Yesterday I went for my second hunt of the bow season for deer hunting. I needed to get out and get away from school, the city, and ‘society’. After bandaging up my foot real well (I had surgery on the toe a week ago), I slipped my feet into the boots, threw my hunting clothes and bow in the back of the vehicle and headed out. The closer I got to my destination, the more relaxed I became.
Pulling up the lane, I espied my 75 year old neighbor messing with his 1952 Ford 9N Jubilee tractor. He was doing a little swearing at the old girl because she wouldn’t start after he recharged the battery. I yelled at him “I wouldn’t work for you either if you swore at me like that!” catching him off guard. I got out of the vehicle and walked over to see the old Ford tractor that I had operated several times when we still lived down there. I walked around her checking fluids and such when I noticed the fuel valve was turned off. As my neighbor said he had already checked everything, I subtly reached over and turned the valve on and told him I think I could get her started.
“Go ahead and try” he said, “it ain’t gonna start.”
To make the show look more convincing, I stroked the hood a couple times and talked to the tractor soothingly “I know he’s a mean old bird and I don’t blame you for not starting for him. But now Jub, I want you to start up for me and we’ll go for a spin to show him how a woman needs to be treated.” With that, I climbed up on her and pressed the starting switch while pumping the choke knob in and out, and she started right up.
I drove the old tractor around the barn lot once while my neighbor stood there rubbing his head and lightly swearing with amazement. I stopped the tractor in front of him and told him that the tractor was kind of like him, old and cantankerous. Then we talked about my plans for the day and he asked that I call him when I left so he would not worry.
With that we parted company. I pulled my vehicle off the lane and suited up in my camouflage, grabbed the bow and arrows and hiked the 30 minutes back to the tree stand. Once securely attached to the tree in a death nest 20′ above the ground, I sat back to wait.
Two hours into the sit I heard some stomping behind me which startled me out of my day dream. I slowly turned to peer into the woods behind me and didn’t see anything. “I know I heard a deer stomp” I thought to myself and strained to see if I could make out a deer. As I was about to return to my normal seating position I saw something falling to the ground. When it hit there was that stomp I heard.
It happens every year. I get into a stand in the fall when trees are dropping their fruit and forget about the Osage Orange trees common scattered around my property. They grow these big fruits that we call ‘Hedge Apples’ that are about the size of a softball. When they hit the forest floor, they sound just like a deer stomping. I smiled and turned around.
I watched the birds for a while and saw seven or eight Blue Jays flitting from tree to tree. The Downy Woodpeckers were busy all around with their distinctive calls followed by the hammering of their beaks against the trees in search of a meal. A Northern Flicker, which up close is a very pretty bird, danced from limb to limb in the tree that I was sitting in giving me some up close and personal views of his spotted belly. Over by the pond I could hear a few Red Wing Blackbirds singing. I would have thought they would thought they would have migrated south by now, but it was good to hear their song. Off in the distance a couple Hoot Owls were carrying on a conversation back and forth. Finally, I watched as a handful of Chickadee’s hop from weed to weed dining on seeds as they went. It was so good to be back in the country.
Around 5:00 PM, the clouds started to burn off, although the humidity level kept a heavy haze going. 120 yards out in front of me in the field a doe and her two off spring came out of the neighbor’s land and crossed in front of me. The way the doe would go and then look over her shoulder before going again enticed me to think that a buck might be chasing her and I watched and waited to see if something else crossed the fence, but it didn’t.
Shortly thereafter, two turkeys sauntered by pecking at bugs as they made their way back towards their roosts for the evening and that was the last two creatures I saw as the sun which had already quietly slipped below the horizon turned off her light to give way to the night. I quietly climbed down out of my aerie and started the hike back to my SUV.
During the drive home, the humidity of the day transformed itself into avalanches of fog that made its way from the high grounds into the low lying areas. It got thick at times and I could only see a very short distance in front of me and then without warning I would bust through a wall into clear driving again. When I reached a point where I had cell signal, I called the neighbor to tell him I had left. While talking about the day, I confessed that I noticed he didn’t turn the fuel petcock valve on and I did before starting the tractor. He laughed as he called me a few choice words as he explained how he had gone back to the house and told his wife that I must be some sort of tractor whisperer or something as he related the story of our encounter. Then he confessed that he always turns the valve off when he’s done using the tractor as he has done for fifty years like clockwork. He said he must be losing it if he forgot to turn the fuel on. We both laughed and I promised to go by his house when I finish hunting on Sunday.
I arrived back home at 8:30 PM and had my dinner. I then went back out and unloaded the hunting equipment until my next venture into the woods and at ten o’clock retired for the evening. My soul satiated, I fell asleep.
This morning I woke up at 7:00 AM! That was nine hours of uninterrupted sleep which I never get. It was good to feed the soul as I have been unintentionally starving it for too long.