Moose Hunt – Day 9 – A surprise ending

I woke up this morning for the hunt to find out that it was over.  To steal a sentence from earlier in the week, `plans change quickly when you don`t have any.`

I`m not entirely sure what the reasons were.  We certainly are happy with our results, the weather has been getting tougher and we`ve all been here for a week.  Perhaps it`s simply time to go - some of the guys will be back up for deer season which starts 10 days from now and lasts 2 weeks.  I`ll be in Scotland for most of it (a work-related trip) and it looks like I will miss another year of deer season.

It was an excellent hunt and I`m very happy with the results and time we got to spend together.

Our `driveway`is abotu 700 meters to our main logging road.  Four-wheel drive trucks are made for eating roads like this and my two-wheel drive takes it slow and steady and it`s a small relief when I make it to the main road where we drive another 12 or 13 kilometers back to an actual road and the start of civilization.

When I got to the logging road, I realized that we had forgotten the partridge in the hanging shed.  Many of the guys were busy hooking up trailers and making for the final trek out so I decided to go back to get them.  Because of the condition of the road, I opted to walk in to get them.

It was a wonderful walk back to the camp.  I must admit I felt like I was  on some sort of reality show and I had made it to the final episode.  I walked a road I`ve known for more than 30 years and recounted where Jack used to park his truck, laughed at the place I got a truck stuck for the first time, vowed to come back to visit a patch of wild blueberries that my Mother pointed out in the fall and smiled at the memory of passing Ralph in the middle of a mud puddle about 5 years ago.

The walk was reflective – even more so on the way back as I carried the two birds back to the vehicle.  I finished cleaning them (removing their feathers) back at the truck and made a few simple cuts with a knife that my previous dog had `given`me for Christmas.  One of our other hunters had engraved my name in it for me.

Moose Hunt – Day 9 – A surprise ending wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting November

I`m pretty certain that I would not be a hunter if I didn`t grow up with it.  I`m prepared to venture one step further and suggest I`d likely be anti-hunting.

But I did grow up with it.  And growing up with it helped me understand that hunting and killing were not simply synonyms.  I have learned, for me, that there is far more to hunting than I may have otherwise thought.

I still hunt birds with my Grandfathers shotgun.  I walk differently in the woods because of lessons taught to me – both by nature herself and the elders of my camp that have passed their traditions to me.  I have learned ways (and continue to) to make even more use of the animals we harvest and the traditions we continue.  It is in my memory and those around me that names of places live on and that they are not forgotten.

I have stood in the foundation of rock homes that were abandoned 100 years ago and have been seen by less than 10 people since.  I have helped rebuild loose stone walls that were placed there in the 1800`s out of respect for those before me who settled these lands.  I have learned that we are preserving far more than food on these journeys that I once struggled so dearly with.

I have come to terms with my hunt and the traditions which endure.

Moose Hunt – Day 9 – A surprise ending wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting November

As indicated in an early post, I have skipped many stories in these posts which tell much bigger stories of what happens as we hunt which would explain far more about our trip and our `tribe.`  I haven`t skipped hunting stories – simply skipped deep personal stories of sharing, teaching, helping and guiding each other that is a part of these trips.  One could generalize these stories as those of `male bonding` – I like to think of them more as the sharing between brothers, fathers and sons of my second family.  Sharing these stories would betray such sacred trust but you`ll have to take my word that there is far more to these journeys than simply killing.  I am, after all, one of the newer hunters and I`ve been there (full-time) for almost 15 years.

For those of you who have stuck with us through these posts – thank you.  I am sure that they haven`t all been easy to read.  I know (based on traffic), that they are certainly not the most popular subject we have posted on.  Our stats have taken a dramatic hit while posting on hunting and I know it`s been difficult for many to stick with it.  I am not asking for your support or approval – each will make up their own mind.  I simply thank you for sticking it out, keeping an open mind and joining us in thinking about what we eat.  The comments and emails have been honest, open and moving.

It`s time to leave the woods behind and get back to some different topics around food, design and thinking about what we eat.  I hope you have enjoyed and, again, thank you for your support and curiosity.  Writing these posts has been some of the most difficult writing I have ever done.

Moose Hunt – Day 8 – A Rainy Friday

8.30AM
Late fall turned into early winter yesterday.  I can’t beleive the difference in the last 8-15 days (since the start of the hunt and the end of canadian Thanksgiving).

Some snow started last night and the morning ground is crisp with frost.  I’m back to where I’ve spent most of my watches this week on Wolf Road.  Waiting.

We’re down to 12 men now – we’ll be at 10 by nightfall.  The meat was taken to the butcher today (ironic since the temperature is now plenty enough to hold it but we had to honour our appointment).

You can’t bring game to just any butcher – our laws and regulations are far too prohibitive.  A butcher has to clear it’s shop of all domestic meat, clean, process the game, empty it out of their shop and clean again.  This can be especially difficult as a balance of regular customers and a flood of animals are balanced (regular customers have to shop elsewhere during processing and cannot buy meat from wild game as its sale is illegal in Ontario).

Our butcher – a new one to us in the last few years is an oddity in that he disects the entire animal with only the aid of a knife.  He does not use saws or other such technology.  I can’t imagine the skill involved in preparing our meals like this.

Moose Hunt – Day 8 – A Rainy Friday wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting November

we’ve also decided to have some sausage done (I beleive) this year.  It’s been years since I’ve had moose sausage and it’s an exciting promise.  The meat is mixed with about 30% pork (mostly fat) to create a rich taste of the hunt.  This also makes moose a breakfast option and it’s nice to have the variety.

Another hunter just made a moose call – this represents the start of the hunt.  Time to watch.  And listen.

10.20
First run is over.  Holding ground – doggers are walking a circle (about 4 kilometers) to start the hunt again from a different angle.  Waiting.

11.00AM
Run hasn’t started.  Still holding.  Cold.

Moose Hunt – Day 8 – A Rainy Friday wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting November

11.10
3 moose are appraently in play.  A dogger has seen signs early on.  This bodes well – there won’t be 3 cows together so there is lkely at least 1 elidgible animal near.  It’s very early in the run though.

11.20
Doggers start.  Waiting.

12:00
2 of 3 doggers are out – we will wait for the third before heading back to camp for warmth and soup.  I’ll have a different outfit on this afternoon, it’s been a bitter morning.

1:50
Back on the watch – out for 2 runs and dressed for winter.  Raining.  Waiting.

3:10
15 minute reset.  here we go again, waiting.

7.00
I was out until dark fell once again.  Though I haven’t written about most of my evening hunts, I have been out each and every night this week until near dark.  I tend to jump on the ATV and go for a ride through the woods on the off chance I will see something.  I also like to keep an eye on who is in the forest these days (in terms of other camps and road hunters).

The early week was great for evening hunts.  I nearly froze solid last evening and I thought I was going to be washed away tonight.  I drove almost 40 kilometers on an ATV in the cold rain this evening with little to show from it.  My gear will have to hang for a long time in the sauna to dry for the morrow.

Rain is tough to hunt in for those who wear glasses (myself included).  You run out of dry material to clear your glasses very quickly and impaired vision is a definitive hinderance.  Rain also fills the woods with sounds and hearing anything becomes a very difficult task.  Of course it also has a nasty side effect of erasing any footprints.  If all of that were not bad enough, many animals also hunker down and don’t like to move about in the rain.  Unless you are tracking through the woods (of which I don’t nearly have the talent), hunting in the rain calls for a lot of luck or a good team of doggers.  Solo hunting on an ATV in the rain is akin to buying a lottery ticket – you know you will likely fail but have to play just to confirm that.

As I drove a certain section of road I noticed that 5 chickadees emerged from the forest and flew by my side for a few hundred feet.  This little act was barely notable except for the fact that they have been coming out to greet me every time I pass this stretch of road.  It’s happened 6 or 7 times this week at the same place.  It is always the same number at the same spot and I assume that these are the same group.  I’ve now been in these woods for 8 days and this is the type of observation and interaction that you can only make after staying in the woods for a solid chunk of time like this.  I feel welcomed by them and glad to be part of their week.

I called home on my way back to camp.  It was a brief chat – tough to talk for too long when one is virtually swimming in the early dark and cold of winter’s start.

We laughed at ourselves toady – if people knew how often we simply sat still in the rain and/or cold I think they would calculate that we are daft.  I’m pretty sure they’d be right.  Time to relax with the guys, have a few beer and warm back up – tomorrow is the first Saturday hunt in a long time.

Moose Hunt – Day 6 – Half way through moose season

7.40AM
It’s day 3 of the 6-day moose season in our region.Today is a very different day from the last 2 – for one thing I know that my chances of seeing a moose have dramatically dropped.  And I’m OK with that.

I’m a dogger today – I wait for the others to get into position and then for the woods to settle around them before walking through the heart of the forest to them.  There are no trails in this country – a compass and GPS form a close bond with me today.  Neither one is foolproof – I nearly spent a night in the woods about 5 years ago even though I knew I was less than 500 meters from the road and my waiting friends.  Everywhere I looked was bathed in 4-6 feet of icy water.  At that point your GPS, radio and compass offer limited support and staying calm is the closest thing you have to a tool.

Moose Hunt – Day 6 – Half way through moose season wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting November

(A faraway shot just sounded – it isnt’ likely us).

My clothes are very different today.  I’m only sitting for about an hour before trudging through the forest.  I’m in layers and dressed relatively lightly; it gets hot fast.  I am also wearing very soft material including a lot of polar fleece.  This gives me the option to be as quiet as I want when walking through the thickest parts of the bush.  A doggers job is to make noise to “push” the animals towards our line of friends but the option of stealth always has a time and place.

Dogging has a fantastic rythym to it and I love it.  I’m 800 meters away from my destination right now and it will take me 2-3 times that distance as I meander through the bush.  Fresh track could take me even further.  I’ll only walk 5-10 steps at a time before pausing, listening and looking around.  The forest has her own rythym and I will try to study it.

I will also be walking differently today than I normally do in the city – a technique called “flat footed.”  A human foot touches the ground twice for every step (heel before ball of foot).  There are no animals in the woods which share this trait – a double snap of a twig caused by human feet is a dead giveaway of a threat.  Each step I take requires careful placement of my foot flat on the surface of the forest floor.

Moose Hunt – Day 6 – Half way through moose season wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting November

8.02AM
2 Shots rang off.  Definitely us.  A third shot.  My heart is pumping.  Radio call – 3 shots were taken at a calf.  The calf is with a cow which we no longer have a license for and the shooter passes up the larger animal for that reason.  He isn’t sure that his shots connected – will confirm in due time.  He mentions that he can still hear the two animals; I can barely pick up the fading radio signals.

This is a very different year compared to last year – not a single shot or even a sighting of moose (until deer season).

It sounds like the animals have moved.  Another guy on the line confirms that her hears them moving.  We are all holding tight.

Weather plays many roles in the hunt.  We currently have about 1,200 pounds of moose (this will be far less in actual meat once butchered) hanging in our shed right now.  We want to drain and age the meat as long as possible without it rotting.  This becomes impossible if it gets too warm.  The last 2 days have been beautiful which puts a difficult decision on the table – the balance of aging them versus rotting (which is simply not an option we will accept).  We’ll know how warm it’s going to get in an hour or two and that will push our hand.  It may be time to head to the butcher once this hunt is over.

If it continues to get warm, we will lose the afternoon hunt.  Skinning, trimming and quartering 2 moose is plenty of work to keep us busy for a number of hours.  Ideally we’ll wait until closer to the weekend and hopefully have a Bull to go eith them.  Like preserving, the additional quantity seems to increase the work only marginally.

8.22
Static on the radio – dangerous half messages.  I think the calf is wounded and a sudden change of plans ensue.  The shooter is quietly tracking the calf and our line is now broken.  He will place ribbons through the trees as he goes and has asked us doggers to hold still.  Suddenly I’m a watcher and he’s a dogger – a cold day would be a real strugle in this outfit but today’s weather is looking after me.  Sitting.  Waiting.  Listening.

8.36
The rumble of a truck and trailer bounce across the main logging road (about 400 meters away).  Road hunters.  More about them later – Dad is done walking a small loop and it’s time to huddle with the doggers before deciding what to do.

8.42
Taking watches, waiting for an update.

8.53
Call is in – time to start the push.  I’ll be looking for sign, walking with purpose.

1.52PM
My heart is back in my throat.  En route to our second run and it’s raining.  I had a call that a big black bear was headed my way.  I saw two flashes as he past in a full run.  Too wet to write much more.

5.34
A long, wet afternoon comes to a merciful end.  After two hours of bouncing through unforgiving terrain (including swaps that swallow you to the knee), fallen trees that make you scale them and hills that seem to only go the wrong direction) it was back to camp to finish cleaning the heart and liver from this morning.  A quick call home to Dana before she leaves for a concert (Metric) that I’d love to be at.  Body is sore and tired but it’s been a good day.

The afternoon hunt was lacking much drama after the quick glimpse of the bear.  Another dogger saw a buck (adult male deer) near me before we started and that was all any of us saw for the rest of the hunt.

The morning was more eventful.  The calf was indeed hit and it was successfully tracked until it settled down in the cover of a swamp and we couldn’t get close.  The cow, protected by our lack of license and the heavy brush of a forest that  looked more like Dagobah (Yoda’s home in StarWars) than Huntsville.  She growled, snarled and hissed at us from 30 feet away (we could not see her in the thick bush).  At 1,000+ pounds and eight feet high, this is no idle threat and must be taken very seriously.

It’s amazing how a moose will protect its young like this.

Is it upsetting to think of an adult trying to protect it’s young offspring like this?  The answer is a very personal one and I am certain that’s different for each of us (meaning hunters as well as readers here).

Many of our crew are FireFighters.  My Father was one for 37 years.  I have learned that their unique view of many things, including death, is very different than most.  I think the same skew is granted to the children of these families – it was a consistent reality as a child that my Father could lose his life every time he went to work.  I had to learn to reconcile the intricate dance between life and death and the constant threat surgically removed some of the stigma of death.

Many of the guys grew up rurally where death of livestock is far more common to them than many of us who live in cities.  The view for many is simply altered by exposure.

I have a different twist altogether.  I have technically died twice and am certain I view life differently than I would have otherwise.  There’s a sadness for me but also a recognition that it is what it is.  I can’t fully explain this yet.

The short and easy answer is that I find it sad – deeply sad – but reconcilable.  I have justified it by comparing it to commercial agriculture practices (that I know little about in actuality), calculated the low survival rate of small calves like this one and looked for other answers.  I now simplify the entire process and accept it as sad and part of nature’s cycle – a part in which I play a measured role.  I will reflect on the spirit and acrifice of the animals we have culled.  in the meantime I will cherish the sustenance of body and soul that each provided us.

Our focus qill quickly move to finding a bull that has, so far, eluded us.

Moose Hunt – Day 4 – The season opens and our first hunts

07.15
5:00AM came early.  I was last out of bed and coffee couldn’t come fast enough.

Most (including me) were in bed early; the last went to bed around midnight.  My Father popped out of bed at 11.30PM and thought it was time for the hunt – it’s like Christmas morning for grownups.

I’m on Wolf Road sitting near a creek – we call this place Flat Rock (one of two different places with the same name).  The grey sky is turning blue, weather is around freezing.  The doggers (these three guys sit in the woods like us for about an hour before getting up and walking through the deep forest towards us – in theory “pushing” any animals between toward us sitting on watches) will start their walk around 8.30.  All is quiet except for a single hunter who has gone back to camp to get his ammunition clips (and I’ve just realized that I’m not sure he knows where the keys are as I write this).

Moose Hunt – Day 4 – The season opens and our first hunts wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting November

8.30-9.00AM
Sun is starting to throw shadows.  Radio call came in – moose sighted on the watch next to me and is heading further from me to the next guy down the line.  I am less than 200 yards from a moose right now, waiting, listening, focus.  Heart is picking up speed – no clear sight (or shot) for anyone.  Yet.

9,30

First run just ended.  One of the doggers saw a buck (adult male deer) – he was alerted to the animal as it rubbed its antlers against a tree.  When the dogger stopped suddenly the deer got spooked and ran.  Two of the hunters had a brief sighting of a moose (that’s more than we had in 5 days last year).  One of them only saw legs and the other had a brief look at the side – gender and age are unknown.  Dad followed it’s tracks on his dogging run – figures it is a large adult.

2 of the watchers now move position and the rest of our group of sitters now rotate 180 degrees and face the other way.  We figure the moose ran between two of our sitters and past our line.  he doggers will push from the other side and I will sit in the same spot (facing the other way) for the next 1.5-2.5 hours.

Moose Hunt – Day 4 – The season opens and our first hunts wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting November

It’s a good start to the hunt – so close.

10.00AM
Moing animals cause chaos to our formation – moving chess pieces on a board with infinite spaces (and a fininte number of “good” moves) is made increasingly complex by our attempts to avoid getting lost or standing in the line of gunfire.  It’s taken over an hour and most of us are sitting within 100 feet of where we started.  I made a big move of about 100 yards.  Time to sit.  Wait.  Quiet.

Shot went off.  It was close.  Second shot.  The radios are silent.  Heart racing.  Moments take forever.  Code 2 just came in – this means that a cow (adult female) is down.

Adrenalin is rushing – meat for winter is now a certainty.  There is a bittersweetness that comes with the cull for me.  A formal excitement crossed with the reality of death of an animal I beleive I have love and respect for.

A correction has come across the radio – Code 2 has been changed to a code 1 – a young bull calf is down.  Having a bull, cow and many calf tags offer luxuries of choice and calls are always made on the safe side (too many of the wrong age and gender are a significant problem that we simply cannot afford).  Our tags grant a luxury to the first shooter of not needing to confirm age and gender – from now on we have to confirm both before firing.

The message of the young bull is relayed through the line.  We all stay in position – the hunt will continue until the doggers come back to the line and then we’ll work on cleaning and hanging the animal.

10.15AM
Possible cow sighting.  Holding tight.

This is a massive contrast from last year which saw us hunt for 4 days before even finding fresh sign of moose and coming home empty handed.

10.35
Another shot.  Big cow sighted – could be headed this way.  It’s a game of waiting and patience – the radio is once again silent.  She is between us and the doggers and a large lake forms the base of our trap.

More gunfire and reports that she is hit.  It’s an uncanny morning of action and an irregular hunt.

Reports of the cow – she has been hit and is on the run.  It’s not something that we like – it’s the worst part of the deal in fact.  A wounded animl does not paint a positive mental picture in my mind – the ideal happens when an animal is dropped without ever hearing the bang of the gun.  It really can be that quick.

Everyone sits tight.  A single dogger quietly tracks her trail  If she is not chased she will likely lie down and speed the ending.  We hear periodic reports on the radio and wait.  Of course she could have already passed and simply be waiting to be found as well.

It’s been about 20 minutes since the shots and they’re losing the trail.  Time for the tracker to sit still as well – this promotes the chance of her lying down.  We will resume the tracking after a small passage of time and track her past sunset if needed.  This could be a long day ahead.

11.05AM
The doggers are back to tracking the cow.  Radio traffic is getting heavy and it’s clearly an uneasy time until we find the cow.  Tension is apparant in voices – it reminds me of those TV shows which track the Alaskan Crab Fishermen.

This was the end of writing for the day, tomorrows post fills in the void of what happened from 11.05 onwards…  See you then!

Moose Hunt – Day 3 – Sunday at Camp

10.30
Sundays move slow, even in the bush.

Lots to do today.  We are informally splitting in to teams – some are working on trailers, some working on installing a makeshift urinal and others working on rewiring the cable for our gas powered generator to camp.  I’ll be heading to set up some tree stands, clear some bush and work with the guys to try and improve our chances.

Ideally a lot of this work should have been done before – there is a constant discourse in the woods as to how Moose react to changes such as these.  Will our saws scare them off or entice them in?  Will the scraps of brush we clear surprise and scare them away or provide a buffet for them to eat?  Are we cutting too much or too little?

We will also leave trails of ribbons to mark our spaces and have a camp meeting to discuss radio calls, ensure all know what we are allowed to hunt (and not).  We are allowed 1 adult male and 1 adult female and many calves (previous writing explains why).  We average about 1.5 moose a year between 14 of us and we got none last year.

Moose Hunt – Day 3 – Sunday at Camp wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting November

This is my 21st year with my hunting license and my 13th year of being a full-time member.  Other than a handful of birds and the odd target practice, I haven’t had the chance to shoot at anything else.  I have seen deer in moose season, moose in deer season and, 4 years ago, saw an adult female moose in moose season from less than 8 feet away – we didn’t have a tag and I watcher her browse in front of me.

Moose Hunt – Day 3 – Sunday at Camp wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting November

6.30
We had a surprise guest arrive tonight.  Dad has been teasing the camp with this news for days.

Brent arrived this afternoon, after lunch.  Most didn’t know him.

Brent was Ralph’s son.  Ralph hunted with us for many, many years before passing 2 years ago.  He was a friend to many at the camp and one of my Dad’s closest buds – and a great leader at the Fire Department who helped my Dad a lot.  He was also funny as all get out and the best Jeopardy player I knew.

Most recognized Brent as the son of Ralph with no explanation – they look a lot alike.  It’s great to have him hear and I know how much it means to many of us.  I am so glad to have him here, feels like a piece of Ralph is here and I know there will be many stories shared this week.  It’s Brent’s first time here and many are strangers – that won’t last for long.

We officially divided the camp into two teams of 7 men – we alternate inside/ outside camp duties.  One team is all fathers/sons and the rest are our other friends.  It’s a different theme each year.

Early to bed planned and a big pork roast dinner – a long, early day ahead tomorrow.

Moose Hunt – Day 2 – Saturday at Camp and a difficult kill (NOT graphic)

I did not write on the Saturday – it is a day when the majority of our group arrives and we have a lot of work, fun and a party to celebrate the annual reunion.  I was working with my Father early in the morning when we realized we needed supplies and I decided to make a quick run to town – it would be the last time I would see civilization for 8 days.

We drive 13 kilometers on a closed logging road.  You could drive a car, depending on the condition of the road.  It’s an awful mess in winter that even a four-wheeler (ATV) would struggle to navigate.  I carry an unloaded shotgun with me on this road (as many do) in bird season.  When I get to pavement I lock and store the gun, go to town and unlock it once off the road again.  It must be unloaded in the vehicle – this is acceptable because we are not officially on a road.

On my way into town I saw a partridge.  It takes a few careful moments to stop, get out, load, aim and shoot.  I was successful.

The attached video DOES NOT show the bird.

When you harvest a partridge, you “clean” it immediately.  It’s a dirty job – there are no knives involved, simply your hands and eyes to guide you.  Sometimes I find this easy, other times it is very difficult.  I generally find it more difficult to clean a bird than a moose.  A moose feeds so many of us so often – a bird seems like a much more extravagant harvest.  1 life for 1 meal for 1 or 2.  I find a bigger guilt associated with fowl than larger animals for this reason.

As I drove down the road I felt queasy (I am bound to be teased for writing and sharing this :)).  I shot a brief video trying to capture that moment – one of the tougher moments of the hunt for me.  This was shot within minutes of harvesting the bird (which is currently in our freezer):


I know that some may have a problem with the word “respect” associated with killing an animal.  It is something I debate a fair bit – I know many hunters (including myself) who would claim to respect and/or even love the animals they hunt.  I also know many farmers who would lay claim to the same of the animals they rear.  Can one really love something it hunts?  These are questions I’m not sure that there are answers to – but they certainly make me think and am conscious of them.

Saturday night was a party before the hunt began Monday morning – stay tuned for the day by day…

Day 1 – Heading to Camp

Written 1 week ago today – the day I left for the moose hunt.

12:30PM.
Lunch time.  I’m at work.  I got up at 5:00am this morning.  A quick walk of the dog, some last minute packing and I was off to work.  Today is a day when a surprising amount gets accomplished – I like to leave knowing that most things are looked after and that the phone won’t ring while I’m away or that I will come back to an avalanche.  An ounce of preparation matched with an awesome team is enough to make my vacations remain as vacations and my returns be fairly smooth.

This will be the last day I work with a beard this year.  I grow it exclusively for the hunt every year – it’s a fun tradition and one that helps keep me warmer on cold days (at least that’s my theory).

I also find that staying focused makes an otherwise long day go quickly.

I will leave around 4 or 5 and head north with few errands to go.  I’ll be in camp around 9 or 10.

Day 1 – Heading to Camp wellpreservedgoesmoosehunting October

7.45PM
Arrival in Huntsville.  Buy beer, snacks for the week and a couple of small items left on my list.  I know there’s a small crew of retired guys (including my Dad) waiting.  I am bouncing off the walls.

I also saw 3 deer on the side of the road outside of Huntsville.  It’s not deer season but that could be a good omen.  I’m a bit nervous – it was a tough year last year.  It had been a difficult year outside of camp for many and the complete lack of hunting success added to the tension.  I hunted from early morning to past sunset every day (30 minutes after is legal).

It is great knowing that there is a small group of guys in camp (they came up yesterday and today).  There will be 6 of us tonight, most of the rest arrive tomorrow and 3 (including a mystery guest that only my father knows the identity of) will arrive.

8.30PM
I am in the middle of the forest in my pickup truck.  I was driving the abandoned logging road that leads to our cabin (13 kilometers from the nearest “real” road.  I thought my headlights were flickering on far away trees before I realized there was something other than light running in front of me.

I thought it was a dog at first and sped up when I knew it wasn’t.  I was chasing a bear up the center of the road without even realizing it!  It was bigger than a cub but not a monster – about 300-400 pounds.  I backed off and he turned into the woods.  It is shocking to see an animal run around 30 kilometers an hour (about 18 miles per hour) turn into the pitch black woods and keep running the same speed.

I stopped and listened to him scamper.  He ran for 2 or 3 seconds before going completely quiet – did he stop and look back?  I wasn’t waiting to find out and took off a little freaked out.  I have driven another kilometer since  and have another 9 to get to camp.

Will write when there’s more to write about the actual hunt.