Deer hunting and getting older

By Bill Bartusek

I hadn't shot or seen a deer for several seasons so, I was really excited when Shane Raveling and my son, Joe, invited me to hunt with them in southeast Minnesota, near Rushford. In many places the deer number is up to 75 animals per square mile. That's a lot of deer. There was also snow on the ground and that favors the hunters. The boys had hunted the farms all fall with their bows so they knew the area well. They picked the best stand for me so I would have the best chance for success. We arrived there Friday afternoon and I was shown my stand location. The boys went bow hunting while I checked my stand for the next morning. Early the next morning I started climbing into the stand. I had quite a time, because now I was fully dressed, unlike the night before. First my coat got hung up, then my sling on the gun got caught. I'm sure glad it was dark and no one could see my ascent. I finally got up there and then my folding chair got tangled in the stand floor and I couldn't get it loose in the dark. Finally, after about 20 irritating minutes I settled into the stand.

We hunted hard for two days. The other four hunters in our group saw about 40 deer. Me, I saw none! We headed back to Owatonna on Sunday night.

I decided to head back alone on Monday morning. I arrived at the woods about 6:30 am. The stand I picked would be on the ground this time. At 8:15 a.m. I made a good shot on a huge doe. She turned and ran down the hill and away from the field. I found her expired only 40 yards away. I field dressed her and looked back towards the field. Why couldn't she have run up the hill? I started to drag her and decided I should have shot a smaller deer. She was huge and pulling her up the incline was almost impossible. I decided to go back to the truck and change into lighter boots and clothes. I went back and pulled her 30 feet and rested. I continued this until finally I was at the truck. I looked at the tailgate on the truck and wondered, when did they start making them so high off the ground. After a lot of thought and hard sweat I got her into the box of the truck. I laid there next to her trying to remember how much fun it was to go deer hunting. I now get her to the farm and hung her into a tree, right off the back of the truck. She wasn't going back on the ground.

Two hours later I harvested a massive eight-point buck. Again, I didn't shoot a small deer. I couldn't get him loaded. Finally, a farmer driving by saw my dilemma and stopped to help me load the buck. I loaded the doe and went to town and registered the deer. Success!! Later that night I met Joe at the farm and we butchered all our deer. He asked if I had a lot of fun harvesting the two deer. I said of course! I didn't have the heart to tell him my body ached from head to toe. I really did have an awesome time. Next time I'm shooting my deer while the boys are still with me. It sure stinks getting old!!

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