The route you take to your hunting area can determine the success you will have. Busting brush, hiking to close to a bedding area, or being sighted by deer can all add up to a nice walk in the woods. In the last blog I wrote about using beaver dams as one way to reach remote spots and hopefully avoid detection, but another approach is using open water. Water access can be a very effective way to enter buck havens that are difficult to reach by foot.
Today I spent a morning on the Tamarac Refuge in west central Minnesota with my X-C Skis doing some off-trail skiing and spring scouting. I found a beautiful spot for a canoe-in hunt that would be virtually impossible walking to without alerting every deer in the woods. The site offered a long narrow, thirty to fifty-yard strip of open hardwoods, bordered by a tall shoreline on one side, and a big slough structure on the other side. On either end of this corridor was a tangled mess of brush and marsh making the high ground a perfect sanctuary to float into.
The snow was compacted from several days of a warm weather melt. I glided across the firm covering like an Otter. Trumpeter Swans and Geese signaled the soon arrival of spring. An Osprey circled, fainted a dive, and flew on. I approached Tamarac Lake along a tree-line which was hemmed in by an encroaching meadow. The local engineers had been active during the long winter months.
I slide through cattails which shot up from the ice, remnants of last summer’s growth, and onto the welcoming shoreline. I immediately acknowledged this hunter’s paradise and began making mental notes of down-falls for ambush cover. I also took note of landmarks to guide my canoe for the up-coming bow season. A boat access, primarily used for duck hunters a half mile away would be my entry. I told myself this was going to be good. I would be able to paddle in undetected, step onto the shore, and literally set up five to ten yards from the water and watch this band of old growth for passing deer.
As I skied down the mix of hardwoods, an old bored-out tree trunk captured my attention. Once a sturdy timber, it now displayed the weathered signs of erosion and the woodpeckers handiwork.
All was quiet except for a steely winter wind that haunted the empty forest. The lonesome quiet held secrets of a thousand passing seasons trapped by the silence of cold. A sense of wilderness enveloped me.
Discoveries in the deer-woods make the anticipation of another hunting season come alive. I enjoy my scouting trips and they allow me to not only study deer behavior, but also learn new or over-looked places to hunt. These are treasures to me, and the times I get out and explore are an integral part of my hunting experience. I hope they are for you too.