Rodd's Ramblings... Will this be the year to shake 'World's Worst Hunter' title?

I don't know what it is about this time of year, but I love it! As the leaves fall and the weather turns colder, it can only mean deer season is right around the corner. Add to the fact that when you walk into any sporting goods store and all you...

I don't know what it is about this time of year, but I love it! As the leaves fall and the weather turns colder, it can only mean deer season is right around the corner. Add to the fact that when you walk into any sporting goods store and all you can see is blaze orange clothes, the need to get out in the woods for a deer hunter hits a fever pitch.

As I have mentioned in this column in the past, I had to give up deer hunting back in 1978 due to my job in radio and then a few years later when I broadcast University of Minnesota-Duluth hockey games. In 2005, after a job change, I was able to finally get back in the woods and deer hunt after a 27-year absence. I was fortunate enough to be able to become part of the Johnson, Hella, Beale and Smith deer hunting camp. The camp is located in....ooops! I almost forgot the first rule about deer hunting - you have to be very vague in where you hunt. So, without giving up too much information, our hunting camp is west and north of Cloquet.

My first year was pretty quiet until the last weekend. I had borrowed a gun with a scope from a guy who was about 8 feet tall, so the scope was outfitted for him and not for a 5-foot-10 fat guy like me! Through the first two weekends I was able to see a lot of deer, but none of them close enough to hit with my gun situation. The final weekend I was nearly skewered like shish kebob by an 8-point buck which managed to sneak in behind me while I was kneeling on the ground. Needless to say he got away. That was Saturday. On Sunday I went back to the same area and harvested that same buck through some very skilled shooting.

The following season I was stuck in the middle of a swamp when the woods opened up like World War III. I had deer running in every direction around me. The rest of the members of my hunting group made a drive and spooked a herd. After 12 shots I took a doe, but not before I was actually run into by a deer. I am not kidding! I had a deer run into my elbow! How can that happen? I was the butt of a lot of jokes in camp that night. It was fine with me because at least I was seeing a lot of deer and I figured sooner or later the odds would be in my favor.

Last year, the decision was made that I had to buy my own rifle. My friend Tim Johnson and I headed out looking for something that would be a good fit. We finally found exactly what I was looking for - a 30-30 Marlin with a scope. It was the same type of gun I had grown up with and it felt like a comfortable fit. It isn't the most powerful gun, but it is mine and we set the scope up accordingly to my shooting style.


As we got into last year, the deer camp revved up with the World's Worst Hunter jokes when I arrived. Each hunter in the camp got their little pot shots in at me and I was in a situation where I had to just smile and take it. Little did this band of hunters have any idea, nor did I, what was in store for me last season.

Opening day found me relaxing in a stand and eventually harvesting a nice doe on one shot. The first deer of 2007 belonged to me. The jokes started to slow a bit.

On the second weekend, I was sitting on a deer stand about 250 yards east of my son-in-law, Dain Thul. I had been messing around trying to use a grunt call and rattling antlers for about an hour when suddenly a burst of brown came through an opening about 85 yards away to the north. It was a huge buck and it was moving fast through the woods. The sudden noise and commotion caused me to swallow my gum and nearly fall out of my deer stand. Eventually after gathering my senses, I could see the buck running away and downhill from my stand. Without bragging too much, I took my time and squeezed off a shot that I knew hit home.

After waiting about 10 minutes, I flagged down Dain and about that same time Tim showed up and we took a little walk trying to find the trophy. After about 10 minutes Tim leaned over and made a smart aleck remark to Dain that things didn't look too good for me. At that exact moment the HUGE monster buck (notice how he gets bigger as we go along here?) got up and tried to run. It was obvious that he had been hit and a few minutes later Tim was able to put him down for good.

Hmmmm, that is two shots and two deer! Now who's the World's Worst Hunter, boys?

To add a little gas to the fire a day later I was able to harvest another huge doe (I don't shoot small deer) with just one shot! In other words, it was a good season.

We enjoyed the venison all last winter, this summer and fall and there is very little left. That must mean deer season is here again. Regardless of whether I harvest a deer I know I will have fun at camp. This year I have bragging rights and I plan on having some fun as we gather around the cook stove each night and the World's Best Hunter holds court.

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