A Simple Day in the Deer Woods

The author talks of his unproductive- yet highly productive- day spent in the deer woods.

In the waning days of muzzleloader season, I decide to take a day trip to Owen County. As I pulled onto the property, before sunrise, there was a doe grazing along the woods in a mowed area. I had missed this place and chose to still hunt just to take it all in. It was a windy, misty day with a promise of 50-degrees that never came.

I’m blessed to hunt this property because they have horses that freely roam about half of the property. This makes for well-worn trails and quiet walking even for my size 12 boot.

Walking and looking for horizontal lines, any movement caught my eye. There were numerous grey squirrels and woodpeckers of many sizes and coloration’s. The smallest explore tiny cracks in tree bark for ants and other small bugs. The pileated woodpecker, with its long bill and jackhammer head, drives deep holes into dead trees and limbs to get large grubs.

I stood and thought about how balanced nature must be to keep these birds healthy and alive. How winds break limbs and blow down trees which attract the parasites that, in turn, provide food for the woodpeckers. This constant change of death and regeneration goes on non-stop in harmony. What a creation our Creator created.

On this hunt, I was seeing more buck rubs than normal but the tracks in the paths were small. I jumped across a small creek and checked the barb-wire fence where deer come from a bedding area on the neighbor’s property. There was deer hair caught on the fence.

It was tempting to fish the eight-acre lake on the property even though the wind was problematic. I decided to give it a go, but after carrying my battery, trolling motor and anchor to mid-lake, the boat was missing.

I decided to walk a trail to the headwaters where there is a spring. The upper end of the lake is marsh-like and very shallow; down a steep bank was the boat half-full of water and leaves.

I lugged my gear to the bank and slid it all down; there would be no going back up. Fortunately, I had on knee-high rubber boots. Inside the boat, I began bailing water. As the sweat poured, I took off my Carhart and hung it on a limb.

With most of the water out, I could see that someone had driven a round stick into the drain of the jon boat. The property manager does not leave a plug in to discourage unauthorized use. About four-inches of the stick stuck out the back. I swung the battery against it to drive it back through.

This one time, I had everything needed, rubber boots, a bucket, battery, trolling motor and wooden paddle. I poled the boat to deeper water and then lowered the motor. I beached at the launch site, pulled the boat out, released the drain plug and flipped the boat over.

No longer was I interested in fishing after getting the boat, I found a huge set of buck tracks near the spring.

I sat against a beech tree overlooking protected thicket between two ridges. At first the woods were strangely quiet with nothing to entertain me. I dozed off and when I awoke the trees around me were alive with gray squirrels; there were three in one tree. Soon a chorus of a dozen bushy tails were chattering at the stranger in the woods.

I hunted until dark without seeing the big boy, but I’m pretty sure he will survive the season. Hope springs for next fall.

Rick Bramwell
Rick L. Bramwell is 74 years old and began writing for the Anderson Herald Bulletin in 1972. He likes to hunt small game, deer, turkey and morel mushrooms. Bramwell’s 174-7/8 typical whitetail is the largest ever taken in Madison County. He used to compete in Red Man and BASS Federation tournaments, but is now content to fish ponds and small lakes for bass and panfish. For most of 43 years Bramwell has coached Baseball and softball. He has three grown children and resides in Madison County, near Pendleton.


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