We often take walks in the woods. All of us appreciate the wilderness, discovering new things on every foray. Yesterday I got a chance to focus on a few subjects more relevant to hunting (both wild foraging and deer hunting) by leaving the path. Leaving the path is something you only want to do if you are confident in your knowledge of the terrain, but even so it still requires some faith in yourself and random circumstance. I of course stressed the dangers of leaving the path, and we discussed the other options available to us before putting it to a vote which was almost unanimous.
We learned that if you do see a deer, turkey, bear, fox, owl, coyote, bobcat, etc. the most incorrect response is to stop and yell “HEY THERE’S A DEER LOOK oh it’s gone never mind.” We learned how to slowly transfer weight heel to toe to make less noise and be more sure of our footing. We learned how to tell the cardinal directions through observations such as where the sun is in the sky, where the shadows are on the ground, and also where the moss is on the trees (although I did stress that this is a much less reliable indicator of direction as really the moss is just growing in the shade, not because of a magnetic attraction to North). We learned to always be aware of where water can be found, which around here is fairly easy – walk downhill and you’ll find it.
We heard an entire flock of turkeys scratching and gobbling, a barred owl calling to no one, saw any number of rock-covered prospective dens, and a few skeletons and corpses of raccoons and fish proving a healthy predatory presence in the area. Over all we just had ourselves a good exhausting escapade with no pre-planned agenda and I could see the eagerness to learn taking hold upon every new sight, sound, and experience. Wilderness at its best.