November 19, 2009 at 8:51 a.m.

Do you believe in fate?

Do you believe in fate?
Do you believe in fate?

With an early hunt and a day trip to Wisconsin's Brule River in search of fall run steelhead as my most recent forays, I was once again reminded how fate, luck and the generosity of others often play a hand in determining our success in the woods and on the water.

On the zone 2 deer opener, I watched a spike buck from 100 yards out close that gap and walk right by my deer stand. The mantra in our deer camp is meat, plain and simple. If a mature deer ambles by, meaning one that is a year-and-a-half old or older, we harvest that deer. So that's exactly what I did. That young buck would prove to be the only deer I'd see during the opening weekend.

The second (and last) deer I saw during the season walked right to my stand at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday last week. That was the only morning during the week that I was able to squeeze in an hour of hunting. The deer was a good-sized doe, and it took some time to do what I needed to do after taking the deer, so I got to work a bit later than I initially planned.

On the second day of the season, my father-in-law, Ron, was hunting property near Square Lake, just south of Marine. It seems that Ron experienced a Sunday evening chock full of luck, fate, providence and good fortune. Hey, grab a thesaurus and pick your own words to describe his hunting adventure. Whatever you wish to call it, Ron doesn't hesitate for a moment to share credit for his deer with a number of individuals. He joked that, on that particular day, it took a village to take a deer.

Ron first began his evening hunt by choosing to use another hunter's ladder stand. The bowhunter that owns the stand (my brother-in-law's friend) was quick to offer it as an option to Ron. Just before 5 p.m., with only a half hour or so of daylight remaining, a six pointer strolled right by Ron's position. Ron shot the buck, but the placement of the slug was a bit low and forward on the animal. Ron tracked the deer off the property, where he met a younger fellow who was hunting the adjacent piece of land. The stranger had seen the buck and the direction it was heading, so he kindly helped Ron track the animal. They pushed that deer directly to the tracker guy's dad, who dispatched the wounded deer from his stand.

Because a neighboring hunter took the fatal shot, Ron told him that he was more than welcome to take the deer. The other hunter wouldn't hear of it. No, the guy was quite emphatic that Ron have the deer. The other hunter said he hoped another deer would come by at some point during the season. The following day, that same hunter shot a big eight-pointer out of that same stand.

So from there, the son of the guy that shot the deer helped Ron drag the buck to a spot where my brother-in-law Bil could access it with a 4-wheeler and trailer. By then it was quite dark, so Bil ran the deer up and out of the woods right to Ron's truck.

To go one step further with this story, Ron called Deutschland Meats in Lindstrom just before they closed for the evening. It was a pretty warm day and Ron wanted to get the deer to the processor. One of the kind employees there at the butcher shop assured Ron that they'd stay late and wait for Ron's deer.

Finally, I should give a mention to my Brule River adventure. I got up at 3 a.m. last Thursday, filled a thermos with strong coffee, and hit the road. I had plans to meet a couple of friends at 6:30 a.m. at the Red Gate parking area, north of the town of Brule, Wisconsin.

On that day, David hooked and expertly worked a 27-inch steelhead to the bank where I had the honor of netting her. It took a while to work that fish to the net, and I recall thinking during those long minutes that I'd better not screw up. I guess our favorable outcome and the fact that I didn't goof up with the net could be chalked up to some measure of luck.

Was it worth it to drive five-plus-hours round trip to get to and from the Brule? Oh yes, without a doubt. We were fortunate to land a fish that day, and luckier still to share that experience on one of our country's most beautiful and majestic rivers. If you've ever had the good fortune to spend time on this river, you'll understand me when I say that catching fish on the Brule is nothing but icing on the cake, compared to the river itself.

Do I subscribe to, "What goes around comes around?" Absolutely I do.

Do I believe the guy who selflessly offered that six-point buck to Ron was touched by some inexplicable karma, and justly rewarded the following day with his own eight-pointer? Again, I'd have to say yes, I do believe wholeheartedly in that sort of thing.

What were the odds that I'd see a deer, let alone have one walk right to my stand, during that brief hour last Wednesday? I don't think the odds were very good at all, but I was there at the right place and the right time.

I tend to over think things, and I do respect the popular notion that it's best not to think too long and hard about luck and fate and good fortune. However, looking back on the last couple of weeks, it's hard for me to believe that things just happen by chance.

If you have comments for Dan or story ideas contact him at e-mail [email protected].

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