ON OUTDOORS: Wild things add to experience in the woods
Published 12:44 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2016
It was a familiar feeling.
As the last rays of the swollen disappeared beyond the trees, a twinge of apprehension hit me.
Positioned in a makeshift ground blind facing a game trail between a swamp and a high ridge, I had considered getting up and making the journey back to the vehicle.
But something said, stay.
The woods were quiet. They were eerily quiet, in fact, so when the slightest hint of grass moving sounded, it was noticed.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see … something.
It was dark, probably black. I could make out that much but if I moved the slightest whatever it was would retreat and I might never get a look. At this point I could hear deep breathing and realized when it was in my line of sight the beat would be five steps away.
It moved along, only slightly making sounds and then there it was. A wide-shouldered, long-haired boar with enough tusks protruding to cut me in half and even if I did draw down for a shot, I probably would not make it quickly enough.
Sitting still, I simply let it pass into the thicket where it never offered a shot either for a gun or camera. There was only the fleeting glimpse and the super close encounter.
That is what it is like really being “in the woods”.
Stories like that can only come to life if you get “in the woods”.
That might seem quiet obvious as you are probably not going to run into an impressive boar in your living. Although there is the account of a man who had his screen door open getting attacked by a boar while sitting on the couch.
Nonetheless, you not only need to go out in the woods to experience wildlife in unique ways but you need to immerse yourself in it.
A person needs to hear, smell, touch, see and feel the woods and all of its inhabitants. If I bring a unique perspective to these pages it is because I have spent thousands of hours in the woods, sometimes deep in the woods and I have come to to know them in a way that I never dreamed of as a kid.
As a little boy I went into the woods a lot but it was not until I encountered a cougar (mountain lion) at 10 yards that I realized anything could happen and that I would for the rest of my life savor the encounter with truly wild creatures.
One of my greatest life lessons came while squirrel hunting in some woods near my home when I was a junior in high school.
The squirrels weren’t moving much so I dug into the pine straw beneath me and saw layer upon layer, each more decayed until I got to the bottom and saw dirt. All of the talk about recycling at school had seemed dull but now it was intriguing as I saw how it worked in the wild. Nothing here went to waste. What was pine straw one fall eventually turned into the bottom layer of the forest later.
You can’t get that walking the official hiking trails.
You have to get down in the woods and find that childlike curiosity and dig around.
You also can’t get those kind of encounters in a heated tower blind overlooking a corn feeder deer hunting. There is nothing wrong with any of the above and in fact I am currently hunting out of a nice blind thanks to a friend.
But if you want to see how the deer live and understand what makes it all work, you need to venture beyond the clearings into the tangles and briars where few men tread.
I always wondered why at a beautiful chunk of woods I have access to there are no deer. There will be sightings a mile or two away and I think deer will finally move in and then nothing.
There were some deer tracks found on this property but no sightings. And then no more tracks.
I decided to go look around one day, perhaps find a spot to put a game camera and see what was going on and I found a deer. Well, it was the skull and partial neck bone of a young spike buck.
The skull had been bitten through with powerful teeth and the deer obviously eaten by a predator.
There was no doubt this was the work of a cat and it was no bobcat. They bite the jugular vein in the neck. Cougars tend to do the same. Only jaguars bite through the skull routinely but of course there are not supposed to be any around anymore.
You can’t discover that kind of thing unless you go beyond the pavement and then beyond the treeline and maybe even beyond the point that seems rational. Sometimes you have to go deep to make big discoveries.
Whether you hunt, do wildlife photography or simply love nature, do yourself a favor and get “in the woods”. If you really want an adventure pick an area with lots of game and sit out at night. The woods come alive then and you might get an experience that you will never forget.
I did one night on a deer lease located near Devil’s Pocket in Newton County in 2005. Walking along a set of huge pines that was about 1/2 mile from the Sabine River I let out a howl. I was curious if there were any coyotes around.
I am not sure how many there were but coyotes sounded off from the north, south, east and west. It was a beautiful thing and I will never forget that experience.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the woods, my friends and family who spend time in it with me and of course all of the wild things.
Without them our lives would not be quite as exciting.
To contact Chester Moore, email him at email@example.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.