DEER TRAILS 5: Opening day hunters take in the outdoors

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Jerry Davis, a former UW-La Crosse professor, is a longtime free-lance writer who produces “Deer Trails,” during Wisconsin’s traditional nine-day gun deer hunting season)

Regardless of how careful and thorough the preparation is for opening morning, invariably something is forgotten or occurs to mess up an item or two.
It seemed as though there were pebbles inside my La Crosse Ice King boots. No, it was just a half dozen sunflower bird seeds stored by a small mammal for a long winter.
Little used, heavy zippers didn’t always zip as they should. A few swipes with a bar of Fels-Naptha soap “oiled” the teeth for another season.
Near-perfect weather, except no sighting and safety snow, a few hunters would say as they walked through frost-caked leaves, ground cover and stepped on the bottom rungs of a tree stand ladder.
Well before season opened, one deer sky-lined across a field of corn stubble. Later, a doe and her May fawn had enough waste corn kernels and headed to a woodland bedding area.
Frost made the field appear to be snow-covered as the two deer walked out, but that was a farce. Still, it went so far as to drive home the idea of sighting/safety snow many hunters always hope for and rarely receive.
The 2020 opener showed simulations of 2019, a remorse of not having something akin to 2018, when real snow, a tailing off rut, and wondrous deer movement of all genders wandering past gun hunters in awe of nature.
Some hunters saw the signs later in the morning when three bucks, together, bedded down for a few hours. A successful hunter killed the only deer he saw, a nine-point, heavy-racked deer. But another hunter watched 15 deer walk past before shooting, only to have another hunter walk up and mention he had let that one pass, too.
The open air also suited law enforcement officers just fine. DNR field warden Michael Burns, in Lafayette County, was patrolling the Yellowstone Lake wildlife Area.
Hunters and wardens, many who are also hunters, are mindful of wind and air movement, which moves human scent as easily as some virus particles.
“Yes, in general, hunters are behaving,” said David Youngquist, an Iowa and Dane county warden. “They’re seeing deer, the deer are moving, and hunters seem pretty happy just to get out and be out.
Many hunters seem to have one up on some of the general public in terms of masking to avoid and prevent COVID-19.
“They’re putting on masks when I approach them to check something,” Youngquist said. “So we’re both masked.”
Youngquist was also able to write a citation for cutting trees on state land and stay six feet away, too.
“The guy will be getting several tickets in the mail, but I didn’t even have to have him come down out of his tree stand,” Youngquist said.  “We can do a lot of things at a distance.”
This DNR field warden also saw a fair number of hunters out, but numbers varied from one area to another, he said.
“This will be my last deer season to work,” Youngquist said. “It’s been 26 seasons.
“I’m excited about being able to get out and enjoy the state’s resources I’ve been protecting,” he added. “I’ve seen so many things outdoors I’ve never been able to enjoy, but next year I’ll be able to.”

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112