Monday, November 26, 2012


What you are looking at in the image above is, "A wintry mix with a chance of 1 to 3 inches of snow accumulation".  I'm sure there is some after the fact explanation involving jet streams and el nino as to why it turned into 15" of nice fluffy powder but we really didn't care.  Once the harrowing Thanksgiving drive back from turkey in Mora was complete and the VOR, sister LeatherMargie, and I settled in  at camp with large glasses of Black Bush to watch the snow fall rather than battle it in the car, all was well with the world.  Next mornings hunt would mark the change from sound based to visual.  The thick blanket of snow would turn the listening game into a visual exercise.

The fall woods in Superior country is far from quiet.  Once a person is settled into their stand and the rhythms of the woods get back to normal there is nothing but sounds. Wind in the balsams, black spruce, and white pine is constant background but everything from mice and voles to the big mammals are making noise as well.  A mouse or vole scurrying across the leaves can be heard perfectly from 15' up in the tree.  Red squirrels are noisy, both in their movements and the scolding we hunters receive when they come face to face with us in 'their' tree.  The sound of bark and wood hitting the ground usually means looking up and seeing porky, a bundle of quills, gnawing on some tree thirty feet off the ground. I wish I could speak crow because they have an amazing vocabulary.  Check out the Gifts of the Crow, an wonderful book on crow behavior.  The only crow language I know is the raucous, maniacally excited, "Hey, we found an owl, get over here and help harass it!!" scream/call.  The barred owl on the other hand is as quiet as a woodland creature can get.  Other than it's, 'who, who, who cooks for you' call, it is entirely silent and makes zero sound as it flies through the forest.  The coyotes howl from time to time and I heard one lone wolf howl, but the sound we really listen for is the crunch, crunch, crunch of the deer coming through the woods.  They are almost impossible to see in the fall woods if they aren't moving and sounds like crunching leaves and breaking sticks are what we key on.  Until we get 15" of snow that is, with another three added Saturday for good measure.

 Now it's all sight and keeping the eyes peeled.  Nothing stands out like a brown deer on white snow.  They can be spotted easily before they spot you and the game is changed in the favor of the hunter.  The crows and ravens are still talking, and the chickadees that land on the stand seem to kick up their 6 note call when the snow hits, but most of the noise and sound is dampened.  So I'm sure you're wondering......did you guys get any deer?  Broken out by gender, our women hunters scored a perfect 100% for bucks on the pole.  The guys weighed in at a respectable 50% success.  Four bucks, two does, and more to follow on that in another post.  It seems funny to be working on a computer after nine days in the 19th century and this is invariably the worst and most jarring Monday work return of the year after being thrust into a completely different sights and sounds scenario to what I've been used to, but I guess it is  what it is.  Another Wisconsin deer gun season is in the books, our 30th year up on Reefer Creek, and we have snow on the ground.  All is right with the world in my book.

No comments: