Hunting season not finished with gun deer hunt

Ross Bielema

This is for all the lonely hunters, thinkin’ that deer have passed them by.

One of my favorite bands of the 1970s, and maybe of all time, is America. Simple name, simple-but-beautiful tunes. I had their “Greatest Hits” album and then the cassette. Classics like “Sister GoldenHair,” “Ventura Highway” and “Lonely People” can’t be forgotten once they are heard.

I was lucky enough to see America one year in Fond du Lac during Walleye Fest, and the lead singer cautioned the crowd of mellow, middle-aged fans not to push and crowd the table for $20 T-shirts that had the word America screen-printed on the front. He was being sarcastic. I thought that a band this creative and talented could come up with a better design. I didn’t buy one, either.

It’s funny what you think about when sitting in a deer blind, mid-morning, having seen only a few squirrels and having heard a few shots. The TV news folks are anxious to give us the season’s stats: a total nine-day firearms season harvest of 173,942, down 17% from last year. No snow. Hunters can’t see the deer, but here’s a photo of little Jimmy with his 37-point buck he shot in his back yard, and now the weather.

I appreciate any coverage for hunting, because sports involving guns sadly get very little attention, but are these TV reporters aware of all the state’s deer seasons? Do they know about the 10-day muzzleloader season? That the archery season (bow and crossbow) are concurrent with all gun seasons and continue until Jan. 7 in some counties, Jan. 31 in others? Please don’t write off the unsuccessful nine-day season hunters, because we have much more time (albeit colder hunting) to give deer a dirt nap.

Don’t give up until you sink that golden buck and take that pickup ride with pride.

I love the ground blinds, and gave up tree stands years ago (too many of my friends fell, and my habit of falling asleep while hunting is so much easier from the ground), but they really restrict your vision.

I decided to use my ground blind as a backdrop while gun hunting (at least in one location), so sat on a resin lawn chair and rested my Thompson/Center Contender single-shot pistol in a bipod. I was comfy and stable (at least physically).

Hours of sitting outdoors is the ultimate mental relaxation, the kind of brain yoga everyone needs. No office drama or responsibilities, no home chores. Only the bluejays and red squirrels to scold.

Occasional shots bring hope every few minutes at first, then every 30 minutes or so. As the intervals grow, hope fades. It only takes a flash of a tail or hip to bring it back, but on this day, only a black squirrel makes me smile and break out my camera. He’s way too fast for me — this time. A black squirrel against the snow is a thing of beauty.

I’ve always loved hunting in snow since following my dad’s pigeon-toed boot prints on rabbit hunts in northern Illinois when I was maybe 6 or 7. I thought my dad was the smartest guy in the world and the best rabbit hunter, too. It was years later before I realized I was right on count one. You don’t realize just how smart parents are until you are a parent yourself.

This is for all the lonely hunters, thinkin’ that deer have passed them by.

I am many things, but nobody ever accused me of being organized. What a horrible way to live, knowing exactly where all your tools, books, important papers and guns are. Sure, it’s all in the house somewhere, but if I knew exactly where the 5/32-inch Allen wrench was, I wouldn’t need to buy a second set and later a third. This is why I don’t buy Snap-On.

After the first few cold-weather hunts, the real hunt for warm gloves begins. I need a thick one for my left hand and a thin one for my right. (Thick ones don’t fit in trigger guards, do they?)

Disposable hand warmers are one of man’s greatest achievements, and they tuck into gloves so nicely. Waterproof gloves are rarely warm, especially those neoprene things. I have 46 pairs of gloves in every color and material, but only about four pairs of right-hand gloves. Somewhere in a cardboard box in my garage is a pile of 42 right-hand gloves, just waiting.

If you haven’t given muzzleloaders a try, you really should. Inlines are so much more reliable than the old sidelocks, and pelletized powder (Pyrodex, Triple 7 or my personal favorite, White Hots) makes it fast and easy to load, and 209 shotgun primers for ignition are also much more reliable than the old No. 11 percussion caps. Scopes of all magnification are now legal, and with other advances, these front-loading rifles are producing centerfire velocity and energy. Why not extend your gun season another 10 days? You can also use your muzzleloader during the other gun seasons, too.

If you are still hunting during one of these late seasons, as the outdoor magazines call it, I tip my hat to you. You don’t give up and you get the real reason we all hunt: to get away from everyone and everything else in the magnificent outdoors. Venison is just a bonus.

You never quit until you die.

Ross Bielema is a freelance writer from New London and owner of Wolf River Concealed Carry LLC. Contact him at