Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's Over

Firearm deer season, that is.  Sundown tonight ended Michigan's firearm deer season.  And boy, did it suck.

That's what I'm hearing, so it's not just based on my own dismal hunting experience this season that I make such a negative judgement.  Two straight weeks of hunting, with only one day that I didn't go out (more on that later).  No deer for me, even though I hunted twice a day on weekends and (just about) every evening during the week. No deer for DH, who hunted morning and night, every day for the entire two weeks.  No deer for DS1, who hunted a handful of times.  No deer for DH's buddy who lived with us the first week of deer season.

The only one who can claim a harvested deer to their name is K2, and she shot hers on opening morning.  It was kind of small, by our standards, only weighing in at 100 pounds dressed.  But, apparently, that is a decent size for deer where she comes from, or so we've been told.  And, since she has been the only one to put venison in the freezer this year, we can't tease her too much about taking a 'little one'.

But really, the deer were few and far between.  Where we used to see a dozen in one sitting quite easily, and herds of two or even three dozen on a really good day, this year I think six was the daily record for deer sightings.  I saw those, and they came in two groups of three, staying far enough away that I didn't have a shot at any of them.  Most days, we sat and saw nothing, heard nothing, not even shots in the neighborhood (which, around here, could be several miles away).

I sat and watched the sun come up. Which, when you are surrounded by trees, doesn't look like much.

 I sat and watched birds wake up and come out to feed.


black-capped chickadee

northern flicker

downy woodpecker

red-bellied woodpecker

And on days when not even the birds came out, I sat and looked at evidence of where they'd been.

woodpecker holes in a tree trunk

woodpecker holes in the railing of the 'playset' blind

Other days I looked at things the birds hadn't managed to eat yet.
inchworm, incredibly still alive after a week of temps below freezing
(this photo was taken on the first warm day)

spider with a leg-span no wider than a pencil eraser

rose hips

Sometimes I watched squirrels.

gray squirrel

fox squirrel

fox squirrel

gray squirrel

One morning, there was a black squirrel who had found an apple under some leaves, and it scampered up a tree with it's prize.  However, there were two gray squirrels nearby who either had seen the apple, or could smell it.  One of them followed the black squirrel up the tree, where it proceeded to jump on the black squirrel, making it drop it's apple.  Those three squirrels spent an hour chasing each other in circles and up and down trees stealing that apple from each other.

Sometimes there were no birds or squirrels to watch, so I took pictures of fungus and mosses that appeared on warm, moist days.

yellow fungus on a stump

orange 'jelly fungus' on a living tree limb

moss on some decaying wood

Many days, it was cold, with high temperatures that did not get above freezing.  Some days it snowed.

snow collecting on the top of the door to the apple blind

One day was so bitter cold that I froze to my gun and my tree stand.  Yes, literally.  What little bit of moisture was on my gloves froze to the metal parts of my shotgun, and the bottoms of my boots froze to the metal platform of the tree stand.  I was so bundled up, only my eyes were showing.  I took a selfie, and sent it to DD1 at college.  She said it looked like I was wearing 'some kind of hunting burka'.

very unflattering selfie on a frigid day

Other days, it was warm, and there was either fog, or rain.

just a light mist

rainy evening

While waiting fruitlessly for deer to come my way, I pondered things like how far up it was into the maple tree.

And how far down it is from the platform of the maple to the ground.

And how it's my balance, alertness, and one little nylon strap (connected to a harness under my coat) around a tree limb that is keeping me safely in the tree instead of falling to certain bodily harm.

I didn't just contemplate the maple stand.  I also thought about the little deck we have at the bottom of the ladder to the double stand. How it came to us in one of those scrap lumber 'junk' piles given to us a few years ago by our friend the junk man, and makes a nice stable base for the ladder.

I also thought about things most people never get a chance to see, like a puddle in a small hollow on the top of a tree limb about fifteen feet up in the air.

And how the light reflected off the water held there.

And when I got bored with that, I looked at the mud on the toes of my boots, one warm muddy morning.

Sitting in the deer blind or tree stand in the late afternoons sometimes provided a view of a pretty sunset.

In the past two weeks, I have been in the woods at least once a day, every day, with the exception of the afternoon we were having 25 mph winds with gusts up to 45 mph.  I wimped out.  Too windy; the wind carries your scent too much, and, well, it's just plain miserable being out in that, whether you are in a tree or in an enclosed blind.

All in all, the hours I spent in the woods weren't a total waste even though they didn't result in any meat in my freezer.  For the most part, they were relaxing.  Except for the one morning when, after the sun came up, I noticed this:

my footprint from the evening before, lined in green
deer footprint over my footprint, lined in red

Those rotten deer!  They had been by the apple blind in the night, between the time I came in from it after dark, and when I returned to it just before dawn.  That morning there were deer tracks over my own footprints, right up to the door of the blind!  I sat there and stewed all morning hunt, imagining the deer thumbing their noses at me and saying "nyah-nyah nyah-nyah, you can't catch us!"  And, apparently, they were right.  Because they are in the woods somewhere and not on my dinner plate.

No comments:

Post a Comment