Can you stand yet another installment of “My trip to the woods by myself”? Well, you’re gonna get one anyway. We’re having mandatory fun here, people.
For this trip to the family property I had some time off work, which allowed me five days away, most of which was spent hunting and woods traipsing. I found myself a cute efficiency room on Airbnb, packed myself some microwaveable home cooked dinner plates and some home canned fruit to eat, and away I went – blissfully alone and with absolutely nothing on the schedule.
Although I did not come home with a deer it was a remarkably restorative trip nonetheless.
I was able to meet up with a couple of the local guys who I’ve given permission to hunt, and we’ve got a plan now to start closing off the illegal ATV access paths. They are also going to contribute to “purple painting” the boundaries for me as well. The paper “posted” signs are getting ragged and need to be reinforced with boundary paint. There’s a lot of ground for me to cover by myself, so that was much appreciated. It’s nice to have allies in my battle against trespassers and to know that there are local people who are looking out for the property.
In addition I got a good bit of woodsy “alone time”, which my emotional state desperately needed. I did see a few deer but none that I could get an arrow into. Still, at least I know they are there and there should be even more activity soon as we move into the rut.
I had some very peaceful moments during my woods time – many of which were triggered by auditory stimuli. Some people may not understand nature sounds as a “soothing” thing, but they are to me.
Even hearing the snorting and brush-crashing in the pitch darkness as I spooked a deer while hiking to my blind (crap!), while not exactly “peaceful” per se, was soothing in a way that road noise and neighborhood dogs barking is not.
Then there was the sound of the church clock tower in the distance chiming 6 am as I gathered my gear in the darkness at the car one morning. Although I was in the woods I was only about a mile away as the crow flies from the center of the town. I wondered if my ancestors had heard that same clock chime a hundred-plus years ago, and if that sound governed the rhythm of their lives as it often did in rural villages.
It had rained overnight so in addition to making the leaves less crunchy for me to stealth over to get to my blind, there were the sounds of water droplets sliding off the fading foliage and dropping to the carpet of previously fallen leaves below. The damp intensified the scents of Autumn around me – another sensory sedative for a stressed-out soul.
After I was settled into my blind and turned off my headlamp I heard a Barred Owl asking “Who? Who cooks for you?”
“I do, buddy, I do”, I thought in response to the query.
There were all kinds of calming sounds for me to enjoy while I waited for the dawn in my little camo cocoon. In addition to Mr Owl, there was the “Whirr” of toads in some vernal puddle water to my far right and crickets chirping in the autumn darkness. Later as the rain began to fall again, the whirring came back, as if the toads were singing in gratitude for the water. It was an auditory feast that no earbuds could replace.
As light spread across the overcast landscape, slowly daytime sounds replaced the nighttime sounds. Blue jays, crows… even the occasional scream of a redtailed hawk were on the menu for my hungry ears. I reveled in the peace and quiet.
Once I could actually see the landscape though, there was only one deer who crossed my field of vision. That doe was running hell-bent for leather with nary a pause for me to line up a shot. I waited patiently in case a buck showed up after her, but I never saw anything else. Ah well.
During my time away there was not just the auditory balm either. On the visual treat end of things I ran across some cool fungi, some wild rose hips, and some wild grapes on my wanders in the area. Although the fungi weren’t edible, the other two were and it made my little foraging heart happy to identify more emergency food sources. Not to mention that they feed the wildlife too.
In total I had two mornings and two evenings in the field. One evening was too windy, and the morning I was due to leave I was just too tired. Since there is no Sunday hunting I also had an entire day to poke around a lovely state park in the vicinity. The inviting-looking lake made me consider renting a kayak there next summer.
On the road trip home I decided to physically locate the deer processor that I had found on the internet. I’m glad I did, because it was certainly “over the river and through the woods”. Thank goodness for turn-by-turn navigation! But at least I know where I’m going now should my hunting season turn out to be fruitful.
So dear readers, hope springs eternal. Although hunting for some is a goal-oriented pursuit, for me the “process” is everything. My tags are yet unfilled but my spirit was recharged and that in many ways is even more important.