Dad’s First Buck

My dad took up hunting with a crossbow a few years back and has only had the opportunity to shoot a doe in the past. Quite contrary to most, I took up hunting before my dad and have many more hours of bowhunting and deer tracking experience on my side. Last night I received the following text from him:

Shot at the 6 pointer. Must have shot too high. Watched where he ran. Couldn’t find any blood anywhere. Blew an easy shot.

Not knowing what I might find, I showed up and had him walk me through the details. After placing him in his shooting position and then having him direct me to where the deer was standing when he shot, I found his bolt stuck in a tree not far away. It was covered in blood so we now knew that he definitely hit the deer. There was no hair and the blood was on every part of the shaft so it couldn’t have just clipped it. There was no foul smell either, so it was not a gut shot. I did not see an immediate trail of blood on the ground so I had him direct me to where he watched the deer run. After a few minutes I had a blood trail and from there on it was fairly easy to follow.

We followed the blood trail for maybe 120 yards through the woods and there lie the deer. The shot was a little high but still in the vitals and a good hit. I think my dad said for some reason he was looking at his 30 yard pin rather than the 20. I have made the same mistake before. It can be an easy mistake to make when you get caught up in the excitement of a deer walking into shooting range – you don’t always pause and take the extra time to judge your shooting distance or realize you are aiming with the wrong pin.

All in all it actually turned out to be a pretty easy tracking job. That just goes to show you should never be too quick to give up on finding a deer. Call some friends and get fresh eyes, you may be surprised how quickly your outlook might change on something that looks hopeless. I had the same experience last year when I couldn’t find a deer. I called a couple of good friends and we were relentless, and we found the deer.

I’m just excited for my dad now that he finally arrowed his first buck that he’s been after for so long.

Dad's first buck!

Spring Rainbows and Steel Part I

Two thousand sixteen was a decent year for Lake Superior’s rainbow trout and steelhead along Minnesota’s North shore. With the social media monster growing ever larger and creating exponentially greater fishing pressure, I have decided to hold off on posting regular updates and create more of an end-of-season summary instead. We had some great days on the water this year so I will be doing this in several installments.

As of the end of April, 1,395 rainbow trout had been captured at the French River trap. This is really good news since the long-term average is 884. But fishing success has not followed with the high numbers of fish captured which has been a bit of a mystery to the locals who fish the shore regularly. Before much of the fish rearing migrated to the Spire Valley hatchery, fishing was quite good in the fall and all winter. For the past several years, this has not been the case – but the numbers of fish are still out there which has been baffling.

Lake Superior Rainbow Trout

Joe caught this nice female rainbow trout on one of his very own hand-tied jigs.

My friend Joe was putting in his time early on trying to catch a rainbow trout from shore this year and when he finally did, he texted me a picture I will not soon forget. The fish did not grab my attention but the fact that he put it on the front seat of his truck! I think he was pretty excited to get that first fish of the year.

Great Lakes Rainbow Trout

This trout received special treatment and even got to ride shotgun in Joe’s truck!

Once in a while, things really came together for us…

Great Lakes Rainbow Trout

A banner day catching rainbow trout along Lake Superior’s North shore.

Great Lakes Steelhead

One of the nicer looking steelhead from this spring.

Great Lakes Steelhead

Great Lakes Rainbow Trout

Some of the rainbows get a fungus that grows on them. No one is really sure what causes it, but apparently it is harmless… yet I have seen fish that appear blind in one eye if the fungus covers much of their face. I don’t care much for catching these fungus-faced trout but they still put up a good fight.