As anyone who has read my blog during deer seasons past, I have on more than one ocassion made it known of my dislike for summer. The weather is so hot, my work load gets brutal and many people I have to interact with are “difficult”. During those days, weeks and months, I sometimes stop and take solace in the fact that fall and winter are not figments of my imagination, even on those 100 degree days full of strife.
We celebrate the death of summer every year the week after Labor day and start practice with our bows. In September and October, we work like madmen at our hunting lease or hunting clubs to get fields planted, shooting lanes and roads cleared of overgrowth from summer limbs and weeds, try to get in a few dove hunts and about wo squirrel hunts, three football games…. and then, there it is again!
The cool October days with “bluebird” skies bathed by a vibrant sun. Fall foliage dressed with leaves of red, orange, and yellow, slowly gives way to the first cold snaps of the fall, the first frost of the year, which we had last week, and those cold, cloudy days with a good breeze from the West or North, or somewhere in between. Those days that are wrapped around a cold front and aided by the shorter daylight hours of my old friend, Winter!
Lordy! I do love a cold, cloudy winter’s day in the deer woods! The deer are often active all day so I can stay in my stand longer or stay on my stalk longer and still have confidence that I could shoot a nice buck even at 11:00 a.m. or 2 p.m. with almost as much chance as the early morning or later afternoon hunting periods!
Scrapes and rubs are starting to be made by the bucks, regardless of size, and the big bucks are starting to fight for dominance over a section of the property. Pre-rut rattling, grunt calls made with an agressive tone and cadence seem to work best on our property in November and December prior to, and during our rut which peaks around Christmas week. I don’t care how many deer you have taken, rattling in a nice buck, especially if you can see him coming to you on the run across a field or big open woods is a charge that is on par with any other in the hunt for game animals. Heck, I am a confirmed turkey-holic and nothing sends my hunter’s heart to racing like a gobbler blasting a response to my call on an early spring morning. But a big buck on the run with his hair standing on end across his back and spoiling for a fight can get real close to the same adrenal “dosing” that is only cured by the successful pull of the trigger!
Yes, I love those cold gray days that will soon be here. Days that give me a chance to escape from others and immerse myself in the solitude of the deer woods. I am able to sit and enjoy the quietness, even when it is punctuated by a drumming, pilleated wood pecker, living in his own world, seemingly oblivious to me but not missing a thing. The woods are alive like that, a section of older, mature woods, whether a pine forrest, or a swamp populated with old growth Oaks, Elms, Poplars and even the Sweet Gum, are all worthy of praise as I sit and ponder how old they are, if they could talk, the stories of their days, how many big deer have passed by them, eaten their mast crops in the dark of night and the early morning light. I love the dampness, the earthy smells, the unique features that have occurred in the trees as they grew.
This may all sound like a bunch of “bull” to some of you, but not to those who hunt the winter woods and have fallen in love with them from the days of their childhood. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to have hunted some 54 years, as this will be for me, and to have learned the art of savoring the magic of those cold, gray winter woods and the all too few days we get to spend there, hidden from the rat race, considering many things we are too busy to give thought to as we hurry through life. An hour in the woods last longer, tastes sweeter, can be breathed deeper and offers us a balance in our lives, inside the cold, cloudy winter woods, life is good when you are there!
November is upon us ! Use it before you lose it!