Buck Off

Buck+Off

Story by Steve Fruehauf, Copy Editor

With the Minnesota gun season already underway and the Wisconsin opener set for Nov. 17,  several UW-Eau Claire students are rounding up their hunting gear in hopes of shooting the perfect buck.

Hunting in Minn. began Nov. 3, sending people throughout the state to their respective deer stands. One Eau Claire student that participated was sophomore Mike Von Arx, originally from Prior Lake, Minn. He went out the first weekend of the season to his usual spot, an area just outside of Rochester, Minn.

While hunting, he said he saw 15 bucks that were legal for him to shoot. Of those, Von Arx took home two, both eight-point bucks. He killed the first by himself using his Remington 1180 shotgun, and the other he tracked and killed for a fellow hunter.

But it’s not just the act of shooting the animals that Von Arx finds interesting about the sport. Rather, he goes out because it allows him to release outside tension and get away from all distractions that seem to bother him.

“It’s a good way to relax,” Von Arx said. “You’re all alone out in the woods by yourself for an afternoon and the morning. You can think about everything.”

Another reason he hunts is for the meat. After shooting the deer, Von Arx goes through the process of gutting the animal and then uses its meat as a cheap alternative meal. He said hunters can get anywhere from 80 to 100 pounds of meat out of it for the low price of a $12 tag. He also said this is a good way to save money since he pays for his own groceries while at college.

Hunting may save some money on food, but freshman Kaleb Storm said supplies involved with the sport are not as cheap. He said a starter with nothing at all would have to pay around $700 to $800 to hunt properly. He also said he has spent approximately $100 every year since he picked up the sport.

Storm leaves for his hometown, Westby, Friday to prepare for the Wisconsin opener. He said where he comes from, a majority of the people hunt and that’s how he started. He was 14 when he first hit the deer stand with his father.

Coming into his fourth gun season, Storm said he would be disappointed if he didn’t come away with a buck or at least a doe. This may be difficult given the area he hunts.

“Especially where I hunt, the ratio of does to bucks is probably seven- or eight-to-one,” Storm said. “The big bucks are a lot smarter than the littler ones because they are more experienced. I’ve gone hunting four years and I’ve shot a buck two of the years.”

While he hopes to land a big buck this season, he said it is important to state the difference between killing and the sport of hunting. Storm said there is a respect for the deer that comes into play. If they are laying down or if there isn’t a clear kill shot, he said most hunters wouldn’t pull the trigger.

Rather, Storm’s motivation for hunting is his enjoyment in the use of firearms, specifically his 30 ot 06 rifle. While hunting is one of his favorite hobbies, he said that it never gets in the way of school. Storm said he will return home to Eau Claire late Sunday night and attend his classes Monday morning.

But while some can work around their schedules, others cannot. Junior Laura Krueger said she won’t be participating in this year’s gun season due to her class load and work schedule.

She also said it’s important for people to know that a good amount of women hunt as well as men. She has been hunting since age 15 when her father took her out for the first time on their 40 acres of land in St. Croix Falls, Wis.

“(Hunting) shouldn’t be gender specific because it’s a hobby and a way of life for a lot of people,” Krueger said.

With that said, if any Eau Claire student is looking to make a few “bucks,” the UWEC Rod and Gun Club is sponsoring a “Big Buck Contest” this season. Freshman club member Nik Anderson said that there’s a $10 entry fee that gets participants a playing card.

If these hunters are able to land a big buck, they need to take a photo that has the deer, the playing card and themselves in it. They should then turn the photo in to Anderson or anyone involved with the UWEC Rod and Gun Club. They will tally up participant scores based on the size of the inside spread and the points of the deer’s antlers.

Whoever has the most points at the end of the competition will get half of the proceeds raised. The other half will go towards the club itself. Anderson said there will be a stand set up Nov. 15 in the Hilltop Center on upper campus with more information on the competition. If unable to attend, Anderson said they are planning on having stands up all season long.

“It gives (hunters) a little more motivation and if they get the big buck, it’s a pretty hefty cash reward,” Anderson said. “It’s just another thing to look forward to when you’re going out there
opening morning.”