Hook and Bullet Club

by Nick Wognum

This year at Camp Cholesterol there are four hunters hanging their orange hats on the wall. My three kids and me. We’re keeping it all in the family.
We’ve had years with twice as many and that’s fine too. One nice thing with just four is there’s a bit more room in the shack.
There are two sets of full size double bunks but none of us are interested in taking the top bunks due to the wood stove.
So we have couches and recliners to lay our heads on at night. This year we upgraded one of our couches and this one has a hideabed. Big upgrade there. With the bed hidden, we have a lot more room to walk around and that’s nice.
Maybe if we had more hunters we’d have something hanging on the meat pole. So far there’s only been one buck that we’ve seen during shooting hours.
It was after lunch and in the fresh snow were a pair of tracks crossing our wheeler trail. The tracks were big and it was worth a look.
Just up the trail was our oldest stand, the one we call the Taj Mahal. Over the last 20 years it’s starting to show its age. The ladder has been replaced once and the flooring has that spongy feel.
But if someone had been in that stand they would’ve had a clear shot at the eight pointer following a doe around.
As it was, the doe got antsy and took off, with the buck hot on her tail. They stopped in a swamp and looked back to the woods where the hunter searched for an opening.
There! Between the branches the buck could be seen standing broadside. No question it was a buck with a tall rack and thick tines.
The shot was a long one but not out of reach of the 30.06. The two deer took off, instantly out of sight.
After waiting for a minute or two and trying to let the buck fever subside, a walk into the swamp found a lot of deer hair and some droplets of blood in the snow.
From there the chase was on. Through the swamp, up onto solid ground, back into the swamp the buck headed to the north and then to the east. One walking trail was crossed then a wheeler trail that leads to another shack.
The deer was still leaving droplets of blood behind but it was getting to be a race between catching up to the deer and running out of daylight.
At around 4 p.m. the plan was to sit and wait for 20 minutes. Maybe the buck would bed down and not be able to get back up.
With dusk approaching a final push was made and the tracks came to an end. The hunter was dumbfounded. The tracks simply stopped. No more droplets of blood, no more hoof prints in the snow.
There was nothing more that could be done. There was still a long walk back to the road after five miles of walking through hills and swamps to get to this point.
With that in mind, the hunter hung his head and left the lakeshore, not knowing if the buck swam to an island or not. The wind gusted at up to 40 miles per hour the next day - there would be no boat ride to the island.
The hunter made the slow walk back, knowing he’ll never forget that buck and the hunt that ended at the lake.