October 9, 2008

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

For 15 days I was able to come up with reasons not to go bow hunting. I tried to fib a bit and say that I thought bow season started on October 1st and not September 15th, because that was ultimately when it did begin for me.

Of course as I sat amongst the swarms of mosquitoes unable to see more than a few feet in front of me thanks to the still full forest of leaves, I was wishing it started October 15th, or maybe even November 1st.

At least that Wednesday afternoon was a bit cooler than the weather we are experiencing right now. I made my second trip to the woods on Sunday and by the time I made it up into the stand, I was a bit concerned I might be experiencing a heat stroke. The before mention bugs, and my pasty white skin, prevent me from wearing short-sleeved camouflage.

So the first 30 minutes in the tree were spent toweling down combined with de-scenting. The cover spray was somewhat cool, so it was dual purpose, lowering my body temperature below boiling and while attempting to hide the smell of my perspiration.

When that battle finally was fought, I settled into the boredom of what had all the makings of an uneventful hunt. Self doubt crept in as the first hour gradually ticked off the clock.

A couple hills over, my wife’s ears likely were burning, and not just because she had made a similar march into the timber to her stand. You see this outing was 100% her idea. As an extremely busy person, her outings are limited. So when the schedule permitted us to be in the woods, Sunday, she insisted on the trip, ignoring my protests regarding the temperature, the bugs and the fact that I preferred to lounge on the couch and watch football.

She was so excited about the opportunity to head to the woods, she even loaded up my gear in the pick up. After she honked a couple times, I got the message it was time to go.

There sat one over-heated hunter, sporadically twiddling his thumbs in between bug swatting and bite scratching trying to remember the part of those vows that say for better or for worse.

Finally a few deer wondered out of the trees into the growing shade. I even saw a pair of bucks locking horns as they played in front of the start of a scrape area along the tree line. They were far enough away I had to use the binoculars to enjoy the show, but it did offer me the opportunity to try a little rattling action mixed with some grunt calls. The strategy worked to a degree, as I got the boys’ attention and they charged my way, at least for a short stretch of the mile between us.

They lost interest, or at least I lost sight of their advance in the trees. Oh well, I guess it’s all for the better. You see, I wouldn’t have had much ammunition to try to harvest the bigger of the two bucks, as when my wife loaded up the gear, she inadvertently omitted packing my quiver. She felt bad enough about the oversight, to offer me one of her broadheads, to place on a practice arrow from my stash in the bow case. I took a second arrow with a field tip, just in case (in case of what I’m now uncertain…) and tried to hide my displeasure as I marched to my stand.

I did get to enjoy watching a trio of turkeys (which was a concern to me, as rarely before did I ever see fewer than a dozen birds together) and listening to a number of pheasants cackling. I witnessed a hawk swoop in and snatch his dinner, which I was pleased to see was a mouse and not one of the members of the covey of quail that had gathered in a brush pile not far from my stand.

But all of that was forgotten as I sat in the truck, scratching my abundant bug bites, waiting for the air conditioner to kick in, wondering where my wife was. I fully expected my phone to ring and for her to ask me to come down and help her load up her next trophy. Now her ears really should have been burning.

Turns out she was simply delayed by a skunk that she nearly stepped on as she marched back up the hill. Turns out she had to wait until the end for her hunt to turn into a stinker. That’s usually how our outings go.

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