This weekend was Deer Opener in Minnesota. So the traffic going up to the cabin resembled Fishing Opener, and the entire experience was like Fishing Opener, but with more blasting and less splashing. Also, we didn’t see a single deer all weekend, and other critters were acting strangely. Something spent part of the weekend living under the porch and driving the dogs nuts, for instance.
We heard when we arrived late Friday Night that a hunter saw a timber wolf (and the timber wolf saw him) while the hunter tried out his deer stand earlier this week. The folks who own the hardware store spotted two wolves by the road just around the curve from our cabin. Plus … and this is very exciting for Kenzie and Baily (the dogs) … I hear tell there was some wolf poop over by the boat house yesterday. But they eated it. I’ll look around in the morning to see if they left any for me. (To look at.)
OK, Saturday AM, I checked out the wolf droppings, and it is not wolf droppings. Rather, they are pretty classic bear droppings. That’s good for the dogs, because I don’t think they have much to worry about when it comes to black bear, but I’m not so sure about wolves. Well, actually, I suspect that one of the dogs would die defending the realm against the wolf intruders, and the other would join them.
The point on which the cabin sits is surrounded by beaver, who have started to take down saplings and are likely to begin soon to gnaw into the larger birch, including the hearty varietals just planted in front of the cabin in the buffer zone. Time to call the beaver guy. Soon enough, these rodents will be somebody’s hat.
An immature eagle has been seen, not local, so it must be migrating. A small flock of tundra swans flew by this weekend, and a large flock, a hundred or so strong, of hooded mergansers stayed in clumps on the lake for a while and then flew off.
Since this weekend is Deer Opener we heard the frequent Cra-krack of rifles and the occasional boom of a shotgun. Wind conditions are pretty good and visibility is pretty good, so the expectation is that more hunters than average will “get their deer.” Mike at the Mule Lake store had only tagged one deer when I saw him at 9 AM. It must be hard for him, having to mind the store, with almost no customers (everyone is in their stand waiting for their deer … everyone but Mike, that is) while hunter after hunter stops in, gets gas, registers the deer sprawled in the back of the pickup, and moves on. Assuming Mike hunts. Other businesses just close on Opener. The landfill, for instance, inconveniently for us.
Deer opener is like the first icy storm of the year: Dangerous, but mostly for the hunters.
A Twin Cities area kid was shot by his father in Big Stone County, from an accidental discharge while dad was loading his shotgun. The slug went through the box of the pickup and into the cab first, so it was probably slowed down a bit. That’s west of here, in shotgun only territory. Lucky it wasn’t a rifle. Up near Fargo, a hunter shot himself in the wrist. He did not have the safety on, tripped, fell, and BLAM!!! How embarrassing.
Somebody, as yet unnamed, took some bird shot through the third floor window in Saint Paul. Probably unrelated to hunting. But it does remind us to not go near any windows and to armor our homes above the first floor level.
A 16 year old kid used his foot on which to rest the muzzle of his rifle, heard a deer (or something), grabbed the gun (which I’m guessing did not have the safety on) and shot himself. He’ll live, but his foot will probably never be the same. Melissa Johnson, from Henning, fell through the floor of her deer stand and busted up her legs.
The Governor, who has been nicknamed Elmer Fudd by most people I know, failed to bag a deer this year.* A few years back he created a thing called the “Governor’s Deer Opener” ostensibly to draw attention to hunting. Really, though, it is just to embarrass any Non-Hunting governors we might elect. What happened, last year though, probably caused Elmer The Guv Pawlenty to regret this cynical move. He went out hunting but had an important gubernatorial meeting in the afternoon. So when he shot a deer but only wounded it, he left it to suffer and die (or not) on his own. When the public heard about this, he claimed to have sent out his aides to find the deer and dispatch it. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, but, well, he’s the governor so he’s above the law, right? That deer was never found.
This year, mercifully, he just missed.
In Wisconsin, the Hmong living in our area elected a new leader. That in itself is interesting, but for another post another time. But it reminds me of a few years back when a Hmong man, Chai Vang, was caught hunting in the territory of some white guys, threatened, called a chink and a gook, and shot at. He was not really doing anything illegal, but what appears to have been a handful of hyped up PTSD vets and their friends and relatives saw it differently (not that shooting him would have been justified in any case). They got together a posse, apparently to kill him or at least drive him off using gunfire. But it turned out that the man was a very experienced Laotian special forces fighter, so he took them out. He killed six of them and wounded two. Vang is serving six life sentences.
So, it was a pretty typical Deer Opener. At least this didn’t happen:
Information on hunting mishaps culled from from WCCO web site.