I got in a tree stand for the first time this season last Friday. Our son Ben and our friend Eli put up a tall ladder stand in the cedars along our Christmas Tree meadow. The location is choice because of a well-used deer trail that passes nearby. They guys spent some hours clearing shooting lanes for me. Ben told me that if I am not using it on opening morning of the gun deer season, he was. With Ellen in a nursing home on the south side of La Crosse, I’ll be sticking pretty close to home, so Ben will be out of luck — at least for that stand. He is planning to come to bow hunt and gun hunt with me/us next week. This is good.

OK, here are some recent changes to the rules regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin. Hunters used to received one antlerless tag valid in any Farmland Zone unit with each deer license (gun or bow); they could buy bonus antlerless tags. Today, they must indicate the county and land type (public or private) where they plan to hunt when selecting the free Farmland Zone antlerless tag that comes with a deer license, or when purchasing a bonus tag. Some counties offer up to three free antlerless tags when buying a bow or gun license. In Richland County they may be able to purchase four.

I’ll admit it, I liked back tags. They were eliminated a couple years ago. Our group would compare tags and do poker hands with the numbers for luck. Now you print your own tags and licenses, or if you buy your license in a “traditional” place like your favorite hunting emporium, they may print them for you. Otherwise, all transactions are done at the DNR’s Go Wild site on the internet and you still print the tag yourself — I think hunters must still register deer by phone or online by 5 p.m. of the day after the kill. There are still several hundred stations around the state that help hunters register their deer. I was surprised when I bought my crossbow license that for $3 more, I could purchase a regular bow license too. You can’t kill more deer but you can change weaponry should you be so inclined, so hunters may still only take one buck with a bow or crossbow and one buck with a gun or muzzleloader.

If one is still wondering, confused, or just curious, please check out my friend Dan Small’s in depth piece in Game and Fish Magazine at: http://www.gameandfishmag.com/hunting/deer/wisconsin-deer-hunting-update-2017/#ixzz4xbSxAjiI. Also, one can view “Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2017” with Dan Small on Fox Sports Wisconsin.

Anyway, our friend from Oshkosh, Pat Kolbe, arrowed a doe on Sunday morning and our neighbor, 16-year-old Jake Sikora arrowed a 13-pointer across the coulee on Sunday evening. Those deer are hanging in our shed tonight. I was just thinking about why a bunch of people would stand around in an open pole shed that smells of machinery, blood and rutting bucks in near freezing temperatures under the glare of bare 200 watt bulbs, telling the story of a couple deer kills, kidding and joking, retelling other hunting stories, and taking photos. OK, it is esoteric to people like me and my family kind of like how some folks say they can understand modern art I guess. (I like most modern art by the way; I admit that I don’t necessarily understand it.)

I feel so bad for my dear better-half who loves this stuff. She would so love taking the pics and hearing the stories and frying up venison tenderloins for the gang. She had a good Sunday with lots of visitors at the nursing home. I can’t wait to get her back home.

Until next time, get out — Pat arrowed a dandy 8-pointer today (Monday.) It hangs in the shed as well. The Big One is just over the horizon, around the corner, like holy cow, uh, hunting season. Better sight in those shootin’ irons and/or get ‘em checked out. Enjoy.