Shortly after hiring in at the Joliet Caterpillar plant, I used a week’s vacation to hunt deer in Itasca County, Minn.
Deer hunting in Illinois was not what is today and the north woods became a challenge to me. I traveled a Saturday and most of Sunday to reach my destination and finally met up with the resort owner, Jake Bonds.
He advised me to where he had seen the most deer activity and I went scouting into the woods. The woods up there consisted of whole forests of white birch trees with a fringe of spruce along the waterways. Beautiful country for sure. After establishing a well-used deer trail I set up a stand.
Back then in Northern Minnesota, one was only allowed to harvest an antlered deer. Deer were plentiful up there but not like what we have here in Illinois. It didn’t take long during the first day to see a good buck. He traveled along the well used trail moving very slowly. Finally I got a shot at him and he ended up in the lake before he expired.
It was a big job getting the deer out of the lake and back up to the resort, but with Jake’s help we got the job done. We hung the deer for the next 24 hours to let it age. I then skinned it out and made preparations to haul it back home. It was still in early November and daytime temperatures were in the 30s, so I was not concerned with spoilage.
My only regret was not being able to do any fishing while I was up there. Those lakes contained some superb walleye and yellow perch fishing. I knew this as my dad and I used to fish them during June. A lot of those thoughts went through my mind during the return trip.
By the time I reached my crossing at Duluth, Minn. It was already starting to snow and the air temperatures were dropping. When I reach Superior Valley it was warmer but the cold returned when I hit the Wisconsin line. By the time I reached Rockford air temps were back up into the 60s.
Yes, it was a short hunt after a long trip but I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I could manage such an excursion today at my age. It’s nice to have a fine deer season here in Illinois today. This is a result of excellent conservation. We have lost most of the fine pheasant and quail hunting over the years, but it has been replaced with wild turkeys.
I take my hat off to those who are trying to restore our upland game populations (pheasant and quail). We really need to restore some of the habitat that has been lost over the years.
• The 2017-18 squirrel seasons ended Feb. 15. The waterfowl seasons have also ended with the exception of the snow goose season. It runs well into March. Electronic calls and unplugged shotguns may be used. Hunters must still used steel, bismuth or some type of non-toxic shot.