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Moving forward with a small step back

Notes from the North Woods

The woods are changing rapidly, peak foliage has come and gone, and soon too, the leaves as well.

Earlier in the week, I took a long morning sit in a local hardwood stand, with a bow in my hand.

As always, the sun was unbearably slow to rise, and it seemed like an eternity passed before the first warming rays finally settled on my shivering carcass.

There was still a crispy frost on the ground, as the sun’s first ray penetrated the quiet, hardwood forest. There wasn’t even a hit of wind in the air, until the sun’s rays warmed the earth.

The morning sun set loose the birds, and soon their chattering rivaled that of my own, as my teeth typed out the depths of the morning’s temperature.

Deer sign seemed to be everywhere, except under my stand, but as the warming sun began to caressed the hills, the woods let loose.

It is always difficult to explain to someone what a falling leaf sounds like. It is indescribable in the sense that the noise is subtle yet loud, soft yet grating, and it always seems to build to a crescendo until the first sunrays finally bless you with a golden blanket of warmth.

Usually, the morning’s leafy sun inspired show is brief, but breeze and moving currents can prolong it. It is beautiful to watch and a pleasure to be absorbed by it, however that same beauty can help to cover the movements of a wary whitetail as it wanders near your stand.

The poplars and birch are losing their leaves rapidly, and the woods are becoming more open by the day. Unfortunately the beech whips, which are thick as hair on a hound’s behind, always seem to retain their leaves well into the season.

Whitetails seem to know where to go in such times, and they often simply disappear into a stand of whips. Fortunately, I had better things to do than sit in a cold, metal treestand for more than a short morning hunt.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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