Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dismantling Deer Camp at Season End a Lonely Task

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dismantling Deer Camp at Season End a Lonely Task

Article excerpt

Deer camp was dismantled the other day.

It's one of the loneliest sights in the world. Where just a few days ago there was so much laughter and so many hunting yarns told around the fire ring, the place is now empty and silent.

It's over for another year, the farm-country firearms deer season. Jim Braaten said he so looks forward to deer hunting and the companionship of friends that he finds the thought of it ending downright depressing.

At the campsite, the only evidence left behind was the fire ring and an old homemade picnic table made from rough lumber by hizzoner, Howard Braaten, the mayor of Nerstrand, Minn.

The mayor skipped the last day of deer season to resume combining corn. He had been chasing a huge buck, but the whitetail won that encounter. The mayor was stalking the buck on foot. It's easier getting closer to farmland deer if you drive a corn picker, he said.

I spent the noon hour pondering the world from an elevated deer stand overlooking a brushy oak draw. For four days, I had spent hours as a visitor in this small chunk of hardwoods. I know where most of the deer trails crisscross in my sight, and I've met most of the local squirrels.

Over the days and hours, a dozen deer wandered within sight, does and fawns mostly. In the wake of a snowstorm, a forkhorn buck moseyed within 25 yards of my armed position. I thought about shooting the small buck for the tasty venison.

But that buck had lots of luck.

The morning snow had obscured my scope and before the cross hairs cleared, the lucky buck faded out of sight.

An hour later, Steve, a nephew, showed up and spoke with a voice that was two octaves higher than normal. That can only mean one thing. "I got one," he said, trying to be nonchalant.

Steve said that when the whitetail walked into view, his knees were shaking along with the rest of him. "It's just a small buck," he added. …

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