Minnesota Deer Archery Opener

This is a new area I’m hunting this year so I’m not familiar with the deer movements and hideouts, but I have found some very good-looking spots to hunt. After sitting all morning and seeing nothing, my confidence level was low. Returning in the evening, I went to a different location to setup. The tree I had chosen from a previous scouting trip was very crooked – more crooked than I remembered – and took way too much time to set myself up in without feeling like I was going to spin around and get tossed out of my treestand. I will not sit in it again, though I still like the location and there’s not really a better tree to sit in.

I have made some modifications to my climbing sticks by adding foot stirrups so I can gain additional height and start my first stick high off the ground. (Check out DIY Sportsman on YouTube. He has lots of great ideas and solutions for hunting-related stuff). After using this new setup a couple of times now, I have found myself getting much higher than what I mean to. I can easily get 20 feet with just two sticks. I think I was about 25 feet up here, but probably only needed to be 15.

Bowhunting Minnesota

With all of the rain we have had late in the summer, plant life is doing well and weeds/grass are really high. Once the sun dipped below the hillside and everything was cast in its shadow, I figured now would be a good time for deer to start moving around. As I surveyed my surroundings over and over again, I turned to look back forward and noticed something was different right away.

There it was, a white vertical line in the grass outlined by brown about 30 yards away. I was looking at the side of a deer butt. The rest of the deer was hidden in all of the tall grass, and then it raised its head and started walking up hill. By the time everything registered, this deer was already almost out of range and behind cover, never to give me an opportunity. Quickly I grabbed my bow off the hanger and spotted my opening for a shot. While grabbing the bow and preparing to draw back, I vocalized a quick bleat, soft but just loud enough for it to hear me. It stopped broadside just before I lost it behind the bushes. I drew back and was half-crouched so I could slip my arrow through an opening in the branches. Steadying my fiber-optic pin inline with the vital area of the deer, I released and watched my arrow zip right through.

Deer Archery Hunting in Minnesota

You can see a small opening in the branches (red circle) where I was able to slip an arrow through to connect with the deer.

I was overwhelmed with relief after seeing the shot go right where I expected. The deer trotted up the hill a little ways, jumped a creek and then I lost sight and sound. After a few moments I got out of that stupid tree and began searching for my arrow. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Wondering if it sailed into the creek bottom in all of that snarled up bunch of thick brush, I was losing hope at finding it. Then after returning to the original spot where I suspected the deer was standing, I  finally saw it there down in the grass stuck in the dirt and covered in blood. That arrow shaft and vanes covered in blood really blended in well. It’s almost impossible finding an arrow in all of that tall weed and grass. I feel luck I spotted it.

bloody arrow bowhunting whitetail deer

A good sign.

There were a couple of good splashes of blood, and then it was difficult to follow, again because of how tall the weeds were growing. Not wasting too much time looking for more blood, I walked to where I last saw it jump the little creek and found a couple of spots of blood on some of the tall grass blades a couple of feet off the ground. My impatience was getting to me as I was losing daylight. After seeing no obvious splashes of blood, I headed straight downhill to where the heavy cover was. I made it about 20 yards and there it lay perfectly under the low crown of an apple tree. In total, it probably traveled another 40 or 50 yards from where I shot it.

Bowhuning Minnesota

It was a button buck. Born this year but still of decent size compared to the doe fawns. I was able to retain about 21 lbs of meat from this deer which seems to be about average for other buck fawns I have taken in the past. The first one of the season is often times the hardest to get for me so I’m glad to have that one out of the way and ready for whatever comes next.

Good luck out there and stay safe – don’t go climbing those silly crooked trees.


In Search of the King

Over the weekend, we headed up the North Shore of Lake Superior camping and geared up for king salmon (and anything else we might have the opportunity to catch). We were determined and even brought the boats with for fishing in the big rivers.

Camping on Lake Superior's North Shore

At our campsite, there was a stream running right next to our tent that was loaded with tons of little wild brook trout.

The first couple of days were rough. There was much rain and learning on how to find and target these fish. After hooking up twice and losing both fish in the deep fast water, it was a frustrating end to a day. Changing out lures, adding weight, taking off weight, using divers to take our lines down – we tried everything. The next day we tried a different section of river and Phil went back to his jet diver/spoon combo. We were pulling through some really fast water and the rods were bent over so hard it made it difficult to hang on. That’s when Phil hooked up with his first fish. Looking up I saw his rod was flying back and forth as the fish went tearing down river. I was able to slide the boat back into an eddy where we could swing the fish over and land it. Phil had just caught his first ever king salmon and a nice bright one at that.

Lake Superior King Salmon

On the following day, the rain was back and it was pouring. We decided to not put the boats in but to do some casting from shore instead. Digging through my spoon box, I found the heaviest spoon I could and tied it on my line. Casting and bombing it out into the river I let the current take it down stream and began to wind in, letting it swing through the seam where the fast water met some not-so-fast water. After making several casts I noticed a fish roll right near my line as it was swinging down stream. I began retrieving the spoon and felt a whack. Nothing. I pumped it a couple times slowing down and then something slammed the spoon and it was on. This fish was ripping line off my reel and making runs back and forth through the current. Once I was able to swing it out of the fastest water, I could make some progress pumping it towards shore where I was able to beach it. A dandy king salmon. I finally got what I came for and it was thrilling.

Lake Superior King Salmon

Joel joined me a short while later and began chucking one of his big spoons into the seam. After much casting he hooked into something big. It fought a little different and was more like dead weight in the current with big slow head shakes.

Fishing Lake Superior Tributaries

Joel putting the cork to whatever big fish is on the end of his line.

Finally he managed to get it into the slower water where it surfaced and came near shore. He had a big pike, quite possibly the biggest he has ever had. It was thick like an alligator coming up onto the beach. It was exciting but I know he would have much preferred a salmon. This pike measured around 38 or 39″.

Northern Pike

Fishing was slower for us than what we had hoped, but it was a good trip and we learned a lot. We are all looking forward to doing it all again, next time with more wisdom and experience to put more fish in the boat.


Fly Fishing for Hot Summer ‘Skis

Stripping big flies for muskies can be a lot of work, but it helps when the action is good. After a full day we tallied ten follows, four takes, and three landed muskies on our fly rods. Nothing gigantic was landed, but it sure beats fishing gear.

Fly Fishing Muskies in Minnesota

The first fish of the day landed by Joel.

Fly Fishing Muskies in Minnesota

A mouthful of feathers.

Fly Fishing Muskies in Minnesota

Green and mean.



Leif’s Glass Bugger

Fly Tying Leif's Glass Bugger

After receiving a number of questions about this fly, I decided to put together a tutorial for tying it. I have not seen it done anywhere else, though I’m probably not the only one to have had the idea of using glass beads for the body of the fly. Glass beads provide enough weight to sink the fly so no lead wrap is needed. The glass beads also create a nice shimmer effect, reflecting light and making this fly more visible to hungry fish.

This is Leif’s Glass Bugger.

Materials:

  • Hook: #6 Streamer Hook
  • Thread: 6/0 Black
  • Tail: Marabou and Flash
  • Body: 6/0 Glass ‘E’ Beads and Hackle
Fly Tying Leif's Glass Bugger

I used a #6 streamer hook for this tutorial, but I actually prefer a #8.

Fly Tying Leif's Glass Bugger

These glass beads have a lot of great uses in the fly tying world. I picked these up at Michaels. Other beads I have bought elsewhere were very inconsistent in shape and size.

Fly Tying Leif's Glass Bugger

Start by first threading six (6) of the glass beads onto the hook shank. When using a #8 hook I will thread five (5) glass beads onto the hook shank.

Fly Tying Leif's Glass Bugger

Start your thread behind the last bead and cover the rest of the hook shank bringing the thread close to even with the hook barb.

Fly Tying Leif's Glass Bugger

Tie in your marabou for the tail. Keep it about the same length as the body or even slightly shorter. Remember less is more. I prefer to trim off some marabou fibers rather than tying in a whole feather.

Fly Tying Leif's Glass Bugger

After the marabou, tie in two (2) strands of flash, one on each side of the fly. Keep these the same length as the marabou or slightly longer. I like to keep it simple. Too much flash is overkill.

Fly Tying Leif's Glass Bugger

Next, tie in your hackle. I prefer to tie the tip in first so when I wrap forward it tapers larger towards the head of the fly. Ideally you will want hackle length about the same as the distance of the hook gap or slightly longer.

Fly Tying Leif's Glass Bugger

After I have the hackle anchored on the rear of the fly, I make a few more wraps to cover up the ends of the materials. I then slide the rearward glass bead over my thread and materials. You can apply a spot of super glue first to make this fly more durable. Next, I advance my thread to the front of the glass bead and make a number of wraps, advance the thread in front of the next glass bead and make a number of wraps etc. Continue this until you have your thread seated between the front two glass beads. What I want to accomplish here is to evenly space out the beads, anchor them in place, and provide ample room for wrapping my hackle forward.

Fly Tying Leif's Glass Bugger

Now you can wrap your hackle. Make two wraps at the butt of the fly, then advance the hackle forward one glass bead at a time and make two wraps in between each bead. You may need to use your finger nail to push the hackle in between the beads to get the first wrap started each time so that it seats properly between the glass beads. Stop behind the front bead and tie off here but do not cut your thread yet.

Fly Tying Leif's Glass Bugger

After tying off behind the front glass bead, I like to advance the thread one more time and make some wraps right behind the hook eye, tie off and trim the thread. You can then add a drop of super glue here. This should help anchor everything and give you a more durable fly.

Fly Tying Leif's Glass Bugger

The finished fly. If you tie any of these and catch fish on them, I would love to hear about it.