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Hook and Bullet Club

The 2005 deer season started off with a wimper. At 5 a.m. I awoke to the sound of raindrops falling on the roof of the shack. Mix in the sounds of at least three guys snoring and who needs an alarm clock?But the alarm did go off and seven hunters tumbled out of bunks and off of couches to hit the woods in search of whitetails. We did let technology help us out, though, looking at the Weather Channel forecast on a cell phone which even showed us a radar picture of the rain leaving the area soon.There’s such an initial anticipation for opening morning that a big buck will show up and stop broadside 20 yards away. That didn’t happen at any of our stands, in fact, it wasn’t until Sunday that any of us actually saw a deer. Dave put together a little drive with Brian, Steve, Jake and I posting at different spots in hopes of getting a shot. It was Steve who saw our prey in the form of two does flying by wide open with no buck following behind. Brian heard what sounded like the big feller getting up after the two does took off, but no shot presented itself. That afternoon Mike, Jake and I headed off to the far east corner of the area we hunt. Bill was holding court at the Hilton, one of our pop-up stands. Mike was going back to his stand while Jake and I would split up between the Taj Mahal and the beaver stand. “Keep your eyes open around four o’clock,” I told each of them. “If we get any wind the deer will get up and move around.”This was really just wishful thinking on my part but it had been so still and quiet the first two days that the prediction seemed to make good sense to me. At around 3 p.m. the leaves left in the trees started to rustle ever so slightly. I had managed to get up into the beaver stand which had been in need of a second step and now had a cracked first step.Saturday morning we had heard a fair amount of shooting but by Sunday afternoon it was pretty quiet in that department as well.At first I thought I was hearing the same squirrel that had been running around collecting pine cones and causing havoc. But unless the squirrel was now bloated and breaking branches, there was a new visitor in the area.Sure enough, a buck was making his way along the middle of a ridge, straight off to the north of the stand. Head down, he was moving along steadily and I had enough time to stand up, turn his way, put up the 30.06 pump and unload a shell right next to his front shoulder.He tried to take off but was now missing a portion of his front running gear and wasn’t going far. I had chambered another shell, but it wasn’t needed. This buck was done for. “Did you shoot?” the radio crackled. “Yep. Buck down,” I replied. I waited 15 minutes and climbed down, jumping over the now-missing bottom two steps. A six-pointer lay dead with his head propped up on a log about 30 feet from the trail. “Small six-pointer. Come get me with the wheeler after legal shooting time,” I radioed to Jake. The deer was promptly gutted and pulled over to the trail’s edge to await ATV transportation. With temps in the high 40s I did the work in a t-shirt and then found a log to sit on until dark time. That was the only deer we put on the meat pole for the weekend. Megan hunted with us on Monday and Jake made a nice push that drove something in the thick Christmas tree stand near us but we never had a chance to put a gun on it. That was on Monday when the mercury climbed into the 50s. At one point we were down to t-shirts and the blaze orange vests that normally go over our red-checkered wool coats that now seemed a bit out of place. The season itself just didn’t feel right, again with no snow on the ground and temperatures so unseasonably warm. We hunted through it all and getting cold on the stand was not really a problem. Staying awake in the sunny, warm weather was more of a factor after several nights of long-running card games. But our spirits are still high and we’ll be back out at Camp Cholesterol this weekend, hoping to fill a few more tags. This is the time of the season where the days just seem to fly by. Plus, our crew is cut in half as the Twin Cities and Rochester boys skip the middle weekend. We should have enough to get in a few games of smear and still spend time in the stands and walking around the woods, trying to sound less like elephants with each step. For those who got their buck, congratulations and be sure to tune into the Vikes game at noon on Sunday. Let me know how the game goes and I’ll give you a report from my deer stand. But I wouldn’t trade places with you, even if I thought the Vikes could win.

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