A Beginners Guide to Blaze Orange Season

Let me start by saying I am a ‘hunting dummy’ in every sense of the word.  My family members do not hunt, fish, shoot, or trap.  When it comes to blaze orange territory everything is foreign;

But when I was presented with the challenge of writing this entry, in the spirit of the sport, I immediately started my ‘hunt’ for all the facts a beginner could need.  Only a few years ago, the words ‘opening weekend’ meant little more to me than that there would be less boys coming to homecoming since they were out in the w woods, but after just a few minutes exploring this ‘unknown territory’ I discovered there is a whole lot more to hunting than point…and shoot.

For starters, according to the DNR, every year Wisconsin registers more than 230,000 archery licenses alone!  These hunters utilize their bow for the longest of all Wisconsin hunting seasons, this year from September 14th –November 21st and November 23rd-January 5th.    Even though bow hunting has only been legal in the state since 1931, it is an art with an origin dating back to the Native American tribes who were first to occupy Wisconsin land.  With just two to three seconds to make one swift shot, bow hunting is regularly regarded as the most difficult type of hunt.  I quickly learned that there is strategy; in where to stand, when to shoot and according to Field and Stream, a compass (or sense of direction), patience, and silence are the absolute essential tools to have with you!

With my knack for getting lost and my idea of patience (sometimes that of a five-year-old), I’m not thinking I’ ll be an expert games(wo)man.  Still I’d never turn down a chance to shop for the necessary gear, especially from trusted retailers like

Mouldy’s Archery and Tackle in Chippewa Falls, WI or

Southern Wisconsin Hunters- Buck Rub Outfitters in Peawaukee, WI. Both offer indoor ranges with targets that are perfect for the novice or an expert.  New shooter or old, the staff at these small Wisconsin businesses will be happy to walk you through the steps: nocking (positioning the arrow), drawing the arrow into position, anchoring it against your body, and finally releasing it and following through. On paper it may look easy but an hour shooting at those targets proved me wrong.  After all, practice is noted as an integral part of any successful bow hunt.

Most hunters say the basic necessities are a bow (with bow sight, arrow rest, and stabilizer) and either carbon or aluminum arrows.   All of which can be found at Mouldy’s, Buckrub Outfitters, and quite a few other Explore Wisconsin member retailers! Now fully equipped, the next most important decision was location!  In the 2012 season Wisconsin’s bow hunters registered more than 91,000 deer with a sweet spot seeming to be in Northwest Wisconsin in counties: Buffalo, Trempealeau, and further north, Bayfield county.  These heavily wooded areas are perfect for setting up a tree-stand in the early hours of the morning.  Just remember to stay down wind since a deer’s sense of smell is its strongest and is a dead giveaway for even the perfect hiding spot.

If other family members aren’t exactly ‘enthusiastic’ about the hunt, there are still plenty of beautiful lodges where they can relax and enjoy Wisconsin’s beauty.  Some resorts, like Curriers, in Rice Lake Wisconsin, offer year-round activities guided hunting tours, and beautiful cabins on the lake. The Cabin, in Trempealeau, offering a more intimate setting, is suitable for four guests and sits on the backwaters of the Mississippi river.  For a larger family or your annual fishing tournament, Ward’s Riverside Cabins (six fully furnished, family owned Cabins in Buffalo City) are a perfect getaway with endless year-round activities!

The 85 days of bow-hunting season from September to January might bring crisp fall weather but the changing leaves and still North Woods can be a perfect place to rejuvenate at any time of the year (even if you aren’t dressed in blaze orange). I don’t know that I’ll be making my first ‘official hunt’ any time soon nevertheless I still feel like my introduction into bow-hunting has made me just a little bit more of a Wisconsinite !

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