I had a lesson some years ago when I read a remark made by an Alaskan Aboriginal writer. He said he found it very curious that white man will refer to the Alaskan Bush as “Wilderness”? He remarked that… “my ancestors have lived there for thousands of years and are still quite at home.”
I think about heading for the woods for the late muzzle loader deer season. I think perhaps another way to define wilderness is by the animal species that thrive. Timber wolves are one, as biologists say they need true wilderness in their habitat to survive.
Our deer hunting is pretty remote, there are lots of wolves. They were hunting right around the cabin last week and made at least one kill within one half mile of camp. It sounded like they were after another deer the following night as well. I was down doing a little looking around with the fresh snow and saw quite a few wolf tracks in the area as well as some bobcat, fisher, and a lynx track. There weren’t a lot of deer tracks, all that I saw were buck tracks probably still seeking a doe left over from the rut. I imagine the antlerless deer were on the low down with all the wolf hunting going on.
There are still good snowshoe hare numbers in some areas, I saw a few sets of grouse tracks, and there are a lot of mice this year. Predators and prey, in the cold dark woods of November, it’s eerie at times, even gloomy.
It seems like there are many more clear starry nights than there are sunny days in November. I think a lot of times when we are outdoors we tend to notice the landscape more than anything else. When you step out of the cabin at night on a clear cold night it’s the sky that you just can’t miss…Wow its just beautiful and so massive…Wow!
Just think of all what is going on out there now. A few weeks ago I was standing quietly during a slow still hunt for deer when off to my right about 40 yards or so a rabbit went streaking past behind me. I thought…”I wonder what’s after him?”…moments later a fisher went streaking by in hot pursuit. A few moments later I heard a soft…”Eek…Eeek”…the end of the rabbit and a hot meal for the fisher.
The late muzzle loader season starts 3 weeks after the opening of the regular firearms deer season. It’s a lot different. There are no other deer camps in the woods, and very few hunters. Most days there is hardly even another truck through the area on the main road.
In the woods it’s so quite every thing seems loud. Its survival of the fittest and the game of chance for the creatures… either they are hunted or they are hunting. They all need food to stay strong and live but now they need it for heat as well. There will be days and nights when temps drop below -30 degrees F and they are coming soon.
Chances to get a deer are less, the rut is over and the deer don’t move as much. The wolves are bolder and need to hunt more often…the deer are more often on the low down.
If the sun comes out and shines on you it feels wonderful in November…it makes you smile…truly things look brighter…emotionally and physically. When the little chickadees come by they are always cheerful and welcome. I think that is the reason for chickadees…to cheer up all the creatures living in the woods…they always make me smile.
I don’t need to have a successful deer hunt. The meat would definitely go for my subsistence but I can buy food in town if it doesn’t work out…the game of chance. Being out there is good for the soul, the silence, the signs of life, watching, and waiting…
When the sun sets and darkness comes it’s the main time of the activity for his time of year for most of the creatures…except for me and the little birds. For me its time to head for the cabin and the fire…the comforts so much appreciated after a cold day outside. The simple things are so much more appreciated in late November woods and in solitude.