Archery Opener in Wisconsin; Bowhunting The Early Season

The morning of Saturday, September 18th, began a new chapter in my short hunting career; the role of camera man.  Bowhunting.Com founder, Todd Graf, and I left Huntley, Illinois Saturday morning around eight and headed north to Central Wisconsin for the archery opener.  I was experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions. The anticipation and excitement of sitting in a tree stand 900 miles from home to the nervousness of making sure I pressed record when we saw deer!  Nevertheless, Todd and I were eager to hunt some whitetails.    We chose to sit out opening morning, because as many of you know, morning hunts during the early season can make for some long, uneventful hours in a tree.  On the drive up we were tremendously surprised by how far ahead the areas farmers had gotten.  Many of the corn and soybean fields had been picked clean, with combines running continuously through the fields that still had crops standing.  Less standing corn will give those old, mature bucks less places to hide!

My camera setup for 2010 purchased from Campbell Cameras through their brand new website constructed by the Rhino Group.  This fall will be my first season seriously filming myself and others.  It adds a whole new dimension to the hunt which can be frustrating at times, but rewarding all the same.

    Saturday afternoon found Todd and me sitting in a double set in some pine trees overlooking a corn field where Todd had some good day time trail camera photos on his Reconyx and CamTrakker cameras.  With a west wind forecasted we were sure we would have some action.  Unfortunately, as the sun began to set and the afternoon started to cool, the thermals began to swirl.  We ended up seeing 8-10 does Saturday afternoon, but were busted by several more.  The way our stands were hung in the thick pine trees, deer could literally be right under our stands without us knowing they were there.  We found this out the hard way.  A few times were sitting comfortably in our stand, only to be frightened by the sound of deer blowing at us.  I believe we were just as scared by them as they were of us!  That wasn’t the only thing that went wrong, either.  Todd and I were extremely clumsy in the stand with our gear.  Throughout the course of the afternoon we dropped Todd’s bow and my camera arm.  In spite of our misfortune, we still saw deer which is always a good thing.

My view from our opening day stand in Wisconsin.  Despite being 900 miles from home, I quickly found that the tranquility and peacefulness of bowhunting follows you everywhere.

    We opted to pass on a Sunday morning hunt, instead Todd and his friend, Paul Mazur, scouted around their swamp dominated hunting property.  Hoping to hunt the pine tree set again that afternoon with a more favorable wind, we were bummed to find an east wind forecasted. So we got creative and did a quick speed scouting session only to find a great spot. It was a phenomenal pinch point littered with acorns dotted with early season scrapes.  We hung our stands, trimmed some shooting lanes and got settled in for another promising afternoon.  Again, we were skunked by the whitetail!  We saw a couple does and fawns with Todd passing on a easy shot on one of the does.  With the entire season ahead of him, passing on an early season doe isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Todd drawing his bow back in preparation for the evening hunt. It’s always a good idea to draw your bow when you get in stand in case you have to trim any last minute shooting lanes.

    Convinced that we had found a great spot the night before, we headed to the pinch point with another unusual east wind the following morning.  The spot just looked too good to not hunt there.  A lone doe made her way by our stand, unfortunately, it was at dawn and not enough camera light allowed for an attempted shot.  The rest of the morning passed without incident, except for the three turkeys that, unbeknownst to me, managed pick us out of our tree stand over 100 yards away while we remained motionless with ample cover in stand.  Those birds have some incredible eye sight!  Again, we came away empty handed but we still some saw some animals which makes any hunt worthwhile.

It’s important to make sure “all systems are go” when filming hunts.  There is a lot that goes into capturing good footage and telling a good story, but it’s worth it when you can play the video back after the hunt.

     Opening weekend in Wisconsin was like riding a rollercoaster.  We were up and down, up and down.  We were clumsy with our gear, unorganized in the stand and educated several deer.  However, we were blessed with beautiful fall weather, a couple close encounters, discovered a bountiful acorn crop (which seems to be consistent across the country) and found an awesome pinch point for future hunts.  Sound familiar?  Early season hunting is just that, a roller coaster, but that’s what makes it so much fun!  Good luck to all you fortunate bowhunters who get the unique chance to hunt September while the rest of us have to wait until October.  God Bless and Happy Hunting! and the colors of early fall, our favorite time of year is upon us.  Get out there, be safe and enjoy yourselves this fall!


  1. Paul Mazur says:

    Nice read Cody! Glad to see you survived your first weekend with Todd. I bet you need a nap!

  2. Ryan Culvey says:

    At least the ice is broken now and you were up in the treestand, all good things will happen now, this will be a good season for the team!

  3. Josh Smith says:

    I don't think Todd has ever missed an opening day.

  4. Neal McCullough says:

    No luck for us either. Good luck this weekend.

  5. Kyle Jones says:

    Good documentary Cody. Let me know if yall bag a big one!

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