Happy New Year

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This is my favourite photo from the few days I spent deer hunting in Wisconsin last November, and although it looks like it could have been edited, it wasn’t. The weather was cold, but not desperately so. There was snow on the ground, but not too much. And it was fairly overcast for much of the week we were there, as you can see.

Although I went to Wisconsin with the plan of hunting from my climbing tree stand, that actually never happened. On the first morning, before Jason arrived from Minnesota, I elected to head out to one of the locations we had scouted a few months earlier. But when I got there, there was obvious evidence of previous hunter activity on the trail and I wasn’t particularly surprised when I was disturbed by hunters making their own way down the path. It was also apparent that these guys perceived this path as just an access route, so that was the end of that plan.

Jason arrived at lunch time, and since it was clear that we didn’t have a clue what to do, we decided to head out, find new areas, and hope for the best.

The area we headed for first was a place we had tried, and failed, to access on our scouting trip. However this time we approached it from a different direction, and hiked in from the main road. One of the interesting things about this area is that there is a small population of Elk (American Elk that is, not European Elk which Americans call Moose) that is part of a repopulation program. Which meant we frequently encountered very large tracks, and impressive piles of droppings that could only come from Elk, but very few tracks and dropping from animals we could legally hunt.

On that first day we decided to spend our time hiking around looking for likely hunting spots. This made a lot of sense, but I was wearing clothing intended to keep me warm while sitting still for hours on end, so after not very long at all I was a hot mess (as you can see below).

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The following day we decided to use Jason’s truck to drive back into the area, but we came in via a track that must have been intended for snowmobiles, because the truck barely fitted through, and we were very glad to have 4 wheel drive more than once. We made it to the spot, parked, and hiked our way in, but what had looked promising on a satellite photo turned out to be very far from that in reality. What we had interpreted as a grassy meadow with a gentle ridge running along one side, was in fact a bog, and the ridge was covered in such dense foliage that I couldn’t find a single spot that offered a view longer than about 20 yards. When I stepped off the ridge into the open bog I was immediately at risk of sinking into an icy sludge, meaning even if I saw a deer in the open and shot it, I would most likely be unable to retrieve it safely. That morning was probably the closest I came to seeing deer that week, because as I was stumbling through the dense brush, I heard a number of them running away.

After wasting a couple of hours on that fruitless exercise, we made our way back to the truck and decided to just drive around, stopping every now and again to explore the area beside the track. It was on one such exploration that I took the picture at the top of the page.

The most memorable moment of the week came as I was making my way slowly through a recently clear cut area. I was carefully stepping through the branches and debris that covered the ground, when I heard a noise and looked up and came face to face with some local wildlife. Crossing my path less than 20 yards away was a family of Bobcats. They didn’t seem to notice me at first, which was odd because I was standing out in the open and wearing bright orange, but when they did they froze, hissed at me, and then ran away. I have never seen a large cat in the wild, nor really expected to, so that was pretty amazing. And despite my otherwise lack of deer success, on the basis of wildlife encounters in general, I count that week a success.

We continued to hunt like that until Wednesday night, the day before thanksgiving, then Jason had to head home. That night the rest of my wife’s family arrived and so I switched from hunting mode to family holiday mode, and with the exception of a rifle propped in the corner of the cabin in case a deer walked past outside, that was the end of my 2016 hunting season.

 

Lochboisedale 2012

One of the shooting events that I most looked forward to when I was in Scotland was the Lochboisdale, shot at Glen Tilt on the last weekend in September. It is usually contested between the West of Scotland Rifle Club, and the West Atholl Rifle Club. In the past Bearsden Rifle Club had attempted to field a team with varying outcomes, we mostly ended up being seconded to either of the two main teams to make up numbers.

This year my friend Niall attended and afterwards he wrote me to let me know how he got on.  I have included the whole of his email.

(To see the West Atoll Results page and a nice picture of the winning team, go here.)

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Will,

You’ll like this one.

We shot this today at Glen Tilt. After a three line whip from West,
10 of us turned up for an 8 man team. West Atholl only had 4 but it
was agreed to “lend” them 3 so both sides could have 7 man teams with
the best 6 to count.

It was a good day, sunny periods, good light and a typical Tilt wind
fishtailing from behind. For me the morning practice was not very
good as I had not shot for some time and I could just not get
comfortable – so 64 with 2 V’s. All over the target and trouble
with the wind – no wind coach.

Lunch time and I’m one of the three “relegated” to the West Atholl
team as most of the others were around 70.

Come the afternoon competition shoot and one of the West Atholl chaps
comes to wind coach. He turns the terminal so that I can’t see it
and off we go. After the two sighters he makes a small correction
and off with the first to count. “Good” he says and so we continue
with only a few minor corrections. His only comments throughout the
shoot were “Good” or “Fine” until I fire the last round. Two
seconds later –
“YOU PILLOCK! YOU ABSOLUTE TIT!” It was a 4.8 and every other
round was a bull or a V so I just missed out a possible – 74 with 12 Vs.

However given the 4 good West Atholl marksmen plus Mike Barton (also
relegated) with a solid performance we managed to beat West of
Scotland and so I’ve now got a Lochboisdale medal.

The cherry on the cake was that I was best of the day beating John
Potter by one V bull.

It doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

Love to you both.

Regards,

Niall

PS Liked the iambic pentameters.

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Congratulations Niall, I wish I had been there to see it.