a cold snowy morning , opening day back in '97.
Two friends and I set out to an area
of isolated wooded terrain amidst the army of hunters surrounding us. It
was 6:30 am, hot coffee and goodies are packed into the bucket of supplies
to take out on the trail. Here it was,,, the first day we had
permission from the State to take some veni-meat for our tables!
Excitement was high as we clarified where each
of us were to be based. We headed down the two-track in the truck and a
song came on that sent tingles ever so deep within.
"Fred Bear" by Ted Nugent just began
to play. The rhythm of the guitar and the story being told in song about
Fred Bear and the Spirit in the woods couldn't have been more perfect.
The beat of the song mimicked that of the ol' ticker when that special
hunting experience hits you between the eyes and then gets logged in the
memory banks for many a moon into our future.
As the headlights of the truck scanned the
snowy white two-track ahead showing sign of a few deer but no fresh tire
tracks,,, our spot was SAVED! Teds guitar hypnotically echoed
out the truck windows into the dark woods as we turned up the tune to let
it play at that level many would frown upon. We weren't frowning,,, and
neither were the deer. They are a curious critter and were probably tapping
their hooves in rhythm. (yeah, right)
We were in our element
and the words held true, the spirit in the woods was here. We could feel
The song ended, the radio and truck now turned
off at out parking spot at the end of the two-track. Energies from
just prior were still permeating from us,,,, we were not coming out of
these woods empty today. No way.
Still crisp morning air stings our lungs
as we set out in our separate paths to get next to nature. Senses highten
as each step in the snow takes us to our perspective roost. Walking was
not what you do on the hunt,,, you stalk. Every few slow quiet steps, stopping,
not only to listen,, but to break the pattern of crunching sounds from
the crusty snow in an attempt to be as quiet as possible. Furry ears that
hear many a simple sound is sensed as potential danger. You'll never see
a deer or racoon with a set of ear plugs with an i-pod meandering aimlessly
about down the wooded trail. No way. They're on the watch at most
any given moment and we must attempt to be that way too.
Fresh tracks in the newly fallen snow
graced my path as I slowly ascend a steep hill, straight up a deer
runway to the top where the heavy oaks stopped at a clear cutting on the
other side. I follow the woodline back down to a break in the runway and
found a spot where I could place my back to a huge oak. There was
a decline of the hill on the other side of the tree with a beaver
pond at the bottom.
As quiet as a one could be with a bucket banging,
kicking the snow aside with covered branches crackin',,, I guess I lost
the lot of my cover. I figured I may set up quick if not quiet. Timing
is of essence too ya know.
A light pink glow of the rising sun just beginning
to break the darkness, shapes became more discernable. It wasn't even an
hour after sitting in front of that oak while sitting on a sheet, my bunns
were 'per near frozen to the ground and then some movement caught
my attention atop the hill from which I came.
A smaller stately buck was sniffing
the ground like a puppy dog looking for a Milk Bone. My scent trail
was picked up undoubtedly yet there might have had enough time to pass
as not to deter the buck from continuing his path back into the cedars
below me for the days retreat in some laying grounds.
He got halfway down the runway all the while
looking ahead right to my area. He kept stopping and smelling, lifting
his head and again looking every 8-12 steps or so. He knew my shape
was not familiar but could not recognize what I was. The fallen tree brush
I'd sat behind must have helped in distorting what I looked like ,, so
closer he came.
in a small ravine between us, my hand went to my rifle. Yet when his rack
was spotted along the ground line on his ascent something says ''No, not
the one". He was a nice 4 pointer and had a nice broad chest. My frozen
hand falls back to my side as I kept my head tuned to the left of where
the deer was coming from but keeping my eyes to the now appearing head,,
peeking over the hill towards me.
Closer he came down the trail continually staring
right towards me,, stopping & smelling the ground and the air.
His curiosity took the better of him as now he was about 20 feet from me.
Still walking closer and closer he was practically 12-15 feet from me.
My eyes rarely made contact with his,, purposely looking to his side and
keeping my head still and facing to the left. His head dropped
with eyes still trained on me, he stomped his right foot. Quickly he
lifted his head and then lowering it and then stomped his left foot.
At that, I looked directly at him. His
head raised to full height and froze at my sudden movement.
I smiled, nodded my head and broke the silence in greetings just as in
the manner as how you would greet any other friend,,,,,, "G'mornin'
my Friend" I said.
With that the buck sprang to life, did a backflip
and a Fred Flintstone peel out retreating back into the ravine and
then re-appearing just on the raise of the hill. He turns to look
towards me as so to see if I was following and stared as if in amazement
of ''what the hell was that?"
Feeling as I was of no danger
he paralleled the hill to my right then crossing back again over to my
hill, stopping at the top. His back to me, he stood there looking
over the clear cut below facing due east.
I tell you, watching his proud silloutte
standing there looking away
from me with the golden colors of the sunrise surrounding his shape as
an aura,,, something hit me and touched me so very deep. A spiritual bullet
if you will. Just to witness this majestic creature in his
realm was truely awesome. I cannot convey the emotion generated
in witnessing this but my Spirit was indeed intensely touched.
"Fairwell my Friend. Make lots of majestic
children as yourself and be safe" I whispered aloud to him.
Sometimes we have to let it go so it can grow.
... and so can we.
come out of the woods without a bounty of some sort.