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River Report - November 20, 2018

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report
Welcome to the white-tailed deer rifle season in Northern Michigan.

We had an early cold snap that brought with it a blanket of snow. Snow is welcomed by all deer hunters.  It makes it easier to spot the brown ungulates as they sneak through the spruces and makes tracking animals easier.  That’s especially welcomed by grateful hunters who have to follow up a mortally wounded buck.  Blood 6trails show up brightly on white and even poorly hit deer that bleed little can be tracked successfully simply by following footfalls.  There’s an art to tracking animals after the shot.  One that’s much simplified on frosted ground.

There is exhilaration with every trigger pull, but there is no true success until you find your game. The time bird-dogging your injured quarry is at once both exciting and anxiety filled.  While losing an animal you’ve wounded is the worst feeling a hunter can experience, catching the first sight of your deer spent on the ground brims with satisfaction.  In the course of a successful hunt you feel a full gamut of emotions - hope and anticipation, excitement and anxiety, joy and sadness for a life taken.  It’s a complex undertaking.  For most, anyway.

It’s been a fantastic ride for me so far this November. I started out by being invited to a fancy deer camp with my best friends.  This is a first class operation with a beautiful cabin complete with a stone fireplace.  It’s nicer than my house!  The blinds are all elevated and heated and look over big, well-groomed food plots.  There were a pile of racked bucks on the many trail cameras.  I’d never really been to a fancy camp and this, I imagine, is as fine as any.  But the deer didn’t give a lick about all that and at the end of the first weekend, we all went home empty handed.

I headed right to my Dad’s place. Our camp.  My Dad greeted me at the door; eager to tell the tales of the last few days and hunt with his son.  The woodstove was warm and the new solar powered lights that replaced the lanterns and candles glowed nicely.  We can flush the toilet here with a bucket of water gathered roof gutter, but we have to haul water from the well that we need to drink and cook with.  The gas stove works and we can even watch the game on the T.V. thanks to the battery bank.  It’s cozy and clean.  And we have blinds that don’t leak much and the drafts aren’t anything the heaters can’t handle.  We’ve got some small food plots but when a deer walks out you aren’t elevated and look him right in the eye.

And that’s how I shot my six point this year. Right on his same level.

I am so fortunate to be a part of both camps. One camp with best friends and one camp with family.   Deer come a distant second to deer camp.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and remember how lucky you are to spend some time with folks you may just be too busy for during the rest of the year.

Take care and I’ll see you when I crawl out of the woods,