BARNEVELD — Mike Zintz, a 72-year-old man from Madison, hunts deer almost exclusively with archery equipment, including a climber tree stand.
Usually he’s alone, but someone knows where he is, and he totes his phone with him, too.
During the recent deer rut, Mike had used his trusty climbing stand to get perched and ready for an exciting morning viewing deer and other wildlife. Two young deer came by and then a large-bodied, eight-point buck. He drew on the buck, downed it, and it tumbled through some prickly ash shrubs, 25 yards into a ravine.
Zintz appears in good health; he spends two to three days a week at a gym and he watches his diet, including avoiding ground venison because of the fat content that would be added. His extended family, including his grandchildren, love venison, eating up to two deer a year.
Safety is a primary concern of Mike. “I worked 26 years at the physical plant at UW-Madison. About 50 percent of the time I was using ropes and a few other safety devices to wash high windows,” he said.
Those who do work he did sometimes fall but most often using an extension ladder or a step ladder, according to his experience. He was warned of possible heart problems when he had a heart attack in 2003, but first attack did very little damage to the organ, which was repaired with six bypasses.
Now, with diet and exercise, including dragging his own deer to his always-ready deer cart, he manages and uses common sense.
About three hours after shooting a buck, he had it down the hill by his pickup ready to have a hand loading it before heading home to begin the process of cutting, wrapping and freezing the venison.
“I’ll wait for the CWD test to come back in eight to 10 days before eating any of it,” he said. “If it tests positive for the prions, I’ll toss it in the landfill. In the meantime try to get another deer here in Iowa County or Richland County, but with a bow. I haven’t gun hunted in a long time.”
Mike began bow hunting in 1972 after beginning deer hunting when he was 13. “A relative got me started; my father didn’t deer hunt,” he said.
In addition to CWD, Zintz has one other fear about deer hunting: Lyme disease. “During mild weather like this the first two things I do when I get home is put my clothes in the washer and take a shower.
Ticks don’t prevent Mike from hunting morels, however, or fishing bluegills from the Madison lakes. He uses the same precautions he does when bow hunting.
The deer’s rack Zintz mounts on a plaque himself.
While much of the camaraderie is gone from Mike’s former hunting days, he does appreciate the solitude of archery hunting and generally forgoes hunting with his bow during the gun season, too.
(Archers can fill their gun harvest authorization, formerly called a carcass tag, using a bow or crossbow.)
“My family loves the venison; most of it we cube and put in a wok with some light oil and eat it that way. If it were just me, 72, I might eat the meat without a CWD test, but you never know and I’m sure not going to feed it to my grandkids until it’s tested,” he said. “You never know.”
Jerry Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.