Deer are safe when I am in the woods

Below is an excerpt from a longer story with more photos about hunting by bike that will appear in the winter edition of the Bike Fed Magazine next month. The story will also include a feature about bird hunting on a full-camo Cogburn CB4 fatbike, written and photographed by Hansi Johnson, Midwest Regional Director for the International Mountain Bicycle Association (IMBA). All Bike Fed members will get the magazine in the mail. Others can look for the magazines in their local bike shops.

My blaze orange Schlick Northpaw parked outside deer camp in Peekesville.

I pull gently on the Hayes Prime disc brakes to slow my locally-built Schlick Northpaw as I pull up next to an idling four-wheeler along Masterson Fire Lane. “Any of your guys get anything this morning?” I ask?

“Stubby saw that five-pointer but he let it pass,” Buck Masterson said from the driver’s seat of his side-by-side with the combination of disappointment and approval that only a deer hunter interested in Quality Deer Management can appreciate.  “I saw some does.”

On the way to the stand down Masterson Fire Lane

“I ran into old man Henke going in to his stand this morning,” I responded. “He said his hunting buddy got that big fork we all had on camera.”

“Damn, that would have been a nice deer next year,” Buck said through clenched teeth.

John Henke has been hunting on the four 40s  across the fire lane from the Masterson land since 1967. He still wears the same pair of blaze orange wool hunting overalls he bought when they outlawed the red and black plaid in 1980. I like him for his frugalilty as well as for his timeless sense of hunting fashion. “Yeah, but you can’t tell those old timers to pass up a legal deer this late in the season.”

“Well, it’s his land, but that would have been a nice deer next year,” Buck repeats. “All the other guys at my place are gone. Squirrel left Monday, so did Weasel. Josh left today.”

“What about Wildcat?” I ask.

My deer hunting essentials for the Northwoods of Wisconsin: Schlick Northpaw (Milwaukee company), Fatbike-ready rear rack from 1UpUSA of Platteville, Marlin 30-30 (time to switch to a Wisconsin-made Henry?).

“He didn’t come this year. I heard he was pissed the other guys gave him so much crap about shooting that little six in Canada he decided not to come,” Buck responded, referring to a recent similarly unsuccessful hunting trip for whitetail we all made to Manaki, Ontario.

“All right then, I’m going back out to sit tonight, then I’m done. All I’ve seen is that same yearling and a doe. I gotta head home tomorrow.” Buck nods and we part ways as he takes his wheeler back into his stand, and I pedal down the snow-covered gravel road out to my stand.

Neither one of us fired a shot that afternoon, and even though this was the first year in 13 seasons that nobody hunting on the Masterson land would tag a deer, neither of us was complaining. That’s deer hunting in the Northwoods.

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 11 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave lives with his wife Liz and daughter Frankie in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's west side.

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