Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum

Nick and hunting buddy Dave “Otto” Merhar

Lunchtime was the best time of the day for deer hunting last weekend.
On Saturday my buddy Jim Ronn and I sat in his car eating sandwiches when a doe walked across the powerline in front of us.
“What if a buck comes out?” Jim asked.
“You’re closer to a gun than I am,” I replied.
Turns out we didn’t have to worry. The doe had no friends that day.
Jim and I had stayed at his shack up the Fernberg Friday night where there was a bit more snow than in town.
I was glad I brought a shovel along since the snow was closer to a foot deep in spots by the shack.
We brought along a cribbage board and a deck of cards but didn’t find time to play. Instead we talked about our days hunting together when we were teenagers and what life has brought us along the way.
Hunting shacks are the keeper of many stories although we repeated as many as we could remember that night.
My favorite was meeting Jim at the Wood Lake parking lot over 30 years ago. He had shot a deer on the way up the Fernberg and had the blood to prove it. Not the deer’s blood, his blood.
Jim had a nasty gash over his eye where the scope on his gun had sliced the skid open. Like any head wound, this one bled pretty good.
We laughed about that and I thought it was a good thing our muzzleloaders didn’t have scopes on them.
On Sunday I picked up Dave “Otto” Merhar well before first light. We headed up to Tom Wetzel’s property to a couple of first class deer stands.
I dropped Otto off at the “Princess Stand,” so named for the decorations that adorn the inside. Otto called it the apartment.
With sliding windows, carpeting and a heater, this was first class accommodations on a blustery winter day.
He had the biggest smile on his face as I turned to go. My only hope was that a buck would walk by and give Otto a chance for a shot.
When I came back at lunch we sat together for awhile. I was finishing a sandwich when Otto said, “There’s a deer.”
He picked up his scoped gun and I pulled out my binoculars. The deer had no idea we were there and was making its way down a hillside that had enough balsam trees to keep it hidden.
“Is it a buck?” I asked.
“Not sure,” said Otto as he slid the window open a bit more.
We both watched as the deer made its way toward us. Finally we could see it was smaller but not a spike. That’s when I saw the second one.
“There’s another behind it Otto,” I said.
He picked up the second deer and found it was another doe. No matter how hard we looked, neither one turned into a buck.
Those two deer hung around for over an hour. That’s when the third one came bounding down the hill.
“That one is big,” said Otto.
It was but it had also disappeared into thin air. We looked and looked but the deer stayed out of sight.
So we talked about family, about hunting, about politics and about life. The Buddy propane heater hummed and two buddies shared stories in the Princess Stand on a windy Sunday afternoon.
There may be a better way to spend a day hunting but I don’t know what it is.