Wednesday, January 29, 2014

When you know you shouldn't...

Every experienced outdoors man has these days.  They are the days you cannot wait to get into the woods;  to get out there, to start the pursuit, all with high hopes of catching up to your quarry.  The problem is everything tells you that the time is not right, you have the feeling that somehow  the universe has conspired on a grand level to create the most imperfect of hunting conditions.  Still you resist the tell tales signs that you should not be in the field that day.  You will even create explanations or mental excuses to dismiss the improper conditions.  “the weather report doesn't look THAT bad.”  “I can easily make it back in time for THAT all important family commitment.”  “I have called in winds THAT strong before.”   “ THAT work will still be there tomorrow.”  Just as some people make excuses to get out of work or even  sometimes play, I make rationalizations to go hunting.  Similar to how a gambler tries to convince themselves they can really win next time.   Do not get me wrong there are most certainly times when it is all important to buck the odds and head for the hills.  I have some very found hunting memories in absolute horrible conditions and I have some very exciting hunts when I should have been somewhere else.  Work will still be there tomorrow and no one ever inscribes their tombstone with the epitaph, “I wish I spent more time at work.”  I do have a loving family and an awesome wife who understands my obsession.  Simply put thought there are some days when you know you shouldn't go and you are probably correct in making the right choice to stay home and divert your hunting attention in a more profitable direction, or save the family “passes” for another day.   I had one of these days recently, it was last Friday to be exact.  

The snow had fallen over night between the transition of Wednesday and Thursday, leaving about 3 inches of fresh powder.  It was the prefect tracking snow and the anemometer showed the wind was at a steady 1 MPH in the nearby mountains.  I wanted to suit up, grab the rifle and spend the day looking for feline tracks, but the reality was that I was needed at the place called work, and due there at 0700.  During the workday I watched the weather websites and noted a strong wind was in the forecast for mountains to following day, clue number one.   I also enjoyed the plentiful sunshine but dreaded the knowledge that it would melt any south facing mountain slope free of the precious tracking medium of snow, need I say clue two?  As I finished the work day I counted my work hours for the week and saw I was 3 hours short of my  required forty hour week.  I have worked some long weeks recently and knew I had plenty of leave time to use, work could most certainly wait.  The hunt was on and prepped for it after returning home during which I  noticed that I was feeling a little ill.  Lets face it, I knew I shouldn't go, I knew that Friday would be best spent recuperating, or finishing the work week.  However sometimes you must go just to find out what you already know.

Friday I was on the mountain roads early, very early.  I had woken up feeling even worse but put my feet on the floor and head out the door, skipping most of breakfast due to a queasy stomach.  It was still dark when I entered my tracking area and had to drive with one hand out the window holding a flashlight to properly see any tracks.  The problem was there wasn't any.  The wind had increased over night and was blowing snow everywhere.  Sheets of the swirling flakes flowed down the road in front of my ancient Dodge.  At times the clouds of blowing snow caught me and passed by the truck with the eagerness of an impatient commuter.  As the day dawned and I could see further I noted all of the south facing slopes were barren of snow, unfortunately the wind and the sun had worked their magic  previous day.  I spent the rest of the morning hours driving the roads in hopes of finding tracks as I knew the animal would only be minutes ahead of me.   I did cross a set coyotes tracks that were very fresh, but a call stand produced nothing beyond a few crows.  I blame the winds for drowning out the call sound.  I had to complete and experiment if only to increase the knowledge of my tracking library.  I walked down the road and left a set of clean tracks in the road.  I then observed the tracks and saw that it took the wind and blowing snow only 11 minutes to completely erase any sign of my passing. 

The morning faded to noon and I found myself feeling worse and I had take several breaks from hunting to well as the old cliche goes see a man about a horse.  Evidently something I eat the day before was the culprit for my sickness.  With the illness, the winds, and no tracks to be found what does a hunter do?  Well he tries his hand at making his first instructional video.  Below is a video I filmed on Friday about how to hand call with distress.  I tried four different times to film it correctly and in the end created a decent product despite the windy conditions.   My head/neck gaiter made an excellent wind shroud for the camera microphone.   I am sure I was an interesting sight, if there was anyone there to see.  One man, a camera on a tripod, and repeated takes of the same ad lib speech about hand calling.   I hope you enjoy or at least are able to get a laugh at my expense out of it.  The result is even when you know you shouldn't, still go, you never know what will happen.   I will leave you with one of my all-time favorite quotes by Theodore Roosevelt, oddly another voracious outdoors man and hunter.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” –Theodore Roosevelt

1 comment:

  1. Thanks!! I'm going to have to try some new calling with my goose call. It was instructive and illustrative. Made my day!!