Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stalking Deer & Doing Chores

With a belly full of oatmeal, the dogs settled, and a kitten scampering around at full throttle—I decided to change into a blaze orange hoodie and go for a walk in the woods. See, I have this hunch that a few large doe scamper along the sheep and horse fence every day, early while I am in the farmyard. I see their droppings, the natural trail trodden along the fence lines. I don't have a lot of land, but it is enough for a doe to trot through and hunting season is just days away. I was walking out this morning at dawn to see if I could sneak up on one.

The air was cold, the ground covered in frost-tipped mint. I was trying to be silent but a frosty fall morning is not the easiest time to not crunch through the woods. I walked out past the campfire area, past the logging trails for the horses, past the ancient apple trees covered in shadow...And then I started walking along the stone wall that marks the edge of my property. I had not seen a single hair of a deer and so wasn't paying attention and was mildly shocked at the loud barking scoff from just thirty yards ahead of me. A deer! A BIG deer! It let out that whiffled blast of air deer holler as a warning and was gone fast as it heckled me. It leaped away, all white tail and high head and I couldn't tell if it was a buck or a doe, but it was certainly large.

And large means meat. A lot of meat.

I can't hunt until November 17th when rifle season opens up. I have a bow and broad heads, but I didn't take the NYS bowhunters's safety course and so I wasn't allowed to buy that early hunting permit. I was disappointed, but even though I wasn't stalking with a bow in hand it was fine and exciting walk in the woods.

I returned to the farmhouse with cold feet, but high spirits. Seeing the deer on my land in a place I could get a clean shot meant there was a chance my freezer would not be lonely before the pigs are butchered. I just need a little hope, the tiniest possibility of future pleasure, to feel like the whole world is my oyster. I danced through chores, Gibson at my side. Together we got the animals fed, watered, and their pens and nests re-bedded if needed. I knew the day, and the night, would be cold so I just tried to offer as much comfort as possible.

The pigs snorted and squealed for their pig kibble, Merlin hollered for more hay (tough luck), and the goats nickered and lolled their heads in that freaky-excoristy goaty way with wide eyes unblinking. I gave Bonita a kiss on the nose and told her she was glowing. She was. I mean, I can't be certain her and Francis are pregnant but they sure seem like it. The chickens seemed to be already celebrating with an early baby shower by scuttling around the goat pen hoping for fallen bits of grain. The ladies are on a lighter ration and will be switched to just hay soon. As advised by fellow dairy goat owners, too much grain = too much kid. I don't need vets here helping pull giant goatlings out of anxious moms.

When the farm was fed. When the ice was busted out of the water throughs and clean water replaced them. When the dog's tongue was hanging down to his knees in happy exhaustion. When the gray sky grew the lightest it would be this snowy day.....I went inside to warm up and write. Gibson, was so reluctant to come inside from the farm life outside he actually backed up into the house, begging eyes the whole time locked on mine. We came inside and I asked for a hug and he leaped up, paws around my hips and pressed his head against my chest. Some people can't stand dogs that jump. I friggin' love it, look forward to it even. He got down, slinked off into the living room where the cat was now asleep again. And I headed to the office to work.

Snow Update: 1-3 inches tonight into tomorrow, starting late afternoon! But none so far!


Blogger Cathy said...

How wonderful that you saw a deer.
Wishing you great luck with getting one.
When a deer does's called "blow". A deer will blow at you, it's a sign they detect danger.
Blessings to you,

November 7, 2012 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Thanks Cathy!

November 7, 2012 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I am excited just hearing about the coming snow! Not so much of that here in MD (almost none last year), so I'll live vicariously through you.

November 7, 2012 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...

Good job! You know where they travel, get out a bit earlier and post up. And. . . wash your hunting gear in unscented soap and bag it up when its dry. You don't want to smell like dog or cat. If you are as close as 30 yards, you are playing in their living room. Make sure your scent is blowing away from them.

November 7, 2012 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Remember to use some kind of scent block. Hang your clothes outside. Wash them in scent block soap. They have an incredible sense of smell. Venison is a mighty fine meat done right. Talk to some older hunters. Make sure your rifle is sighted in properly. Good luck!!

November 7, 2012 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Good luck with that deer hunting. If you want I'll share my brothers venison sausage recipe with you - it is out of this world!


November 7, 2012 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Brenda London said...

you may want to pick up a does tag too. the meat from doe is more mild, better for roasts and steaks saving the bucks for soups, sausage, ground meat, meat pies.

November 7, 2012 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Mmm, tasty venison.

Also, according to the DEC website (I had to look up hunting season dates for somebody the other day), there is a second bow season after the regular season (if I read it right; they have the info in three places, differently worded all three times), so you might still have time to take the safety course in order to get the bow permit.

November 7, 2012 at 2:27 PM  
Blogger Eileen Hileman said...

I taught one of my welsh terrier to jump up in my arms (I'm 5'4") never dreaming that she would take down one of our male friends when she leaped and hit im square in the crotch. Needless to say - I encourage her only to perform her little leap with me now. Wish we were already settled in Washington County - here we get rain, rain and more rain - followed by more of the same.


November 7, 2012 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger Eileen Hileman said...

People on a neighboring farm have made pets of the local deer population. I was home alone sitting in my gazebo last spring, working away at my computer when I suddenly felt this warm breath on my neck. I froze. All sorts of crazy thoughts went through my mind especially when the warm breath was followed by a strange nibbling on my neck. I turned slowly in my seat (I could hear my heart in my ears I was so rattled) to see a large doe who had been nuzzling the tag sticking out of the back of my shirt. You know that feeling you get when the event is over but the adreniline is still shooting through your body? It took me a good half hour to calm down. I pity the deer as the hunters here will only have to stand still and hold out an apple to be able to take their shot. When I mentioned this to the people they seemed shocked to find out people here still hunt.
Go figure

November 7, 2012 at 3:17 PM  

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