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Bad luck in rookie hunting season makes photographer more determined

Brad Carlson, left, talks to his daughter, Jenny, second from left, daughter-in-law Kristina, second from right, and son John, right, after the group drove out into the woods and picked up Brad's eight point buck on Thanksgiving day. (Jed Carlson/

After a busy, but short, week at work, it's time to head back to the woods:


6:05 a.m.: Wake up. I can't remember the last time I was up this ... oh waiting, it was last Sunday.

7:10 a.m.: Got out to my stand. It's considerably cooler today.

7:48 a.m.: Seems strange I haven't heard any gunshots yet this morning.

8:07 a.m.: Haven't seen anything yet. Today I try to change my luck with a different hat, different position, even a different pen. It doesn't help.

8:14 a.m.: Loud shot fired. Was it Jenny or John? Hmm, am I supposed to stay here or go help? We hadn't really touched on that protocol.

8:20 a.m.: Another loud shot - guessing that was the kill shot. It was probably John judging from the distance.

8:42 a.m.: I'm already thinking about calling it a morning. For one thing, I'm curious about where those shots came from. For another, my stomach is making so much noise, I'm sure deer miles around can hear the rumbling. Apparently, my stomach knows delicious pancakes are waiting for me at the house.

8:51 a.m.: Packing up. I'm going to hunt my way back to the house.

10:23 a.m.: After breakfast, we load into the truck to get the eight-point buck Brad shot. He gutted it before he came in.

3:22 p.m.: After Brad dropped me off, I take my time walking to the stand. I'm full of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and lefse; it's slowing me down. I'm hoping to see a deer this afternoon.

4:06 p.m.: A whole lot of nothing going on. My eyes tear up because the wind's poking me in the eyes.

4:20 p.m.: Well that's it for this stand. Tomorrow I'm going to try a different one. Hopefully, that will change my luck.

7:35 p.m.: Brad begins skinning his buck. We brought it to Iron River to register it early and now we've got it hanging from the rafters.

8:15 p.m.: Brad finishes skinning the buck. I can tell you after witnessing the process this is not for the weak of stomach, especially when it comes to sawing the head off. Brad took out the tenderloin-like area and the back strap during onsite butchering.


2:45 p.m.: Just got to my stand. I'm switching it up. I've decided to ditch the old stand and try the "convertible" - it's new look after a tree fell on it and destroyed the roof.

3:25 p.m.: I think the silence is messing with my head. I've started dropping things just to see how loud they are.

4:10 p.m.: Boredom has kicked in again. I begin taking photos of the convertible stand with my point and shoot camera. I sent my good work camera off for inspection and cleaning this week.

4:19 p.m.: The sun sets on another deerless day. I need to find a place to hunt like in the old Oregon Trail computer game from elementary school days. Every place they hunted had rabbits, squirrels, deer and even buffalo. The best part was all you had to do was tap a space bar. I'm guessing true-life hunting is not so easy.

4:30 p.m.: Leave my stand. Hope tomorrow goes better. It seems like I'm writing a lot.


1:13 p.m.: I've decided to walk the trails through the property where I'm hunting. Maybe I'll see some deer in a different area.

2:59 p.m.: Well, I just got back from my hike. We were supposed to meet at the house for lunch at 2 p.m. I discovered there are a lot of paths back in the woods. I'm not saying I got lost, but I wasn't sure where I was.

3:48 p.m.: The plan is for me to sit in a tree stand at the corner of a field. I want the stand closest to the house after my marathon walk. Well the stand was way up in a tree and I'd have to climb a ladder. Looking at the stand, I'm not certain it would support my weight. I create a make shift stand under three pine trees.

4:02 p.m.: I can hear something walking my way just on the other side of a small hill. I'm certain it's coming my way, so I creep way down behind the nearby small trees. I can just make out a head coming over the hill in my scope; it doesn't look like a deer - it's Gus, the family's golden retriever.

4:13 p.m.: Climb back under my pines trees after bringing Gus toward the house.

4:42 p.m.: Again, I saw nothing.


Too Early: So early in fact, I forgot my watch. It's barely bright enough to find the stand. I'm going to the convertible this morning.

Later: Leaving stand, again I saw nothing.

10:58 a.m.: After consulting a crude hand-drawn map, we've devised a plan for Brad to walk through different sections of woods to drive deer toward Jenny and me.

12:46 p.m.: The drives went well. We saw nothing on the first one, but on the second one Brad saw one, Jenny saw six and I saw two. I was happy; those were basically all the deer Jenny saw all week.

3:12 p.m.: I return to my original stand. It's certainly fourth and long or insert your favorite sports clichés. It looks like its going to take a miracle to get a buck.

4:10 p.m.: I've surrender for the year, but I have devised a plan to shoot my buck.

4:18 p.m.: Elaborate plan has been set up.

4:19 p.m.: Even my plan failed! The dollar bill was hanging from the tree like a target. It was lined up in the scope. I turned off the safety and pulled the trigger.

Click. Nothing.

I opened the gun and out comes the shell - the bullet jammed. I didn't get a deer - and I didn't get a shot off on the substitute "buck."

Still, I really enjoyed myself this rookie season. I'm going to try my luck again next year. I'd like to thank my crew for helping me this first season, even letting me use their gun, even if it never fired.

But, be warned deer near Oulu: Be afraid, be very afraid. I'm thinking about archery season next year. I'm going to get you, Buck.