Yikes, even before I could slip into my ground blind I found that I had made my first mistake of Ohio's archery deer-hunting season.
The four-month-long season began this morning 30 minutes before sunrise. And when I pulled into the parking area at the end of the tractor lane I discovered my error; having rushed out of the house with Bev's deer-hunting backpack instead of mine.
I had spent the past several days sorting through my archery tackle, knives, compasses, field cleaning gear, flashlights, face masks, gloves, hats, and all of the other truck that a hunter assembles, believing they are essentials. Or not, but one can never be certain so it's always better to play it safe.
Now I was stuck with Bev's backpack. At least it contained a camo face mask, mesh camo gloves and a hunting cap, tough that item, is well, sort of a girly-girl hat. At least it was the proper color for wearing inside a fabric ground blind (black) and it did fit my larger, bald, head.
Likewise I was relieved to know that I had not yet slipped my deer tags and landowner permission slip into my backpack. That meant I could stuff them all into a plastic lunch bag and then tuck the whole affair down into one of my hunting pant's side pockets.
Arranging the gear once inside the blind I fiddled with the pockets of the unfamiliar backpack, extracting what I thought I needed if and when a deer were to arrive at the feeder.
All was ready only a few minutes before legal hunting time arrived. All, however, except for enough light to see. The woods were not just drippy with dew and anchored rain residue they were darkened by still very much alive foliage.
It was at least 15 minutes into the morning before I felt confident enough that should a deer come calling there would be enough light to target the animal.
None showed, though. At least no deer. Instead, a couple of cardinals, a nuthatch, one red squirrel and a seemingly entire herd of chipmunks were enjoying the free meal of shelled corn.
The blind was comfortable enough. Maybe even too comfortable. My head kept bobbing and increased the tempo as the morning lingered on.
When the game feeder's digital timer awoke the machinery that spat out the corn kernels a chipmunk that was feeding underneath almost died of fright. I swear the poor little guy rocketed so high he very nearly hit his head on the feeder's electronic motor.
My hope was that the feeder going off would become the breakfast bell for any deer within earshot. That happens often with such devices. But not this morning.
There were no visitations from any deer, at least from none while I had manned the hunting station.
After almost three hours I reassembled the gear, hoping that I had properly placed everything back where Bev had originally stored them. We'll find out this evening when I take her hunting at different location.
On the return walk it was clear to see that the field's grass was still thickly wet with dew and I simply retraced my original footprints back to my car. In several more weeks this trail will be etched in snow; a sobering thought on how quickly a hunting season progresses.
I've had better morning hunts at this location and I might yet at some point. But you won't find me complaining one bit.
I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to enjoy a morning wake-up call in the woods, listening to the wet woods drip its symphony, hear the chatter of irate red squirrels and chipmunks and watch in anticipation of a deer materializing out of the thick brush and fog.
It was enough for me this morning just to have been so blessed.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn