Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For December 11th, 2009 Edition.

The guns have been cleaned, (except for those that were never fired) and put back in the gun cabinet. Another Wisconsin deer season is in the record books and now all we have to do is listen to the numerous complaints from hunters about the lack of deer in the woods and the DNR dusting off their standard excuses for the extremely low harvest.

Already some hunters are considering boycotting future deer hunts unless the "x-purts" in Madison and the game man agers change there thinking and put does and yearlings on the protected list until the northern herd rebuilds. And - as expected - the DNR's propaganda department is vocalizing their usual non-original reasons as to why the kill was so low.

If you are somewhere around my vintage of seven plus decades and have put in well over 50 seasons in the November forests of Northern Wisconsin, you've seen the same scenario played out over and over again. The north's herd was over harvested during the very late 1940s and early '50s by three "all out" seasons in a row, then again in the 'mid '60s when "party permits" were sold in large numbers and again in the early '90s when "either/or and bonus tags" were popular.

I've heard it all before - the weather was too nice - the weather was too nasty - there was no tracking snow - there was too much tracking snow - hunters didn't hunt hard enough - the fawn crop was low due to a severe winter, yada, yada, yada. Recently the game managers had the nerve to suggest we had two severe winters in a row, 2007-08 and 2008-09. On what planet did that take place? Certainly not here in the Northwood's! We haven't had severe winters since 1995-96 and 1996-97. Just once I'd like someone in the DNR simply say, "We screwed up and killed too many does because we needed the money."

Because we live in a world that worships money, an organization like our DNR that is so wildly overstaffed with non-essential personnel, the quest to squeeze every possible nickel and dime out of the sporting public is unavoidable. So - it becomes necessary to inflate the actual numbers of deer that roam the fields and forests so hunters continue to fill the coffers in Madison with lots of bucks - the paper kind.

I expect the game management department will face a great deal of pressure from the deer hunting fraternity to cut back or completely eliminate doe permits throughout much of the state or face "Deer Parties" similar to the ongoing "Tea Parties."

End of sermon.

Personally, I must admit I'll join the ranks of the angry and disappointed deer hunters. During the nine-day gun season I spent 56 hours in the woods. My reward was viewing the same doe twice plus one yearling doe. And I'm far from being alone. Our group of seven hunters spent lots of time prowling the woods and our combined sightings for the entire season was six does and yearlings. "Deer sign", such as tracks, scat, rubs, and scrapes were almost non-existent. Since the recent snowfalls tracks are still difficult to find in any numbers except for predators such as wolves, coyotes, fox, and fishers.

On Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving, I accepted an invitation from a long-time pal from the LaCrosse area to join him and a couple of his friends to hunt his 132 acres in fabled Jackson County. How could I refuse? Eddie had already taken a majestic 10-point buck with a bow in October and a 6-point with his rifle on opening morning! My hope for venison soared as I drove the 220 miles southwest for an end of season hunt.

I was privileged to hunt from an elevated, enclosed stand in an area within the parcel that no one had hunted in 2009. My hope rose yet another notch. During Friday afternoon, plus all day Saturday and Sunday I saw the one aforementioned yearling doe. My pal and his two friends saw but three deer, but fortunately one was a fork buck that my pal, Eddie, bagged for me. I felt like an orphan that had just received a care package! Heck, what are friends for anyway?

Besides seeing and hunting in a new location, I enjoyed talking to other hunters about their success or lack of it. Their responses were quite similar to those being uttered here up north! Lot's of unhappy campers! The opening weekend buck kill for Jackson County was down 21%, which mirrors what happened in Vilas County. But the anterless kill was down a whopping 49% in Jackson County! Numbers like this support the belief that our statewide doe herd is well below normal.

Time will tell if our DNR game managers step up to the plate and do what is right for the resource instead of trying to convince the public deer are still in the woods in large numbers and we have to continue killing the mothers and siblings. Don't hold your breath!

On the lighter side of deer stories, I ran across two wonderful tales while I was down south.

Story number one was related to my pal, Eddie, by one of the conservation minded individuals that took part in the following event.

A passerby spotted two 10-point bucks in a field with their antlers locked together and both looked to be in mighty bad condition. He made a hurried call to the nearest DNR office with the urgent message. The caller was informed that the DNR could do nothing and "just let them die."

Unwilling to follow the advice, the kind hearted gentleman rounded up a posse and the group located the two bucks about 11:00 p.m. in a wooded area. Both deer were in sad shape, one of which at first looked to be already dead, but not quite. One of the would-be saviors was kicked pretty hard, which prompted the group to tie the back legs together on both deer. Then they sawed off one antler on the weaker of the two and separated the combatants.

Both animals finally were able to gain their feet and staggered off to freedom! The antler was taken to the nearest deer registration station and the attendant was told if someone checked in a buck with only one antler containing 5 points, give them the matching antler! Now that's a deer story!

Tale number two appeared in the LaCrosse daily newspaper. Another passerby spotted a 10 and 8-point buck locked together in a cornfield. A large area of standing corn had been flattened and both bucks were very weak. He assembled a rescue squad that covered the deer with blankets, then sat on them to hold them down while others untangled the meshed antlers. Both bucks walked away.

Maybe the DNR should hire these guys to manage the deer herd!

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:  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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