I started deer hunting in the early 1960s.
I had a place in Grundy County that was teeming with deer, squirrels, and rabbits. I had three companions that I worked with at Caterpillar, and they always went hunting with me. It was no problem to take deer in this wood. The animals foraged in the cultivated fields just south of the woods and came to bed in the wooded area just after sunrise.
We always hit the woods before sunrise and were in our stands long before the deer entered the woods. There were a lot of big bucks in that area. It almost seemed like the Good Lord was guiding our hunts, as we were all done by the end of opening day. Of course, that’s when the work began. There was at least a half mile of drag to our vehicles, through thick brush, downed wood and ravines.
By the time we got to the checkpoint, we were hurting all over. I finally reached the road and my truck and nearly collapsed from exhaustion. I well remember thinking to myself, “You know, Fred, you don’t have to do this.
I think at the time it was a macho thing. It was something to talk about over breakfast in a restaurant the next morning. We would also talk about it near the coffee machines at work for the next month. We felt like the greatest deer hunters in the world.
Well, time passes, my companions too. Several left the state. Three have died of cancer, and now one is going to Florida from November to April. This puts an explanatory point on “all good things must come to an end”.
As I got older, did I have enough sense to quit? I have no help getting a deer out of the woods now and I’ll be nearly 80 in May. I don’t know what drives me to continue. Maybe it’s in my blood. I firmly hope that I can continue to do so for a few more years. My four-wheeled vehicle now helps pull an animal out of the woods, and the new shotguns with a fully rifled barrel are extremely accurate. The venison is still as good as it was then, but I miss my companions.
They were also very good hunters, and it certainly helped to have them bandage my blistered hands after that half-mile trail. My wife keeps worrying about me hunting alone. Thank goodness for cell phones. I can always keep in touch with her by phone. I just thank God I can still go to the gym to train.
River fishing has been hampered by ice and now charged water. I have a sandwich for breakfast and go to the river bank to check the water every day. I still have new fishing buddies who constantly call me asking when we’re leaving. They have been very patient this year.
Usually I fish all winter on the river. I know I mentioned that most fish are now in deep holes, which often requires travel. Dress for the weather and try to stay dry.
This is not the time of year to get wet with several miles to go in 20 degree weather. This can definitely take the fun out of a fishing trip.
• Fred Krause is a correspondent for Shaw Media.