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USA Members’ Favorite Camp Stories Collection - 2nd Edition
Enjoy this collection of camp stories shared by your fellow USA members as part of our 2013 Camp Story Contest. A few of the stories were too long to include in the collection but will be posted seperately on the website in the future.
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Paying It ForwardMichael L. Wojciechowski, IAM Local 49
Other than my U.S. Naval service after high school, I have lived in Chicago all my life. My father was a union machinist and never hunted. Some of my National Guard and bar friends kept urging me to hunt with them, and just before I turned 27, I went. My first year of hunting taught me discipline, determination, patience, how to plan and that deer are a natural resource. I now consider myself an avid and ethical deer hunter. I’ve also found that friendships are made and often kept for many years when participating in a sport like deer hunting, and that’s one of the reasons I devote as much of my time as I do to planning group hunting trips.
During the last 30 years, my friends and I have hunted in Wisconsin, Upper Peninsula Michigan, Nebraska, Illinois, Canada, and now Missouri. The host of this year’s hunt, Tim Reeves, has been operating Missouri Monster Bucks for the last 10 years, offering three and five day hunts on 135 acres of prime deer hunting land near Bethany, Missouri. His claim to fame is a 150+ class average on harvested bucks.
I found Tim Reeves the previous year, while surfing the internet for locations in Missouri that were economically feasible and allowed for a medium size group of hunters. Our group this year consisted of one young rookie hunter, two retired Illinois National Guardsmen, one current Illinois National Guardsman and a member of the Teamsters union. I’m one of the Guard retirees and a member of the International Association of Machinists (IAM Local 49).
Tim Reeves is a compassionate hunter who shares my desire to get young men and women involved in deer hunting. In fact, he was gracious enough to let our young hunter, 16-year-old Brian, hunt for free (with the exception of the Missouri licenses). He knows the 135 acres like the back of his hand and has placed a number of treestands in strategic locations to allow for the harvesting of deer in a game management frame of mind.
The cabin we stayed in is nestled among steep hills with nearby dry and active creek beds, crops and tall grass. The view from its rear deck is to die for, and at night, you fall asleep to the sounds of owls and coyotes howling.
During our stay at Missouri Monster Bucks, we woke each morning at 4:30 a.m. and were out the door by 5:00 a.m. in order to get in position and allow for what little noise we made to be absorbed by the woods by first light.
On day one, everyone except me saw does and a small buck. Young Brian harvested a respectable 7-point, 175 lb. buck. One of its tines was broken from fighting earlier this year. Brian did an outstanding job of showing patience and waiting for a nice buck to come along.
On day two, we all hunted in the morning and some of us saw deer. One guy in our party saw a really big deer, but the weather and the buck weren’t very cooperative with gusting winds of 25 mph coupled with unseasonably warmer temperatures.
Most deer like to stay bedded down during windy days and, with the full moon out at night, the deer normally feed then. o after meeting back at the cabin for lunch that day, we decided to spend our time butchering Brian’s deer before the warming temperature spoiled it.
Outfitter Tim, Phil and I taught both Brian and his dad the finer points of butchering a deer. When hunters butcher their own deer, they better understand what back strap steaks, tenderloins and roasts are and where they’re located.
On day three, Brian’s father, Tim, bagged a nice 8-point buck early in the morning. For those of you lucky enough to experience it, you know there’s something very special when a father and son harvest a deer during the same hunt. It’s a magical feeling to watch it play out and know you’ve been a part of it.
We trimmed Tim’s deer so he and Brian could hit the road, and then my friend Phil, outfitter Tim and I decided to try one last time to fill our tags that afternoon. As a precaution, Tim offered us the use of the cabin an extra day if we wanted. Unfortunately, prior commitments prevented us from taking him up on that offer.
Though I wasn’t entirely sure if the rut was on, I decided to spend the last half hour of the hunt rattling and grunting. From my vantage point 15 feet off the ground in a treestand, I heard a rustle of leaves to my rear, behind the tree. Peering around the tree, I saw what looked like a 6-point buck about 30 feet away. Missouri rules state that you can only harvest bucks that have at least four points on one side. I watched him walk right under my stand. I estimate he weighed approximately 95 pounds and, from the shifting angle of light, also saw that he had two additional kicker points about an inch long at the base, which made him legal for harvesting.
Being an ethical sportsman, I decided to let him walk and watched him try to shred a sapling with his small rack about 15 feet from the ladder. I guess the rut was on. He went to town trying to shred a sapling. He would rub it for about three minutes, then stop and then go right back to it. Eventually, he walked around the lower area, and I kept watch, hoping a bigger buck would hear the rattling.
As in all things, luck was not with some of us this year, and that’s ok. Tim and his son Brian are coming back next year and will be bringing Tim’s other son, too. Who knows, maybe I can get other dads and sons out there to hunt with Tim Reeves of Missouri Monster Bucks and help continue America’s outdoor heritage.
I won’t be going back to Missouri next year as I have organized a trip to Maine for big whitetail and black bear. I already have eight hunters lined up for the trip. I guess it’s pretty accurate when I use the email name huntbroker.
Check out some additional USA member stories:
Former Pittsburgher Lands Massive Gator in Florida
A Special Deer Hunt: Kids Hunting for a Cure
First Elk Hunting Adventure in the Zirkel Wilderness
The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance website is designed to provide valuable articles about hunting, fishing and conservation for members of AFL-CIO affiliated labor unions and all sportsmen and sportswomen who appreciate hunting and fishing and want to preserve our outdoor heritage for future generations. If you would like your own story from the outdoors to be considered for our website, please email us at USAmembers@unionsportsmen.org.