Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Moonbeams and Dawn's Early Light

As Thane and I left the truck the soft light of a full moon bathed the woodlands . Even though sunrise was over an hour away we were able to walk up through the clear cut without any aid of flashlight. The clear cut was recently planted to seedlings for the next forest crop in about fifty years. Right now it looks more like a war zone with only a few sentinel trees left standing but new growth is appearing. Many aspen, wild rose and a variety of grasses are emerging and in about three years elk and deer will start using this area.

The moon slowly gave way to the sun starting to scale the Cabinet Mountain range. The ravens roosting in some dark timber awoke to noisily announce the morning. We sat in silence and watched the forest come to life. Unfortunately, no elk appeared so we each took an old road and would meet later in the morning.

I find it amazing that God could put the world in order so we know exactly when the sun and moon rise and set. The same order is found in the natural world. Only man in his arrogance knows how to rebel against the Father.

Get out some early morning and watch the dawn and you will understand how great our God is!Listen to the woods wake up and praise Him for the song it sings.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Symphony Of Autumn

It's happening now; do you hear it? Listen! The fall symphony is on stage as sweet melodies flow from the mountain tops , resonating off distant hills, descending to the valley floor. The once a year production is short lived , starting in September and ending with silence as the November snows pile up. God orchestrated this wonderful harmony that no human musical troupe can equal. The vocalization is usually heard one species at a time but they can overlap adding to sweet music to our ears.

The elk start the show off by echoing their harmonious bugles from ridge top to deep dark timbered canyons. Cows will join the chorus with their meows. Ardella and I had the awesome opportunity to watch this opera several years ago while hunting in the Clearwater area of Idaho. We were hiking up a timbered ridge one afternoon when an opening allowed us to view the distant hillside so we sat down to listen . Soon a lone bugle drifted from the forest below us and was joined by another down the canyon; then a deeper voice answered from the far slope. Soon a sweet repertoire of bugling filled the area and rest of the participates entered from the dark timber across from us as if on cue. About fifty cows and calves marched out on the open hill to sing back to the bulls. The production held us spell bound for over and hour until the show closed for the day with a curtain of darkness enveloping everyone. It was the most God inspired music we have ever heard from nature.

The moose are next with deep bass grunts and they nearly perform a ballet as two bulls meet and walk stiff legged and tip their huge racks at each other. The performance is one of power and intimidation. Once in while you will hear the long lonesome response from the cow. I like to participate in their musicals and they don't seem to mind. This time of year the ravens gather for some raucous and rowdy dinner parties and can be heard carrying on until dark. The geese are next honking wildly as they migrate south . Their calls stir deep with in me. Swans are also heard with the sound of trumpets as they wing south at very high altitudes.

One of my favorites is the loud yucka, yucka, yucka from the pileated woodpeckers. They are the power drummers of the woods where the small downy woodpecker responds with a soft rat, tat, tat. The great gray owl's hoo,hoo, hoo is heard so seldom and the vocalist is rarely seen. More common is the who, who, whoee from the great horned owl as it calls out to warn it's prey to remain alert.

The whitetail deer are one of the last musicians in this woodland cast. Their clash of antlers sound like clanging cymbals in the quiet forest. This is followed by the grunts of the bucks and the bleats of the does. It is sweet music to my ears. A pack of yodeling coyotes brings a smile to my face as they yap away and then hit high soprano pitches that could shatter glass. Sometimes they are answered by the baritone howl of the wolves whose mournful music sends shivers through all the creatures in the woods. The show ends with the chickadee all dressed up in it's tuxedo as if this was a formal occasion. It applauds with a chick a dee dee. Curtain closes as the November snows pile up and a new sound echos from the woods. The sound of silence.

Our Heavenly father orchestrated this production company thousands of years ago and He set in motion for us to enjoy every autumn. Take time to hear this wonderful melody and better yet include a youngster. You won't be disappointed

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Opening Day Buck
Last Wednesday the rifle deer and elk season opened under cloudy and threatening skies. Ardella and I headed out early afternoon to get a load of larch firewood before walking in about a mile to evening hunt. As we rounded a curve in an old road I noticed the beautiful fall colors that jumped off the mountains to rejoice the autumn. Bright yellows of larch and golds of birch stood out against the dark green of the pines. We settled in behind an old slash pile of logs and were soon joined by a cow moose about 150 yards away on the adjacent hillside. She was busy feeding on a variety of plants but seemed to prefer birch if she could reach the golden leaves. The cow found a birch log sticking out a slash pile and decided to use the log to scratch behind her ears. Then she proceeded to rub her neck on both sides before finally leaving for the evening. A doe appeared at the bottom of the clear cut and I told Ardella not to shoot her as she would be our decoy. We watched her for about an hour and it seemed like that was going to be the only deer. We were busy glassing when I spotted something about 250 yards away that looked out of place in the tall grass. I watched it closely and finally a set of horns appeared briefly. The buck was headed away from us and would soon disappear if he walked uphill. He finally turned around and started feeding downhill. He soon disappeared again behind some brush for several minutes only to emerge and head directly to a large hemlock tree. Once the buck got behind the tree he turned broadside but all we could see was a head on on side and a tail on the other. Then he turned toward the doe and went across a grassy opening. I heard the safety click off on Ardella's rifle followed by a loud boom. The buck staggered and took a few steps and went down. I congratulated her on the 165 yard shot and noticed that she was shaking but had a big smile. We found the buck laying against an old stump with a shot through the heart. She uses a 7 mag. with 175 grain Speer bullets. It was a great hunt and I had to unload some of the wood, but it was worth it.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Fate of Fickle Wind

The old doe's head snap to attention and gazed uphill to my right. Maybe that big buck was coming down the trail. Her eyes never left whatever she was looking at, but the hair on her neck was raised and she seemed to be ready for a blast off up the hill. I looked through the holes in the camo fabric of my blind hoping to see something. Slowly a shape took form. A huge dark brown neck the size of my body, a black nose checking the wind, two big brown eyes, a pair of ears listening to every sound in the woods , and a crown of horns. A nice five by six bull elk! The doe launch like a rocket up the hill, blowing her digust the whole way. He never moved.

I started cow calling but he seemed reluctant to respond. So I threw more calls away from him , hoping he would think the cows were down the hill out of sight. It worked. Slowly the bull turned and started to check these gals out. His muscles rippled with every step and he held that head high like proud royalty. I tried to calm my shaking body, took a deep breath, and released the air slowly. He crossed the game trail and was going to come in above me. I crawled about ten feet to an old log pile and got on my knees to shoot. Fifty yards, forty yards, thirty yards and I drew the arrow back and slowly eased up so the bow limb would clear a log. As I put the pin on his vitals, I noticed a log out fifteen feet was directly in the way of the arrow's path. The bull saw some movement and bolted. I cow called and he stopped at sixty yards. I use three different makes of cow calls to sound more like a herd. I grabbed the Primos call and really tried to convince the bull that the cows were down the hill. It seemed to work as he turned and slowly headed back. So I tried the other two calls which are different brands and he stopped and turned away. I switched to the Primos and he headed back again. This time the bull stopped just out of range and acted like he was trying to stand on tip toes ( tip hooves) so he could see the cows. The old boy decided they were down the hill so he started for a small depression about thirty yards from me. I came to full draw and started to put the pin on him when I felt the wind blow from behind me. The bull turned ends in a blur and covered and covered eighty yards in a few seconds. I stopped him again with the Promos call but he refused to come back. The king left with a regal swagger that those cows didn't deserve him.

As I watched him disappear over the hill ,I thanked God for the opportunity to be so close to this majestic animal He created. The sunset was beautiful making for a nearly perfect day. I sat in silence reliving the moment and thinking about two things. Always use a Primos game call and never trust the wind.