Celebrating the Arrival of Autumn
I decided to celebrate the arrival of Autumn 2013 by going squirrel hunting on September 22nd. It would be my first time out this year hunting for squirrels. I got up at 5:15 AM. I like to get up early, relax and take my time before heading out to the woods. I drank a cup of coffee, ate a bowl of cereal, checked the news headlines and weather forecast, and then headed downstairs to my hunting room to get dressed. I left the house at 6:45 and almost immediately saw three does feeding in a grassy area just off the road; drove about a quarter mile more and saw another doe. I thought to myself, I’ve had a great morning already!
When I arrived at the spot I was going to park my truck, it was 52 degrees, overcast, and a bit of fog here and there. As I was walking the trail to where I wanted to hunt, water on the leaves of the trees from the previousday’s rain was dripping onto the ground. I could hear various species of birds chirping in the background. With a splash of yellow on some leaves, the trees had already welcomed the arrival of Autumn.
As I was nearing the spot where I was going to move off of the trail and into the woods, the familiar sound of a barking squirrel tickled my ears. I snuck into the woods and began my stalk. I was on a steep incline when I saw the squirrel moving down the tree; too much foliage to get a good shot. The squirrel hit the ground and started moving from my left to my right…about 20 – 25 yards away. When the squirrel reached an area devoid of foliage, I could not shoot because I could not get my body repositioned due to the steep and slippery incline. Oh well. Not the first squirrel I didn’t get a shot at and certainly won’t be the last.
I continued my trek until I reached an area filled with mature oaks intermixed with a few hickories. I slowly still hunted the area. No squirrels but I did have a pair of wrens serenade me and I did see a mature doe.
After a couple of hours I headed back up the hill towards the trail. I wanted to get home to do some chores. I got about two thirds of the way up and stopped for a drink of water. I took my water bottle out of my backpack and took a drink. With the mature trees well below me and surrounded by mostly scrub brush and green briar, I figured this would be a good time to blow my nose. For the past week I have been fighting with my sinuses. I leaned my head down a little and cleaned out the nasal passages. When I lifted myhead, there was a squirrel not 10 yards away. I had to chuckle to myself. Maybe I just created a new squirrel call. I raised my Winchester Model 12 20-gauge and fired; my first squirrel of the season.
As I was walking back to my truck, I realized hunting was like riding my motorcycle… both very Zen-like. When I am riding, my mind is crystal clear,thinking of nothing but being in control of my bike. Hunting is very similar. My mind is clear, with my eyes concentrating and searching for any slight movement; and my ears on high alert for any sound that would indicate a nearby squirrel. Both provide the opportunity to forget about any problems, concerns or worries.
I had a wonderful morning celebrating the arrival of Autumn.
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