A LOT OF EXCITEMENT, BUT LITTLE RESULTS
(From January 1916) By John Sandstrom, L.D., Virginia, Minn.
To the Fox and Hound: I will try to tell you about a Deer Hunt that another fellow and I had in the fall of 1913, where we had quite a lot of excitement, but little result.
On the 9th of November we had our packsacks all ready, and at 8 a.m. we boarded a train at Virginia and expected to be at our destination which was Skibo, Minn., at 11 a.m. Our first misshap came however before we expected it.
As it was Sunday the trains did not make connections at Allan Junction, a fact that we were not aware of as we had always went there on weekdays before. Upon arriving there we were informed very plainly that the next train for Skibo would not leave until about 4 p.m. and as we had 10 miles from the station in Skibo to our camp and wanted to get to our camp before dark we made up our minds to walk from Allan Junction to Skibo, for we knew we could beat the train there by about 3 hours. So shouldering our packs we started out and after tramping the ties for about 2 hours we arrived at Skibo, where we met an old trapper named John Nundstrom at whose camp we were to stay while hunting.
After resting up a little and getting something to eat the three of us donned our packs again and started out for camp ten miles up the St. Louis river and arrived there about 7 p.m. and believe me those packs must have weighed at least 400 pounds by the time we got there. However after getting a good supper of partridge and rabbit stew we felt alright and the evening was spent telling hunting stories I want to say right here that for telling stories as well as hunting and it will take a good man to beat John Lundstrom and he kept us listening till midnight with yarns from his 30 years of trapping and hunting.
In the morning we were up and out in the woods by daylight and had gone only about one mile from camp when we seen two deer running over a hill. There was too much brush for shooting so we thought we would try and sneak on the on the other side of the hill where the was a big swamp covered with tamarak. As there was no snow and was very frosty which made walking very noisy it made sneaking part almost impossible on the highland and it was not much better in the swamp. However we was going to try and get one of those deer, so we parted and the other fellow, whose name was Ludwig Nystrom went around the hill down into the swamp and after giving him plenty of time to get around, the writer started straight across the hill. After getting into the side of the hill on the other side I got onto some old logging roads where there was all kids of fresh deersigns and I done about as much sneaking as conditions would let and then some. I was just getting out into the swamp on an old road when I saw the deer moving in the brush ahead of me, but I did not shoot for I wanted him to come out of the brush and as he had not heard me he was still feeding and I was feeling pretty sure of my game.
I was holding the old gun about as tight as I could and waiting for my chance to shoot him when all of a sudden a shot rang out on the other side of the deer and my deer dropped. Well I guess I did not kick myself some just then for not shooting when I had the chance.
Upon investigation I found that it was Nystrom that had shot and bagged my deer which was a fine 3 prong buck. He had passed right by him on the old road first without seeing him and saw the deer standing feeding but a few rods away. I believe that deer must have been deaf and blind or he would have run.
It was 9 a.m. when we had him hung up and we felt pretty good thinking how we’d get one more in about an hour or two, but here is where we were disappointed first.
After hunting the rest of the day without a shot at any more we went to camp and fried some deerliner for supper and after having a few more stories we retired pretty well satisfied with our first days hunt.
The next day after hunting around for some time I went out on a clearing at the edge of a swamp and got up on a stump to look around. After I had been standing there for a little while I saw a big buck coming up out of the swamp about 200 yards off. He stopped as he came to the top of the hill and I pulled up with my 32-40, and shot for his shoulders and I must have hit him pretty hard as he dropped but he got up and the way he tore across that clearing would make a streak of lightning look like the slow train thru Arkansas. I got in a couple more shots but he just kept on going all the faster and as he ran towards Mr. Nystrom he got in a couple of shots also without result. As there was no snow we could not track him far. It was only where his rifht side had scraped against a tree or something that we could find any blood and a few drops here and there on the ground so we lost track of him when he got into the timber.
The rest of the day was spent without result hunting for him as we felt pretty sure he could not be far off. But that settled me on the one subject that the 32-40 was not the gun for me. And when in camp that night I was using some of the talk that don’t look very nice in print against a gun that would not shoot through a deer at 200 yards. So to appease me Mr. Nystrom made the proposition that he would take my gun and I could take his which was a 35 Winchester.
For the next two days we hunted without being able to get anything so I will say that our spirits were pretty low when we started out on Friday morning for our last days hunt as we were going back home on Saturday. We made up our minds to go about two miles further that morning than we had been hunting before. There was a good sized lake by the name of Stony Lake and it was reported that there was quite a few moose around it so we thought we would try there for our last day for the bacon.
We were within half a mile of the lake when we seen two deer making for the woods and we parted again. Mr. Nystrom left the road and went right into the timber on the right hand side of the road, while I walked on up the road about ¼ of a mile and then went into the woods and I thought we had the deer between us, but I was unable to see them anymore and I did not see Mr. Nystrom anymore until I got back to camp.
While I was hunting around the lake I got into some fresh Moose tracks where they had been walking around in the moss. The water was not yet frozen in the tracks so I knew they could not be far off and Oh! how I wished for some track snow, but I lost their tracks as soon as they got up on high ground and after hunting for them nearly all day I had to give it up as a bad job and return to camp disgusted with the whole thing, because when I go out to get game and sport and not to work myself to death in doing blood hound work.
When I got back to camp I found Mr. Nystrom was there ahead of me and I would liked to have a picture of him to send with this as he told me of what had happened to him since we parted in the morning. But you can just imagine how you would look yourself if the following had happened to you.
After he left the road he got into some heavy balsom timber where there was lots of deer signs and after hunting in this for a while he came out on an open space about 300 yards across. He was just crossing this when he seen two moose feeding on the other side of the same open space. Now I want to say that Mr. Nystrom is no kid nor a man that never hunted before. He is well up in years and as good a hunter as the next one, having hunted for many years in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Well he took things pretty cool now as he saw that they had not seen him so he just crawled up to a big stump and laid his gun on it and started blazing away. He still had the 32-40 and here it was fully shown that this gun was not strong enough for the big game hunting on bare ground for it does not shoot hard enough to go through and they will not bleed enough to leave a trail of blood. The first shot he fired the big bull stood with his head towards him and he shot for his forehead but, the old moose just wheeled around and turned his right side to him and stopped and he shot again, holding just behind his shoulder. Well the old fellow must have thought it hurt just as much there as it did on his forehead so he wheeled about again and turned his left side to him and stopped again. Then he shot again and held for his shoulder and the old fellow stood up as good as ever tossing his head as if the flies were bad. All this time the cowmoose was running around that old bull like a crazy chicken and as it is unlawful in Minnesota to shoot a cowmoose, he did not shoot at her. Well as he shot the third shot at the bull a little deer, which must have been laying somewhere near the moose, got up and started running and he did not seem to know where the shots were coming from as he came running right for the place where Mr. Nystrom was so he took a shot at him. But in his haste to get him down and out of the way so he could get at the moose again he shot a little too high and just scraped the hair and skin along his back and just then the funny part commenced for the gun seemed to get a dose of buck fever at seeing so much game and in its eagerness to get them all it choked itself. That is, after the first shot at the deer as he went to throw in the next shell he must not have thrown the lever back far enough with the result that the shell got stuck and he could not get it one way or the other and the more he would work the worse it got until he had two shells sticking straight from the magazine. So he just crawled down behind the stump and in trying to get the gun in working order broke the point of his hunting knife and heaven only knows all that happened in a few minutes. The little deer came running right at him and when he came within fifteen feet of that stump he stopped and looked around and then made a circle of about 30 feet and stopped again, after which it made off in the brush. Mr. Nystrom was still working to get the gun in order when he looked up to find both moose and deer gone and all he could find was a bunch of hair and a few drops of blood where the moose had stood. So after he told me what had happened I forgave him for looking so blue and he made, then and there, the same vow that I had made but a few days before, that he would “never hunt big game with a 32-40 again.” Now if that had been a powerful gun it is more likely that some game would have moved but a few steps if at all, and if they had we would have had a chance to follow the blood trail as it is out of the hole where the bullet comes out that they will bleed and if the bullet does not go through it leaves only that little bullet hole where it enters to bleed from and most of the blood will stop on the inside of the animal. I am sure that moose died as he was shot from sides but it was only on good ground we could find his trail and as soon as he got into the grass and brush we lost him, so I am sure that we lost one moose as well as that deer I shot at the first day, on account of not having a rifle powerful enough. That ended our hunting trip and we returned home on Saturday night with only one deer after 5 days of hard hunting.
Yours for good success,
John Sandstrom, Virginia, MN