I took in the final hours of the 2018 gun deer season up in the Grouse Hollow by our Christmas tree meadow. I like this spot for a number reasons. I like the walk up the path and I enjoy the view of woods surrounded by fields. While I have never taken a deer in this woods, the place holds many memories for me. The hardwoods, birches, and cedars were once trimmed with productive apple trees — macs and greenings — that made it a popular dining spot for wildlife and cattle and kids and us. Those gnarly old trees have long since wasted away, giving up many morel mushrooms in their time. There are also too many ash trees lost to emerald ash borers. I could count 20 mature dead or dying ash trees from one spot. The only wildlife I saw were winter birds and squirrels. A few snow geese whistled over head. Squawking crows and crying blue jays got me alert a time or two, but I didn’t see a deer. I walked home in the last fading light, satisfied to have been out there.

I asked for hunting stories from readers a couple of weeks ago. I am pleased to share this great first-deer story sent to me by Don Peterson of Viroqua:

It has been 40 years since me and my identical twin, Dan harvested our first deer in 1978. We have always hunted the Viroqua area. Our father was born in West Prairie in 1929. He moved to Madison and worked at Oscar Meyer. We have a lot of relatives in Viroqua. We hunted first in 1977 with our dad and his brother-in-law down by Harrison Hollow. We each had Sears Ted Williams model 12 gauge shotguns. During the summer of 1978 my brother and I worked in tobacco to buy ourselves Remington Model 700 BDL .243 bolt action rifles. We hunted that fall on the Brickson Farm south of the Liberty Store and Bar on County Road SS. Dan was afield with a four-party armband that allowed him to shoot a doe when this deer cuts across the field at about a 100 yards and he shoots with iron sights and drops the deer short of the wood line. That was Nov. 25, 1978. He got to the deer and here it was a seven-point buck. His first deer. The next day I carried the armband and had a small doe step out in front of me. I shot and missed. I bolted and shot again getting my first deer. The next season we bought scopes for our guns. Well, this past season we decided for our 40th year of deer hunting and in honor of our first deer, we would get our .243’s back out since they have sat over 15 years because we bought .270’s earlier in life. I bought a new scope for mine, I did not want to take my old scope off another gun it was on. Dan said I should put the original on. I told him we shot our first deer with iron sights. Should we take the scopes off? He said no way with our eyesight. This past season we both had all week off work for the first time quite awhile. On Wednesday morning the 21st, our friend and I got up but Dan stayed in bed. I guess being at another buck camp the night before did not help. At 7:30 a.m. a buck came off the ridge going pretty fast trying to cross in the ravine. I had to bleat at him twice to stop him and got the shot at 100 yards. He went 25 yards. Dan heard the shot from his bed and got on the Motorola. I said I may have got that 11-pointer. He said he will be right up. We walked to the buck and the excitement was wonderful! The 11-pointer with a 19-inch spread. On Friday the 23rd at 9:45 a.m. I was outside cooking meatballs for the evening dinner when I heard Dan shoot. I talked to him and he said he shot a buck. I grabbed my coat and headed up to him. He shot the deer 20 yards from where I was sitting and the buck was 30 yards from where I shot mine. We walked to the buck and here it was a seven-pointer. I told him you got a seven-pointer just like you did 40 years ago. He said you were suppose to shoot a small doe like you did 40 years ago! Then he said I would much rather have the trophy for you. We call our place Twins High Tines Hollow. We are very blessed to still be hunting near Viroqua. So many memories. Hope you enjoyed reading this. Have a great Holiday season, from Don and Dan.

I hope you all enjoy reading this story. Thank you Don and Dan. I am all about stories and more about memories, so here’s to many more memories from Twins High Tines Hollow.

Until next time, get out — the DNR numbers for the gun deer season are up and down, that is the deer kill is up while the number of hunting licenses sold is down. Someone said the number of antlerless permit may have something to do with the higher harvest numbers. I know I have a bunch of antlerless permits left yet, and that could account for a few more deer taken. El and I hope to get out during the December antlerless hunt this weekend and maybe even during the holiday hunt—depending a great deal on the weather and thickness of the ice on the Mississippi. Enjoy.

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Contributor

Greg and his wife Ellen Koelker are retired and live on Grouse Hollow Farm near Stoddard. He is chairman of the Vernon County Chapter of Wisconsin Conservation Congress.

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