Thursday, January 27, 2011
My brother in law Dennis joined me at my cabin on Monday evening. Dennis was awaiting surgery on his leg and spent the afternoon limping through the woods on an injured knee. Talk about an obsessed and dedicated hunter. He even drove three hours to the property.
We had a nice afternoon of hunting yet rain worked hard on our comfort levels while we hunted through the evening until dark. The rain seemed to keep anything from moving throughout the evening and we headed to the cabin for some relief. We spent the night relaxing in the cabin with some great conversation while exchanging stories from our youth. The cabin was warm and excellent to sleep in other then the occasional interruptions of our snoring exchanges.
The alarm clock woke us around 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning. We enjoyed some hot coffee and short breakfast heated on a small camping stove. We left the cabin for a cool downhill walk to our morning stands. Darkness blanketed the woods as I made my way to my stand just a short distance from the river. I followed a series of white round reflectors which seemed to blaze back at me from my headlamp as I passed through the dense dark woods. The reflectors lead me to the edge of a small flowing creek. As I crossed several rocks the water broke the silence of the woods by filling the area with the sound of a pouring sensation as it rolled across the rocks. The light from my head lamp sparkled on the ripples of the rolling water as I passed over the reflections. I advanced up a steep hill and found the base of my stand. I reached out to find the dampness of the ladder which was a cold wet reminder of the heavy rain the day before. Once settled in the stand I watched the woods around me as the blackness began to transform to a light shade of gray and the trees appeared as black shadows. Even though I had plenty of sleep I could feel my eyelids dropping on occasion as I relaxed in the peacefulness of the woods. My eyes cracked opened slowly as the dark shadows of the trees began to show their detail and the forest floor became apparent. As I scanned the woods around me I was drawn immediately to a slight movement at the bottom of a deep ravine beside my stand.
In an area which appeared to be fifty feet below my stand the small creek pushed steadily toward the river in a mixture of clear and white bubbling water. At the edge of the creek I noticed a slow movement. As I watched carefully I could make out what appeared to be several legs of an animal. The animal’s body was entirely hidden from view by small saplings and hollies. The opposite side of the woods rose upward from the creek bottom and was easy to see through as mature hardwoods were widely spaced allowing a great distance of sight. The creature stepped forward past the hollies out into the open only to present to complete outline of a deer.
Oddly enough the deer placed its nose to the ground like a dog and began walking a steady search of continuing circles up the ridge and further away from me. Immediately I thought maybe it’s a small buck tracking does and I just could not see the antlers. I quickly searched my backpack and pulled out a rattle bag as the deer began to move out of sight. I made a short series of rattles and watched the top edge of the ridge. The deer reappeared and moved quickly to the top of the open ridge. I rattled again and watched as the deer stood perfectly still looking toward my stand. In plain view I had identified the deer as a doe. I watched quietly as the doe turned and moved out of sight. Doe season was still several weeks away but the opportunity to call the deer back to me by rattling really made my day.
Story by Hampton Brewer AKA VAOUTDOORSMAN