Last Saturday was not so bad. It was cold but sunny and pleasant. I like the colder weather much better than hot weather. I can dress for the cold. I have an insulated set of camouflaged coveralls, a camouflaged scarf that my wife, Ginger, knitted, gloves and several pullover wool toboggan hats. If I need more - I have several heavy coats. An Eskimo would be impressed with my wardrobe.
The woods were beautiful last Saturday. The hardwoods have dropped all their leaves and are open and airy. I have a stand on the upper end of my property in a grove of big hardwoods. We call the stand "the spillway stand" as it is near the flash-board riser that I use to control the water levels, when the land floods.
Recent rains have flooded a portion of the woods but not enough yet for the ducks. They will come when the water levels rise and put water out under the oaks that ring the wooded pocosin. I had not sat in the spillway stand all year, and I had not signed it out this day, but I would pass nearby on my way to the pines.
No one else was at the land, and I couldn't resist the temptation to walk in there and take a look at the view from the spillway stand.
From the elevated seat, I could see the water shimmering out in the timber. The glow of the afternoon sun streaked through the gray branches of the hardwoods and bathed the carpet of brown leaves on the forest floor. I lingered, unable to turn away so soon, but the pines were calling.
The "pine stand" could be re-named "the buck stand" as we have seen more bucks there than does. The bucks that we saw were all yearlings and safe from us. They ignored our scent if the wind swirled and never looked up at the stand. If any survive the gauntlet of local poachers we will be in good shape to collect one next year.
The grove of pines is beautiful in its own right. These big loblollies are scattered along the western side of the low ground. There is an understory of sassafras, holly and dogwoods. A big cut-over lies just to the west. Game trails wind through the pines toward the hardwoods and beyond.
When I climbed into the stand there was probably an hour and a half of daylight left. I have a corn pile and a mineral rock in an open shooting lane, straight out in front of the stand, at about 70 yards. But most of the deer approach the area from the left, so my attention was focused more toward that direction.
Off in the distance I could hear traffic and dogs barking, but those sounds were faint and not bothersome. Out to my front the squirrels were putting on a show at the corn pile. I had to divide my time and attention between the frolicking squirrels and the open piney woods to my left.
Movement off in the distance caught my attention. A deer was walking out of the cut-over into the pines. Even with the binoculars I couldn't see it good enough, and it vanished into the timber. I knew from past hunts that this deer would probably make an arc through the pines and move into the hardwoods behind me, so I kept an eye out in that direction.
Sure enough, I had a premonition and turned to see a deer walking into the timber behind me. The binoculars showed me that it was a small buck. Then more movement caught my attention. Another deer was trailing along behind the little buck. It was a big doe, and right behind her was a smaller doe. I was delighted to see these deer and had no intention to shoot any of them. Just seeing them out here in the wild was enough. They lingered at the edge of the hardwoods, and I twisted around in the stand a little so that I could see them better.
They never knew that I was in their world, and eventually they wandered on into the woods that swallowed up their silent forms. I turned back in the stand and turned up my collar. It was getting cold. This would be my last hunt of the season, and I was more than satisfied.
I will probably move this stand before next year to get it on that arc that the deer are walking to get to the hardwoods. I think it will be a good enough trail that I won't need a corn pile, but maybe I'll put some out for the squirrels.
I got down and walked back to the truck in the fading light. The huge lopsided moon was just peeping over the eastern treetops at the frosty air settling in over the land.
Reach Dan Geddings at email@example.com.