“I use to worship in a church until I found out that everything around me was holy; waterfalls, stone, grass…all of the spirit. Now I worship everything, everywhere, in God’s glory.” ~Anonymous
I wish I could remember where it was that I heard this quote but nevertheless it was something that came to mind as I anticipated my first morning in the stand on home turf. I had to work on Friday, Alabama’s bow season opener. I was bummed but really excited for all of my Alabama hunting friends who were fortunate enough to be able to hunt. In celebration of the season opener, Richard and I toasted with our favorite treat…of course, his was Pepsi.
You can rest assured that within an hour of getting home on Friday afternoon we had Clyde loaded and Hank hooked up–we were headed to the woods “dark” and early Saturday morning. I had no problem drifting off to sleep as I went through the list in my head of what I needed to do as soon as my feet hit the floor at 4 a.m.
We were up and out the door this morning without a hitch and in the stand, settled with plenty of darkness to spare at 5:22 a.m. It was 44 degrees and was going to be a beautiful day with the highs in the 70s and a mild Northwest wind. Around 6:30 a.m. I heard a rustling to the right of us. At this point my heart started beating harder and I am pretty sure I got the chills. It only took a few seconds to realize that, by the sound of the rustling of the leaves, it was NOT a deer.
Within a few minutes a young raccoon came into sight about 15 yards from the base of our tree. What happened in the next 6 or 7 minutes was comical. The raccoon walked over to a tree that was about 10 feet from us and started up the tree. About half way up the tree he climbed onto a branch from an adjacent tree, which was the tree right next to us. All of the sudden it got real intense in our stand. This raccoon was on his way into our set up and I think Richard and I realized it at the same time. Richard actually grabbed a branch from the tree that the raccoon was headed up and shook it and tried to “shoo” the raccoon off….but he was still coming. The raccoon was about 3 feet from Richard’s stand platform and eye-level with me. Finally, the raccoon stopped climbing and just sat where the branch and trunk joined, stared at us a minute and just as non-nonchalantly as it came up, it went down. I have never had a wild raccoon come so close to me and was not afraid at all. We both got a chuckle out of it….I guess, after all, we really could have been in IT’S tree.
At 7:15 a.m. I heard something walking up on the ridge and shortly after we heard horns clacking together. A few minutes later, I saw a tail move. I was looking through the clearing and never even knew the buck was there, a seven point. He started rubbing on a low limb. All of the sudden there was a second buck, a spike, that walked up to the seven point then backed away. Another buck joined them. I never could tell anything about the third buck except that I got a glimpse of antlers. While our attention was on the ridge where we were getting glimpses through the thick cover of two bucks sparring and the spike rubbing on small tree trunks, a fourth buck came in; another spike. This fourth buck browsed on acorns just 13 yards from our stand before joining the others. This was an exciting start to our season.
At the end of our hunt we decided to walk over to a second stand that we set up several weeks ago to see at what stage the acorns were in. While we were looking for the perfect tree to put stands in I found the neatest trees. Looking up the ridge, the trees resembled the number 14…pretty cool. I have a crazy imagination sometimes and can even be creative, but I just love when I run across stuff like this in the woods.
Then on our hike back to Hank I saw a huge hole in the base of a tree and I instantly thought of Winnie the Pooh…LOL! Okay, maybe I was delirious…hungry…..or just tired. We finally got back to Hank the HuntVe and headed back to the house to grab some lunch and to go pull some camera cards.
We sat in a completely different stand for our afternoon hunt; looking over some mature pines along an edge of a field. We were more interested in patterning the deer coming into this field because of the many tracks that were going in and out of the field after it was plowed a week ago. The ground was chopped up with tracks, so many that you could not see the disk marks from the plow in the soil. We didn’t have any deer come in until after we were on the ground and headed back to Hank for the ride back home. The Winter crops will go in next week and everything will change with the pattern of those deer so we will revisit this stand a few times over the next 2 months and put cameras out.
Sitting in the stand this afternoon, looking over the beautiful scenery below as I watched the sun descend, there could be no other place at that particular moment that could have reminded me so vividly that life is truly good. Regardless if I am successful or not this season, if I reach goals I have made for myself or fail to succeed, or whatever hardships I have to face and learn from….it is my choice–Life is exactly what you make it.