Lakewood, Townsend, Mountain areas
Sorry for the experience. One thing I've learned over time is......Northern Forest hunting has changed. Extensive scouting is necessary and changing stand locations is a must. Deer are there, not in the numbers of the past for sure, but they are there. Saw them all summer long all throughout the county. Deer have enjoyed lazy hunting (baiters, sitting on same stand etc.) The northern forest needs more logging, predator control and limited does tags for years. Weather still plays the biggest factor. When you have no control on any of the things just mentioned, it goes south. My 2 cents~ -WW
Let me preface this by stating I am a 62 year old deer hunter, and have been hunting this area (exclusively) for the past 44 years. I started hunting up here in 1965 with my father and my grandfather, but did not begin really hunting up here (avidly) until I got my first automobile, which was in 1977. I am now retired and live in Riverview.
2021 was the worst deer hunting season for me in the past 44 years. During the early season (with the crossbow) I saw a total of six does and fawns and two bucks, one a slender spike with “antlers” not bigger than my pinky finger that got a pass, and then a motley spork that never really gave me a shot. During the gun deer season I saw a total of six does and fawns. Thus, in a total of around twenty hunts, I saw a grand total of twelve does and fawns and two bucks.
Granted, I am, at best, an average deer hunter, with a total of twenty-four doe ands twelve bucks in my 44 years of deer hunting. Nearly all of those doe were taken in those years of very liberal antlerless permits, which ultimately decimated the deer herd up here.
I used to routinely see herds of ten or twelve or even fifteen does and fawns, so I picked out the biggest one and shot it and took it home to pack the freezer with delicious venison without remorse. Never, ever, lost a deer I had shot and not a speck of meat ever went to waste. So I was feeling “pretty much OK” with all of that. But now everything has changed.
The derecho of 2019 destroyed my southern Oconto County spots, and my preferred eastern Marinette County spot has been converted (by the State of Wisconsin) into some sort of “equestrian / horse riding park”. If you are familiar with this area you know what I mean. Thus I am at a bit of a loss as to where to hunt even given the vast amount of public land available up here.
I shot a bear in Oneida County in September, so I’m good to go for wild game meat in the freezer, but I sure would have liked to add a deer. A simple spike or forkhorn would have been great, and easy to handle for an old man such as myself that hunts alone.
I might try southern Oconto County (south of Highway 64) for the four-day antlerless-only hunt, but it’s sure not the same as hunting the Nicolet-Chequamegan National Forest.
So that’s my 2021 deer hunting report.
Hunted Townsend area for the 9 day gun season minus mon-wed had to get back and work. Alot of shots right where we usually hunt but in general shots in total were down compared to past year's. Shot a little spike opening morning about 7 30am then went out with the bow the rest of the days and saw a nicer buck Sunday morning from a different stand just to far away. Saw a few does here and there but they seemed to be down in general this entire fall. Alot of little bucks on camera along with a few nicer ones. Praying for a mild winter again this year!
Our group ended up with a 6 and 8 pointer this year, 1st deer for both hunters. One hunter a 2nd year hunter and the other one in their 21st season.
Much more shooting opening morning than the last few years and very few hunters in the woods. Everyone in our group saw a few deer for the first time in years.
I hunted all day for the opener and did not see a deer. Sunday morning at 6:50 I had a buck and a doe 40 years away before spooking and did not get a shot, my bad. I saw two more singles before 7:30am and only hunted a few more hours and called it a year.
We also had a miss from a very experienced hunter Monday morning. It was a good buck and right under his stand, not sure what happened there?
The 6 pointer was shot at 35 yards from a pop-up. The 8 pointer had passed our guy Sunday morning offering no shot and showed up again late afternoon, his last mistake
Here are a few notable bucks that are hopefully still walking around. Its tough because there is a group that hunts just East of us and they illegally bait, quite heavily, and seem to shoot at least one deer every year. The first photo is an old old 10 point that we have had on camera for about 4 years. He has to be 7.5+ and has not gotten bigger the past 2 years. The second daylight buck is a gorgeous young buck that I'm fairly certain is the 1 yr old 8 point I passed opening day last year. He is a great young buck that should be a dandy next season. The last buck is just coming into his prime, been seeing him for 2 seasons and grew some wicked splits this year on both sides.
Scout, I did the same thing and stalked a couple with fresh tracking snow. Its my favorite way to hunt if conditions are right. Not many people hunt that way anymore. In the 4 days I hunted up there, I heard less than 20 shots.
Good to hear WW!! Glad you saw some action. We had the usual line up of good bucks on camera but opening weekend our group of 3 only saw 1 doe. That is MUCH slower than the previous few years. We were all sitting thick security cover and didn't have anyone hunting near us which might have had something to do with the lack of movement but it sucked haha. I went back up 2nd weekend and put on about 16 miles of still hunting and tracking. Could have shot 5 does and had a quick chance at one small buck but wasn't what I wanted. Had fun with my parents and buddy who came up, wishing I could get back up for muzzleloader because I walked some nice area but not in the cards this year.
Checking in on the Northern Oconto crew. I hunting the last 3 days of the season and 1st day of muzzle. Tried some new spots and saw more deer than the last 5 years combined (gun hunting). Definitely more deer on the landscape. Hoping for a low severity index for this winter.
I don't hunt out of pop up ground blinds but have family that do. What we have found, is that if you put out a pop up, you should hunt 100 yards downwind of it The deer in the northwoods do NOT tolerate them, especially older age classes. In timbered areas, there is just too much room for deer to be able to avoid them, why would they travel past something they know does not belong? This is just my observation, but hunting from the ground next to a blow down, tree and anything else has been much more effective.
I hunted out of pop up blinds for years. Brush the blind in with vertical brush. The deer will pick up on horizontal brush easily. Keep the windows behind you closed. Wear black as much as possible, especially gloves.
I hunted private land, so I left my two blinds out all season long. With two blinds I could set them up for different wind directions. It’s fun to be eye to eye with a deer.