Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Beautiful Frustration

I have been hunting deer since I moved here to Jackson, and with more intensity every year. The first year I simply bought my hunting license and planned on joining friends at Orvis for the occasional pheasant or duck hunt with friends. I just had the deer tags that came with it, and when I mentioned to my father I would give deer hunting a try he gave me his trusty 308 Winchester, and I walked in the woods with it a bit, never really giving it much of a try. But every year I tried a little harder. I asked farms with more land if I could hunt their land. I got books, watched videos, talked with hunters all over Washington County. Now, my fourth winter at the farm and I am out there every morning and night and watching the woods like a hawk from the farmhouse in the hours in-between. I'm a full time homesteader now and that doe or buck out there that could be in my freezer is more than some bragging rights - it's pounds and pounds of food in the freezer. It's money saved. It's free-range, wonderful, happy and healthy meat on the hoof and I have permission to take two deer this year (have a DMP tag and a regular season tag) and still have not taken a single white tail.

This morning I thought that all would change. I spend yesterday afternoon with the woman who now runs Maurice Sendak's old farm. She's a friend of a friend and recently attended the Wool Workshop I noted here last weekend. She gave me permission to hunt there, 160 acres only one other person is hunting! Hoo! SO I got up early this morning, let out the dogs, and grabbed my gear for the truck and wouldn't you know it? Flat tire. And I don't mean a low tire, I mean comically flat. There's a spare under the bed of the pickup but (and I am embarrassed to share this, but what the hell) I have never changed a tire. I understand how to, have watched it being done, but have never done it. I also don't have the jack or wrenches to do it, and the truck supposedly came with one but its not there anymore. So I let out a defeated sigh. The wild things will remain where the wild things are...

So I shrugged and figured I would hunt here. I headed into the woods where I had tracked deer last night, loving every second of being out in the forest at night. I had no gun, just the half light of the half moon and followed their heart-shaped hooves across stream and drift. I found where they slept the night before, found frozen (but fresh!) droppings and listened to the barred owls in the distance. This morning I didn't see any deer until I stopped walking and sat still in my little outhouse pop up blind facing the farthest pasture and hillside woods. Then I watched three does run across the forest and up over a rise before I even had a chance to lift my rifle. I waited for an hour for them to maybe come back to my line of sight but they didn't. And so I decided to head indoors, the hours before and long after sunrise gone and I had a house to heat, work to do, a tire to figure out, feed to order, and a house to clean before Game Night tonight. I would try around dusk and watch the woods some more. When the tire is fixed I'll return to the Sendak Estate and hope the deer there move slower or I get wildly lucky.

So far this experience with rifle season has been a beautiful frustration. It's such an act of hope, luck, an timing - this hunting thing. I have collected better gear, better aim, and better understanding of the woodcraft and skills of the hunt - but have not taken a deer yet. There's another week and I hope to get lucky, but even if I don't I only have even more fuel and excitement for next year's hunt. Or perhaps I'll spend a few more bucks and try muzzleloader season into Yuletide. Some friends have offered to teach me how to use modern black powder rifles and others even offered to loan me theirs. Folks with deer in the freezer already, of course. And I would do the same for them.

So this is why the blog and vlogs have been thin. I am out on the hunt. Out where the deer are flying and laughing and hope shines as bright as the half moon on cold creek water. That last sentence is good enough for me to try another year.


Blogger Holly said...

My brother hunts here in Illinois and deer have been sparse where he hunts. Some have been affected by blue tongue disease. However, he is getting alot of ducks this season. Keep going out and honing those skills. I grew up with a Dad who was marksman level hunter and never took the opportunity to learn from him. Now, my brother soaked it up like a sponge and traps, hunts, fishes like a pro. And does it with a thankfulness to the animals for what they provide to his larder and home. Just as you will too.

November 30, 2014 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Robin Follette said...

I finally shot my first deer this year after seven years of hunting. What an experience! I hunt with a .308, too. I've been raising meat birds and animals for 15+ years and that's a good feeling. Putting meat on the table through hunting is another great but different feeling.

November 30, 2014 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger East Fork Farm said...

For the sake of sustainable organic farming practices and outdoor adventure… Please consider sharing our venture with your followers? Here is our campaign page and a recent article in Blue Ridge Outdoors… We would greatly appreciate it!

November 30, 2014 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger East Fork Farm said...

For the sake of sustainable organic farming practices and outdoor adventure… Please consider sharing our venture with your followers? Here is our campaign page and a recent article in Blue Ridge Outdoors… We would greatly appreciate it!

November 30, 2014 at 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

omg....Maurice Sendak? THE Maurice Sendak?? Where the Wild Things Are is one of my favorite books. I used to read it to Joe when he was little and used all kinds of voices and motions. I'm seriously jealous.

November 30, 2014 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...

No deer so far for me this year....too much snow where I was in the UP. Boo.

You will enjoy a muzzleloader Jenna. I use one when I am in "rifle" season downstate....or shotgun territory. (Slugs are nasty and not really accurate IMHO). 90 grains is plenty, no need for 150 grains....your friends will explain that to you.

My original one is sitting here in the corner of the closet, all scoped up and everything....if you lived a bit closer, oh well.

Anyway should you think about purchasing one in the future....don't be afraid to look at those inexpensive ones ...a couple hundred...they work just fine.

I think muzzleload hunting is just one step "newer" than bow hunting. This will be right up your alley!

November 30, 2014 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Bex said...

I'm hoping to start hunting white tail next September. I have a trail cam coming that I got online to give me an idea of what kind of traffic to expect. I'm nervous and excited at the idea. Hope you'll get your deer soon.

November 30, 2014 at 9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I first learned to drive, circa 1971, my father made me change a tire in the driveway before he'd let me use the car by myself. Practical man, my dad. I've had to do it a few times "for real" over the years. A good skill to have.

December 1, 2014 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Ginny said...

Hope you got your tire fixed without too much trouble.
You might want to say a bit of a prayer and ask for a deer to honor your table. I am a believer that we are all connected and by putting it out there it will manifest.

December 10, 2014 at 7:42 PM  

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