Sunday, February 2, 2014

Long deer-hunting season draws to a quiet close

Only a few sounds broke the woodlot's silence; the throaty and curious chirps of some cardinals and the nasal honks from a passing flock of Canada geese.

Not much more, really. Which was okay since neither cardinals nor even geese were the focal points of this visit to the this particular woodlot.

The inside of the hub blind was showing its on-going (and losing battle with the elements). Snows repeatedly had pulled down the folds between the supporting fiberglass staffs, snapping two of the bent arms and making them not only useless but beyond being repairable.

Heaven knows I tried to fix them, too.

No doubt the hub blind was done for, having endured shamelessly more than four months of weathering through rainstorms, snowstorms, nasty heat and even greater nasty cold.

Plus the tunneling of field mice, meadow voles and striped chipmunks. Each and all had found at one time or another that the blind's dark-shaded bowels were a perfect refuge against the prying eyes of owls at night and hawks by day.

The little rodents could feast on the woodlot's abundant mast crop, using a folding picnic chair for a dining table and a small fleece blanket as a convenient toilet. While I didn't object to the former I sure had a powerful dislike to what they did with the latter.

Now it was over. The blind had outlived its usefulness and when it is removed over the next few weeks its life will come to an end in a trash can.

Ends can be terrible things or terribly good things. Always, however, they are melancholy things. This conclusion was no different.

The last day of Ohio's extensively long archery deer-hunting season began with hope, promise and excitement on a Saturday; September 28. It concluded, what? Some 127 days later at around 6:45 p.m. As the atomic clock reckons things?

That span may seem an eternity's worth of hunting time but it's not.

Oh, maybe each individual hunt's hours sort of crept by at a pace even a snail would find boring but the entire season taken as a whole scooted past quicker than a peregrine falcon can take down a citified pigeon.

Go figure.

No one can say I failed to put in my time, that's for sure.

I keep some thorough and detailed written records. In rough form they state I made 51 hunting trips to five locations: Two each in Lake and Ashtabula counties and one in Geauga County. Calculating time spent the hours totaled 138.

Course, not all that coinage went into the archery treasury. A pair of early antlerless-only muzzle-loading season play dates are included as are three general firearms deer-season days plus two more for the statewide muzzle-loading deer-hunting season that was cut short by that near blizzard every local TV weather reporter was treating as the return of the Ice Age.

Another look at the data shows during this rather spacious time frame I counted just 38 deer, of which only six sported antlers.

Can't say those are impressive numbers. The deer totals, that is, and not the days nor hours.

Still, I took home some venison. A Lake County adult doe on October 10 with a crossbow and a younger doe a few days later during the early antlerless-only muzzle-loading-only season.

Think about that for a moment, I let my mind anchor on the details for a spell.

Even though I spent a fair time in this woodlot and four others from October 13 to February 2, neither my Horton crossbow, my Knight muzzle-loader nor my Winchester slug shotgun ever took a poke at another deer.

Pitiful, no? Pitiful, yes.

And while I'll participate in the anticipated up-coming debate regarding the propriety, efficiency and fairness of Ohio's deer management strategy and associated rules/seasons/bag limits/do's and don'ts, you can take it to the bank the deer-hunting clock will be reset come the last Saturday in September.

It's in my blood, I guess, and that juice has a powerful grip that just will not let go.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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