Jon Kocan

Jon Kocan

I had all my tree stands and blinds inspected last weekend by an 8-year old. Part of me thought it was because I wanted to feel confident going into muzzleloader season and part of me knew it was time to wave the white flag on early bow hunting.

Here’s hoping muzzleloader season goes well. The advantage of a firearm is going to do wonders for my hunting, which is just what I need thanks to the underwhelming start to my hunting season.

My son and I spent last Sunday afternoon checking cameras and fixing blinds. We needed to get chairs out for the coming season. One of my favorite ground blinds required significant repair which included wiring in some new shipping pallets and brushing the setup in with oak and cedar limbs. I daydreamed about muzzleloader season and my son blasted music from the truck while also daydreaming about his chance to hunt deer one day.

I could have bow hunted that evening. The wind was good. But with less than a week until muzzleloader season, I decided my early season bow hunting was over and I would wait. Out of three hunts in a new bow stand this season, I’ve been busted twice when the wind was perfect. It’s the only place I had a good buck to hunt and has been foiled by deer unexpectedly traveling through an expanse of prairie.

I’ve always had a conservative approach to deer hunting and worry most about my core groups of does being comfortable. Happy does attract bucks when nothing else will for the weeks to come, so bow hunting can wait.

I’m pretty sure all of the tree stands and blinds passed inspection. My son was a little nervous about the tall one and seemed to approve of my blind repairs.

My new bow stand was the last place we visited and received the most praise. We sat together in the ladder stand for a few minutes. He had to be thinking about the day he would be hunting with a bow there for the first time. I was glad to know it was the last time I would be there for a few weeks.

A handsome young 10-point had bedded close to the stand and ran off when we pulled up. We both got a good look at him as he slipped out of sight, and sitting there we both knew regardless of how things have started, this was going to be a good spot for hunting.

Right now, I’m hunting in another spot and glad to be there. Muzzleloader season has become my second favorite week of deer hunting, only edged out by the opening week of gun season.

In a week, it will be bow season again. Now that I’ve had my hunting spots inspected I’m ready for all of the seasons to come. Surrender is not an option next time.

Rut report

One of best signs the rut is close to a tipping point occurred last week. Yearling bucks begin to walk in circles at all times of the day when they have all of the urges of the rut and no idea what to do with them. The woods are full of rubs and active scrapes, and now is the time to be hunting.

Jon Kocan is the Stillwater News Press outdoors writer and a longtime hunter. He can be reached at