Saturday, November 13, 2010

Snap, Crackle, Pop!

Last weekend I, like many many other people, was out in the woods in pursuit of deer. I saw nothing. Plenty of signs, but with the warm weather they were moving at night and staying good and hidden during the day. Anyhow, one of the things I really like about hunting is the quietness of it all (until you unload your gun at something). But going for deer is different than my other passion of duck hunting. Going for ducks, you can and are noisy. You see ducks in the distance, you start railing on your call to entice them. And forget about worrying about scent control while duck'n. You bring all kinds of snacks and drinks and what not and sit and keep a look out.

But not when going for deer. Scent control is crucial. Not as much as when bow hunting, but even with a rifle in hand you have to be mindful of the wind and you need to use the scent killer and what not. You can bring some snacks with you, but forget about the big tasty stuff. And you want to stay still and silent. Deer both smell and see very well, so the less you move the better.

Which brings me to this last weekend. There I was in the woods up North without another soul around. Sitting on a stump waiting for a deer to come on by, I went into heightened sense mode. Being still and quiet amplifies everything else around you. Birds fluttering between trees, leaves rustling on the ground. At first it's kind of overwhelming with all the subtle noises, but then after a little bit it all becomes normal white noise and you can tune in to your surroundings and not be distracted by all of it.

But then you almost subconsciously pick out some small noise. Something wasn't right with that last sound you heard. It was different. But before you can completely process it, it's gone. But somehow you are looking in the direction it came. Focusing on that area, you now hear another sound. Yup, not leaves or birds, but definaetly something that normally isn't there. Was that a twig snapping? That sounds like footsteps. Big, not a grouse walking around, and not a little bird fluttering on the ground. But something actually taking steps and moving closer. You don't bring the scope up yet cause you can't see it, but you are gripping the gun with both hands now, ready to shoulder it should the target present itself. Your heart rate quickens because you have now eliminated any doubt in your mind that you're hearing things. Another twig moves or breaks. The sound is getting closer and closer, until finally it's right on the other side of the brush you're hunting by. Your mouth is dry from excitement, you're trying to control your breathing so you can keep a steady shot when you bring the rifle up, and just when you are about to explode with anticipation, the sound emerges into full sight.

And it's the biggest squirrel you've ever seen.

This scenario played out a handful of times for me when I was out there. The last time I almost shot the squirrel out of frusturation. But it's one of the things I like most of hunting. You never know what you are gonna get. Sometimes I get lucky, most times I don't. It's all part of the sport, and it's the X factor that keeps waking me up those mornings and groggily going out in the field.

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