One day in the country
Is worth a month in town ~Christina Rossetti
… Continued Our Hunting Adventures … New York
It’s always an adventure with the Piper clan. On Sunday morning, November 17th, when it was still pretty dark, I saw an animal with a very bright white, almost glowing fur coat, sneaking around the forest floor below me. It was kind of the size of a squirrel, but didn’t move like a squirrel. In fact, it moved more like a ferret. Keep in mind it’s still pretty dark, but I could see the critter clearly. Being completely intrigued I watched it move around for a good fifteen or twenty minutes with my flashlight, seeing what it was up to and trying to get a good look at it. I really wanted to identify the unknown animal. After it moved on, I forgot all about the creature until we were back at the motel room and I described it to dad. Apparently, I saw a weasel. Too cool! This is a perk about hunting, not to mention the sounds of nature, being out in the fresh air, seeing the beauty God has provided, harvesting meat for the table, but also seeing these creatures, which I would normally never see.
We were blessed on Saturday with mild weather. Actually, a perfect hunting day. Sunday was a mix of rain and rain and wind. Monday wasn’t too bad, just windy. We were all hoping for snow, but it wasn’t in the cards. Why snow? It makes it so much easier to see the deer and to hear them. Plus, the woods are so pretty when it snows, especially when the branches catch the white powder appearing as if the snow is held in mid air. I love the outlining effect of the trees in white, like the snow stretched up from the ground to fill the tips of the trees. Love it!
On Saturday, I had a chance at a small buck in the brush. As I lined it up in my sights, I remember dad saying, “If your gonna shoot, make sure you have a good shot and shoot it in the shoulder to take it down. We don’t want to have to track the deer.” You see dad doesn’t believe in unloading your gun on one deer. Line up your target and then take your shot. If you need a second bullet then use it, but not your entire arsenal. He feels you should get it on one shot, which usually he does!
As I watched the buck move swiftly through the brush, I looked ahead to see an opening in a direct line with his path. Perfect! I thought I’ll wait for the deer to walk into the clearing and then take it down with one clean shot. As I watched the buck go behind the trees, I noticed it never came out to my preplanned drop zone. As I tracked it in my scope, I saw the buck turned and walked up over the hill! What? When I saw this, the only shot I had was between the trees, through the brush and at its rear-end. Not good! That’s not an appropriate shot and one I would never take. If I’m taking a shot it’s to drop the deer and not have it suffer and run off. Can you believe it? Apparently, the buck didn’t get the memo to keep walking straight into my line of sight! O well. Looking back on it now, dad and I both agree I should have just taken the shot in the brush. Dad commented, “You never know unless you try.” Good point old man!
When it comes to deer hunting, there is no one I trust more than dad. He has dropped hundreds of deer from the time he was nine years old. Plus, he’s been a woodsman most of his life and he seems to speak deer. Really! He has this sixth sense about them, like he can read their minds. He is a truly great hunter!
Once Saturday came and left, Sunday arrived. After sitting for most of the morning seeing nothing, to break up the day, I headed down the hill toward dad and Kyle. Once I got there, dad had us walk around to see if we could push the deer. Finally, dad gets me! He’s starting to catch on to Kyle too, realizing we can’t sit for too long, we get antsy and silly and loose focus. All the things dad is not keen on in the woods. He takes hunting very seriously, rightfully so.
On another side note, in New York it is legal to hunt on Sunday, not like Pennsylvania. So we were able to hunt all weekend into Monday.
Did we see any deer on Sunday? Nope, but with my little man making a herd of noise, I couldn’t image why not. I was watching Kyle walk through the leaves. Instead of picking up his feet, he was dragging them through the forest floor! What? Eventually, I started to loose my patience snapping at the kid, “Pick up your feet Kyle!” With a response of “I am Aunt Heather!” After walking a few feet and standing there waiting on my slow poke noise maker to catch up, Kyle started to chuckle and said, “Call me Peeta!” I was dying! That was too funny! Perfect reference to The Hunger Games. Unbeknownst to my friend Kelly, she texted me that night asking how Katniss, referencing me, was doing on my hunting expedition. Later I told her, perfect timing of her text and seriously how funny it was. Good one guys!
After leaving dad and Kyle and heading back up the hill, the very steep and butt burning hill, and after getting slightly twisted around, I had another opportunity in the form of a doe. I was on the ground and was getting situated when I saw a doe approach. It was standing between trees without a good shot. To be honest, during hunting season the deer are a bit skittish, rightfully so, and any movement will spook them. Bringing my rifle up and resting it back down was out of the question. I had to hold my rifle up until she walked into sight. By that time my arm was shaking all around and was exhausted. Then, I took the shot… and missed! I reloaded immediately, but again her butt was facing me as she darted out onto a different property line, leaping out of sight. I went to the scene to see if I could start tracking some blood, but nadda. Nothing. No hit. Dang! Seriously, nothing would make me happier than to be able to provide deer meat for the family freezer. Not to mention, it would make dad very proud and happy to see me get a deer. That’s fine, we still have the rest of the season in Pennsylvania.
After the excitement of the day, I made my way back down to dad and Kyle, where we all jumped on the quad and headed out for the day. This road, I was totally familiar with, since it was the same one we used in the summer when we were here moving dad’s tree stand. What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand, What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand… Continued This road, or I should say quad path, was like a roller coaster ride, straight up the hill, uneven and washed out in some areas, and topped off with obstacles. Let’s not forget the roads were extremely muddy from the rain and slick. Kyle and I loaded on the back of the quad with our feet hanging over while dad drove. Dad keeps his rifle around his neck and normally I sling mine around my body and wear it on my back, but that would mean the barrel would be pointing in Kyle’s direction. Not good! So Kyle positioned his rifle around his neck facing the woods and I held onto mine, pointing toward the ground. Where they loaded? You bet, in case we did see any deer. It wasn’t dark yet and we had a nice little trek to get back to the truck. Granted, we had the safety on to not chance any accidents, but the opportunity was there to take a shot at a run away deer.
Just as we got on the back of the quad, both me and Kyle, at the same time, leaned in toward each other and said, “Hang on!” We cracked up! Kyle said, “Pappy thinks he’s driving a tank and he’s invincible on this thing.” I was laughing! He was speaking the truth, yet it was seriously funny coming from his mouth and straight from his very own observation.
The entire ride on the back of the quad was a bumpy, hang on, white knuckle ride. At one point we were so vertical, my feet could touch the ground and I had to pick them up before I scrapped mud. Dad didn’t admit it, but I truly think we had a least one wheel off the ground. Then, let’s discuss the swimming pool sized mud puddles. Every time dad went through one, I thought we were going to sink to China. Yet we made it safely through with every pass.
I hunted for half a day on Monday, before saying bye to dad and heading home. Kyle had school and I had work to get done and dad was planning on staying until the weekend. We had so much fun, both Kyle and I wanted to stay with dad, if for anything else to give him some company. Even hanging out in the motel room was fun, joking around and discussing the days events.
Dad told a lot of deer hunting stories and talked about Ryan a lot. It was therapeutic for dad and good for Kyle to hear about his dad.
Hunting in New York for years, dad and Ryan used to go up there all the time. As we drove to and fro in the woods, dad would point out who shot what, when and how big it was. Can dad remember that? You bet he can! He has no idea how old I am, but when it comes to hunting, his memory is pretty spot on. Especially, his hunting trips with Ryan, they are his special memories.
Either that Tuesday or Wednesday, dad shot a four point buck and a doe. The buck was pretty large, supplying us with good deer meat for the freezer. Dad was planning on coming home Saturday night but instead pulled up Thursday mid-day. He missed sitting in the tree stand with Kyle, his buddy. I don’t blame him, it’s always more fun to hunt with family than by oneself.
Thanks to Larry and the New York crew for their hospitality and the adventure. Can’t wait for next year! I will be prepared this time.