Hunting the Big Chip
The Chippewa Flowage, renown for the great fishing, is host to acres upon acres of both National Forest and paper company owned public hunting lands. In the fall, when fishing seems to be at its best, the hunting season opens for deer with bow, grouse, and squirrel. At times the decision of whether to fish or hunt is a tough one to make. The Chequamegon National Forest borders Lake Chippewa to the north and west, while Consolidated Paper owns much of the lands to the south.
The woods are alive with animals. Squirrel is abundant in the many oak and pine trees that cover the land. Where you find one; the odds are in your favor that others are nearby. Fat from their food forages all summer and early fall, they present a great hunting experience for young and old alike. No special equipment is needed other than a license and a .22 cal. rifle. The squirrel makes a wonderful first time hunting experience for youth new to hunting. They are plentiful, easy to find, easy to dress and can be cooked quickly and easily. Roasted over an open fire in the woods or your backyard they bring back the memories of time well spent.
The grouse are more challenging. It takes time to understand habits, habitat and food foraging. These are basically ground birds. They nest on the ground and feed on clover, berries, seeds, buds and insects. At night they roost in the trees, away from predators. Besides comfortable boots and your trusty shotgun, your hunting dog can be your best asset in finding grouse. Since grouse do not immediately flush, and often run using cover for protection, a dog with a good nose can mean more grouse in your pack. A dog can scent a grouse and trail it without your seeing it until it flushes with a flurry of wings. These birds tend to feed heavily in the warm light of morning and before they roost at night, so hunting these times bring the best of luck.
The many stands of ancient oaks are great food forage for the many deer in our woods. The majestic pines give these animals shelter from the cold and wind. But, these animals have to wander the forest floor for their food sources, and that makes them the subject of many successful hunts. Once you have done your scouting for trails, rubs and scrapes, then bring your universal tree stand whether it be a climbing stand or a ladder-backed stand. When you have chosen the “perfect” camo pattern for your clothes, and the right bow with the exact draw length, you are ready for the hunt. Patience and calm stillness can pay off in the end with the perfect shot on a great deer.
These forests and woods offer some of the best places to hunt around the Chippewa Flowage. Tall pines, mighty oaks, and aspen thickets hold a great quantity and quality of game for you to hunt. The Forest Service offers detailed maps that can be purchased at the Ranger Station in Hayward.
So, a hunting trip in the early morning followed by an afternoon of fishing on the beautiful Chippewa Flowage, and back into the woods for the early evening makes for a full and complete day. The beauty and serenity of this great northwoods wilderness makes any day a great day – in the woods or on the water.