Thirty-one and breezy, overcast, the first normal openiing weekend I’ve seen in maybe a decade. Feels like a decade. No ducks on the pond to my right. There were ducks there a couple years ago- woodies and teal, a trio of geese even, I shot a couple. None there now. Probably went south on the front. A gray squirrel climbs down from a shingle oak in the fencerow and bounds towards me, scrambling a few feet up the tree- not the one immediately in front, a little further back, to the left. I pass the drive-by assessment and, unfazed, he clamors through dried amber leaves of oak and hickory. There’s a ton of red oak acorns; they fall every other year so they were unfazed by summer drought. I don’t know about the white oaks, most all them were logged off for whiskey and wine staves. I need to do something about the multiflora rose. And the autumn olive.
If they come up the draw and follow the fencerow separating the woods and the pasture, I’ll see them. If they canter across the field feeling protected by tall grass, I’ll see them. It’s studded with honey colored fronds of little bluestem, frosted with white seedheads, three or four feet above the green fescue. The soil’s too sour and you have to lime the fields every two, three, five years, or else the native landscape starts poking through.
I’m glad they fenced the cows out, it’s nice to see little seedling white oaks, red oaks, black cherries. And hornbeam, browsed down to bonsai just inside the field edges. I’ll have to come down in May, June, after turkey season. Shame it’s my busy time of year.
I like this spot for turkeys because they round the corner at that fence and they’re immediately in range. Deer are the same way. Dad never hunted this spot, I don’t think, although the El separating the woods and the pasture wasn’t here then. He hunted in the woods, closer to the property line, and I think the adjoining landowner’s kid fencesits in a treestand and I don’t want to be his backstop. Three-hundred twenty acres and he hunts there, fucker, although it’s a good spot. A well-defined spot, with a branch leading up from the all-weather creek to thick brush and a pond and decent forage. After I kill the rose and the autumn olive they’ll need replaced. Hazelnut, maybe. Sumac. There’s plenty of cedars, although a few could be hinged so there’s not such a definite edge between the woods and the fields. I could clean up some of the windthrown poles, too, pile them intermittently along the north-facing slope for the creeping things, the mice and voles and frogs and salamanders and all which go foraging for them…
…I realized there was something along the fencerow across the pond, and slowly shifted my body. A doe and a fawn, each flicking their tail, moving cautiously towards a copse of thick cedars. I watched.