By Clint Birtzer
To begin telling the saga of my 2012 Wisconsin buck I have to go back a ways. In July of this past year my band traveled to the small town of Viroqua Minnesota to play a music festival at the town’s county fairgrounds. It was at this festival that my band’s Emcee mentioned from on stage that I am an avid hunter with a passion for the type of country we were in at that time. As we were shootin’ the breeze with fans after our set an older gentlemen approached me and started talking to me about hunting. Naturally I’m happy to talk hunting any chance I can so he and I conversed for quite some time. After a while he divulged that he owns over a hundred acres just a few minutes away from where we were and that I should give him a call if I ever wanted to come hunt sometime. He gave me his card, we shook hands, and I didn’t really think about it realistically at the time.
Fast forward a few months. It’s September and I’m preparing for another long deer season. Things are shaping up nicely on my lease in Minnesota so I started looking at some options across the border to give myself more opportunities. I looked online and found a few decent looking public land spots but I found myself really wishing I had some decent private land to hunt. It was then that I remembered I had a telephone number and an offer that I could cash in. I gave Vic a call and he told me, “come on down for gun opener, my family cancelled anyway.”
On November 16th I packed up my little Ford Ranger and left my house on the University of Minnesota campus. I day dreamed of huge Wisconsin bruisers during the entire drive. When I arrived Vic met me in the driveway and immediately took me out to survey the land. He gave me a few options for stand locations but I wasn’t really seeing what I wanted to see. Finally the last location really spoke to me. This area of Wisconsin is mostly fields and deep, thick gullies. This spot capitalized on the terrain. A lobe of the field came down the hill and made a nice little secluded bay right on the edge of the gully. I found a tree where the woods were stretching back into the field that looked over this secluded lobe. I knew I would see deer here, it was just a matter of time.
Opening day dawned clear, cold, and action packed. The amount of rifle shots I could hear was nowhere near what I am used to in central Minnesota. Shot after shot pierced the crisp morning air. I sat enjoying the cacophony of hunting success when I noticed movement below me in the woods. Three does worked their way right below the ridgeline from me. I ended up having enough time to collect my thoughts and decided to let them walk. My mission was a Wisconsin brute and these ladies were lucky on that day. The same situation played out later in the day when two more does stepped out to feed in the field. I let them walk and hoped Sunday morning would send some antlers by my set.
I drug myself out of bed the next morning knowing realistically that I had to get it done within the next few hours if I wanted to accomplish all the necessary things I needed to get done for the upcoming week. I climbed into the stand hopeful, but knowing the odds were most likely against me. The morning moved along quietly without any deer movement and without as many shots sounding off. At about 8am I heard a large stick crack below me in the gully. I turned my head and just saw white horns moving through the woods. There he was. The Wisconsin buck I had come all this way for. He worked his way through the woods and out onto the field edge while I tried to turn on the camera and compose myself. He walked out onto the field and started quartering away from me along the field edge. I knew it was then or never and made the infamous “maaaa.” He stopped, put his head up, and I pulled the trigger. Initially, I wasn’t sure if my first shot hit him or not. Luckily in the heat of the moment he gave me a second shot and I was able to put another clean hit into his vitals.
I climbed down trying to convince myself to not be too confident and make sure to put on a good track. I poked quietly into the woods and started looking around for blood. I knew I was close to the right place but it turns out I should have gone about ten yards further. I looked to my left and saw a pile of grey and white. I then experienced the best rush of emotions a hunter can feel in the woods. Satisfaction for a plan coming together, elation for accomplishing that goal of taking a big game animal, and ultimately gratitude for being able to have this opportunity and for having these beautiful animals to pursue. I will always remember that moment very fondly.
This great buck ended up grossing over 140 as an 8. He was an old warrior of a deer and I couldn’t be happier with being able to take him. I have to thank my new friend Vic Straw for bringing me down to hunt. Hopefully he’ll invite me back next hear. A man can dream.
Suburban Standout Outdoors