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Author Topic: Remembrance Day Tradition  (Read 181 times)

IronNoggin

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Remembrance Day Tradition
« on: November 12, 2020, 12:03:38 PM »

For decades, my personal tradition is to get out in the woods solo for a few hours on Remembrance Day. While there, I think of each member of our Family (many, in fact most of the men for 5 generations) that have served. It is a fairly long list that requires a few hours to go over, thanking each in their turn for being able to do just what it is I love, and the way we all live our lives as a consequence of their service and sacrifice.

As many may know, 2020 has been more than a little unkind to both my Family and myself.
After losing Mom at the beginning of the hunting season, yet another in a series of painful events, I developed a general malaise about getting back out to the land. My heart simply was not into it.

But when Remembrance Day rolled around, I felt inside it would be a betrayal of all that I held dear for those magnificent men and woman who fought with so much determination to make the world a better place were I not to go. This is the tale of my following what my internal guide demanded was the right thing to do...

A neighbor up the street served in the last great war, and is getting up there. Knowing he loves lamb, I selected a prime cut, and wandered over to his place to drop that to him, and personally thank him for what he had done. We had a fine chat, and he wished me well in my wanderings up the mountain.

Not having been out even a single time since the season started, it took me a spell to relocate all the gear. But I managed to do so, then selected the stainless 270 and a razor sharp folder to accompany. Headed out several hours before dark.

The place I headed to is close. But even so, I have never seen another hunter in there ever. I wander this area a couple times a season, it is like a familiar "back yard" to me, and I have taken a few fine bucks up there over the years.

Headed up the trail, I again noticed that no-one had laid as much as a single bootprint since the last rains. Cruising comfortably, my mind ran to thoughts of Dad, my Brother, Uncles, Grandfathers, Great Grandfathers and more. My mind's eye see them in picture perfect detail, even though many have been gone for a rather long time. In turn, I say a little internal prayer for each, and thank each for the sacrifices they made so that the world would be a better place as their consequence. Often a little mist appeared over my eyes, but my feet well know the trails I was on, and nary a stumble ensued.

Now into the still hunt portion, I ghosted through the broken timber extremely slowly so as to present as little in the way of disturbance as possible. Within a hundred yards, I saw through the timber in a small opening what I assumed was two does. Closing, I soon realized that instead these were two bambi's. I spent the better part of an hour with them, ghosting to within 25 yards on occasion, and backing out to 80 or so on others. No mom, no bucks. Finally came to the conclusion that mom was likely off somewhere else on a hot date, leaving these two wee ones to their own devices. Shortly after that I did the same...

More thoughts of Remembrance as I continued along.

Then several hundred yards further along, I saw a distinct black form across the ravine and down a ways from me. A quick check verified what appeared to be a decent sized black bear, slowly feeding his way towards the bottom of the ravine.
Hmmm.
If he continues on his present course, I should be able to intercept him up this side of the valley a hundred yards or so distant from what I stood.

I quietly made my way towards that juncture, and had but a moment or two to collect my thoughts before I caught glimpses of back fur headed uphill towards the rail that parallels the ridge line. Just when he reached that trail, I intentionally snapped a twig under my right foot.

At 60 yards, he froze and turned to look inquisitively in my direction.

Scope centered on forehead. Good distance between medium-small looking ears, with a crease down the center of his forehead. Decent Boar.
Likely pushing 375 - 400 pounds.

Crosshairs automatically slid into place behind his front shoulder...

Then, my adult internal voice spoke:

Think about what you are doing.

You are 275 yards downhill from the ridge you have to get back overtop, with a lot of tangled blackberry bushes and blowdowns between. All on a rather steep angle.

Then there is the next mile downhill back to the trailhead and the truck.

He will likely head downhill at the shot, and doing so may result with him landing in the swamp below.

Your regular partners are out of town, meaning you may well have to deal with this one on your own.

One hour until pitch black.

Your call...

Safety back on, I watched as he decided something wasn't right, turned, and ambled off back downhill the way he had come. My heart rate slowed, breathing returned to normal. Giving him adequate time to make his "escape" I continued on.

When I wandered through the normal bedding and feeding areas, my heart sank. There was a LOT less sign than any of the 15 plus years had produced in these exact same places. Like less than 10 %.
It appears that herd has largely relocated. While I have an idea or two just where that might be, I could not help but think the reason they did so had just been given a free pass.

Eventually darkness draped the mountain, and I began to make my way out. No need for a light, I've been this way often enough I can find the trails in little light.

Upon arrival at my truck, I doffed my cap, studied the dark clouded sky, and once again mumbled my thanks not only to those from my Family that served, but to the many others that did so to ensure our way of life is what it is today... I also paid tribute to my dearly departed Mother, thanking for helping instill in me the love of all outdoors, and specifically so that of the hunt. Her presence was alongside me all the way home...

I have given some thought to both the deer and the boar. Today I have made a few calls, ensuring badly need help should I go in after the latter. That accomplished, I intend to make that particular hill a deer sanctuary once again if I am able.

In closing, I managed to honor my own tradition, and say the thanks I needed to. That little wander put more than a few things into perspective for me, and I can tell it will be but a short time before I am back out there - where I belong this time of year.

To the many that made this possible by their sacrifice, my extreme and undying THANKS!
You will never be forgotten.
And I will never abandon my Remembrance Day Tradition as long as I am alive.



Cheers,
Nog
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