This week I am writing to you about what many hunters call the second week of deer camp, which is basically Monday through Sunday of the nine-day deer gun season.
Monday, November 25th
High 20, low 14
For the first two days of the deer gun season, The Red Brush Gang sits in portable stands, and watches the forests and marshes of The Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and The Meadow Valley Wildlife Area. The last seven days are spent pushing deer or should I say, hopefully pushing deer to our standers.
This year we were ambitious and it was often in some pretty harsh weather conditions. Unlike the last few years, it seemed that we either did not push deer out to our standers or we missed when a running deer came by our standers (I sucked this year).
Today there must have been 18 of us and we pushed 1-mile sections of The Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. The story of the day was either deer that were too small, young kids missing or no deer coming to our standers.
One of our members has been coming to camp for about 7 years and that is 24-year-old Tim Rittmeyer. Tim did not grow up in a house where he had the opportunity to go hunting and being that he is a very good friend with my nephews, Riley and Trent Schuster, we took him into our camp.
Today, Tim shot his first buck and everyone in The Red Brush Gang would agree that if there was someone in camp that we wanted to see fill a buck tag, it was Tim Rittmeyer.
Our days are spent carrying a rifle, reading the wind, and trying to walk in a line towards our standers who at the start of each drive are 1-mile away and not in sight.
We do this with the aid of a compass, watching the sun, and by doing crow calls. There seems to be more deer the last few years but they like to run behind the drive and or into the wind. Because of logistics, we are not always able to place our standers upwind, and it really ‘bites’ when a drive is completed and we hear several stories of deer running backwards or with the wind and where there might not be standers.
Something that is really cool about this gang is that we do our best, but no one gets upset if the deer do not go where they are supposed to, or if someone misses. When someone misses, other hunters make some casual jokes, but everyone knows how easy it is to miss a running deer and the beauty of this season is that almost everyone missed.
At the end of each drive we drink water, consume food, and the elders plan the next drive and pick the standers and drivers. If you have filled a buck tag, you are an automatic driver, if you have not; you are on the every other drive system unless you are in poor health.
This year it seemed like we saw just as many coyotes as deer.
On the second weekend of deer camp we found a dead 3-point buck, which would become a huge camp joke. Ryan Moll, who is 25, tagged this buck as it was assumed it had only been dead a day or so (maybe a month) as it was not frozen. When we got the buck to camp I took a whiff and it seemed to have a bit of an odor. Ryans dad, Jeff Moll got kind of defensive and told me “don’t even go there” referring to the buck not smelling like our outhouse on day 9 of deer camp. Naturally I listened to Mr. Moll and instantly named Ryan’s trophy “The Stinky Buck” The jokes about that deer did not stop. Kind of like me leaving my truck window open all night next to the campfire and my new (2006) filling up with ash.
Everyday a different adult cooks for deer camp and that is the only day they have to cook.
This year, one of our elders did not make it to camp so Riley Schuster and Tim Rittmeyer, who used to just be a couple of little diaper fillers, bucked up and cooked a fine meal for our Friday night (with help from Allie)! This year, as always, the Red Brush Gang had a blast, received minimal amounts of sleep and there was a very somber mood as we took down our deer shack and stored it until next November.
Even if I am in an oxygen tent or have Alzheimer’s, or am filling my own diapers; I want to be here until my last breath! Sunset.
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Ormson’s SuperValu