Gone For The Day

Posted on October 13, 2015

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There will always be, in the still-hunters memory, the song of a little mountain brook, discovered in his wanderings; the heart-stopping clutch as a magnificent buck bounds from a windfall hideaway; the triumphant moment when, by wits and woodsmanship alone, he has tracked down his whitetail buck and sent forth the well-placed shot that has brought his trophy to bag.    – Larry Koller

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Yes my friends, I am about to be, Gone for the Day. It’s time to head off to the hinterland in search of buckskin and bone. Time to reunite with all that is wildest and most free. It is time for yet another adventure back of beyond with the magnificent white-tailed deer.

Pausing to sit amongst the many fine deer heads that decorate the hard work room brings me fond remembrances of the hunts that transpired to get them. Each buck and the hunt that ensued to capture him were different with their own set of hardships and circumstances. With that said it becomes quite ironic that the bucks my mind drifts back too more often than not are those that are not adorning my walls. “That noble, elusive, crafty, wonderful denizen of the wilds,” as Rutledge put it, which successfully eluded me even with my best effort put forth show up in my thoughts quite frequently. Those bucks that continue to walk the forest captivate my imagination as few things can do.

 

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As I depart, the once vibrant multi-colored leaves have long since deadened their appearance with the passing of time, and on the current of a whimsical breeze, have slipped their surly bonds floating helplessly to their death knell upon the woodland floor. Trees that were once filled to overflow capacity with nature’s fruitful bounty now stand statuesquely naked with only a remnant of nuts sporadically sprinkled beneath the skeletal limbs that first bore them. Squirrels anxiously scurry in a frenetic pace to gather all of these treasures before they become buried beneath winter’s dormant blanket. For on the slate blue horizon looms a bank head of ominous, billowing, clouds brimming with frozen precipitation. Peacefully the first flakes of snow will come sauntering down, but before long, the intensity of the storm’s fury is unleashed and the deer tracker’s world quickly transforms into an unsullied, featureless landscape of white.

 

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There will undoubtedly be newfound joy and excitement within the deer tracker’s backwoods bailiwick, happiness the likes of which even the most miserable of dispositions can’t extinguish. The magician has waved his magic wand producing an all-revealing tablet of pristine parchment in which the comings and goings of the forests inhabitants will be clearly etched. Although it’s not a yellow brick road, my expectations of what will be found at the end of the trail will be no less astonishing.
I can almost feel my pulse quicken as I type these words due to the mere thought that in only a few days I will once again be on the track in some remote forest pursuing the greatest game animal God ever created. Even after nearly five decades of hunting this grand creature, the white-tailed deer, my enthusiasm for the chase and respect for the animal has yet to diminish. You see, “When pursuing whitetails,” deer historian, Rob Wegner explains, “We divert and distract ourselves from industrial madness and its laborious occupations. When we leave the city of Degeneration and go to the woods, it is astounding how naturally and quickly we free ourselves from worry, tension and temper. A fresh and fragrant atmosphere once again circulates through our blood as we become submerged in nature. It’s almost like returning to the old homeland.”

You see, in the words of Old Flintlock Rutledge,
“Now and then you will find an inveterate hunter who is constantly seeing, studying and understanding things. When you find him, you have found a man who knows as much as anybody about nature as it really is.” I am he, as Rutledge inquires, “Who haunts the lonely woods at daybreak, and sometimes lingers far in the forest until the first stars appear? Usually only the hunter does this; and by constantly pitting his intelligence against that of wild things in the wilderness, he comes to a just appreciation of their character and their ability.
In addition to those pioneer virtues that all real hunters possess – their hardihood, their good sportsmanship, their patience, their capacity to take disappointment – they acquire by firsthand experience a type of knowledge of wild creatures such as no other man can attain.”

 

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Time is now slipping away. With several things still left on my checklist to pack I must attend to this crucial matter. But before I bid you adieu, I wish all of you the best of deer seasons. May yours be filled with memories that will last for a lifetime, and may the end of your drag rope be filled with antlers and deer flesh. Until December my friends…Gone for the Day!

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© 2015 R.G. Bernier Nature Photography – All rights reserved.

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Posted in: Whitetail Deer