Along The Trail 6-4-15

6

Editor’s Note: This is a column written by Switzerland County’s David Hewitt. The articles center on all things ‘out doors’, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.

*

The fire hisses and the split oak logs pop and crack, sending embers into the inky blackness as they float out of sight.

Fire flies flash off and on across the field and into the edge of the woods. A cool, dry breeze has kept the dew from settling in making for a perfect night for a campfire, a perfect night to pause and think, to reflect. Not a roaring bonfire, but a quiet, intimate fire.

The heat from the flames warms my face while the shadows from the fire dance on the tree line. I lean back in my chair, listening to the spring peepers calling and the distant croak of a bull frog coming from the neighbor’s pond.

An audible sigh leaves me and I can feel my shoulders slump as the stress of the work week melts away.

I turn the venison loin that’s roasting over the coals. The sizzle, the smell and my mouth is watering like Pavlov’s dog. A few more minutes on the heat and my dinner will be served. I look skyward, clouds passing through the half-moon lit sky, a few stars showing themselves and I can’t help but wander how many thousands of years has man been sitting around a fire, roasting game, thinking about the day, pondering life and all the good and bad that goes along with it.

I pull the loin from the edge of the fire and peel back the foil. Cooked to juicy perfection.

I slice the venison, pink and slightly rare. The first bite melts in my mouth, tender and delicious. I wash it down with a swig of my soda and remember the deer and the hunt that provided my meal.

The young buck passed by my stand site two times that morning. The first time, just out of range of the Osage selfbow. He nibbled his way down the creek bed towards a cedar thicket.

“Probably gone for the morning”, I thought to myself.

For some unknown reason, the five-pointer turned and headed back to my spot, only this time on a trail that will bring him within range of my equipment. He walked leisurely to the ground scrape, not 20 yards from me, paused for a moment, nose to the ground, oblivious to the hunter in the tree above him. The buck quartered away and as if in slow motion, the twisted bowstring came back to the corner of my mouth and in less than an instant, the cedar shaft left the bow and buried itself tight behind the buck’s front leg.

Low and angled, exactly where it should be.

The young deer mule kicked and darted for cover and fell within sight, his race over in a matter of a few seconds. I put my hands on the deer and admired his gray coat of autumn and gave my thanks to him and Above.

I finish the last few bites of the meat and smile with a sense of satisfaction and contentment and spend the rest of the evening stoking the flames of the fire and my mind. Memories of past hunts and thoughts of upcoming ones float in and out of my head as the smoke from the fire floats upward.

Head nodding and dozing, time to douse the flames and call it a night…

– David Hewitt