This past Wednesday, a trip was finally made to camp. A trip was planned the week before, but those darned eagles just keep me too busy here at home.
The hope was that all the tree stands would have been checked by now, and that any final preparations would have been made. So besides mowing the grass, stacking firewood on the front porch and doing a number of “before-winter-comes” tasks, a few stands still needed to be checked out.
Apparently there had been some windy conditions since my last visit, as there were a lot of apples on the ground. However, the deer must still be after acorns, because the apples haven't been touched.
On the way to camp I noticed there didn't seem like there was much fall color. It is there, but just not very striking, and it seems like a lot of leaves have already fallen. Looking across the valley from the cabin to Tibbets Hill, which always is very colorful, things looked dull. We also had 1.5 inches of rain since my last visit, so that may have contributed to the early leaf-falling and lack of color.
The lawn was cut and a couple of the “green” fields were mowed but not before there was a brush hog breakdown, which required some time that hadn't been figured into my work schedule.
One day, a climb up onto the cabin roof was made to clean the wood burner stove pipe. This should prevent any fire problems later in the season.
Another task that should have been done earlier was the removal of the pond aerator and barley floats. The barley floats are wire cages with foam floatation that hold barley straw (which produces enzymes that help cut down on the algae bloom during the summer). This is my last swim in the pond for the year (usually the last of September) and it is cold but the swim this weekend was the coldest! The air temperature was around 70 degrees, so that was good when I got out. Actually it wasn't really too bad once my body became numb! In fact, after the items had been removed from the pond, a quick swim-around and a wash-up were made.
During my travels around to check the last of the tree stands, quite a few scrapes (buck pawings on the ground) were seen. Seeing archery season is open for deer, you may wonder why I wasn't hunting. Well, I never get too excited about hunting until about the end of October. For one thing, deer patterns are in a state of change this time of the year, making them harder to pinpoint for a close bow shot.
Second, the weather is just too warm to take a deer, especially with the temperatures the last few weeks. Doing so means you have to quit hunting, and get the deer processed very quickly. I would still rather be out in the woods enjoying the early fall weather and sights.
A third reason I don't get into the hunting early is that starting to harass the deer puts them on high alert by the time prime time comes around (the last week of October through the middle of November). This makes it more difficult to see deer movement during the day.
The last factor limiting early bow hunting for me is that there always seems to be too much to do around camp before winter. It seems that the last few years, it takes a little longer and more energy to accomplish these tasks.
For a bit of relaxation I was given two evenings of beautiful sunsets with dead calm air, which made for some nice photographing of reflections in the water around the pond.
Speaking of photographing, Sunday afternoon I noticed a ruffed grouse on the dirt road just below the cabin. The camera was grabbed and I jumped in the van, knowing my chances of getting some shots were best in the van, as opposed to by “sneaking” down the road.
He was spotted near the road in a group of Red Osier bushes where he was eating the white berries that had already fallen from them. It was a very difficult shoot because of the low light conditions and the brush being so thick. I was constantly starting, stopping, turning the van off and on, and moving back and forth trying to get a clear shot. After a while, he got accustomed to my activity and settled down pretty good.
A few years back Drummer Boy and Pretty Boy (two different grouse that befriended me) gave me a lot of great grouse shots, but I love the challenge of getting a good picture under these difficult conditions. I guess it gives me more satisfaction than those “easy shots."
Eventually some good shots were obtained, and then it began to rain. Heading back to the cabin, things were packed up to be ready to leave in the morning, as rain was still in the forecast for Monday morning.
I always love leaving camp when the weather gets bad versus when it is nice. I wonder why?