Archive for November, 2011

Deer Huntin’ With Papa

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Watchin' the woods . . .

Watchin' back . . .

DEER HUNTIN’ WITH PAPA

“Where are the deer, Papa? Maybe we should go another place if there aren’t any deer here.”

When you’re 7, and have been sitting in a deer blind for at least half an hour, patience may not be one of your strongest traits.

“How about if I walk over the hill to where my Dad is? Maybe the deer are there.

“Can we have a snack?
I brought some granola bars.”

Food may help pass the time, of course.  And there’s seldom a shortage of amazing things to see.

“Squirrel!  Look, he’s coming down that tree. See it, Papa?

“I thought I saw a bald eagle . . . And there’s a blue jay! There it goes.

“I heard another bird. Was it a woodpecker?

“Can I look through the binoculars?  The trees look wiggly.  Maybe the deer are coming!  Or is it just the wind?

“I don’t think the deer will come.  Can we go back to the house now?”

Maybe we’ve reached the limit of the attention . . .

“DEER!  Papa, look! Down in the trees? Can you shoot it?

“There’s more. They’re running up the hill in the grass.  There’s a BUNCH!  Are they close enough?  Are you going to shoot at them?

“Here come some more.  See them across the ditch?

“Tell me when you’re going to shoot and I’ll put my fingers in my ears.”

BANG!

“You got it, Papa! You got it!

“Hey! Here come some more. Look!”

BANG!

“Did you get it, Papa?  Where’d it go?”

Good question! Where DID that deer go? Time to take a closer look . . .

“Here’s some blood, Papa!  I’ll follow the blood . . .

“Papa, I found the deer! Here’s the deer! You got it, Papa.

“It’s still warm.  It’s ears are so soft. And it’s hair is so smooth.”

Together, we admire the whitetail.  But shooting the animal is one thing.  Now for the next step. Field dressing might not be so pretty . . . Still, the questions continue:

“Is that its stomach?  It’s nose is shiny.  Why are its eyes still open?  It has a lot of guts!  Will the coyotes eat them?”

Finally, the excitement begins to wane, temporarily, with the more mundane task of loading the big doe into the truck for the short trip back to the house – where it’s time to tell the story all over again!

“I saw the deer for Papa, and I followed the blood trail.  We got two deer!”

Then, after an early supper of – what else?! – chili made from last year’s venison, it’s almost time for bed.  But what’s that noise?

“Coyotes!  Are they eating our deer guts?”

“Can we go hunting tomorrow, Papa?”

November . . .

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Gray-brown November . . .

The season is changin' . . .

Fueling up!

We started this month with a balmy stroll in the woods, where lingering bronze oak leaves glowed in the warm sun.

A day or two later, bluebirds serenaded us as we worked up a sweat while cleaning the dead tomato vines off the garden.

At night, a few katydids continued to sing, albeit v-e-r-y slowly.

Frosty nights gilded fallen leaves and left a skim of ice on the birdbath – yet some afternoons turned shirtsleeve warm.

We savored the subtle browns, tans, grays, and golds of the leafless walnut trees, prairie grasses, and dried flower heads. A couple of yellow goldenrods and purple asters hid in the now-dormant warm season grasses. The sunny afternoon even presented an ideal time to mow the ski trails . . .

A flock of snow geese drifted southward above the valley, their plaintive calls perhaps predicting a more dramatic seasonal transition.

The cool drizzle that greeted us the next morning also foretold the change. A flock of wild turkeys left the dripping woods to brave the gentle rain in a hayfield on an open hilltop. Sluggish earthworms wriggled across the damp driveway.

Four bald eagles – oblivious to the weather – screeched and cackled as they soared and sparred over the river bluff. And the moisture only enhanced the beauty of the autumn woods and prairies.

But as dawn broke the following day, we realized that, yes, this is still Iowa in November. Wet snow, whipped by whistling winds, bent the bluestem and Indiangrass, frosted the tree branches, and obscured the horizon. The radio told urgently of power outages, school closings, and hazardous roads.

Goldfinches, titmice, chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, and downy woodpeckers crowded onto the feeder for sunflower seed snacks.

Still, the calendar claims there’s another month of Autumn – as fickle and variable as it may be. We look forward to more sunshine, as well as the gray days. We anticipate siskins, rough-legs, and other visitors from the north, as we bid farewell to the slow-to-leave robins.

As winter approaches, we’re glad to have a barn full of dry firewood and shelves of homemade soup in the pantry. Let it snow – but not too much or too soon!