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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Phil -- First Hunt

I really did not know where I was going, but Walt Cooper had said that if I stayed on one face of the ridge it would take me around to the top of the hollow and then I could walk down and meet him at the pond. That sounded easy enough. After Walt left me, I just turned off my light and sat on a stump, and waited for the light to come up. A little after I sat down, something came towards me in the dark. It was incredibly noisy in the leaves. Finally I switched on my light. It was a family of raccoons. The big old sow looked into the light, and then made a big circle around me and kept going.

There was an old logging road cut about halfway up the hillside. It was all overgrown, but to either side the trees had matured and blocked the ground cover. I tried stalking for a little while, and realized I was not going to get very far. I put the arrow back in the quiver and headed on. This logging road looked like it was a good spot for bedding, and eating as well. Amongst the young maples were paw-paw and a host of other tasty trees and bushes. Hunting it would be hard, because it was so long and narrow. I would have to find an intersection with something else.

As I worked my way up the hollow, the sides became steeper, and the road became less and less choked. Eventually, I was on a bare gravel path with many breaks in it from eroding gullies. The overall effect was that I was gaining altitude over the creek bottom. The creek was now well below me, and I had a terrific view of the bottom.

There was sign here and there—nothing to really pinpoint the deer’s movements through the woods – until I came to a break. Stretching out before me was now a wide open bottom, partially shrouded in fog. The sun was just about to peak up over the opposing ridgeline, so I found a log and sat. The show was awesome. Mercury was just barely visible. Next, there was one of the oldest moons I had ever seen, a bare sliver on the sky. There was Orion. In all to short a time, all of this became washed out as the sunlight gathered, and the sun rose over the ridge. The maples had not yet fully shed their leaves, and when the sun hit them, it turned into a golden carpet as far as the eye could see, and from what Walt had told me, it was all the property of the Association.

For some there is an instant, a bare realization, when all of one’s life seems to focus and a man realizes that this is the day. From that point on, a man never feels cheated. He has had that one moment and it makes all of life’s trials past and future worthwhile. This was my morning. I watched the sun march down the ridge and then it struck my face.

I could not believe my father had forsaken this. I could not fathom why he had turned his back on this land and the camp. If I could come to this spot every day for the rest of my life it would not be wasted.

. . . and then I realized that I’d been sitting there thinking and looking down at my feet and I had not been paying attention. The sun went behind a cloud and it was all gone. It was still beautiful, but the epiphany was over.

I started glassing the bottoms and immediately saw a small mixed herd, making their way through the open grass below and to my right. It looked like mostly does. After nothing else showed up, I found my way down the bank and started tracing my way back to the pond. On the way back I spent a lot of time combing the stream bank for crossings and then following them back and forth, looking for a good ambush site. By the time the stream started holding water, I had at least a couple good sites in mind. I found Walt at the far end of the pond walking about and obviously not hunting.

He described an incident with a crazy buck that hadn’t spooked. He had me pick up my stand and we went downstream a ways. In short order I had a stand up over an intersecting stream that held a pool of water. There were trails coming from all directions converging on this pool. There were a lot of tracks in the sand and on the banks to either side. Some of the tracks were big.

When we went in for lunch, I grabbed my other stand and went back looking for the other place I had seen upstream of the beaver pond. By Two , I was done. I ate a snack back at the log where I’d seen the sunrise. It was starting to really cloud up. On the way back to camp, I found a shortcut from the camp to the logging road that had been cut by an ATV, and I followed it back. Along the way, I passed one active treestand and several old wrecks. One looked almost good enough to use, but the 2X4 that was the bottom rung of the ladder was rotten and came off. That was enough for me. I thought about just calling it quits for the day and settling in. I still had to go into town and get a few things.


Blogger vsearch-699C0E said...

What I would like to see is more info on deer hunting and deer hunting. Any post you make on deer hunting in the future will be well received.

12:33 PM  

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