Deer Report Jan. 2, 2015: Going Public

With air temps of minus 14 degrees and nearly a foot of fresh snow on the ground, it’s time to “go public” in pursuit of a late-season Wisconsin whitetail.

Here’s the deal: Our group of eight hunters (mostly bow but a few bow/gun) have tagged 15 deer during Wisconsin’s 2014 deer season, and 11 of these deer came from a 240-acre parcel of private ground owned by my dad (160 acres), me (40) and a hunting buddy (40). Any way you slice it, we’ve put the hammer down pretty good on our land’s deer population, so as I try to fill another deer tag (I shot a doe on opening weekend back in September), my strong preference is to kill one on public ground.

So this morning I woke way before sunrise and hiked deep into a public hunting area that receives extremely heavy hunting pressure during the gun season, but very little during the bow season, especially come December and early January.

I recently wrote about my last trek onto this public property with a story titled Deer Hunt Ruined By Roscoe P. Coltrane. If you read about that interesting adventure, you know that I now need to avoid parking on the paved county road and instead use one of the many designated parking spots. If I don’t, my pickup will end up towed to God knows where. Thus the photo above.

While deer hunting has been painfully slow recently, I had high hopes for this morning due to the frigid conditions. In my experience, deer are forced to feed longer when the temps are in the single digits or lower, and as I drove to the public land the temp gauge on my pickup read minus 14; perfect!

I found a spot near a well-used trail about a half-mile hike in from the road, and although no deer walked by my ground ambush during my sit, I did see at least 10 deer moving single file from private ground onto the public at a range of 200 yards. And the best news is this occurred 45 minutes AFTER the beginning of legal hunting time. So . . . if these deer reverse their course tonight . . . and if I can get set up within 20 yards of this trail this afternoon . . . and if no one walks through the area during midday to bump these deer . . . I just might get a shot.

I know that’s a lot of “ifs,” but that’s the reality of public land bowhunting, especially during late-season. It’s a chess game that the deer win 99.9 percent of the time; hopefully tonight will be my turn. I’ll keep you posted.

P.S. During my drive back to my parent's house for lunch, I had already figured out my excuse to Roscoe P. Coltrane if he pulled me over for speeding. I call it the "Ndamukong Suh Defense." My feet were so numb I couldn't feel the gas pedal.

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