Sunday, June 29, 2008

Being Present

I must admit that whenever I leave home to go hunting I do have expectations. I don't expect to get my daily limits when hunting birds, or filling my deer or elk tags. Nope, my expectations are about just being there and being present. A witness for whatever takes place during my brief time in the field.

When Larry and I were deer hunting last year, we had the pleasure of witnessing the migration of Greater White Fronted Geese. We were in the woods, and I remember hearing that distinctively high pitched "laugh" of Specs. I looked up and saw a flock in formation heading right for Thompson Reservoir. When I first heard them it seemed out of place, I knew what the sound was although my reference was from a different geography. I was thrilled to be able to hunt deer and be serenaded by Specs at the same time. They continued coming to the reservoir throughout the night too. It was wonderful listening to them as we drifted off to sleep. Very special.

When I was goose hunting last year I had a cool experience with Western Meadowlarks. I was heading back to the cabin with 1 Canada Goose in hand, through about a foot of snow with drifts being 2 to 3 feet deep. I saw a coyote trail following along the edge of the dike in the field. Ah, the path of least resistance I thought to myself. So I am walking slowly, pacing myself and enjoying just being there. Noticing the Northern Harrier's hunting the fields and dikes for voles and Red Tailed Hawks looking for like opportunities. The sun is breaking through the ground fog and it is starting to get warm. I shuffle my load and take a layer off, then continue.

Up ahead in the snow I see where the coyote tracks circled around several holes in the snow. I wonder to myself what they found if anything. As I get closer W. Meadowlarks start coming out of the holes in the snow. About a dozen of them, What? I have never seen such a sight in my life. Maybe I'm not seeing what I think I'm seeing. . . I stop in my tracks to see for sure. Yea, I am seeing what I think I'm seeing. I get to within about 10 feet of the holes, and watch several more fly out of the snow. I can hear them scurrying about under the snow pack. Then silence as they realize I (a predator) am near. It has been cold for several days, in the teens and single digits. They have figured a way to stay warm by using the insulating qualities of the snow. Not to mention I bet there is an enormous abundance of insects for them to forage on in the grasses and weeds. I apologize for rousting them out unintentionally and go on my way. I couldn't help but notice their striking lemon yellow throat and belly, bordered by a black breast band. I enjoyed their song on that cold December morning. What a pleasant surprise that I will cherish for many years to come.

The next day I put out my G and H goose shells, plus my silhouettes and hunkered in my ground blind. Tossed a white vinyl mattress cover over my blind to try to blend in to the snow a bit better. I am hunting a large snow covered field with the tops of Triticale ( a cross between Rye and Wheat) visible above the snow. The weather was light overcast and warming into the mid twenties by noon. Pretty comfortable actually. After laying there for about 3 hours and listening to geese off in the distance, I was just about to get up and stretch my legs when I had a visitor drop in. To give you a brief outline of how I lay in a ground blind, just imagine a statue. I do my best to not move unless I absolutely have to. So, this visitor drops in unannounced and lands at my feet on my blind. It's a W. Meadowlark. Wow I say to myself, and become statue woman again. I heard his toenails on the vinyl as he landed. I keep my eyes on him and he starts hopping his way up towards my head. Just as lemon yellow as you can imagine. Wow, Wow, he stops on the mesh camo covering my face. I have to close one eye to be able to focus on him. O.K. now I am holding my breath and watching him up close and personal. Seeing his little toenails on the mesh as he checks out his surroundings. He does have a bit of a serious bill and I hope he doesn't start probing below the mesh. After about a minute he flies off, neither probing nor pooping just perching for a moment. I take a deep breath and say thank you for the visit. Then I was so thrilled I could hardly stand it. I had to give my friend John a call and tell him what just happened. He is one of those rare men that notices the small things and has an appreciation for such. Phew, alright now I can go relieve myself!

You know, I never fired a shot all day and this was one of my most memorable hunts ever!

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt


Holly Heyser said...

That's so cool! And I agree moments like this are what make hunting amazing even when you don't bring anything home for dinner.

Anonymous said...

I love hearing about moments like this. Getting to interact with nature and animals when they're not aware of you is so interesting. You see so much more.

Tom Sorenson said...

Those are the moments that make hunting/fishing so special. I think, though, I would have freaked out that it would poop on my head and I would have moved as soon as it started getting up near that region of the blind!

Blessed said...

We had some cinnamon teal fly into our duck blind (on the boat) one year - we had been calling them and when they circled the last time they came straight in the blind with us - that was an awesome experience, the dog wasn't too sure what to do!

Terry Scoville said...

WOW, that must have been fun. I bet they were surprised to see you all when they landed! Imagine they did a quick about face trying to maintain some sense of dignity. I love hearing these stories. Thank you

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