A Hunter’s Tale

deer
I’ve personally never been a hunter.  I have absolutely nothing against hunting.  In fact, I believe that when properly exercised, it can serve the very useful purpose of regulating wild game populations.  And since my neighborhood seems to be increasingly overrun by white tailed deer, referred to locally as “white tailed rats“, a bit of well regulated hunting here on the cul-de-sac might be just what the game warden ordered.

Even though I’m not a hunter, I do own a .22 rifle.  I acquired it many years ago when I was in college.  In a moment of weakness, I traded a set of really nice Koss stereo headphones for it.  The good news is that during a subsequent bartering economy session, I reacquired the Koss headphones in lieu of something which I can no longer remember.  I still have both the headphones and the .22 rifle.  The headphones have long since been replaced by a set of ear buds and to my knowledge, the rifle has never been fired at anything other than empty beer bottles, old milk jugs filled with water, and pieces of wood standing on end.  And before anyone asks, “No, it wasn’t me who shot up all of those road signs.

Over the years, I’ve known and worked with many avid hunters.  I’ve sat through countless lunchtime discussions during which these later day Allan Quatermain’s relayed tales of their latest treks through the nearest woodlands in search of elusive game.

Of all the stories that I’ve heard, only one remains with me; as vivid in my mind today as the first time I heard it.  Before I relay it, I feel it necessary to warn the faint of heart that now would be the time to avert one’s eyes or better yet, turn the page.  And yes, what you’re about to read actually occurred exactly as I’ll describe it.

It was a late fall afternoon in the hill country of Texas.  As he tells it, my friend and his father had been out since before dawn stalking deer.  Listless hours of sitting in their deer stand had yielded nothing except the occasional sighting of an armadillo.  They both had resisted the temptation to take a pot shot or two at these armored oddities because they feared that the sound of their guns would scare off the deer which were almost certainly just about to crest the closest hill.

As the sun sank lower in the western Texas sky, they reluctantly gave up, having never laid eyes on a deer.  Disappointed, they returned to their car for the trip home.  My friend’s father, being worn out from the day’s inactivity, decided to climb into the back seat, stretch out, and take a nap.  Even though the late afternoon autumn temperature was beginning to drop, he decided to leave the car’s backseat windows rolled down.
highway
About 30 minutes into the trip, with dusk rapidly gathering and his father snoozing pleasantly in the back seat, my friend was driving down a long stretch of narrow highway.  In the distance, he could see a lone tractor trailer truck barreling down the highway coming toward him.

According to my friend’s account, just seconds before the truck and his car were going to pass, his perception of time momentarily shifted into super slow motion.  From the right side of the road, he saw a large deer bound out into the highway in what was to be a vain attempt to cross it safely.   At the exact moment that the deer crossed the center line, it was met from it’s right by the truck and from it’s left by my friend’s car.

In a manner of speaking, and perhaps thankfully, it’s safe to say that the deer never knew what hit him.  The combined speeds of the truck and car each traveling at 60+ miles per hour in opposite directions had the net effect of neatly severing the deer in mid-torso.

It would probably require an applied physicist, well versed in the laws of bodies in motion to explain what happened next. As my friend told the story, as soon as the truck and his car had passed each other, time returned to it’s normal speed and he became aware of frantic motions in the back seat accompanied by strange gurgling noises.

Pulling over to the shoulder of the road, he turned to see what was going on and found his father attempting to extricate himself from under a large mass of deer entrails.  When his father’s head finally appeared out from under the deer’s viscera he said, “Dad, I told you it was too cool to roll that window down.

I’m pleased to report that father and son have reconciled and returned to hunting together.  The last time I checked, they were still looking for someone willing to make a good trade for the car.

OM

Photo credit: Mr. T in DC Foter CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: muskva / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

An Early Sunday Morning Gone to the Birds

Just in case anyone is wondering, I haven’t decided to turn this into a photo blog.  It just happens that over the past few days, I’ve been more inspired to capture images, rather than align words.

I’m still in search of opportunities to photograph Great Blue Herons.  There are plenty of them around, but so far I’ve struck out at the local watering holes where they normally hang out.  Next weekend, I may try late afternoon for my searches instead of early morning.

Before my camera batteries died this morning (the one in the camera, plus a back-up), I was able to photograph a few birds in the early light.  I really need to become more disciplined about recharging my batteries.

Canadian Geese banking for a landing on the river
More Canadian Geese in formation

Just cruisin’  (Do these guys migrate any more?  The ones around here seem to have taken up year round residence)
A Red-Tailed Hawk looking for breakfast (I’m fairly certain this is a Red-Tailed. He was so fluffed up against the cold, I admit that my identification could be off)

In Search of the Great Blue Heron


I think that perhaps I’ve been watching too many nature programs on the tube lately.

I woke up this morning and, for the second time this week, I had the urge to grab one of my cameras and a couple of lenses and head out for an early morning photo safari.


Now it’s difficult to conduct a serious safari in an overgrown metropolitan area such as the one in which I reside, but fortunately over the past few years, a lot of work has gone into constructing greenways which meander alongside the creeks and through the wetlands which have somehow managed to survive the suburban sprawl which has led to the demise of so many trees.

The diversity of wildlife which still manages to find habitat locally, surrounded by 4.5 million humanoids, is really somewhat amazing.

As I’ve walked down various sections of the local greenways, I’ve come across beaver, mink, raccoon, possum, coyote, fox, and of course deer. It’s not uncommon these days to find deer out in the neighbor’s front yards ravenously consuming their flower beds. And not surprisingly, deer are now considered by many to be little more than “White Tailed Rats“.

Anyway, I went out this morning hoping to photographically bag a Great Blue Heron. They, along with their smaller cousins the Green Heron, frequent ponds and the shallows near the banks of the creeks along the greenway. I did in fact find Great Blue Herons this morning, two to be specific. But they saw, or more likely heard, me before I saw them in the early morning light. Being somewhat skiddish, and disturbed by my clumsiness while approaching their breakfast nooks, both of the herons took off before I could get my act together.

I did manage to capture a shot of a Killdeer. Not the big game that I was in quest of this morning, but I didn’t want to come home empty handed.

I had to satisfy my photographic “jones” by taking a few shots of the autumn flora and landscape along the banks of Big Creek. A few of those images are sprinkled throughout this post.

As far as the Great Blue Herons are concerned, they’re still out there. And they know I’m coming for them!