Jake and I drove in around 4:00 pm and were the fourth vehicle here. Dad made it up around 12:30, Steve followed a half-hour later, and Sammy rolled in a little before 3:30. Temps are just below freezing but there’s no snow. I unloaded our gear into the keep and fired up the propane sunflower heater and two electric heaters while Jake ran to the big trailer to show Papa his new blaze-orange jacket. I also took a few minutes to install the storm windows.
We all hung out in the big trailer for the rest of the night. I showed the guys how to work the new Kodi box to stream all the movies and TV shows off of the PC in the keep. Even with all the new options available, we still ended up watching a bunch of Seinfeld. Dad started getting dinner ready and Steve kept busy trying to solo a bottle of Crown Royal Maple.
Jake got a kick out of all the junk food options available and tucked into a big bag of ranch Doritos while playing some games on Papa’s phone. I grabbed a laptop and reviewed the pictures from Steve and Sam’s trailcam which we set up last Sunday for them. Lots of does and one buck which walked by at dawn this morning. Steve fell out of his chair not once, not twice, but three times. Looks like the Crown is kicking in. He also decided to take a big chomp out of his raw steak to mark it. He’s got a fun trip to the outhouse in store.
We had dinner of (grilled) steaks, mushrooms, and fried potatoes around 7:00, except for Jake who had natural-casing hot dogs and mac & cheese. Steve’s bottle of Crown was almost completely gone by the end of the meal. He didn’t come to do anything halfway.
Jake and I headed for the keep for the night around 8:30. The small electric heater I brought in from the pole barn is doing a great job keeping the main area comfortable and I’ve got the infrared heater going in the bedroom. We tucked in and watched some episodes of How It’s Made. Jake was out by 9:30 and I stayed up reading on my phone for about another hour or so.
Jake woke me up a little before 7:00 because he had to pee. We both went out to knock some bark off and were greeted by a light overnight snow cover. The guys in the big trailer had long ago made it out to their stands but I hadn’t heard any nearby shooting. We hung out in the keep for the rest of the morning and played some Super Nintendo games. The hunters came back in a little before 10:00 and Dad called us over for breakfast at 10:30. Bacon, fried eggs, and toast—delicious.
We hung out for a bit after breakfast and then Jake and I headed back to the keep. He kept himself busy playing with the SNES Classic and I geared up to spend some time out in the pole barn once I saw Dad and the Leins head out to their stands for the afternoon. Jeremiah’s coming up later today with his dad to check out the red boat in the back of the pole barn. It’s probably too much to hope they’d take it today; that’d free up so much room in there.
I pulled out the ATVs, mowers, and my fishing boat, then removed all the stuff I had been stacking on top of the red boat. At 2:00, I was just pulling the cover off when Jeremiah drove in with his dad and his son. Jake decided to come out and see what was going on. I gave the new Guys an abbreviated tour of the place and showed off the oak and maple slabs that Jeremiah milled over the past two Puckaweekends, and then it was on to the boat. All parties seemed interested, so it’s just a matter of them clearing room for it in their pole barn and coming back with their flatbed trailer to haul it out. That’s not likely to be until next spring or summer, but it’s worth the wait.
Jake wanted to join Papa out in the battlement so I called ahead to get the all-clear, made sure my boy was as orange as he could be, and sent him out to the marsh. I spent the rest of the afternoon repacking the back half of the pole barn. Jake and Dad came in right before dark; his first time deer hunting went well! He stayed still and quiet, manned the binoculars, and wasn’t fidgety or bored.
Dad started heating up Mom’s chili for us and I made a pizza for Jake. We had dinner around 6:00 and watched some college football for a while. Jake and I headed back to the keep around 9:00 and fell asleep watching movies in bed.
Turns out, Dad and Steve each got a buck within 30 seconds of each other. Dad shot and dropped his, which spooked another one that Steve was able to drill right away. Nice baskets on both. Steve and Sam field-dressed them both while Jake looked on. I would have expected him to get squeamish, but he was really interested in the process. He just kept his distance because of the smell. I dragged the bucks one at a time back over to the pump, but since it was so cold and we were all heading home today anyway, Dad just had me hang them both in a tree by the big trailer without worrying about rinsing them out.
Once again, I was awakened by my bathroom buddy around 7 am. Jake played some more SNES while I watched TV in the bedroom. We heard some very close-sounding shots around 9:30 and Dad texted to confirm that it was him. I got Jake and myself all geared up and we headed out to see what he had dropped. Jake ran out to the battlement, but I went to the pole barn to grab an ATV right away.
It was 11:15 by the time we were done dealing with the deer. We had a late breakfast together in the big trailer and Sammy started packing up. He was out by 12:30. Jake hung out with Papa while I loaded up my tools in the pole barn. Time to bring everything home for the year. I also grabbed Lyssa’s snow tires. Steve loaded his deer into his truck bed and was on the road by 3:30.
I was about to close up the pole barn when Dad told me the butcher he uses was closed for the day and he wanted to hang the deer in the pole barn until he can come back up for it. I dragged it over and up into the rafters with the ATV and threw a pit-bound, mouse-chewed moving blanket underneath it to catch any drips.
I cleaned up in the keep, emptied and unplugged the fridge, packed up the pantry, and made sure everything was properly winterized as this will probably be the last time we stay overnight here until spring. We stopped in to say goodbye to Papa and were on our way home around 4:30. Dad stayed to clean up and followed us out around 6:00.