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Author Topic: Counting The Days - by Ray Zesch  (Read 382 times)

Offline Terry_Green

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Counting The Days - by Ray Zesch
« on: June 07, 2003, 05:34:00 AM »
Counting The Days

by Ray Zesch

Does anyone else count the days? The year is really only divided into two parts hunting and getting ready for hunting. My wife is a very special person who supports my special kind of craziness. God bless her and all the other wives that put up with the likes of me.  Others only know that I count days and wonder what it is all about. As I look forward to this year in the woods I find myself reflecting on last year. I promise myself that I will not get “busted” near as often and when I do get a shot I will concentrate this time.  Really, I will! Past hunts play so clearly in our minds. The sky is bluer, the trees are greener, the flight of the arrow is always perfect, and the thump of the bow is always on perfect pitch. It is the bow hunter’s nature to be an optimist, we long for that one perfect hunt when it all went just right and we savor it over and over in our minds. Like a fine wine these memories only get better with age.

Clear, dry, and cool:  a day that allows the eye to see without hindrance and the body to move in comfort. Days like this exist in the Missouri woods. What drives the bow hunter?  The answer to this question is different for each of us. For many it is the beauty and solitude that can only be found in the woods. For others it is the challenge of the hunt, and for yet others it is something that cannot be put in words. It is the bow hunter’s nature to accept the odds that are largely in the games favor. In fact it is these odds that the bow hunter thrives on.

Last year my son Darren and I headed for a spot that I had been working for some time. I have been watching the movement of the deer for over a year in this area and have become an expert at seeing white flags running off the trails. The pines make a sweet smell in this spot and form a dark canopy with periodic patches of intense blue breaking through the tops.  The forest floor is a bed of pine needles vacant of brush, briers and other such growth that would encumber. I like the pinewoods. Movement is stealth from tree to tree. Signs of game are present with each step. The floor of the forest moves down to a small stream that seems to flows from some time past into the future.

My son and I shared opposite ends of the same deep pass in our tree stands. Darren likes to go high in the trees, I understand the advantage of this, but my age tells me to stay closer to the ground.  I have never been satisfied with the speed or the dexterity I seem to exhibit while getting up a tree, not sure God intended me to climb trees. Climbing is never as fast or quite as I would like. Something has to always clank, click, bank or clatter against something else, I am sure I am not alone with this frustration.  Then there is the same question on every hunt, how do I get to the tree I have picked. Do I just walk in as if I am the only one in the woods? Do I run in (the faster the better approach)? Do I still hunt my way in taking forever to get there? Do I go in while it is still dark? Please tell me! No matter, it seldom is the correct choice. I usually end up walking in after there is enough light to see, just before turkeys leave roost, making a few clucks with a mouth call along the way. I don’t especially recommend this, for sure it is no secret weapon, but you got to get there somehow.

From my tree stand the shadows on the forest floor hold secrets that tease the senses while bright sports of light hold nothing back. It is the shadows that draw us. It is the shadows that hold the secrets.  The scream of a hawk reminds me I not alone. Freedom. Today I have no desire to fly and soar like the hawk. The pines provide a sweet comfort and the wind whispers to me, it wants to tell me what is in the shadows.  A blur of gray moves through the shadows, then it is gone. My mind cannot comprehend what my eyes have seen. The shadows hold their secrets well.

One can only wonder who was here before and who will be here tomorrow? The morning wears on and the constant kee-kee and the occasional cluck of the turkey can be heard all over. Squirrels seem to know that on this day they are safe from my arrows, not that they ever pose a real threat anyway.  The rest of the morning was uneventful, at about eleven I came down from my stand and went to where my son was hunting. As you might expect a white flag was displayed as I approached my son.

The remainder of the season provided many more opportunities and one hunt I will never forget. As dusk approached no less than six deer started circling my stand. It was like a western movie, the wagons were circling and I was in the middle. Crazy! Yeah, the arrow was low, pick a spot, pick a spot, pick a spot,….. On another occasion two does came directly under me. I was temped to jump on and go for a ride, not really. No way could I come to a draw. Who said deer don’t look up? I wonder what this season will bring?

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