It was a triple trophy day

Folks of my generation will remember the days when the Game Commission gave the “Triple Trophy Award” to any hunter who bagged a buck, a bear and a gobbler in one year’s hunting season.

They have discontinued that practice long ago. It was pretty difficult to bag all three of those species in one year. Even your chances of seeing those three animals in one day is rare but on a September day, it happened to me.

I’d gone down to the mountain to scout out some archery spots and to take a look at my favorite trout stream. I was walking up an old railroad grade along the stream when I saw a suspicious looking spot about 300 yards ahead. Through the binoculars, I could see it was a longbeard!

He seemed to be alone and was facing away from me so I ducked into the high weeds beside the path, pulled my camouflage hat and jacket around me as best I could, took out an old box call I had brought along and offered him some hen yelps.

The old boy did an about-face and came running down the trail toward me, yelping all the way. Obviously he was receptive to the idea of some company.

Ever so slowly, yet not slowly enough I raised my camera, praying I’d be able get a picture. But with that slight movement he had detected, he swapped ends again and scampered into the woods.

When I left the bottom of the mountain I drove several miles over some very scenic country to get to an area I like to hunt in archery season. As I rounded a bend, two grouse were dusting themselves in the middle of the road. I was able to get a snapshot of one of them.

A couple hundred yards later, a doe was browsing by the side of the road. She looked so foolish standing at alert looking at me with greens hanging out of both sides of her mouth. But she stood there long enough for me to get a picture, greens and all.

Soon I parked my vehicle and hiked into my spot. As if on cue, a sleek, fork-horn buck meandered along. Just sitting alone somewhere in the woods on a warm, quiet afternoon, watching wildlife is a unique experience that has no equal. If you like to spotlight for deer imagine what it’s like to be camouflaged and sitting under a Pine tree while a nice buck crunches apples just a few feet away from you. It’s happened to me several times.

It was nearly dark when I headed off the mountain toward home. My headlights picked up the dark shape — a bear! I stopped at once. Could I really have been that lucky?

The bear just stood in the road, almost as if it was undecided about which way to go. Finally, it turned and went back into the woods.

It was a triple trophy day for me, a one-of-a-kind memory for sure. Far better I thought that any television show and certainly far better than the syrupy nature stuff Disney and other nature-fakers dish out to us.

So much is going on in the woods and so few of us ever take time to enjoy observe or enjoy any of it except during a hunting season.