On some hunts, the only wildlife you see is swans flying overhead.
Some hunts you catch a quick glimpse of a pine marten scurrying across the trail.
And on some hunts, you watch the same deer, just out of shooting range, for over an hour before it jumps back into the woods.
On the opening weekend of Minnesota deer firearm season, it was the first two scenarios.
Around 15 hours of time spent in the stand and not a deer in sight.
But that happens. It did last year.
Not everyone harvests a deer in the first hour of the season. And judging by the lack of shots around me, very few people were calling in morning tags in permit area 155.
In theory, the managed two deer limit area means there should be plenty of deer around, but on this opening weekend, only my dad saw a small doe passing through.
Talk to any hunter and they’ll tell you the success of the hunt isn’t measured by tagging a deer. Still, it’s nice to see one or at least see tracks and know they are around.
The second weekend I only had four hours to devote in the stand since my husband and I took turns watching our toddler. He took the morning hunt. Nothing.
I took the afternoon hunt.
After a couple of hours listening to the wind and thinking every rustle of leaves was a deer, I looked up to find a doe at the far end of the food plot.
I zoomed in my scope as far as it could go. The shot was over 100 yards out. I decided to wait and see if she would get closer.
I watched her for an hour as she walked back and forth grazing on frozen turnips. Then she turned toward the woods and was gone.
As I second-guessed my decision to not shoot, she appeared again. This time with a smaller doe, perhaps her fawn from the spring? I picked up my 30-30, adjusted the scope and came across yet another doe stepping out from behind the oak trees.
Three deer were now within range in the fading daylight. One doe bucked at the other and chased the smallest one toward my stand.
All three deer started trotting my way. Quick, commit to one. Take a deep breath. Wait for the best shot. Another deep breath.
The other two ran back to the tree line. The third lay still in the snow.
Then simultaneous texts from my dad and husband. “Was that you?”
On some hunts, you wait and wait only to make a quick decision on which deer is bigger.
Some hunts you get a good shot and don’t have to follow tracks.
And on some hunts, you get to share the moment with your family.