I had taken a doe already, but it is now buck and bow season. The smell of fall, the stillness of the woods, alone with my thoughts, and eyes on full alert watching for one of nature’s craftiest animals. It was just before dawn when I perched atop my tree stand.
Still dark and moments later, I let out a quick automated sound ‘Aggrrrhhh’ for something just clipped my forehead. I looked swiftly to my right and I saw the faint backside of a large flying creature rising in the distance.
Immediately I though ‘owl,’ for it was too early for crows, turkeys, and certainly too soon for hawks. Welcome to the great outdoors. The owl was scouting his area and wondered what this mass was saddling an oak tree that was not there yesterday. It was a non threatening touch, a gesture of good will, and I said ‘good morning Mr. Owl, I apologize for the inconvenience.’
I had chosen an oak tree with the nearest branch 25 feet higher than where I was, so I was no where near the owls roost, still, I was a stranger to him, and I respected that clip, and begrudged him not.
Day broke soon, and I heard to my left ‘crunch, snap, CRUNCH, pause, pause, snap, Pause.’ 50 feet maybe? Deer have excellent vision, and you dare not turn your head not knowing if you are seen. So you sit. And wait. Still as death. Then I heard ‘hoo, hoo,’ and I smiled at the owl.
After 10 minutes, ‘THRASH, crash.’ This dude is on high alert, and he is coming in. 40 ft?Don’t move. Don’t look. Can’t be a doe. Deep breath, sight at 20 low, steady, steady, make sure it’s legal, 4 points a side, make a clean shot, watch the safety sound of metal, keep quiet, be positive of the target. All these things the archer rehearses in his mind to be mistake free.
‘Snap, SNAP, closer and closer, crunch,’ 30 ft? I still can’t see it! I dare not move, as I have learned in the past that within a second, the deer of a lifetime can be gone forever. My neck was aching from the stillness. But one learns patience. This is a shooter I’m convinced! It is just SO loud! 20 ft? The females are not this noisy.
In what seemed like an eternity, the intense sound got louder and louder and I knew it was directly behind me. 10 ft? I had to wait still as a dead man. A deer can stand motionless in the same spot for 6 hours, for he knows that each wrong step may be his last. They are kings of the forest, and the more mature animals have perfected their craft of staying alive, by making wise decisions.
Being mindful of each sequence, I was ready as could be. Nearer and nearer the thundering sound approached, my heart was racing. CRUNCH. CRUNCH. I had visions of a full freezer, a nice hide, and a sense of achievement. Then I saw him, yes, off to my left, within range, there he was!
A gray squirrel! A lowly gray squirrel. Really?
Nature was the victor, as was I, and I smiled at my mind’s deception of sounds, and the memories that enriched my life. God’s nature is so full of harmony, and humor. Now back to the owl.
Totally unexpected and may I say totally unprepared for, that I would be side-swiped by an owl. In that moment, in that twinkling of an eye, in that clueless fraction of a second, the teaching of scripture came into view.
‘So therefore be ye ready, for the son of man cometh in an hour that ye think not.’ Again, thank you Mr. Owl for the inspiration, and the backwoods received a standing ovation for such simplicity.