Column: Deer hunting and the days gone by

By Craig Cook

Gun Deer season has come and gone for the 2021 season.

The harvest is down from 2020 but that is also attributed to the one percent decrease in hunting licenses sold, according to the Wisconsin DNR, and the lower numbers of hunters roaming throughout the state.

As we reflect on a great season, the deer that were taken, and the fair-weather we encountered, we now look to next year and the potential challenges it poses and the positive take always from this year to make next year better.

After every year I reflect on how things went, did the gear work, or fail? How did the deer stand or blind work in concealment or cover, did it keep me protected from the elements, and was I comfortable? After the checklist has been gone over, and the gear is put away the planning for 2022 goes into hibernation for a few months before the ich takes over again when the temps cool, and the leaves begin to change.

I tend to be old school and reflect often on how my father or grandfather once took to the woods and crafted their way to becoming successful deer hunters. What kind of gear did they use compared to today? Were they warm as most deer hunters hunted in open blinds exposed to the elements? What kind of tricks if any, did they apply to get deer to cross into the line of fire?

As these thoughts have crossed my mind I often reflect on when I was a young man and was taught how to harvest the elusive whitetail deer. Times have changed since then—back then my father hunted in wool hunting pants and jacket with buckskin gloves and scarfs to cover his face, and the old blaze orange Stormy Kromer hat to boot. He smoked a pipe even while hunting so the old theory of scent cover like hunters use these days was out the window.

No matter what rustic tactics he used he was able to get a deer, rain, wind, cold, or snow he always came home with meat to fill the freezer. Have things really changed from 30 plus years ago? Have the deer changed? Maybe, like humans they develop patterns depending on the environment, maybe they have become smarter, or just maybe there are not that many deer in the woods anymore?

Regardless of the reason for such changes, one thing is for certain. The hunter—man or woman—will always continue the tradition of hunting.

If it’s not for much more than simply finding a good reason to sit in the stand with a fellow family member or to teach a son or daughter, the simple traditions of a favorite Wisconsin pastime come every November.

Craig Cook is a U.S. Army veteran and owner of Fall Line Outfitters in downtown Stevens Point. He lives with his wife and children in Stevens Point.