11/6/2013 9:27:00 AM Deer stand hunting, time to do some thinking
Ron Kuecker Outdoors Columnist
The big change in southwest Minnesota deer hunting in my lifetime of hunting them is the prevalence of hunting from an elevated stand. I guess that's probably true all over our country, but strict trespass laws and few big areas that would allow other types of hunting are few and far between in this land of corn and soybeans. Some small drives through groves, a smattering of CRP fields or public hunting land, a river corridor or a standing corn field can still be planned and carried out. That type of hunt is extremely exciting and requires considerable skill and knowledge as to where the deer will run. Quietly moseying through thick cover trying to see a deer before it sees you can still be done successfully in some places. Too frequently, though, you are simply moving the deer toward a neighbor sitting quietly in their treestand. Essentially gone are the need for some of the hunting skills of the past. Tracking, stalking, quiet movement through the woods and skillfully planned drives are seldom used anymore as that type of hunt usually ends at the property line. Nowadays we live in the era of store-bought treestands and trail cameras. This fact has been proven true by the tremendous success of one of Windom's most successful hometown businesses ever, Big Game Treestands. There was a time when the only thing you bought at a store for your deer hunt were a gun and ammo or archery equipment and some red clothing for the firearm's season. Today most hunts begin with a trip to the outdoor store and there sure are plenty of them to choose from. More and more modern deer hunts are about skillful placement of a commercial deer stand in a place your trail camera said you should be. The ability to be comfortable and quiet for long periods of time are required. Covering your human scent with products that come in a bottle are almost essential. And then there is staying warm. Many lack the patience to stay long periods of time in a treestand but I think it is "bone chilling" cold that drives most people from treestands in November. My deer hunt I hunt mainly from a handmade, wooden treestand build between two giant oak trees near the Des Moines River. My standby for wet, snowy, slippery weather when treestands become dangerous and yes, when I get cold, is a ground blind nearby. I started it years ago with hand planted freedom honeysuckle bushes. Now it is so growthy I have to spend an hour or so each fall trimming shooting openings through it. There I'll spend my time, the modern day deer hunter, dressed in blaze orange lined with Thinsulate insulation. My human scent will be covered by deer source products from a bottle chosen from a display shelf full of them. Standing 30 yards away will be a lifelike but plastic deer decoy. I'll be holding a rifled barrel shotgun with a scope mounted on the receiver. I'll be enjoying every minute of it as I always have. I'll be watching and listening and thinking. There is no better time to think than being alone in a treestand or ground blind on a cold morning after a brisk walk and that first sip of coffee from an old Thermos. You choose the subject. Jamestown, ND Each year, recently, as we've traveled to Canada to meet the ducks, our journey has taken us through Jamestown, ND. Now that's a duck hunting destination in and of its own because it is well known as a fine place to set out your decoys. But Jamestown has another claim to fame and that is because it is where Louis L'Amour grew up. You know, that guy who wrote all those paperbacks about the old west. The one whose great grandfather was scalped by Sioux warriors. (Bet you didn't know that). Well, I've bought my fair share of them and never once did I not complete reading a copy in its entirety. This year was no different than a lot of trips I've made north and west of Windom. I bought a Louis L'Amour book in Fargo. I've set aside those look-alike outdoor magazines for a few nights and settled in with one of Louie's 300 million copies of the 120 books he wrote. Every one still in print. Little wonder that President Reagan awarded him the Medal of Freedom in 1984 just four years before he died. The best part of reading a L'Amour novel is the occasional pearls he slips in about life in general. One of my favorites has always been to never judge a man until you've spent some time on the trail with him. Hides for Habitat One of the best habitat projects to come along is the Hides for Habitat program run by the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA). Dollars earned by putting your deer hide in a local collection box is spent on such things as food plots for winter deer food and tree planting projects for woody cover in winter. Those projects also help save our troubled pheasants as they struggle to make it through that bottleneck called winter survival on a treeless prairie. Look for the drop -off locations at most of our area towns. As they say, donate your hide and resist the temptation to turn it in for a stiff pair of gloves. The stiff is my word, I've done it, I didn't like it.