Anyone that has spent much time in the woods has had memorable experiences. Sometimes it can be the antics of animals, and sometimes it can be the weather or other unusual circumstances. I thought I would share a few of mine.
The first occurred during a late season muzzleloading excursion. We were hunting in Lairs Run and had split up to go our separate ways. I was walking into a hollow we called “the bowl”. Many years previously I had tagged a 6-point buck near the top of the same hollow. It was the first buck bigger than a spike that I had ever killed.
As I was slowly still hunting up the hollow, I could hear quite a racket going on up ahead. I was fairly certain it was being made by squirrels but it was so loud I couldn’t be sure. I had been fooled before, so I carefully moved forward until my suspicion was confirmed.
There was a half dozen, or maybe more, young squirrels chasing each other around a dead pine tree. The tree had broken off about half way up and it had knot holes where the limbs had once been.
I’m sure you have seen squirrels chasing each other through the woods, but this was utter chaos. For the longest time I couldn’t help but watch as different combinations and numbers of squirrels chased through the leaves and spiraled up and down the dead pine tree. With the leaves crashing and claws scratching the loose bark on the hollow tree, it made quite a noise in the normally quiet woods.
My most memorable moment was when after a particularly raucous display, they reached the top of the hollow tree and stopped with a squirrel head looking out every knot hole. It looked like a squirrel hotel. I guess you had to be there but it is something that has stuck in my mind throughout the years.
My second memory is more about the elements than about animals. I was hunting high in the head of Straight Hollow just under the top of the big mountain.
I have always had it in my head that the rougher the terrain the bigger the buck (or more likely the dumber the hunter). If terrain is a factor, there should have been a whopper of a buck nearby!
Regardless of my thought process, when I got to the head of the hollow everything was covered in ice. I can’t remember if there was a freezing rain the night before, or if a thick fog had settled in and coated everything.
It’s hard to maneuver on a steep rocky slope when everything is ice covered but I finally found a reasonably dry place to sit and got as comfortable as possible for the morning hunt. It was cold!
I had been sitting an hour or two when I slowly began to notice a noise in the background. It was below me and seemed distant but still a continuous rustling sound. Was it the wind? Rain? There were no branches moving or any indication of rain shower?
I was more puzzled than concerned, but it was gradually getting much closer and quite loud! What kind of invisible force was headed my way?
After a while I finally figured out what was happening. Temperatures lower on the mountain had risen above freezing. As the morning progressed the warmertemperatures were slowly moving up the mountain melting the ice. The dripping water was making an unusually loud steady noise in the quiet of the morning.
I never saw a deer but will never forget the experience.
Again, I guess you would have had to be there! But then…maybe you have been!