As we mentioned in the last post, Mr. Mike asked me to come along hunting this year. I couldn't actually hunt (no gun or license), but I could stay overnight at the little Cabin in the woods and document a day in the life of hunters.
After picking up Brooke's cousin Hayden in Eureka we made our way through the snow to Redgranite.
When we arrived it was already warm in the cabin. I asked them why. Brooke's grandpa had started the heat for us. Too bad he couldn't make it out to the hunt this year. I love his stories.
We spent the first half-hour lighting the lamp, bringing in our packs and generally getting situated.
The gun rack was put to good use. The cabin was built in 70s by Grandpa Lungwitz with a helping hand from Mr. Mike. I'd been here once before, but never got to stay the night.
My grandpa had also dug out a pond. When I was very little we would go to the cabin to swim.
The Thanksgiving eve cabin stay is a tradition amongst the men and Chelsea. Typically Brooke and I are already in Eureka when they arrive with news of a hunt gone good or bad.
They had some problems with the kerosene lantern, but eventually we had light.
Hayden talked at length about his study abroad experience in northern Sweden. He's going to school at Madison for forest management.
Thanks for the scotheroos, Chelsea. They were great.
After a few beers a piece we hit the bunks and crawled into our sleeping bags. Chelsea had warned me that the top bunk would be hot. She wasn't kidding.
In the morning (and when I say morning, I'm talking 5:30 am) we grudgingly got out of our bunks. Mr. Mike told us that he had just started dreaming. I think we all felt that way.
Mike made pancakes to fill our stomachs for next six hours.
I love going to the cottage, but there's something special about an honest-to-god Cabin.
It was still dark as we put on layers of pants, long johns and blaze orange paraphernalia.
The sun had barely lit the morning sky as we walked out into the crisp snow-crunched trail. Having hardly hit double-digits we went our separate ways to our respective blinds.
I followed Hayden until a fork in the road.
I wasn't sure where it was, but Hayden had pointed down the path. My eyes were still adjusting the morning light when I spied the blind.
Typically if you go hunting you have a gun. Instead I had to keep my focus away from the cold and fogging glasses by finding interesting images out of the mundane. The shell casings were the first thing to grab my attention.
Looking out I wouldn't see or hear anything for long periods time.
Two hours into the hunt the temperature had barely crept above 20 degrees.
Early on I had realized that the blaze orange gloves wouldn't work with a camera. Good thing I brought my smokers gloves with.
The woods around the acreage are dense with brush and trees.
The little things like the hole in the cloth door on the blind kept me from going stir crazy.
Everything stayed warm throughout the morning apart from my knees. Despite having four layers on, my knees would get cold every time I sat down.
The roof of the blind was looking at me by this time.
I was startled out of my stare by one shot and then two. In the thicket of trees and brush I spotted four or five deer.
This was first time that I noticed Hayden. He had stayed quiet and still enough that I hadn't noticed his blaze orange likeness in the distance.
Hayden didn’t get a clean kill.
He was shaken, but had to put the four point buck down.
Afterward we went and got Mr. Mike.
Meanwhile Meadow and Blake were playing with all her toys.
Hayden tagged the deer before gutting the animal.
We had to get the cliche pose with the four pointer.
Mr. Mike stepped Hayden through the process of removing the innards.
WARNING: this may be too graphic for certain folks.
It was quite real to see how an animal turns into meat.
At first Mike and Hayden dragged the buck through the forest.
I took over as we passed the creek bridge.
As fast as we had arrived we had to leave.
This experience has readied me for hunting. Next year I’ll need to get a license. I’d rather get meat through effort and sacrifice, however small that might be.
After registering the deer at nearby bar we shot the shit with some hunters. We then went on our way to the Thanksgiving dinner.