Yesterday, the 2010 Wisconsin Gun season came to a close. It's always a sad day knowing you'll have to wait an agonizingly long year before it comes around again. As always we made our trek to Bayfield County, WI the week before rifle season opens to hunt a swath of public land in the mighty Chequamegon National forest.
We bow-hunt the entire week before rifle season opens and just roll into rifle season. This year as we suspected deer sightings were few and far between. Overall we saw fewer deer during bow season compared to 2009, and more deer during rifle season compared to 2009. So I'll call it a wash. Unfortunately, due to work commitments we could only hunt Saturday and Sunday morning of rifle season.
Taken as a whole our bow season was the slowest we've ever seen in 10+ years. My buddy Coby killed a spike buck which turned out to be the lone deer with a bow for our camp this year. Everyone saw a deer or two, my youngest brother Christopher got his usual grouse, and we passed on a few does, but overall it was very slow.
Needless to say going into rifle season our expectations were not to high. Looking back at our expectations makes me realize why you have to love hunting or fishing.....that is things can change for the better in a heart beat. Saturday dawned with temps in the low teens with a light wind and about 6-10" of snow cover remaining. I can't imagine better conditions.
The zone we hunt had very limited doe tags available this year so it was buck only deer hunting for us. Four of the seven of us saw deer on opening day. I shot a large (in fact my largest to date) 8 pointer on Saturday afternoon at 1:30PM. Coby shot another spike buck, and missed a large 8 pointer as well. Between the four of us we saw 20 does and 3 bucks on Saturday. Overall it was a great opening day!
Saturday reminded me how important it is to hunt hard all day long. Everyone in our group took no more then an hour break on Saturday. I along with my brother and dad never left the woods. I did not see a deer until 12:30PM when I saw a doe and fawn. 1/2 hour later another doe came past. At 1:25PM two more does came moseying past followed by the 8pt pointer I shot 50yds behind. I always sit all day on Opening Day, it's not easy to do and can be downright cold and boring. So why do it? Well, in the last 4 years we've taken 4 bucks (3 of them being 120-130 class bucks) between the hours of 11AM and 2PM, this has proven to be a good time of day if you can manage to stick it out.
Sunday, Coby and I had the pleasure of sleeping in before we began the tough task of breaking camp with tent spikes seemingly cemented into the frozen earth. For the 5 guys who went out it was quite productive. My brother Christopher saw an astonishing 15 does and fawns in a herd totally un-pressured which was similar to the 9 deer herd my other brother Matt saw the day before. This led us to believe right or wrong that the deer have already started to herd up for winter. In addition to the 15 deer herd, my buddy Ryan saw 4 more does and missed a shot at a nice 6 pointer.
A few of my observations for the season:
-Hunter numbers were down.
-We saw more does with fawns, hopefully this winter is not too rough and next year we will see a significant improvement in the amount of young bucks.
-In our area the deer registrations were below last years anemic pace, this includes the buck kill since the doe kill was non-existent.
I'd be interested to hear how everyone did in what I'm sure was a trying season for most.