"Jim was so pumped to get out to Lake Medora and Camp Frimodig, he left me in charge of this week's column," said WW&W wildlife correspondent Paris Hiltunen, "so I decided to interview him and our deer hunting pro staff for a change."
Q: How much ground do you cover during the season?
JJ: I visit at least a dozen camps, from the tippa the Keweenaw to the Huron Mountains, from the Porkies to Paulding. There's a lotta buck poles, saunas, backroads venison venues, hunters balls and booyaws that need covering.
Q: How's the rut progressing?
A: "Whitetail romance is definitely in the air, but hunters still use attractants, as if there's not enough testosterone and estrogen running wild out there already," replied Buck Fever, "A rut-crazed buck and an estrus doe put muskrat love to shame."
Q: Do you still go fishing at deer camp?
JJ: Yeah sure you betcha. After a deer-free morning shift in the blind, my thoughts wander to wettin' a line with Ed Wetelainen and paying the fish of Copper Harbor a visit.
"When the weather's lousy, I chuck a chunka smelt out there on one rod, dangle a crawler beneath a slip bobber on another, and bungie-cord them both to the dock. Then I give 'em an hour to bite while I warm up and top off my antifreeze levels at the Mariner and Zik's, going back in time to set the hook on any fish that may be swimming around with my baits, not knowing they're hooked yet. "
When I get lucky, there's not just surf and turf back at camp, there's splake and steak."
Q: "The Keweenaw offers one of the hottest Hunters Ball & Booyaw circuits in the entire U.P. What's on tap this weekend?"
A: "Good choice of words as the beer and booyaw will be flowing freely at the Cliff View tonight," reported Buck Fever, "the White House and Gay Bar are both set for tomorrow (Nov. 19), and the Drift Inn is good to go Nov. 25, featuring the fabulous Wing Nuts."
"If you're looking for a taste of true Keweenaw cultural and culinary tradition, I can't recommend these hallowed halls of hunter hospitality highly enough," Hiltunen alliterated knowingly, "my folks took me to them when I was in high school and look how I turned out."
"I get my buck every year," she said, leading Buck Fever onto the dance floor. "He needs a shave," she added, "I know the difference between a rub and a scrape."
Q: What time of the year do you do your scouting?
A: "I usually start late summer and scout more as the season approaches," said John Deer. "Trail cams are your eyes when you're not in the woods; they help me learn deer patterns, feeding habits, bedding schedules and travel routes to determine the best times to get to my blind and be ready."
Q: How do you hunt scrapes during the rut?
A: "Use attractants and set up down wind," Deer continued. "I also use rattling horns. Sometimes I make mock scrapes in close proximity to actual ones. Use a drag rag to cover your scent getting in close to the scrapes and setting up," he tipped. "Attractant is excellent for concealment and attracting wary bucks in search of a doe. I occasionally use grunts to catch attention or pull one in."
Q: What's your favorite time to hunt?
A: "I love being in the woods around the first frost, usually in late October about the same time the rut is starting to kick off, but you can't beat first snowcover," said Buck Fever. "I'm in the blind for the first two hours of daylight, wander around a while looking for tracks and sign, then burrow back into my blind an hour or so before dark."
"The best time to hunt is whenever you can," he advised, "especially while the rut is rockin' and rollin' along at full tilt."
Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at firstname.lastname@example.org even during the rut.