If you are a serious hunter, you have likely spent a lot of hours in the woods before daylight. An unexpected or unusual noise can be spooky, especially if you are hunting alone. I thought I would share a few times that the hair has stood up on the back of my neck.
On one cool, unusually quiet, early spring morning, I was out listening for turkeys on Leading Ridge. I could hear turkeys nearby, as well as on Gate Mountain and up through Dull Hunt Hollow. You never know where a turkey may choose to roost. I had a good spot where I could sit with my back against a small pine tree at the edge of a slight depression. The depression always contained water and was like a tiny pond.
In the dead silence, just as daylight was beginning to break and
I was concentrating to hear a gobbler make his presence known, I sensed movement close behind me, which immediately set me on edge. This was followed simultaneously by the loudest, shrillest croak from the water not two feet away! I almost wet my britches! The frog sounded like an air horn in the quiet of the morning. It wasn’t long until a frog chorus made it nearly impossible to hear a turkey.
Another time I was turkey hunting on Gate Mountain. Again, the morning was quiet and still. It was dark and just breaking daylight. The time immediately before birds and critters begin to stir. I was concentrating on hearing that first gobble, when just a few yards away in the tree above me came the weirdest sound I have ever heard. I can’t even describe it. Kind of a wail, skreich, moan, that in the quiet was even louder than the wail, skreich and moan that involuntarily came from me. It was an owl sitting on a branch above me. I don’t know if it was dying or mating! Didn’t sound like a hoot to me!
I had a similar incident a few years ago with an owl while walking in the woods before daylight during black powder season. This time the unusual noise began at a distance and kept getting closer. I decided it was a pack of coyotes headed my way. I had my gun locked and loaded when I finally saw an owl flying from limb to limb toward me in the twilight. Owls make weird noises!
One last incident. Toward the end of my stay at ETSU, a friend and I decided to take a road trip to Florida. We camped at random sites depending on where we were at the end of the day. One night we camped at a campground, I think, near Ocala, Florida. No tent, just a campfire and sleeping bags. Maybe not a good idea while in an alligator and snake paradise.
Late in the dark night we were awakened by a very loud noise in the tree canopy above us. It sounded like the death shriek of an unidentified creature. Immediately after that, a body came crashing down through the foliage and landed a short distance away with a loud thud! By then I was wide awake! What the heck was that!!
Whatever it was had legs because we could hear it noisily race away through the undergrowth. Thank goodness it ran away in the darkness and not toward our meager camp. Needless to say, we built up the fire, found makeshift weapons, and stood watch until daylight.
These incidents are funny now but not so much in the moment. So, what’s your story?