Tag Archive 'stick season'

Nov 07 2018

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November Wind

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After shipping out packages, I head for the nearby town forest to stretch my legs. No rain today – a rare event lately – with temps up around 50. Not a day to be wasted.

I put blaze orange on myself then on my dog Matika. Not likely that hunters will be in the woods in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, before rifle season opens, but why take the chance? The extra layer is no big deal.

I kick up dry leaves while hiking along the barely discernible trail. The forest smells like autumn, like so many leaves slowly rotting away. A sliver of blue sky peeks through the otherwise gray sky overhead. A strong November wind kicks up, clattering the naked branches and rattling the beech leaves still clinging to trees. The wind feels ominous, but not as a mere threat of rain. It feels like winter is blowing in. I’m not fooled by the warm temps. That’s temporary.

The forest is lit by muted light. Daylight Savings Time started last weekend so now the sun sets at 4:30.  That’s less than 2 hours away. A short day. And a parade of long nights directly ahead.

Pensive and quiet, I finish the hike a little sooner than expected. My old dog has a hard time getting back into the car. I help her up, then get in and drive away.

Shortly after cresting French Hill, I catch the sun breaking through the clouds in the western sky, illuminating Lake Champlain in the distance. The wind is still blowing but it doesn’t matter so much now. I’m okay with it, with the prospect of winter. Yeah, bring it on.

 

 

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Nov 09 2015

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Hunting Season Tramp

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November woodsAfter reading John Burroughs’ Time and Change yesterday morning, I felt an overwhelming urge to get outdoors and stretch my legs. A blue sky underscored the urge. My dog Matika is always ready to go, of course. So we climbed into the car and drove to the pocket of woods on nearby French Hill.

Since it was the first day of deer season, Matika and I wore blaze orange. Usually I stay out of the woods when hunters are in them with high-powered rifles, but yesterday I simply couldn’t resist the urge to tramp through the woods without the constriction of a trail underfoot. I have days when only a good bushwhack will do.

It’s stick season now. All the leaves are down. They rustled loudly as I plowed through them, scaring off the local deer. Gunfire in the distance. Trees threw long shadows across the forest floor at midday, thanks to a drooping, late autumn sun. I crossed an old, stone wall, and that gave me my bearings while skirting a large beaver pond just out of view. Been here before. Without the distraction of a trail, it’s a lot easier to read the terrain.

There’s something about tramping through a trackless forest that calms me as nothing else can. It’s the absolute freedom of movement, I suppose, combined with a total lack of purpose. I tramp therefore I am. There’s nothing more to it than that.

Yet I couldn’t resist following the old logging trail that swept southward back towards the car, even though it muddied both my boots and Matika’s paws. The deer tracks we found there got our attention. And for a short while I was a hunter without a gun. It’s like that sometimes. I go into the woods with one purpose and end up doing something else. That’s what bushwhacking is all about.

 

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