Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hunting and Skiing in the tracks of my ancestors

Hunting gear being hauled in a pulk

photo taken by Erik Jensen

On Dec 27th, with the aid of cross-country skis and what is called a pulk, which is a sled for hauling loads, I managed to get out for one last hunting trip before the archery deer season ended. With the deep snow we have in most of Minnesota, deer are moving much less. However, it was a day that was part of the late-December warm spell. Often deer increase movement on those days in the winter.

I decided to do it partially out of a desire to combine a couple of my favorite activities : hunting and cross-country skiing. I also had a desire to use the skis as my Norwegian and Sami ancestors had used them quite a bit: as an aid in hunting.

I still haven't arrowed a deer with a bow, so I had hoped to accomplish that and get some more venision in the freezer. The supply we have is being quicly eaten.

It was at a local property owner's land in the northern exburbs of the Twin Cities, so no great wilderness adventure. However, the movement of gear across deep snow, as well as a quick scouting mission, was helped greatly by the use of the skis. My one disadvantage was that the skis I own are like most skis you now buy for what is called "touring" skiing: they are thinner than the older skis people used. Of course, these modern skis are much faster in groomed trails than the wider skis once commonly used, but my friend's place of course had no groomed trails, so the skis sunk deeper in the snow.

I managed to fairly quickly get the gear to my stand after seeing the few deer tracks that were visible anywhere in that patch of woods and field. I also was able to make a brief run to another area where I often hunt to look at deer trails there with the advantage of the snow.

I settled in and hunted from a stand I have permanently set up on deer travel route. I was prepared to hunt on the ground if need be, but there was the most activity near that stand, so using the stand was the best option. I hunted for just under two hours and saw no deer. From the point of view of hunting success, it was a bust.

However, it was useful for expanding the use of my pulk, which I originally acquired for hauling my twin daughters when they were very young on fairly short x-country ski trips on days of moderate winter weather. With some work, I may be able use the pulk with wheels for walking deep into public forests where there are only foot-trails, depending on terrain. Then, when there's snow on the ground, take the wheels off and use it for its orginal purposes, whether for hunting with the aid of x-country skis or snowshoes, or hauling loads on longer ski-touring trips.