All my life I have, as have millions of others have, hunted things. Be it animals or pictures or items, hunting is ingrained in my soul. I have hunted with my eyes, numerous cameras, rifles, shotguns, bows, crossbows, fishing poles, traps, and cages, you name it and I have probably tried it. The degree of success depends on what you think the outcome should be. There are times when I could walk out my door and trip over something I wanted to hunt, and there have been times that entire seasons have gone by without me getting any game at all. Both to me are victories as I get to participate in a sport/hobby/lifestyle that I love. I have written a few times about being out in the wilds and finding my “peace”, and sometimes it applies when I’m hunting, not always though, as it’s a different mentality to me.
There’s not a lot of danger hunting where I do, yes there are some bear at times, and wild boar, and even a white tailed deer can mess you up if you get it cornered and are careless. But for the most part it’s accidents, the occasional snake or your own clumsiness that will be your undoing. There are ways to make it challenging and even the playing field a bit. The object of hunting is to take game to consume (for me anyways I DO NOT trophy hunt, you can’t eat horns) and to do so in a humane fashion. Granted I could shoot an animal from 500 yards away with today’s modern rifles, but in my humble opinion, this is not hunting in the true sense, it’s more sport shooting. I have NOTHING against this way, it’s just not hunting to me. I prefer the close combat hunting where I pit my stealth, woods knowledge and skill against an animal that lives there, where it knows all the paths and ways. Out foxing a wild animal at close range in its “home” to me is the definition of hunting. Slipping up on a sounder of wild boar within 20,15, 10 yards armed with a bow or crossbow or even a handgun, is thrilling and scary as all get out, especially if all you’re doing is taking photographs and the “weapon” you have is not really adequate to stop a determined charge of a boar or momma sow with piglets. My point in this being, given the right circumstance even modern hunting can be challenging and dangerous. I can describe things like this and people might get it, here wait, come along on a hunt with me and see…
Quietly closing the truck door in the darkness after getting all my gear out and on, I look up and listen to the night sounds. 05:30 am, still at least 2 hours before first light, may have gotten here a bit early today, but it is the first day of the season. Silently slipping into my back-pack and then cocking the crossbow I get set, and take a few quiet moments to look up at the sky full of millions upon billions of stars and thank God for another day. Some days you just feel “it”, there’s something here not quite right today, but you shake it off and begin to make your way to the ground blind that Peach and I set up a few weeks ago, this will be the first stopping point until it gets bright enough to see to legally hunt. Moving slowly along the trail, listening to try and make sure I don’t spook any early morning game on the way to the blind. Hearing the softest sound of a footfall in the palmettos and briars to the side of the trail and immediately freezing, to try and determine what it could be. It’s pitch black, I truly wish there was a better description of the kind of dark it gets in the deep woods before dawn, an inky blackness that blocks all light, it’s like swimming in black paint at times. At times like this it’s the other senses that I trust, closing my eyes I listen, and try to catch a whiff of any scents (animals do have distinct smells and we can sometimes pick up on them) that may be drifting on the almost non existent wind currents. Time slowly ticks past, and here and there the errant mosquito buzzes around and still I stand perfectly still like an old oak tree with its roots firmly sunk in the rich earth. There is a feeling something is there but no sound, no movement, no smell to give it away, so I wait. Slowly the feeling subsides and the night creatures go back to making their soft noises, and I, even though I cannot shake the feeling that I’m being watched, move on down the trail towards the blind. Finally I reach the blind and settle in one of the two camp chairs slowly relaxing and waiting on the first signs of daylight.
Waiting in the blind, listening to the world wake slowly, the feeling is still there, muted, subdued but still there, the feeling of watchfulness. The first hints of daylight start showing through and yet I still wait, not time to move yet, cannot legally hunt. Slowly things start to take shape in the graying light and something moves across the trail I just walked 25-30 yards away, low but moving like silk undulating in the wind without making a sound. What was that? No idea, but it was quick! Silently putting my back-pack on again and picking up my crossbow I emerge from the blind. Put a bolt (crossbow arrow) on the crossbow and stand still preparing to begin my hunting.
Today I’m “still hunting” which unlike its name, involves moving. Taking two preplanned steps I settle and look, slowly all the way around me, starting close up and moving my eyes in ever widening arcs over the terrain. It never ceases to amaze me how animals can be standing right in front of me and I don’t even see them until I make a mistake and get too close or move when I shouldn’t and they bolt. Still hunting brings into play all the senses and skills learned.
Ever so slowly I move in the same pattern, 2 steps, stop, look slowly around me. In this fashion I take a great deal of time to go anywhere. The sun still hasn’t breached the horizon, so the world is a gray pallet and distant things blend into the background. Making it to the fork in the trail I have to decide to either go into the deeper woods or stay along the edge. Today I enter the trail that will eventually take me past a ladder stand and into the woods deeper eventually running into the creek and swamp parts. Slipping deeper into the woods I stop by the ladder stand and just wait, watching an open area where game travels at times, partially due to its location near wild persimmon trees. Squirrels hop about gathering the abundant acorns and chasing each other and I slip quietly on. The sun finally erupts over the horizon behind the trees in a burst of color like blood and orange all across the sky behind the trees lighting the woods. Carefully I move trying not to be noticed by the animals seen and unseen that I know are here as I can see and “feel” them. Freezing mid step I see a flicker of movement ahead, and try to determine what it is. Bird? Or maybe it’s the tail of a feeding white tailed deer. It’s a deer! Walking away it hasn’t noticed me, not in a position to shoot either, walking away, to much growth between us and farther than I like. Winds ok, blowing to me off my right front so it won’t smell me, so I ever so slowly, like the decay of time, inch forward on the trail behind it trying to stay where I can keep it in sight. It’s amazing how they can brush past bushes but make no sound, if I could do that I’d be the most efficient hunter in the world. Despite my trying to, I’m unable to keep the deer in sight and be quiet, so it fades off into the trail ahead, not spooked that I can tell, just feeding along. I slip along, hoping to catch a glimpse but never do again. Breaking through to the edge of the creek line the woods are darker but the undergrowth much thinner, making visibility better but not as much as one would think. Slinking along in the same fashion I make my way through the woods cautiously, stopping every 2 steps just as before.
I stop and watch a raccoon family tromp past and cross the creek 15 yards to my right, never noticing I am there, too involved with whatever thoughts raccoons have. Slowly and steadily, I make my way in a long circle eventually coming back to the opening in the woods, by the persimmon trees, again this time from the opposite side and as I approach the hair on my neck stands up and I know I’m being watched. Freezing in place I start methodically picking apart every piece of cover, searching for whatever it is causing the creepy sensation, my senses in full alert as my heart pounds in my chest so loud I think it’s audible. Nothing! I can’t see…wait There it is, holy cow He’s huge!! And he’s looking right at me!!! Bobcat “Lynx Rufus” aka “red lynx” Florida’s #1 ambush predator, sneaky, stealthy, ghostly killer, efficient at its art. Not normally a threat to humans unless trapped or cornered. This is what I have been “feeling” since I first arrived, why is it not slinking off like normal. Watching it sink lower almost flat to the ground it’s floating shoulder blades allowing it to almost appear flat, claws digging into the ground to get a better grip it is getting ready to charge! Honestly I can’t believe what I’m seeing, leveling the crossbow scope on his shoulder I hear the audible click as the safety clicks off not even realizing I did so and at that instant he explodes from cover, leaping 5′ before I realize, I drop the sights rapidly catching up to him and release the bolt and it travels the 20′ left between us in seconds hitting home and passing completely through. He somersaults mid-stride Breaking off his charge and dashing towards the briars where I hear thrashing and growling for a few more seconds then silence. I had no idea I had backed up so far as I try 3 times before I can get another bolt from the quiver and cock the bow never taking my eyes off the spot I last saw him. Letting my heart sink back outta my throat I finally slowly (and I cannot stress how slowly) I move towards the spot. Scanning scanning don’t see him, gotta be there, where.. there he is, not moving, not breathing. I drag him out and look at him, big “Tom” bobcat, looks healthy, why did he act so odd? Bolt hit him right in the shoulder and passed clean through, he was dead before he knew he was hit. The scared ****less shakes hit, and subside with time and I gather the “cat” and slowly make my way back to the truck. I will skin, and sell the hide as I am also a trapper and bobcats are in season.
Funny how hunting goes, sometimes when we think we are the hunters, we become the hunted. I did nothing to the bobcat mentioned earlier, for some reason he chose to stalk and eventually try me. Today was my day, next time…
I’m a creature of the woods like all the other creatures God put here, I’m at home there as much as I’m at home in my house. I know there are dangers in hunting as in every walk of life, but with the “Armor of God” and faith in Him I will continue to hunt and live my life with Peach.
“Next time you get to tag along Peach, 4 eyes see more stuff than 2″
“Oh taste and see, that the Lord is good: blessed is the man the trusteth in Him.” — Psalm 34:8
Couldn’t sleep a few nights ago, and this verse came to mind! Eventually, had to loook it up and study it!
Some key words:
🎯Taste: to taste, perceive
🎯See: to see, discern, consider, behold, enjoy, joyfully, look one upon another, regard, to mark, view, observe, TO FACE (this makes me think how often in my studies I realize that’s how He wants us to know Him, face to face!)
🎯Good: good, beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, favor, joyfully, merry, kindly, gracious, most, pleasure, pleaseth, prosperity, sweet, wealth, favored, good in every way, sensual goodness,(as in tangible), intellect goodness, moral goodness, having benefits, welfare, prosperity, bounty. Basically, if it’s any kind of good? It’s found in Him and His Goodness!!! ALL the things good!! 🤗👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
🎯 Blessed: this one is pretty amazing— blessed, happiness. From a root word meaning to go straight, to advance, to be led, to go, to make progress, to set right, to be made HAPPY!
🎯Man: valiant man or WARRIOR, strong man, to be strong or valiant, to be mighty.
🎯Trusteth: to trust, to be careless (as in having no care!) to confide in, have hope in, take refuge in!
Way better things to be thinking about, as compared to the things we often see around us on social media and especially, the news.
As we ‘Taste’ and ‘See’ (know Him face to face) that the Lord is GOOD in every way, we are BLESSED —we advance, go straight, are MADE HAPPY, make progress and are set right! We are not only Happy and advancing, we are STRONG, VALIANT, WARRIORS! (A Happy Warrior! Love it!) we are made blessed when we trust in Him, making Him our refuge, having no cares!
Click and “poof” whatever you want is delivered to your home, you don’t ever have to leave again. Some call it convenient, I call it the slow death of “Stores”.
Remember going to the store? It was a trip, a journey where you met people, said hello and actually conversed. It was a time away from the house, sometimes it wasn’t convenient to have to go, others it was just fun. I remember during the summers when I was young (again, none ya business when that was) we would sometimes ride our bicycles the 5 miles down our barren county road to the wooden country store in the middle of the ‘tater’ fields just to get a NeHi soda and sometimes even candy. We sometimes played the worn out pinball machine, sat in the shade and talked to the “old guys” that hung around and we just had fun. Then we rode back home down that lonesome road.
As we got older the trips were made in trucks and we somehow didn’t have time to sit around and talk. And the trips to the “store” became less important. We found more “important” things to do I suppose. Shame, I kinda miss it now that I’m “growed up” supposedly.
I think somewhere along the way from childhood to adulthood we lose a special part of ourselves that if we kept, we would never not want to always see, hear, and visit places and things, and “stores”. Now with modern tech, it’s all too simple to become a hermit and just have anything you wish, dropped outside your front door. I, for one think it’s sad, I’m not saying I don’t use these options here and there, I’m saying we should never stop totally, taking the trip to the store. Giving up the chance to see an old friend, or make a new one, is not worth missing just for convenience.
Take it from Batman, you’re never too old to make new friends and renew old friendships, chances are better for both if you’re out and about as opposed to being a hermit.
“No Peach this does not mean I go to town every time you do”
At the end of last mowing season (actually 2/3rds through) our riding mower had a malfunction. That’s putting it mildly, the mower deck basically fell apart. Now this is the second riding mower that this has happened to, the first being a used mower my brother gave me when he bought one of this new fangled ‘zero-turn’ mowers. So, here I was towards the end of the mowing season and no lawn mower, no problem says I, we will just buy a new mower deck and all will be well. I did some quick checking and found that a new deck was close to $700, welp, that’s a show stopper, I have to many things planned this year to spend that kind of money on something I am only probably use one more time this year….
Fast forward, it’s June 2018 and I still haven’t cut my grass! Started worrying I was going to lose my truck in the jungle out there and every time I let the dogs out it was like hide and seek. I started to wonder what else was lurking out there (don’t tell Peach that I had seen two snakes in the past month, she dislikes them and I’m sure somehow it would be my fault), so I decided I was going to do something about the grass.
Oh! That’s right, no mower deck, remember? “We will get it over the winter, no worries” were the words I distinctly remember myself saying. Crud! Hmmm now what? Then I start remembering when I was a tad (means same as a bit) younger, the only lawn mower was a walk behind push mower (sometimes self propelled). As I started remembering cutting grass with one of these I also had memories of how much better shape I was in. But then the lazy kicks back in and I tell Peach that we are just gonna have to break down and buy the deck so we can cut grass. As we are having this discussion I am in my recliner looking at self propelled mowers half heartedly and mentioning them to Peach and relaying the story of when I was younger and better shape blah blah..to my astonishment Peach says ‘I’ve been thinking about one of those at least until we can get the other fixed’. Well then that’s a fine kettle of fish I’ve flopped into now, so I start looking at prices hoping that it wouldn’t be worth it, it was, new deck almost $700, walk behind, less than $300, and with the walk behind there are so many health benefits, 1 your walking, 2 your using arms to steer and steady, 3 stopping and moving things requires bending and lifting…. (one other benefit will be mentioned later) I think you can see where I’m going by now.
Off to Lowe’s we go (10% discount for veterans) get the new mower, and back home in less than an hour. Assemble the mower (unfold handle and put two screws in it to hold it) put the supplied oil in it, gas’er up and 5 pulls later (would have been one if I had read the directions completely and known to hold the handle down) she’s a running and ready to cut grass. Give it a few test laps and such and in about an hour the worst part was cut, and Peach wanted a turn. So show her the basics and she cranks it up and off she goes cutting the bigger but more open front yard. Hour later she’s done, yards done.
We got the yard mowed mostly, we were more active for those two hours than we would normally, walking, twisting, bending,pushing and pulling. All the exercises we try to do in our routines plus more cardio. The mower was less than half what we would have spent to fix the other and provided so many more benefits.
Oh yeah, the other benefit? Getting to watch my Pretty Girl Peach cut grass in shorts 🙂