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Hunters, especially late season, are crazy

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outdoors Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

unday, I had one tag left for regular gun season. Sunday was also the last day it could be used. There was not much going on, so I thought I should go get one more doe. I am doing my best to control the population, plus, I still have a little room in the freezer.

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I started making calls to find a hunting partner. After a few calls, I was beginning to think people no longer were dedicated to hunting. Some people did not have a tag. That is a legitimate excuse. I can accept that, but others thought it was too cold and slippery to go hunting. That is no excuse at all. I have hunted deer in ice storms, pheasants in blizzards and geese in a hurricane. Weather is never a factor for hunters.

The temperature was 10-below zero, but it was supposed to warm up to five-below by mid-afternoon. The wind was gusting up to 30 miles-per-hour, but that only helps muffle the sound a person makes while stalking. That would be good, because a thick layer of ice covered several inches of snow. It would take a stiff breeze to cover the crunching sound made by a hunter walking.

I thought, "The heck with them all." I would go by myself.

While I arranged my Arctic survival gear, my wife began questioning my sanity. Though she claims to, she does not really understand the lure of the outdoors. She even went so far as to insinuate my hunting partners were wise in staying home, leaving unsaid that I might be just a bit crazy to venture out.

While bow hunting for a big buck, I had seen a lot of does travel along the creek at the bottom of Strawberry Hill. With nobody to push deer to me, my best chance was to stand beside a well-used trail and wait for a nice, fat, unsuspecting doe to wander by. I drove as close to Strawberry Hill as I dared, which was not very close. It would not do to get stuck a mile from the road on a day like today.

Parking at the end of the long hayfield, I felt like the Pillsbury dough boy. If I fell down, I was not sure I would be able to get back up. I walked through the 10 acres. The trees broke some of the wind, but it was difficult walking. With each step, the ice crust would hold for a second and then break letting a person's foot drop another four or five inches. The progress was noisy, slow and exhausting.

Finally, I arrived at the windswept top of Strawberry Hill. There were no trees to block the wind howling through the valley straight from the North Pole. The ice layer had been polished by the blowing wind. I was admiring the sun shining off the rolling layer of glass when I took a step and did not break through the crust. My foot shot out and I fell flat on my back, sliding slowly down the hill.

A person's first reflex when falling down is to look around and see if anybody was watching. That was stupid. Of course nobody was watching. The nylon outer layer of my down coat made a slippery surface against the ice as I took stock of any injuries I might have. I did not seem to be injured, but was sliding a bit more rapidly, feet first down the hill.

I raised my feet and slammed them into the ice, hoping to break through. One of them did. This caused me to spin around and slide headfirst at an ever increasing speed. The glassy top of the hill was getting farther away as I lay on my back, shotgun cradled across my chest, hoping to not go rocketing into the creek. The hill leveled out and I slid to a stop before reaching the creek bank.

I hunted for 10 or 15 minutes before I decided a deer would have to be crazy to go for a stroll along the creek in such weather. What did that make me?

It took much longer to get back to the truck than the trip down. By the time I got home, I was stiff, sore and convinced hunters are crazy; at least some of them are.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.

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