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Author Topic: Omen - by Reg Darling  (Read 274 times)

Offline Terry_Green

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Omen - by Reg Darling
« on: April 07, 2003, 09:27:00 PM »
Omen - by Reg Darling

Jones Run is a beautiful little native trout stream that flows southward down a steep-sided forest valley to its confluence with the West Branch of the Tionesta Creek. The valley itself is fairly straight, but the creek meanders in valley bottom meadows created by many generations of beaver activity. I first happened upon it a decade ago when a previously hidden roadside vista was opened by a clear-cut. The view of the valley and the hills beyond beckoned to my wanderlust and drew me back the following weekend for a daylong hike.

In the years that followed, the valley’s many wonders merged with my growing sense of the Tionesta watershed as my heart’s true home. Starting each hike from that original vista and following the edge of the clear-cut down the steep, rocky hillside to the valley bottom became a habit. Although encounters with deer and the signs of their presence were always plentiful, I never hunted Jones Run. There were other places to hunt without the obstacle-ridden climb that initiated and ended each excursion by my customary route. What was healthy exercise on a hike promised to be an ugly ordeal when dragging a deer in fading light.

Serious thoughts about hunting Jones Run arose though, as other hunting grounds fell to the chainsaw and bulldozer. One day this spring I set out to explore a saddle in the valley’s western ridge that promised an easier route. There’s a good place to get my vehicle off the road nearby and the gaping wound of the clear-cut is pleasantly hidden from view. During years of hiking, the allure of less accessible parts of the valley had kept the broad gully that forms the saddle hidden from my attention. The entire ridge is dominated by fairly mature second growth forest, with a scattering of oaks on the higher ground.

Two thirds of the way down the gully there is a grove of hemlocks along the north side. Near the bottom, where the gully narrows, springs break out of the ground and flow into a thicket of mountain laurel. Well-traveled deer trails converge here from all directions. A huge old white pine stands on a mound, rising island-like from of the middle of the laurel thicket. Following a deer trail, I pushed on through and emerged into an open area covered in teaberries and flanked by blueberry bushes, overlooking a meander in the creek. A red-tailed hawk flew out of a patch of blueberries ten yards away, circled overhead, caught the wind and soared down the valley. When the hawk disappeared from sight, I glanced down to find a shed antler at my feet.
A shiver of recognition, awe, reverence and affection swept through me, leaving in its wake the clear knowledge that a deer will fall to my arrow -- here in this place – in the coming fall, perhaps. I’ll know when the time is right.

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