Along The Trail 5-19-16

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Editor’s Note: ‘Along the Trail’ is a weekly column written by David Hewitt of Switzerland County; and covers all things dealing with the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.

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One more sit for the Spring season.

It’s cold and lonely this morning, the sky a mix of gray and flat black as a silky fog lifts from the field in front of me. The tree leaves drip constantly with the weight of last night’s downpour. My only companion this morning is an owl calling distant down the ridgeline. I call back to the barred owl and we answer each other’s haunting calls until daylight puts him to bed.

Light slowly comes in various stages of gray. Aside from the burst of foliage and grasses, my morning’s view looks and feels more like November rather than mid-May. The steady breeze will add to the hunt’s difficulty as I play out a series of yelps with the big paddled, box call. The raspy yelps from my blind blow down the hillside to my right towards a stand of oaks where the birds roost in the evenings. I’m hoping that ol’ Tom is looking for a new girlfriend since the season is nearing its end. By now, most of the hens should have been bred and are waiting for clutches of eggs to hatch. If my plan is correct, the boys will be on the prowl and hopefully gobbling out their love songs.

The dreary, drizzly morning passes by at a snails pace…No song birds today to keep me company, the wind has deadened all sounds. The field weeds wave and dance in the breeze. The hay has almost gone to seed, in dire need of being cut, but the rainy spring has kept it from being mowed. I watch the grass blow in almost a rolling pattern, hypnotizing me as I feel my eyes get heavy. My decoys twitch and spin in the breeze bringing life to my set up. I switch up my calls, yelps and purrs, trying to get an answer.

Another hour down. I pass the time imagining shooting a big strutter, day dreaming one into my decoys. I practice drawing my longbow and take aim at the plastic hen 15 yards from my hiding spot. Sheer boredom makes me want to release the arrow, but I resist the urge and slowly bring my bow back to rest. My mind begins to think about anything and everything as the minutes ooze by.

A check of the time, another half hour I tell myself – “Just give it another 30 minutes” – I watch the field and tree line with laser focus. Something is moving, something looks out of place in the underbrush across the field.

My pulse quickens a bit at the thought of a turkey…

A few seconds later, the sleek form of a young doe comes into view. Small and delicate looking, her ribs showing through her molted winter coat. I watch as the youngster picks her way across the field and right into my set. Odd, most does, even the young ones this time of year are heavy and pregnant, but she is paper thin. The weeds behind the young gal begin to bounce and then it makes sense to me. An auburn colored fawn, freckled with white spots sneaks up to its mother. The little doe, her head on a swivel, constantly checks the wind and looks in every direction. She determines that my decoys aren’t a threat and she trots on her way with the baby in tow, barely able to see over the weeds.

One more look at my phone for the time, 45 minutes have passed. I peer out my blind’s openings hoping to see a bird, but I know it’s done, the season is over for me. I gather up my gear, load up my pack, put my arrow back in its quiver with its mates and march back to the truck.

The turkeys have won out again this year versus my bow, but my season has still been a success and I know I’ll be back.

– David Hewitt