A cabin in the woods provides so many memorable stories
Haven’t we gloried in the fairly warm weather this past week? Was old Phil right after all?
We shall see but this one thing is for sure: the gobblers are blaring their lust abroad and don’t we enjoy that? All over the planet birds, geese and butterflies are readying for their long migrations. These seasons and rituals are the same generation after generation even as God promised they would.
Not so with game laws, however. We still don’t know if we will be able to hunt Sundays or whether the first day of deer season will be on Saturday or Monday. Those answers should be coming soon.
Spring weather makes me reflective so I was remembering a time from another life and place where I spent a week’s vacation in a cabin in the deep forest of Bradford County.
Each day began about 3:30 a.m. as I hiked by flashlight to a favorite spot, hoping to see/hear a gobbler. And one morning there he was — fanning his wings, strutting pompously, and thundering royally, hoping to entice a few more hens to his harem. A passionate gobbler doing his ritual mating dance is surely one of nature’s finest displays.
Late mornings and early afternoons were spent trout fishing, which provided my supper back at camp. A couple times I hiked in the late afternoon to a spot I knew where a red fox vixen was denned with her two kits. Despite my camouflage clothes and head net, it never took long for the vixen to spot me. Then the performance would begin!
She would let out a series of ear-splitting shrieks which sent the kits scurrying into the den. Then the vixen would go about 50 yards out into the woods and keep up the shrieking until I would leave. If I had not seen her making this racket, I would not have believed a fox was capable of such sounds.
A couple of nights, as I hiked back to the cabin, I was treated to that truly magical mating display put on by the woodcock. He sits on the ground and emits a call that some say sounds like “Peent” but it sounds to me just like a buzzer going off. After 10 or 15 of these calls, he lifts into the sky with wings whistling, makes about three circles overhead and spirals downward, landing with a thud to earth again to buzz some more.
The last, but indeed not the least, of my experiences that week was the night a black bear decided to share the cabin with me. After midnight that night, I was awakened by thumps and scraping sounds.
I grabbed the flashlight (no electricity in the cabin) and opened the back door and there he was! Too late! I realized I had forgotten to take my fish creel back into the cabin after having rinsed it out and hung it on the screened-in porch to dry. He had pushed in the screen and was half way inside when I yelled at him. He dropped down on all fours outside the porch but stayed right there. Obviously he intended to climb back inside as soon as he felt the coast was clear.
What I didn’t need was an angry bear on the back porch. What to do? Finally, I went out the front door of the cabin and got into my International Scout and drove around the side of the cabin, honking the horn all the way until I picked him up in the headlights. He paced back and forth – quite, reluctant to leave I knew. But I kept honking and blinking the headlights and he finally sauntered off into the woods.
Only then did I jump out of the car, run onto the porch, grab the creel and dart into the cabin through the backdoor. The car stayed out there till morning. I slept fitfully the rest of the evening, sure he would return but he did not. He may have prowled around outside, but he did not smell the creel so he did not attempt to leap through the screen again to get it.
I mention in passing the many deer, birds, and a couple snakes that I saw in my travels. I also spotted a hawk’s nest and a family of mallards on a small pond.
It is revitalizing to take a few walks in the spring woods, with no particular thought in mind except to quietly observe/photograph whatever shows Mother Nature presents. You never know what might happen but believe me something usually does.