If there was one way to describe Rayna the best, it would be that her presence was always felt. If I was clearing snow from the driveway, she was there catching it as it shot from the snow blower. If I was mowing the lawn, she would drop a rock right in my path and force me to stop the mower. If Steph and I tried to watch a movie, she would sit in front of the TV and block our view. If I forgot to latch the bathroom door while doing my business, she would push her way in and expect a good head scratching while I was unavoidably detained. If she’d been able to talk, she’d have been an introvert’s nightmare.
My increase in concern over how much time I’ll have to hunt this fall is inversely related to the decrease in time until Baby Biebel arrives. My concern hit an all-time high this past weekend when I made my first scouting trip of the season. It’s hard to adequately describe the feelings of anticipation that I feel when standing over a pile of deer poop in an acorn infested stand of oaks. Knowing Mr. Big roams through this area, even if at night, is enough to get my heart rate up. That, and the mile-long hike to get there.
To make amends with their favorite customer, my least favorite cable provider gave me an additional forty channels for free after months of poor service complaints. Included in the additional package were the Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel. So much for my New Year resolution to watch less TV.
Having only been marginally exposed to what these channels offer for programming in the past, I have been somewhat disappointed at what I’ve seen. The commercialization of hunting has always irked me a little. If they hadn’t had that $300 cooler back in the truck, would they have not been able to shoot the big buck that was on a daily ritual of arriving at the food plot each evening at five? What about that expensive little device that purifies the air around your deer stand? According to show hosts, you can’t hunt without that or you’re not doing it right. Tell that to the chain smoking, flannel jacket clad hunters posing in the pile of old pictures I have in my files. They might disagree.
Maybe it’s the changing weather or the feeling of hunting with a firearm in place of my bow, perhaps it’s both, but I feel more excited to hit the woods this time of year than any other. Daybreak on Saturday morning found me huddled up against the base of a mature pine tree trying to stay dry in the light drizzle. As the day wore on, I was sure thankful I decided to throw on my work rain suit at the last second before leaving my truck. I looked a little silly but was dry, so I wasn’t complaining.
I was hunting the area where I’d shot the doe the previous Tuesday. There had been fresh buck sign in there at that time, and the area serves as a travel route for deer as they make their way to bed down after a night on their feet. It was the logical place to begin my 2016 New Hampshire Muzzleloader season.
Saturday was a great day. Sam and I had been looking forward to our squirrel hunt for a long time and we were finally able to go. His new camo sweatshirt had arrived in the mail only days before adding to the anticipation of our great hunt.
Always the realist (pessimist), I was convinced we would come home empty handed. I’d been seeing a lot of squirrels each time I’d been out deer hunting, but trying to convince a 5-year-old to keep quiet long enough for a squirrel to show its face seemed like a long shot. But my main goal was to have a good time, squirrel or not squirrel.