Monday, September 6, 2010

Back From A Day In The Forest
Saturday was a long, but incredibly fun-filled day. Sure, hiking up steep hills, putting up treestands in 90+ degree weather and sitting out in the hot sun glassing for three hours may not be everyone's cup-of-tea, but I loved it.

I left my house at 3:30am to be sure I got to my glassing spot before sun-up. Got there at 5:30am and was able to get geared up just as the sun was peeking over the mountains. I hiked down the road and then up a steep hill to find a spot to glass from. Found a great spot, set-up and started glassing. Not sure how many people know this, but I use my bino's on a tripod. Why? There are two reasons. The first is because you can use both eyes together instead of one. The second is that you can't detect a lot of movement by using binoculars that are just hand-held. By utilizing a tripod you can catch that ear flicker or slight movement in the grass. Anyway, I sat up there for three hours and saw a young jack rabbit and nothing else. By 10am I was roasting and made my way down to my car and met up with my hunting buddy Don.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a banana and a Rockstar made for a nutritious breakfast as Don and I discussed our plans for hanging his stand. We decided that we would head down the opposite side of the wash where my stand was located. After a short hike, we found a great spot. There were multiple sets of bear tracks, scat and a trail wide enough to easily walk through. We spent a lot of time clearing brush, opening up a spot on the tree and taking water breaks. It was hot and involved a lot of hard work, but it was worth it. We finished a while later and began the slow, uphill hike back to the cars for lunch.

The area we hiked through was incredibly beautiful. There were manzanita bushes that were completely dry from lack of water, blue sky, and peace and quiet. Beauty was soon forgotten as I finished off my 2 liters of water about 100 yards from the vehicles. I had another liters on ice and that was fantastic. We both got in our respective vehicles to eat lunch. It didn't take long for me to drink another liter of water, down a sandwich and decide it was time for some shut-eye. I was beat. I checked my watch and knew we had about 2 hours before we needed to be back in the stands. So, I reclined my seat and drifted off for an hour. It was heaven! Once I woke up and changed into my clean camo,  I walked over to see if Don was awake yet. We were on the same page as he had woken up at about the same time and was getting his things together as well.

We both hiked in together and split up at the wash head. We had a short hike to our stands, but when I got to mine I was a bit unnerved. When we put our stands up last week our trees were smooth except for bored holes by woodpeckers. Within the past week a couple of bears decided they were going to use the trees at a scratching post. Was that the unnerving part? Nope! What was unnerving was the fact that they had climbed up to investigate the stands and THEN went up another 8 feet. There were claw marks all over from at least one, if not two young bears. (I had seen small tracks on the way in to my stand, too). That was the part that had me on edge. Don't get me wrong or think me a naive fool. I know that there are plenty of mama bears with cubs. I just don't want to run into them in such a small area! So, for two hours I sat with my eyes picking up every little movement until dark. When a covey of mountain quail peeked out from under my stand I was jumpy, but excited. They were beautiful! I had seen them from a ways off before, but these guys were at 7 yards and peeping away with gusto. Once darkness fell I was packed up and out of the tree.

I highlighted this paragraph because I get my balls busted all of the time for having gadgets, extra gear and being a 35 year-old Boy Scout. Keep busting away people because this next part might make you think twice. Before I left my house I had put new batteries in my flashlight and headlamp. I tested both out and they worked to perfection. When I got my headlamp out of my pack and turned it on my heart sank. It came on and then died. (I had placed a piece of duct tape over the switch to keep it from turning on in my pack). One of the connections wasn't doing its job and I was without a headlamp. @#%^!!! At first I got pissed and then acutely aware of my surroundings. My backup flashlight turned on at first click and made me very happy. It meant I didn't have an extra hand free, but now I could see the trail and if any bear stood in my path. Thank God! I said a quick prayer and made my way to the trail head. It didn't take me long as I talked loudly and flashed the light around as I felt my adrenaline level rise with each step. I met up with Don and we both briskly walked to our vehicles. Neither one of us had seen anything, but it was a great day none-the-less.

Each day I can be out hunting in the forest with friends is a great day for me. I don't measure hunting success by killing an animal every time I go out. I measure hunting success by the different things that I learn, the memories I make with friends and the stories I can tell. It'll be a couple of weeks before I can make it out there again, but you can bet I'll be ready!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your day with us!... I love your detailed descriptions that make you feel, hear and smell! I'm glad you enjoy watching and listening to little things like the quail... sometimes I get teased for taking video footage of squirrels and birds... but to me these are all part of the reasons I enjoy hunting... also glad you shared your experience with the flashlight failing... I haven't carried a spare in my pack before but i think I'll do so from now on!I can't imagine how unnerving it would have been to hike out in the dark knowing there was possibly a Mamma bear in the vicinity!Look forward to hearing how the rest of your bear hunt unfolds!