Minnesota firearms deer season

ARROWHEAD TOWNSHIP -- Rob Parrott almost missed the Minnesota 2006 firearms deer opener. Nearly asleep Friday night at his deer shack here in southwestern St. Louis County, Parrott received a cell phone call from his wife. Sick kid. Come on home....

ARROWHEAD TOWNSHIP -- Rob Parrott almost missed the Minnesota 2006 firearms deer opener.

Nearly asleep Friday night at his deer shack here in southwestern St. Louis County, Parrott received a cell phone call from his wife.

Sick kid. Come on home.

"I'm not sure what I could do, but I had to go,'' Parrott said.

He went home to help, but he managed to sneak back to the woods Saturday morning at dawn.


Good thing. It was just a couple of hours later when he had a fork-horn buck and small doe on the ground.

Four shots. Two deer.

Not a bad start to the deer season for this camp.

"I had just stood up in my stand and was about to climb down when I heard something crashing through the brush. I looked up and there he was. I saw he was darker and saw antler, so I shot,'' Parrott said.

It was a pretty impressive shot, too, even with a scoped .30-06: About 80 yards out of his tree stand through thick brush, right in the neck. The deer dropped in its tracks.

"I don't know how I ever got a bullet through that stuff, but he went right down,'' the rural Duluth hunter said while rolling up his sleeves for the dirty-work part of deer hunting.

Parrott said that, after he shot, he realized he was surrounded by deer, maybe five or six. So he put the scope on a running doe and shot that one, too.

There are plenty of tags to fill in camp and everyone in the family likes to eat venison.


"I'm thinking now there was probably a bigger buck in there chasing the does, but I couldn't pass these up,'' he said.

Besides, he already got an 11-pointer last week while bowhunting in Hermantown.

Parrott credited the herd of deer coming to his stand to his $45 bottle of doe-in-heat urine that he gets at Fisherman's Corner sporting goods store outside Duluth, where he happens to be manager.

"A pretty good start for the gun season,'' Parrott said later, after the deer were hung on the camp's meat pole.


Family and friends

The Parrott deer camp had three generations in the woods Saturday, including Rob's dad, Dan, brother Dan junior, and nephews. Dan senior was even talking about bringing his dad, Mel, out to add a fourth generation later in the week if the weather warmed as expected.

The season broke partly cloudy and chilly with a persistent east wind. But the day warmed up quickly and, judging by the steady barrage of shots in the area, the deer were moving about and offering lots of hunters lots of chances. The rut appears to be in full swing.


The Parrott clan, all from the Duluth area, owns 40 acres where their two shacks are located, but they do most of their hunting on St. Louis County-managed public forestland. It's not wild country -- you can hear the trucks from U.S. Highway 2 in the distance -- but it's plenty big. There are about 40 square miles around here without many major roads and only a few scattered "No Trespassing" signs. There's room to roam and plenty of deer.

Dozens of temporary deer camps sprout along the logging roads in this area each year at this time, but most people respect other groups and stay out of historical territorial claims.

"I've been hunting here for 45 years and everybody sort of has their own spot. Nobody really bothers anyone else, everyone gets along,'' Dan Parrott Sr. said. "Our group used to be a lot bigger, more family, but I guess a lot of them got old and stopped coming.''

It was a real family affair Saturday for Dan junior with 5-year-old Austin and 7-year-old Jerid along for the hunt. The boys spent much of the morning rolling in the leaves and grass and tackling each other. But they were all smiles.

''They're not much good for sitting, but they aren't bad for driving,'' Dan said with a grin.

Down a grassy opening along an Enbridge Energy pipeline corridor, Grandpa Dan sat in a camouflage tent, called a ground blind, with 15-year-old grandson Cody Fairbanks.

They stayed toasty warm during the early morning chill thanks to a portable heater.

"I don't even know if I'd go out anymore if it weren't for the kids. They make it fun,'' Dan Parrott Sr. said. "I'll still shoot a deer, but I'm a meat hunter now. I hunt for the table. I did my trophy hunting when I was younger.''


The Parrotts' extended deer camp family included 11 people Saturday, including lifelong family friend and camp co-owner Tom Leines and other friends. Rob Parrott befriended Honduras native David Rieas-Cook through Parrott's bear hunting business, Bear Down Outfitters and Guide Service. Rieas-Cook traded hunting rights for building the Parrots' new deer shack. Now he's becoming a regular at the shack, this year bringing Mexican friend Adam Sanchez.

"It's too cold to go out just yet,'' Rieas-Cook said about 6 a.m. Saturday. "But we are going out. Opening day is too good to stay in.''

Down the road, friend Brad Privette, his dad, Steve, and grandfather, Elton, had shot a doe early on opening day and had it hanging on the Parrott camp's meat pole. They were ready to head out hunting again just after noon.

"There was a lot of shooting this morning. It sounded like a war out there,'' Privette said.

First buck at 40

Just down the road from the Parrotts' camp, Tom Lemon of Duluth and his crew were back in camp before noon, stoking a campfire and trading stories.

Lemon had an ear-to-ear smile on his face that gave away his successful morning even before he said a word.

"He's laying right by my stand, just across the road,'' Lemon said.


Then he made an admission that might bring him a little ribbing.

"This is a pretty big deal for me. I've been hunting here for 25 years and that's my first legal buck,'' said Lemon, 40. "I've shot a lot of deer here and in Wisconsin, maybe 30 does and button bucks, but never a legal buck.''

Now, the monkey is off Lemon's back.

It wasn't a monster, just a spike buck, but Lemon was as proud as if it were a 12-pointer.

"I paid my dues for this boy many times over,'' he said while loading the buck on the back of his four-wheeler.

"People say, 'Why don't you go somewhere else to hunt?' But I never would,'' Lemon said, noting the history behind their RV and tent deer camp tucked in the woods. "This place is deer hunting to me.''

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at
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