It's opening day deer season!
Opening day for PA archery!
As I walked through the back field to the deer stand early yesterday morning, the fog lay over the land like a thick molasses. Visibility was poor, but that was good in a way, as the deer wouldn't be able to see me as easily as I moved silently on the trail. It's amazing how different a few hundred yards makes in the country. As I made my way from the house, through the back yard, crossing into the back of the property, a feeling of "a different place" came over me. I was in a different world now, turning my attention to every step, sound, and movement around me. I tried my best to melt into the surroundings, moving ever so cautiously to the stand, and being as quiet as a mouse....a big mouse.
Reaching my stand without being busted by a deer, I readied to climb the ladder to my perch above. I removed my backpack, making sure to make as little noise as possible. My bow was close, ready to be raised to the platform above. Taking a look around once more, I quietly climbed to my perch, connected my safety strap, and slowly sat down to take a minute to relax, and thank God for the opportunity that may come my way. I brought my bow up, nocked an arrow and place it on a nearby limb.
The fog was still thick as the sun rose in the East. Visibility was down to 25 yards, so my other senses were heightened. I could hear the geese as they flew overhead, making their way to the neighbors pond. The woods came alive as the sun burned through the clouds above, and the fog below. Birds were singing their morning songs, chipmunks scurried under the stand, gathering forage for the coming winter, and a group of turkeys had made their way to the field on my left. Slowly, I could make out the turkeys as they made their way through the farmers field, some strutting, some fighting....some not having a care in the world. A few beards were dragging the ground, making me excited for the next turkey season.
As I sat there, watching the world unfold around me, memories of earlier hunts passed through my mind. My hunts out West, for Elk and Mule deer, my Montana Whitetail, the Alaskan Black bear hunt, and the many hunts with two of my mentors, and great friends, Colonel Larry Harwood and Kieth Bryant of SC, all came to mind. All of those hunts are special to me in one way or the other, and will forever be etched in my mind. Life is a journey, not a race in time.
The fog finally lifted by mid morning and the deer movement was next to none....I noticed one lone doe feeding down the treeline to my left, about 200 yards away. She was safe for now.
I reached into my pack, and opened the "Lunchables" for my snack of the day. As I turned to place the empty container back into the pack, my sleeve hit my bow. The arrow fell off the rest and I cringed as it hit the ladder on it's way down to the ground. I waited to hear a deer's alarm go off, but nothing was heard. The woods were quiet now, the sun at high noon. I packed up, lowered my bow, and climbed down, picked up my arrow, then made my way to the house, as quietly as I came in. The morning was uneventful, but that's why they call it hunting right?
After a little rest and relaxation, I headed back out to the stand at 4:30, giving me time to settle in the stand, and get ready for what I hoped to be an eventful evening. The same world from the morning unfolded as I waited for anything to happen. All was quiet until the "Prime Time" arrived. I could hear movement behind me, but the woods were too thick to see anything. What ever it was never showed itself, doe or buck, I'll never know. To my left, at the same place where the doe was earlier, three bucks revealed themselves, feeding into the planted field. I had left my good bino's at the house, but had a cheap pair in my pack. I pulled them out, looked through them, only to find the lenses were filmed over with condensation, obviously from being left in the pack for over 5 years. Last time I used them was 2006, on my Montana hunt. The bucks never made their way toward me, so I played with them with a little rattling sequence. I started clicking the bag together, imitating two bucks slowly sparring, since they were still in the bachelor groups. The bucks quickly raised their heads, looked my way, and stared intently, trying to find the source. I thought they might make their way to my area, but instead, they walked to the nearby treeline, and two of the bigger bucks started making scrapes, and standing on their hind legs, placing their scents on limb branches, to mark the territory for later dominance. As the moments passed, time was running out.
The light faded to darkness, and I knew the time had come to make my way down to the ground, and back to my other world. Before leaving the stand, I reflected back on the beauty of the day, the time spent alone in the stand, and the blessing of making it to 50, and to be hunting again. It's all in God's hands, and I thank him for every blessing and opportunity he sends my way. Have a great week everyone......Always a friend, Jeff