Ever wonder why someone who spends a day hunting seems happy even when they come home empty handed? Do you wonder what went on during that day in the woods? Ever wonder what someone does for a whole day in the woods? If so, here’s my recent outing where I spent the day afield during Pennsylvania’s first muzzleloader bear season.
The night before, I pack: binoculars, hunting knife, drag rope, snacks and a bottle of water in my fanny pack. Then I place three tubes of Powerbelt hollow point sabots, 15 in all, a plastic box containing 30 pellets of smokeless Pyrodex powder, and a handful of 209 primers in a small pouch that clips on my belt.
I wake up early, eat a hearty breakfast, then pull on my hunting boots. I slip into an orange hat and a jacket with my hunting license on the back. Then, I pick up my Knight inline muzzleloader and step outside into the fresh air. I then drive several miles to the intended hunting site I’d selected days prior to this outing while anticipating what the day ahead might offer.
I step out of the vehicle and breathe in some the fresh air. The fog is hanging heavy that morning so I take my time as I wait for it to lift somewhat. It lifts slowly, but I start up the hollow once dawn breaks through and I am able to see 10 yards ahead of me. I move slowly in a still hunting mode that I use often. It's the method of hunting I’ll use throughout the day as I walk a few yards, then stand for several minutes, then repeat over and over.
A short time passes and small group of deer saunter up out of the hollow bottom until they spot me. I chuckle as their heads bob side to side as they wait for any movement from me. But I remain still. Then the foot stomping begins but the results are the same. Finally, the lead doe chuffs an alarm to her friends that something is not right and slowly leads them back into the hollow.
I walk a little. I notice gray squirrels scurrying about, stopping to grab a hickory nut which they crack before searching for another. I move slowly ahead. The sun slowly lights the forest understory, which results in more squirrels making their whereabouts known as they run through the treetops cutting nuts and dropping the shells down to thump on the leaves below.
I reach the ridge top and slowly start across the it. A couple of hours slip by and I sit on a fallen log and take a few sips from my water bottle. I look to the left and notice something laying on the ground. Several turkey feathers are spread out across the ground, and just beyond is what’s left of a wing lying beside a foot. I surmise a predator of some sort out-maneuvered the keen eyesight of the bird.
Five minutes pass and I’m up and moving again. I stop briefly and watch a woodpecker thumping on a tree in search of insects. I walk some more, and notice several large piles of bear scat along the trail. I inspect it closer and determine he’s been feeding on acorns. I push on in search of him as he’s my intended target today. But an hour later, I reach the end of the ridge and come up empty handed. Then it’s a slow trek down the point in a zig zag pattern to the dirt road below.
I follow it for a few hundred yards to the main highway where I turn left and begin the half mile hike hike back to the car. Yes, I’m tired but I amble on slowly while quenching my thirst from my water bottle. I think about the saying where they claim going back is always faster than getting to your destination, and can’t decide if that’s true or not.
When I finally reach the car, I open door and slump dramatically into the seat and feel relieved. I know that I covered more ground than I expected today, but I’m glad. Being outdoors is time well spent enjoying nature at its finest. Anytime you get to spend time in the outdoors away from the everyday fast pace of life is living life to its fullest.