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Glasilo Magazine Excerpt:
October 1, 2004: The First Day of Bow Season

by Frank Brence

This article was published in the November / December 2004 issue of
Glasilo Magazine. Our magazine helps build community. We value your support.

Finally, the first day of bow-hunting deer season arrived. I was on the tree stand just before sunrise. Light frost was on the ground. As the sunís rays reached the tops of the trees the frost quickly changed to shining droplets of water, giving the appearance of bright diamonds at the end of every leaf. Here and there you could see the intricate design of spidersí work against the backlight of the sun. As the sun grew stronger, wisps of steam rose from among the pine trees to the left of me. The promise of a beautiful day was unfolding.

I made myself comfortable on a newly repaired tree stand. It stood a very sturdy and safe 15 feet off of the ground. To the south of it lay a 10 acre field bordered by scotch pine trees on two sides, a hardwood grove on the west side and mixed bush on the north side. I soon became aware of the noise of the awakening world around me. To the north the sound of traffic increased with people rushing to their daily work. To the left, heavy machinery began working in the gravel pit. These are the sounds of everyday life, but they were somehow amplified as I strained to hear any deer sounds in the forest.

A movement in the shadow attracted my attention. What was it, I thought? It was too small to be a deer. It was a wolf hunting for his breakfast. I had seen coyotes before, but this was definitely not one of them. He was the size of a German Sheppard dog with a reddish tinge at the back of his ears, a very bushy tail and dark coloured coat. Walking slowly, listening and smelling the air in all directions, he was moving westward across the field. At one point I saw him pounce on something, then jump up and down keeping his front feet rigid and throwing the object into the air, again chasing it along the ground. I think he caught a field mouse or a mole, a small reward for his work.

As I watched this drama unfold I saw a deer, on the west side of the field, looking toward the wolf. Two more deer appeared behind the first one. They were grazing and moving slowly northward. If I had been in the other stand, which I built last year, they would have passed right beneath me. Another moving object trotted north to south just below where the deer were. Its distinct gait told me it was a coyote. All this happened within one and a half hours. The walkytalky crackled and my son Frank reported seeing 5 turkeys. At this point we agreed to leave our stands at 9:30am.

The afternoon hunt was another adventure. Frank returned home to take care of some things and so I was alone on this hunt. By 4:30 p.m. I was on the same stand that my son was on in the morning. The temperature had risen and become quite pleasant. The wind was gusting from the northwest and the noise from the leaves was very loud. It was difficult to pick up any sounds that would indicate the movement of deer in the neighbourhood. As I strained my ears to hear any such sounds, wild turkeys suddenly emerged from the forest. Slow and cautious, they followed what appeared to be the lead hen. Twenty of them walked under my stand. This was the first year we had see a lot of turkeys in the area. I have found many feathers during the summer months and tracked them across the sand, though I know very little about turkey hunting, their habits or their life cycle. I knew that they were not in season at this time, even though Thanksgiving was only ten days away.

One hour later, a distinct sound of breaking branches brought me to readiness. I know this sound, be ready, I thought to myself. Soon, a doe stepped into my view. It was a very easy shot as she stood broadside to me, looking at my pick-up truck parked further east and away from me. I released the arrow, but misjudged the distance and shot well over the deer. Startled, she jumped across the road and disappeared. I saw one more, at a greater distance, well out of bowshot. Satisfied that I missed cleanly and the deer was not injured, I enjoyed the instant replays in my mind, over and over again. I was at the right place at the right time and that is important to me. I did everything right to see that deer, but did not finish, which is OK too Ė there will be other opportunities.

At sunset, my first day of bow season ended. On my way out from the farm, I saw two more deer and another on the road at the railway track. A total of one wolf, one coyote, 20 turkeys and 8 deer on the first day of the season are better than the average numbers of the last ten years. I will return to that place, only 45 minutes from my home, and enjoy the nature around me again and again.