The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

November 8, 2013

It's the right time to hunt, but you won't be alone

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The Daily Star

---- — Let me ask you a question.

What does a chipmunk have in common with a marching band on Main Street?

They make about the same amount of noise.

At least that’s what it seems like when you’re hunting in your tree stand on a sunny afternoon.

I decided to go bowhunting Wednesday afternoon. I took my portable climber and headed to one of my favorite spots on my hill. The wind was perfect and blowing in the right direction, so I quietly made my way up a tall, straight, hard maple and waited.

Right now is the perfect time to hunt. The rut is on heavy and the bucks are running hard in search of a receptive doe. In fact, I drove to Milford last Sunday morning and had two bucks cross the highway in front me in broad daylight. On Tuesday, I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting another one near Stamford. I knew the time was right.

I hadn’t been in my stand five minutes when I heard an animal approaching in the dry leaves. Yeah, it was a chipmunk. He scurried a little through the leaves and stopped. Then with what must be oversized feet, he got closer. Finally, the pesky, little devil ran down an old, rotting log and disappeared.

A few minutes later, I heard a deep, nasally “Eean.” I kept hearing it every two or three seconds, getting closer and closer. “Eean ... eean ... eean.” I immediately knew it was a whitetail buck coming up the small, brushy depression below me.

I waited with my bow ready. He soon appeared, following a trail off to my left with his nose ever close to the ground about 40 yards away. It was a small four-pointer out on a lusty search. I stood there in my stand and told him: “There’s a big eight-pointer working this area that would kick your butt if you aren’t careful.” I doubt he listened.

A while later, a hen turkey and seven of this year’s poults came by, occasionally scratching in the leaves looking for beech nuts. The old mother was rather nervous but not because I was in the area.

Suddenly, I saw movement a ways away in the beech brush. Three coyotes moved silently through the woods in front of me. The old hen took her chicks and headed back the way she had come.

Geese flew over and more chipmunks joined the parade — and this all happened during the first half-hour I was up in the tree.

I soon saw more movement off to my right. I slowly turned my head as a doe and a pair of this year’s fawn worked through the woods on their way to the open field behind me. I watched them continue along and wondered if this was the same trio I saw in the apples a couple of weeks ago. They were out of range, but I wouldn’t have released an arrow on them anyway. I was looking for meat for the freezer, not a doe that was producing fawns every year.

After a while, the sun settled below the horizon and a stillness crept through the forest. Just about the time I decided to climb down to the ground, I heard that little crotch horn again. “Eean ... eean ... eean.” He was still on the prowl, and I wished him luck.

I didn’t shoot anything that afternoon, but I didn’t care. I consider it an hour well spent.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at robrockway@hotmail.com.