When its snow storming, it’s a good idea to probably just stay home. Stay off the roads and lay low. Read a new book, one on Minnesota moose or maybe bake a cake. Since I don’t bake cakes and after three days of over cooking my own noodles I needed to get out of here, and go to there. There, is anywhere but here. I set the book down.
And the next time someone tells me moose aren’t to smart in the book I was reading I’m gonna tell them a thing or two. As a for instance, did you know moose don’t use snow shoes. They don’t have to. They are big critters with long, long legs. They can handle any snow depth Mother Nature throws at them. Oh, and if it snows too much they lay around doing nothing until the snow stops. They seem to be just fine with that. Not like me who had to go find something to do. They just stay bundled up in there big brown furry coat and do Zippo.
So when the snow stops the “big dumb moose” of recent literary fame don’t get up and start shoveling sidewalks or go to the grocery store because someone like me is out of eggs. They just mosey over to the local brush and browse. I bet it tastes just like corn flakes without the milk, which reminds me, I’m out of milk too.
On my feet are snow shoes. The moose trotting across the logging area is probably laughing her sides off at how I look. She was just laying there chewing her wintry cud when shush, shush, along comes me. All was well until the last step. That’s the step before I got to take the photo of a lounging moose, and ended up with me getting a fresh perspective on just how cool snow down my neck really feels when it’s 17 above zero.
What makes a guy who is tired of say, staring at here, think, staring at there, is suddenly a better choice or idea. Well no one could ask me since the roads aren’t plowed and nobody’s coming here, when there snow-blind and bound over there, so once again thinking I’m smarter than the average moose, I opted for, If you have had enough of looking at the inside of your home, the only logical thing to do, is go look around outside, right?
I was doing splendidly until my left snow shoe tangled with some two year old aspen regen challenging my laced footwear to a wool sock hop and take me down with only a large lethargic and quite possibly simple minded moose as my lone witness.
My neck is full of snow. My choppers are full of snow. In trying to right myself and I get a wonderful winter surprise, it’s a handful of frozen moose pie. Moose pie is what I found in the cameras eye, when I got vertical as opposed to horizontal again.
I didn’t get the photo I wanted. The fresh snow bath was a crisp brisk change I can assure you. I have a totally new appreciation for how quick and agile a moose truly is and finally after seeing over there, I decided it was time to go home again and maybe stay there. When I get home I’m throwing out my new moose book because I think the guy who wrote it, is full of moose poop.
The trout Whisperer
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My hands are in the kitchen sink, so are a few memories, I grab a thawing pheasant. I start with real images of my pheasant pen behind my pole shed where I raise them, and then I flip through mental crib notes on past hunting trips, still further, like a stack of moving watercolor 3-d slides, great shots reverb inside me. I’m mentally floating out the kitchen window, entering the dream field.
The ruckus calls from the roosters throat’s echoing in my hearing and the wing’s beating with tails pumping and long tailed roosters trying to get back to china, but one get’s smacked with some number four’s, feathers float and drift. Then a separation in the Montana sky. The spirit of the bird is forever freed and the feathered flesh drops to the earth.
Next memory slide is coming into focus.
With dog’s breath all over the bird I'm bending and tussling the dog’s ear, English setter, mostly white, now stroking the rooster’s feathers back in regal order. Bags are stuffed with feathers for fly tying this up coming winter. The roosters tail feathers line the dash of my pick-up truck. The bird is dressed and washed, wrapped and laid in a cooler bound for my Minnesota dinner table.
Next slide please.
I'm at the café in Plentywood, Montana. For the past three days this loner comes in and sits down. He orders his coffee and pancakes and eats and pays and departs. He’s dressed as I am and everybody in the place knows he’s hunting. Today I ask him to join us at our table and says that would be great.
We exchange the usual safe conversation, and then it’s all hunting talk. He has two dogs with and he has been hunting all over the good ole USA, for the entire fall. Ruffed grouse in Michigan and South Dakota pheasants, he’s going west for sharpies, which explains Montana, and when he ends the season, some quail in Arizona. He has two dogs. Little pair of cocker spaniels. One is named Sarg, the other is named Gent. But he says when they don’t hunt so good he just calls them” the a**hole brothers”. This is the part where my orange juice went ocean spray. We laughed so hard other people having breakfast couldn’t help smiling.
Projector turned off.
I’m cooking some pheasant for dinner. I go between actual and virtual. Thawing frozen birds, picking stray shot and I wonder at times how long I just blankly stared out the window replaying the hunting tape.
Shooting a rooster is one thing. Taking the trip to Montana is one thing. These are real events that actually took place. Then when I replay the memories, they have this fading away feeling and a soft edge glow. The bird falling and shot placement like a hunting video that I somehow get the starring role. I do not know if it’s the mind that’s a terrible thing to waste or the unrecalled memories. Going back for second and third helpings of my memories is delicious, and we pray I do not screw up dinner for the same reason this evening.
The Trout Whisperer
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This morning I’d bet a months worth of live bait that whitetail bucks will start itching the velvet off those new antlers. To me there is no way they started yesterday. This morning I was roused from my sleep by a wind blowing in my bedroom window at 3:31 am. It was cool and refreshing. The temp demanded my down comforter. I obliged, but not for long.
I went outside and the moon was full, and the air crisp. My American flag flapped full, illuminated by my yard light, and showed a steady wind directly out of the north. My yard was wind washed free of the sticky humidity, and September by the calendar is but days away.
The air, early morning or just the final end to hot humid air I can’t explain, it I feel a bit antsy. My cigar smoke is swept into the dark and the ash glows red. One deep drought of cigar smoke is a cerebral shot of endorphins. I turn, and gaze out my driveway.
The red doe’s of summer have been all over the roads at night with at least one spotted fawn, some with twins. Every coffee pot I hunker next to guys are chatting about the groups of bachelor bucks we’ve been seeing. Its time, and we all sense it, and know it. I wager some ancient bucks know full well were coming and they horn thrust all the harder.
The pull, draw or want deepens in me this morning. Last Saturday I saw a big track when I skidded out some future firewood but it was more a mental note to me, than a significant find. It was hot and humid and I was tired. Today seeing that same track I would cut a tracking stick and try to follow that sharp hoofed rascal, or at least try.
The thoughts of taking a deer, big buck, little buck, doe, have lain dormant for months. There has been gentle mental musings and every once in awhile some hunting friend would mention a thick horned, velvet monster seen or some found antler shed of a promised stag from last fall that has to be larger this season to await us all. Verbal Snacks to tide us over. The full meal deal, is still ahead.
Bow hunters, of which I consider myself semi-retired will clip shooting lanes and stuff long darts into hay bales in anticipation. Sporting goods store owners will tempt and tease me with concoctions of potency and the newest blaze orange super suits. Were pawing, and rubbing itchy antlers in our own way.
Looking into the early morning sky I wonder where he is walking or feeding. Stars above, where is the great hunter Orion this morning? Send me some luck you celestial night stalker. Could that big buck be feeding on my spilled bird seed right now in the darkness? Boy I hope he’s a fat gray nosed ten pointer. Maybe it will be one of those of those pine pitched dark racks from some old swamp buck. Hunches played in my mind.
There is a newer game of poker, the name escapes me but it’s all the rage. When your hand is gonna make or break you, your final option is to make the statement “I’m all in”. I just pushed my cool morning air to the middle of life’s great outdoor poker table. So to this falls deer season, I see your bet Mr. Whitetail deer of a summer’s full of imagination, and I am all in, and betting heavily on me. I flick the cigar ash to the ground.