Yesterday was one of those glorious November days… you know the kind… where the before-dawn frost makes the leaves and grass crunch under your boots and the cold crisp air make you thankful for small disposable hand-warmers. Sitting still and silent twenty feet off the ground in a portable treestand is a strange, if not impossible way to spend a day for most folks. Of course my main objective was to put a little more venison in the freezer, but that’s a goal one can’t expect to achieve everyday. So I look for, and enjoy the little gifts of the day.
Being situated well before sunrise, the forest had a chance to adjust to my clumsy human entrance. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, the ubiquitous squirrels had already started their frantic bustle. They (along with a good book) keep me company on these long sits. My experience in the woods has taught me the difference between the scurrying of squirrels and the footfalls of deer. And when the forest becomes unusually quiet… it’s time to pay attention as there is usually a good reason.
Something must have split up the resident flock of turkeys the night before. All morning they yelped and cackled from various locations finally reassembling in the cut corn field behind me.
This particular woodlot seems to be overrun with pileated woodpeckers. What a treat! Watching them go about the business of probing the trees for grubs is absolutely fascinating. As one would leave my sight, it seemed as thought another would simultaneously take its place… always with their rhythmic looping flight flashing large white wing-patches. The forest echoed with the immediately recognizable and raucous cackle.
On one occasion, I looked up from my book (a routine of reading a paragraph… then looking around to make sure I’m not missing anything… reading another paragraph…) to find a young red fox perched on a rock only 50 feet away. The handsome little devil slipped in silently (no miniscule task in these dry crunch leaves!) and was looking up in the tree at me with his head cocked to the side like my dog does when I ask him if he wants to go for a ride in the truck. When the fox decided it was time to leave and disappeared into the nearby ravine, I couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking looking at me so far up in a tree.
At the end of the day, the deer remained safely on the hoof… as they often do. So once again I hiked back to my truck in darkness… empty-handed, but with a rejuvenated spirit.