Saturday, November 19th, 2012
Rough Notes from the Woods 7
Opening Day Rifle Season – Kanawha County
Wednesday I told myself and my wife that I wasn’t going. I said the same thing Thursday and nearly every other day this fall. But as I found myself standing in line to purchase a box of 170 grain Core-Lokt .30-30 ammunition, I realized that there is no way that I could miss the first day of rifle season. This day is nearly a holiday of its own in the Great State of West Virginia when more people are in the woods with guns than we have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan combined. I’ve grown somewhat bored of rifle hunting for O. virginianus. The long distance reach of a bullet gives me such an unfair advantage that I much prefer the more sportsmanlike manner of bowhunting for white-tails. Oh, my arrogance!
Nonetheless, the alarm came early and for a moment, I considered rolling over and snuggling with my wife in our soft, warm bed. But that’s just not my way. I crept through the house gathering my gear. It’s always a pleasure opening “old reliable’s” case. Old reliable is a Marlin Model 336 .30-30 rifle that my dad purchased for me when I was a much younger man. Some time later, I sold it to a family friend. A year ago, I contacted him and asked if he’d sell it back to me as it had sentimental value. He happily agreed and accepted a fair sum for its return. By the time I was lacing up my trusty Wolverine boots, my wife, two daughters, and son were up to wish me good luck.
We live in the country so I can walk to my hunting grounds. The sky was clear and filled with countless stars. The frost was thick on the ground and my breath was visible in the cold November air. It didn’t take long for me to reach my spot, clear the area of leaves and wait patiently for the first rays of sun to peak over the ridge directly to my front. Even if you’re not a hunter, I urge you to spend a dawn in the wild. Witnessing the forest come to life each morning is a pleasure not wasted on a woodsman like me. Dew drips from the leaves overhead. Squirrels and chipmunks rustle leaves in every direction and the various birds sing and squawk their wondrous tunes. Anyone going to the woods for peace and quiet will get plenty of the former but little of the latter.
Finally, around 9 am, there was some legitimate action. Three white-tails, sex unknown, bounced through a field barely visible. For a while, I expected them to find their way towards my location. Apparently, they opted for greener pastures. Sadly, the only other action in the woods this Monday was another hunter on a monstrous machine that most around here call a four-wheeler. He might as well have strung Christmas lights all over it with a few jingle bells to ensure all of the deer knew that he was stopping by for a visit. He casually rode past me, parked about 45 yards away, took two steps away from his noise machine and rested his obese posterior on a stump as if I wasn’t there.
As daylight subsided and frigid darkness took its place, I realized my chance of success for today was over. My walk home was filled with disappointment. A discouraged woodsman must be a pitiful sight indeed.