In this day and age, everyone caters to everyone....worrying about offending someone when they say anything...worrying they offend someone by not saying anything...And wishing they had the intestinal fortitude to do one or the other.
I get sick and tired of tip toeing around kissing the butts of people I know or don’t know, worrying about this crap. I don’t say anything to purposely piss folks off, but I tell the truth and sometimes people don’t like the truth. I’m much more subtle at being truthful than I used to be, thanks to Vick, because she has brought it to my attention, that sometimes I just don’t have to say anything at all
My biggie is why I was a hunter. Lots of my very close friend’s loath hunting and those who choose to pursue it. I know it is next to impossible to change their minds about hunting and sometimes I just do as Vick taught me, keeping quiet...but sometimes I feel the need to point out that I and a lot of other true hunters and actual sportsman hate the very same slobs they are talking about. Few realize what the true hunter and sportsman have done to save and perpetuate wildlife management for future generations. Few realize that sportsmen actually fund almost all of the programs the DEC manages. Hunter’s license fees pay to stock wildlife and study their habits and create habitat for other wildlife species. Hunter money helped to bring our eagles back, strengthen the deer herds and manage state lands and parks. I No longer hunt...shoot very little and am not afield as much as I wish I could be. I should be out sitting with my camera, snapping pictures of the wildlife around me. My memory is all I have now.....and that serves me well if I cannot spend actual time afield, but I wish to get out more in the future. Right now, I sit quietly sipping coffee in the mornings sometimes and my thoughts drift back to crisp winter mornings and sitting on stand in the Barrens of central Pa. I can almost feel the chill on the back of my neck and hear the chickadees and nuthatches as they scamper up and down the tree I’m leaning against. They have already scrambled up over my head, then around and around the trunk of the tree, working their way down and actually hopped unto my shoulder and arm. I remember the comical look it gave me, as it looked into my eyes and froze, knowing it had done something it should not have and immediately flew away.
The smells of winter in the woods are unmistakably permanent to my senses. I can remember the smell of cedars and hemlock as the wind carried their fragrance across the ridge to me and beyond. I remember seeing deer wind me as they approached from down wind. I can almost see the lead deer jam her legs stiffly down into the leaves as my scent drifted to her as she approached. They can stand for minutes, motionless as they continue to suck in the air...analyzing it and purging it loudly, in preparation for the next whiff. They can and will stand motionless for a half hour as long as they can wind you, waiting to locate you...knowing you’re there.
Eating a packed lunch in the woods, as you watch nature in its element, is a thing I enjoyed too. Nothing tastes better than a sandwich and a cup of coffee while sitting there. The colder you get, the better the coffee, as you scrunch down into your coat and pull the collar tighter around your neck. Many times I’ve been warmed by the sun as I sat against my tree and waited for a buck to amble by. Sometimes on an overcast day, I’ve had to get up and walk to remain warm, because there just isn’t any warmth available with the sun behind cloud cover. On those days I used to do a “three step and rest” method, where I would take three steps, stop and using my field glasses, scour the landscape, just beyond the limit of my naked view. After scanning from right to left, I would take three steps and repeat the process, looking again for anything horizontal, flicking or a color out of place. Many times I’ve found bedded deer lying in brush, along a log or just next to a tree, watching me as I watched them. One time as I sat and watched deer unaware of my presence, I watched four does as they laid down flat on the ground and watched another hunter walk past them, only to silently get up and walk the other way, looking back occasionally and veering off to the right as they continued checking their back trail. Eventually, perhaps an hour later, the same four does returned to their original spots to bed down again and watch the surrounding woods as before.
Many times I could have shot a deer........and many times it would have ruined my day afield by requiring me to clean it and drag it out to my car. On a day such as that, I chose to pass on the shot, relax and enjoy the woods as the deer enjoyed living it’s life as God intended.....knowing it was my gift to the animal, for God gave the deer for our use and nourishment. I just decided that I didn’t need to kill one every time I was afield enjoying them, that’s all.
Hunting isn’t always what you think it is, you know.... or if you don’t, you should!
Perhaps you should become a hunter.....Get a good camera and experience the smells, sounds and sights I’ve just described. When you shoot, it doesn’t have to make a big bang. Sometimes a little click is better!
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