Monday, January 2, 2012

The end and the beginning...

     Where does the time go? 2012 has wrestled '11 to the mat and it's over. Like everyone else, I can't believe how quickly this past year came and went and don't even get me started on how fast the holidays passed! I had just gotten used to writing 2011 on my checks! It's probably no surprise, but I decided to ring in part of my New Year's Day from my spot in the woods and since it just happened to coincide with the end of the 2011 late archery season, it seemed fitting.

     I had watched the gale force blow all day and the hopes of sitting in my evening stand were seeming slim to none. I ran some errands, killed some time,dozed off a bit and watched some television, hoping the wind would give me a break. Finally, about 3:30, the wind slowed just enough to convince me all was clear! I was wrong...

     I sneaked into my spot, the wind and damp woods covering any noise I made. Truth be told, the wind was blowing so hard and loud that I could've been wearing bells and nothing would have heard me coming! I tied myself in and leaned back for one last time this season. I could have picked a better stand for the evening watch. The steady wind was all but ruining any chances at seeing a deer. But, tonight's sit was more about being in the woods rather than bringing home venison. Like I knew it would, it was a time for lower blood pressure, for slumped shoulders, for relaxation and for reflection...I knew that tonight's hunt was more about catching up with myself.

     I started to think about the year past and all that came with it. The goods and the bads, the ups and downs and sometimes sideways...Mistakes made and lessons learned. The changes in my life and the direction I seem to be heading. The memories made and the opportunities missed. I started to think about the future...positive changes, resolutions! About the same time, a tufted titmouse was jumping from limb to limb just under my stand. I leaned forward to get a better look at the bird...and there it was, 5 yards away and closing fast! No, not a trophy buck or a fine doe, but a fat, orange and gray fox squirrel with my name written all over him. Ever since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by the little tree rats and I never pass up an opportunity to take one for the pot. Par-boiled, chicken fried with biscuits and gravy, please! To take one with a recurve or longbow is quite the feat in my book. Mr. Busytail climbed a sassafras sapling just a few yards away and commenced to eating some sort of seed. He presented a prefect target. The draw was smooth and the release crisp. The broadhead hit it's mark and the squirrel was instantly and permanently silenced and would be heading to my freezer. 

     I leaned back once again and wiggled myself into the seat against the constant hurricane force. I put my feet out in front of me and pulled my hat down low over my eyes to block the low hanging January sun. Minus the wind, I couldn't have been more comfortable in my easy chair at home. After rewinding the squirrel episode over in my head a few times, my mind floated back into sentimental mode and this past deer season's memories. To opening day when Drew and I saw 15 different deer and had action all morning long. To the coyotes we both missed at an un-missable range! I mean how can I zip and arrow through a squirrel sized target and miss a 'yote at the same distance!?!? To a beautiful 9 point buck that gave me the worst case of buck fever, ever and the subsequent missed shot. To the phone call I received while in another treestand from Drew, excitedly telling me how he had just shot a mature doe with his recurve and watched her fall within site of his stand! To my own deer that I took this year and all the emotions that went along with those hunts. To the privilege of seeing a bobcat sneak through my woods. To sharing this very treestand with Olivia and her making the mature decision to pass shots on a couple of yearling deer in order to let them grow and mature themselves. To the dozens of other memories that have been made out here among the trees. Yeah, I'll miss 2011.

     The sun has fallen from it's spot and shooting light is gone. I collect my squirrel and walk out for one last time. As I fight the wind and make my way across the cornfield and look at the oranges and pinks left in the sky behind the fast moving clouds, I know my deer woods will soon be locked in the cold, icy grip of deep winter. I brush off a shiver and quicken my step to the truck and mentally whisper a goodbye and an "I'll be back" all at the same time...