Tyson and I have been driving to deer camp together on and off since about 1994. Back then we were heading north on 141 to Florence County. If you hit 41 at the wrong time you’d be backed up all the way from Abrams (or even further south…like the Weigh Station south of Abrams) to the traffic light at 22 in Stiles Junction. A trip that normally took less than two hours would take more like 4.5 hours on the Friday before the gun deer hunting opener.
Tyson and I loved it. We actually tried to hit the time that traffic would be at its worst. We’d place bets on how long it would take to turn left from County S on to 141 North. There were better ways to get on 141, but we didn’t want them. We relished the challenge. Those were fun times. Jumping in to the traffic jam, then watching it dissipate as we went north. Cars would start heading their separate directions around Crivitz. Then a few more in Wausaukee. Only the intrepid among us would make it to Highway 8. By the time got on County U just west of Dunbar things finally got back to normal.
During one of our earliest trips up (most likely the one you see pictured above) while we were stuck in a dead standstill on 141 somewhere near Abrams we were listening to NWA. As we giggled like idiots in our Ford Festiva we looked at the vast array of pickup trucks and wondered if anyone else on that road was also listening to NWA. We decided that it was impossible. We had to be alone.
That’s become a running story over the years. Are we the only people on this road listening to Robert Tepper right now? Is anyone else in Northern Wisconsin listening to Outkast this very second? How many deer hunters in Wisconsin are also currently listening to A Tribe Called Quest? None, right? That’s what we wonder.
It’s with that question in mind that I present to you never-before-seen footage of our trip to the hunting land from November 19, 2015. Fans of the blog recall that in 2014 Tyson and I embarked on the Highway 8 Odyessey Unofficially Sponsored by Kwik Trip. We blogged the entire trip. Of all the writing I did on that old website, that’s what I miss the most. I should’ve saved that work somewhere.
Last year we decided we just wanted to get to the land so we didn’t screw around…well, we didn’t screw around as much as we did the year prior. We still wasted more than enough time searching the Kwik Trip roller grills of northcentral Wisconsin for chicken roller bites…Tyson’s favorite.
Instead of blogging the trip, we recorded it. A lot of it. I’ve used the camera several times since, but for some reason last night was the first time I’d connected the camera to my Mac since, and I came across all of our footage from last year that I hadn’t even looked at. I had two hours of laughs last night watching the footage and editing it together to form a 10 minute summary. A lot of the best stuff didn’t make the cut. You can imagine why.
There were a lot of enjoyable parts of the trip, and you can join Tyson and I in the minivan as we cross our great state giddy with anticipation and hungry for roller bites. Stick around for the end when Tyson and I contemplate whether we’re the only people in Polk County listening to Craig Mack. I’m going to guess we were. Let me know what you think. Enjoy the video!
A few more thoughts now that you’ve had a chance to absorb the video diary:
I love the Bonduel Kwik Trip. It’s quite possibly my favorite. However, the roller grill is usually a soul-crushing disappointment. Tyson is a bigger roller grill enthusiast than I am, so it doesn’t bother me as much, but I’m sure it hurts him greatly, and probably drops Bonduel in his rankings.
You may have been puzzled by the stereo in the Town & Country reading “Aeroplane” by Red Hot Chili Peppers when it clearly wasn’t. That vehicle has a tendency to show inaccurate information. What you were listening to was the sweet, soulful sound of Robert Tepper singing “No Easy Way Out”, a song best known for its use during a pivotal scene in the major motion picture Rocky IV. Rocky Balboa’s unforgivable management of Apollo Creed played a major role in the Count of Monte Fisto’s death at the hands of a young, Russian military veteran and pugilist by the name of Ivan Drago. Balboa was being torn apart by a combination of guilt, fear, and desire, and he chose the refuge of his Lamborghini for a nighttime drive. As he stared blankly at the landscape ahead of him and intensely shifted his way up to 27th gear, “No Easy Way Out” provided an unforgettable soundtrack to this emotional ride. As amazing as that scene was, this was even more memorable:
As you can see in the video, when we got to 8 the sky darkened and the great 12-minute blizzard of November 2015 forced us to stop at Kwik Trip in Barron for safety. It was intense.
About 5-7 minutes from Ron & Jo’s land there’s a small home in the woods. For years there would be a dog waiting on the edge of that property and his only purpose in life seemed to be racing the cars that passed by. He would sit there and wait, and when the car would approach the property he’d take off in a full sprint alongside the road. I was always worried he was going to run out in front of the car, but he never did. He would get to the edge of the property and just stop. I can only assume it was to wait for another car to chase. I swear that dog was running 45 MPH. He (or she?) was some kind of collie mix, and he could haul ass. I simply called him Chaser. I always looked forward to going past that house to watch that crazy ass dog try to keep up with my car. For the past two years he’s been gone. I hope his car chasing days are now behind him and he’s safely chewing a bone next to the fireplace or fetching his master’s slippers. I fear Chaser finally got too close to one of those cars and it ended tragically. I may never know. I hope we see him again tomorrow. If we do, I’ll get footage. We tried to record him last year, but if you watched the video, you saw that he wasn’t there.
Last story: For 15 years or so, dad hunted out of the same stand that’s only about 50-75 yards in from the road. He’d park his truck and walk in. One year we marked his path with so many reflective tacks if you pointed a flashlight in that direction it looked like an airport runway at night. We could always find that path with ease because it was right next to a telephone pole. A few years ago the old telephone poles were replaced and the new poles are in different spots. For some reason we’ve had a terrible time trying to find that entrance ever since. Now that dad has fled for the comforts of the cottage, Dave uses that stand. Tyson and I thought it would be fun to mark an entrance for him in the wrong spot just to mess with him. We may still do it. Or will we?
Tomorrow will be the first time Tyson and I drive separately to the same deer camp. I’m aware that it’s never wise to count your dead deer before you’ve actually shot them, but we have a new strategy this year. Since we’ve seen the buck to doe ratio skew dramatically toward does in the past few years (and because I like having venison), we’re going to camp with two pickup trucks and extra antlerless permits so we can thin the doe herd and fill our freezers. Since Ty and I have the trucks now, we’re driving separately. We’re optimistic enough to actually believe we’ll need multiple pickup truck beds to haul all of the deer we’re going to shoot. I’m also superstitious enough to think that if I keep saying I’m willing to settle for does that a monster buck will show up.
I’m excited to be making the trip with Colin this year. He got his first taste of the hunt last year, and now he’s hooked. Plus, I’m looking forward to rolling with a fellow hip hop head. He’s about to get hit tomorrow morning with an epic road trip mix. I believe we’ll spend a good portion of the trip wondering how many other deer hunters in northern WI are currently listening to A$AP Rocky, Childish Gambino, or Joey Bada$$.
If you’re a hunter like I am, stay safe and shoot straight. If you’re just a fan of the blog, stay tuned. I can’t promise anything because cell signal is always spotty at deer camp, but if there’s something post-worthy, I’ll try to get it online. Good luck!