Sitting on the cold, damp floor of the woods, I listen. It starts with the “hoot, hoot” of the owls. Chatting back and forth, perhaps checking to see if everyone’s ready for bed. The scamper of feet, and rhythmic chewing draws my eyes into the grass. Scurrying past, an opossum returns home from his evening hunt. Soon, a pink glow appears in the east, the sun trying to break though the darkness. At first it’s slow to rise, taking it’s time, allowing the woods to slowly wake.
The birds are the first to rise. They begin flitting around from tree to tree, singing their sweet songs. As the sun rises higher in the sky, it’s rays skimming the tree tops, the squirrels awake from their deep slumber. The warmth of the sun’s rays convincing them it’s time to venture out. I’ve watched them play, a group of seven. They chase each other like a game of tag, usually jumping form tree to tree. Other times, when busy forging nuts, it’s every squirrel for himself. Staying very still, I see their faces and paws, covered in mud from scrounging on the dirt floor.
Did you know squirrels sometimes fall out of trees? First there is a thump, then, if you look fast enough, a startled squirrel scurries away from the scene. If it’s winter, a sure sign of this misfortune is the large scoop out of the snow near a tree, with squirrel tracks nearby.
Often I fall asleep. The soft breeze on my face has the same lulling affect as rocking in a rocking chair. It’s odd what wakes me. Sometimes it’s a sound, like when a woodpecker choses my tree to search for bugs. Other times it’s a feeling, like someone is watching me. As my eyes sleepily open, a buck comes into focus. Looking right at me, he stomps a few times, let’s out a snort, and casually walks away.
There are other animals in the woods, mice, turkey and chipmunks. However, there is one sight I doubt I will ever witness again. Sitting with my son Alex, we watched a beautiful red fox trot along the path below us. Sadly, soon after, a coyote came by, sniffing the ground, hot on its trail.
As the sun begins to set, the woods quiet down. Slowly, everything starts to turn grey. The trees which were once visible, disappear into the background. Eventually, it’s time to head back to the truck.
Is any of this familiar to you? If not, my guess is you’ve never been hunting. Unlike what many people believe, hunting is much more than the kill. It’s an experience with nature, where you have a front row seat to the movie,