunting companions have valid tags and are within verbal communication range.
All the action occurred opening day. Chris Anderson started things off by bagging a monster 11- point buck at 8:20. It sported the largest set of antlers since Bud Jorgensen's 1952 twelve-point trophy.
Shortly before 9:30 three different bucks converged on my tree stand, although I only was aware of one until I fired. The fork buck fell and I then saw a second buck and a doe racing under my stand. It appeared to be a spike buck, but later I discovered it probably sported a much larger rack, which had been broken off in a fight with another buck over a girl deer. Upon seeing the second buck fall I spied a third buck, this one's rack containing 8 points, following a doe at full gallop! My shot found it's mark, and I had incredibly bagged three bucks in less than a minute!
My loud shouting quickly summoned uncle Ed and Mike Riley, who tagged my two "extra" bucks!
Two other hunters, Lee Jorgensen and Paul Riley filled doe tags and by day's end six deer had been taken.
The season of 1987 turned out to be uncle Ed's final year in camp due to failing health. Ed's tenure has included 31 seasons in the A/J Camp.
The seasons of '88 and '89 continued to be excellent ones from the hunter's standpoint. In 1988 seven hunters bagged 4 bucks and 2 antlerless deer and in 1989 ten hunters bagged 6 bucks and 2 antlerless deer.
Steve Clemens and Jason Capoccia spent their first season in the A/J Camp in '89, and both scored with their first ever buck. Mike Nickolaou also tagged his first ever buck.
During the decade of the '80s camp membership averaged 8.3 hunters per season, and 26 bucks were taken for a success rate of 31%.
(To be concluded 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: 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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