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Hook and Bullet Club

Are you ready? As we head into the final days before the 2005 deer season, the time to get ready is nearly over. Camp Cholesterol was abuzz with activity last weekend and still there is much to do. However, now no matter what the temperatures will be, we have enough wood put up to keep us toasty warm. Last year we talked about putting in air conditioning with how warm the weather was. If you remember, the 2004 featured a season without snow. The long-range forecast predicts the first five days of the 2005 deer season to have highs of 38, 48, 53, 55 and 54 degrees. I don’t have deer hunting clothes for those temperatures unless I count my blaze orange Carhartt t-shirt. Wool clothes and 55 degrees just don’t go together. But if it is that warm, it should make for comfortable sitting weather. We have several portable ladder stands strapped to trees and not a one of them has any wind protection. There’s still one more portable to go up, a second two-person unit that we put together last weekend. With Megan scheduled to come out and try her luck, it made sense to add another two-man (or one man, one daughter) stand to the mix. The problem with adding stands to your woodland housing stock is you have more work to do each year. We try to get to each stand and clear out any brush that has grown in on the path and snip any branches that might be in the way. When the number of stands hits double digits, your work is cut out for you.Mike found this out last weekend when he brought up part of a swingset that had a fort-like structure on one end. Thinking this would make a nice stand, he dismantled the unit and trucked it from Apple Valley to Camp Cholesterol. It didn’t move from where he unloaded it.There just wasn’t time to get everything done and now we head into the final pre-season weekend with a list longer than there is time to get the chores on it done. But isn’t that how it goes every year?Add up your shack projects, road improvements, trail clearing and stand construction and it’s bound to be longer that your honey-do list waiting at home. Then there’s those other things that need to get done, like sighting in your rifle or finding all of your hunting gear. Those are still on my list as well and the clock is ticking faster. But in the end, all of this running around getting ready for the season is really part of the whole experience. Once Nov. 5 hits, all of the hunters show up at camp and we start the season. But there’s a big change from the previous seven weekends. We lose the under-12 crowd and our four-legged friends who have called the shack home from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. They are left behind at home, one of the downsides of the season.For me the season brings about the times when all of the projects are put aside and forgotten about. Your biggest concern is getting out of bed in the morning and deciding which stand you’ll be sitting in when daylight touches the swamp. It’s focusing on the sounds of the forest and deciphering which noise is a buck sneaking through the brush and which is a squirrel running over some dry leaves. The season is about wondering what if you had sat in the beaver stand instead of climbing up in the Taj Mahal stand that morning. It’s deciding when to get down and walk around and when to sit just awhile longer, just in case. The woods are a great place to be this time of year and deer season is a great excuse to get out and see all that Mother Nature has to offer. I’ll be wondering if that cranberry bog has another crop of red berries nestled in green leaves waiting for me to walk through. I want to see the backside of woodpecker hill. I can’t wait for my annual trek out to the swamp islands where last season’s antlers can be found lying in the green moss found along the way. There’s sure to be deer running around as well, usually when you least expect it. Lift a hand to itch your nose and that’s when that big doe will blow her nose at you and take off running. Or that time when you stop on the trail to take a break and the buck steps out while your gun is leaning against a tree. Then there’s deer camp, the home of smelly socks, never-ending card games and the pot of split bean soup percolating on the wood stove. Living out of coolers and trying to sleep while six other guys are snoring at peak efficiency are all part of the experience. Sixteen days and three weekends with work and your regular life squeezed in there somewhere as well. All of that and much more is part of deer season. We’ll fire up four-wheelers in the dark and we’ll spend some time hunting out of trucks when we venture back to old stomping grounds. Loading and unloading our rifles will be as familiar as putting socks on and taking them off. Telling and hearing stories about the one that got away, searching from one end of the camp to the other for that other glove - it’s all part of the experience. A week from today the 2005 Minnesota firearms deer season is set to start. Just before 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 5 the season will open. Are you ready?

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