Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Had a Dream..........

Not as grand as Martin Luther King, of course.

It was a dream of doe hunting, a few recent books I've read and kayaking.

They somehow were all mashed together, much like our wakening thoughts sometimes?

First the doe hunting. From my previous 2 posts it's easy to see why the doe was still in my thoughts. It tied into a book I just finished. A book I bought while up in Alaska last summer "Alaska's Wolf Man". How the book entered into my dream I think is a quote written by the subjects then airplane pilot as he killed wolves from the first aerial wolf hunt by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in Alaska. The pilot, Jay Hammond, went on to become Alaska's fifth Governor.
The quote is: Each Man Kills the Thing He Loves. This poem was by Wilde, but Hammond referred it to poet John Donne. In any case, it stuck with me. Many of us have heard the quote before, but after reading the book, it resonated more with me. Why?

Well, it seems the doe story put it over the edge, but it started a few months before that. After reading a couple books I found in Alaska. The first, The Only Kayak, goes into a story about the crowding of Alaska. How one guy "got his" and now, he thinks that the experience was so grand that seemingly no others, should be able to experience the same thing as he presumably wants to shut down the wild areas he so much enjoyed due to over crowding. A noble endeavor, for sure, but fair? What good is the wilderness if not to enjoy it? Here in the midwest we have the BWCA. An area of lakes where only a certain amount of folks can go that has numerous restrictions to try to keep it "wild" for generations to come. Is that what the author of "The Only Kayak" wants, or more yet?
Personally, that is why we go to Canada and head for the "wild" places. We don't like the crowds nor the artificial "making of the wild". We try to find it on it's own terms.

The second book was a book I really enjoyed. The Golden Spruce. I was impressed how the author got into the conflict of the wild vs. the destroying/preserving some of it for the benefit of mankind. It's not a simple story and he did a great job delving into it.

So, back to the dream and the last component, kayaking.
I was on a river, in an eddy, holding 3-4 other boats for people on our party to keep them and me from going downstream. We were on a mid-sized mountain river, 25-30 feet across with a nice rush of current. Somewhat steep sided river banks surrounded by much steeper fir covered hillsides. Reminded me of Clarks Fork west of Missoula, MT and some of our Canadian trips combined.
Around the bend to the right was a known entry into some class III or better water, but I couldn't see the entry.
As I was treading water, 2 guys I know from kayaking, Andy and Luke, paddled past me in their yaks followed close by 2 jet-skis. They were going to hit the rapids and the jet-skis were going to go for support and pull them in their yaks back upstream if they couldn't paddle the current .

They paddled right by me without even looking at me, let alone asking if I wanted to join them. (maybe it was Luke and Andy and not other guys I've been on rivers with as I was only a very small part of their trip down the Mississippi? ...maybe subconsciously I wanted to make that trip, too?...dreams, who knows what goes on in there?)

It seems it was my duty to keep the other boats corralled, but I could have easily taken them to shore and join them, if they would have asked and waited for me. The didn't do either and I think that is what really bothered me, not asking me. In real life they would have, I'm sure.

In any case, off they go down towards the rapids and the next scene in my dream they are walking/paddling back upstream fresh from their run. Luke (paddling back up) made the run but Andy (walking) didn't and as a matter of fact, he broke his paddle in the attempt.
I was bitter. When we all got back together taking pics and listening to Luke and Andy talk about their experience, I growled, "Why the hell didn't you even ask me to join you?"(as if I would have needed an invitation in real life!) Even though it seems I had already run these rapids before or ones similar. I believe I felt I was being left behind on purpose.....maybe I'm getting too old for this kinda stuff? What was the dream trying to tell me? Andy and Luke are both 30 somethings.

For some reason, at that point in the dream I awoke totally alert. The dream was so vivid and I was so upset I laid in bed thinking "what gives?" As I tried to get back into the dream, the doe came to me and "killing the things you love" was right at the edge of the whole thing. It started to come together....The Only Kayak author writing about the beauty of Alaska, then trying to get everyone to stay away, in effect stirring folks to head north to experience what he did, but not wanting them to come...was he actually also killing what he loves?.........In The Golden Spruce, the subject of the story going from a logger in the Northwest to a conservationist trying to protect the very trees he had been killing to the point where he killed possibly the grandest tree of all, the Golden Spruce. Getting so obsessed he lost his wife and kids and finally his sanity, it seems..... John Muir was credited in his writings of Alaska to be responsible for the start of the thousands of tourists each year heading up to Alaska. To enjoy or desecrate the very beauty he wrote about?....Ed Abbey, a writer I truly enjoy, brought how much commercialism to his beautiful Desert Solitaire? Was The Monkey Wrench Gang
his atonement for this?

Bow Kill Revisited

The morning after. Writers remorse? Not really.

Upon waking I questioned whether to keep the post of the doe kill. I'm sure it strikes some as barbaric and cruel. I can't say I disagree. But, it is honest and true. I've tried to keep this blog that.

Did I feel saddened by the does' death? Not in the death, but in the extended suffering, yes. I was upset with myself for making her suffer the for the length of time it took to dispatch her. There was nothing I could do about that, short of not hunting at all.
I practice shooting and feel confident in myself and my equipments ability to make a clean, quick kill. As I eluded to in the previous post, deer can jump the arrow, so aiming a little low is normally a good plan. In this case, it wasn't.

The doe was an animal. I feel much worse for all the unborn that are killed before they get a chance at life. It disheatens me much more that a mother has gotten to a place mentally that she can allow an abortion much less a late-term abortion. It sickens me that a doctor can do them, knowing that 99.9% of the time he isn't saving the life of the mother, a charade some try to make us believe.
My wife and I work to try to understand that and help those women who can accept our help should the choose life over death for their baby.
I feel much worse for us a global society that we put more value on an animal than a human life at times.

I do feel good that I did all I could to minimize the doe's suffering and didn't just give up on her. The good, natural venison will provide us with some nice wild protein. Meat not injected with chemicals and additives.
Some I will give to Lynn's uncle that can't eat beef due to dietary restrictions. A nice roast I will give the older gentleman that doesn't hunt anymore but loves venison, the same gracious neighbor that I got to know as he helped me sight in my deer rifle last fall.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Late Season Bow Kill

Didn't take any pics....

Got a chance for a clean kill at the doe with the 2 yearlings that busted me last October when a nice 8 point came up to my bow stand. I made a mental note to meet her later in the year. Figured she'd remember where the stand was so decided to take her out so the same thing wouldn't happen again, at least with her.

I had a good opportunity on her late Sunday afternoon. Right after I released the arrow, with about 5" of snow on the ground and temps in the teens, I took off, didn't even go look to see if I got blood.
I had a "date" to meet my wife in a neighboring town 45 minutes away for dinner before she had to drive further south to get ready for work the next morning and I was going to be late if I didn't leave pronto.

I figured to give the doe a good couple hours to lay down and expire.
Got back about 2.5 hours later. Threw on my huntin' duds and a headlamp, grabbed a rope and knife and took off.

Got to where she was standing when I shot. A clear indication of a hit. A spray of bright blood where the arrow passed through her. There was a red line pointing in the snow where the arrow cut under on it's downward path to the ground. Was able to kick the snow away and find the arrow tangled in the long field grass under the snow.

Started tracking her. Not a lot of blood, but enough. Easy to tell she was bleeding from both sides. Got about 30 yards out and found where she had laid down. A good sign but it would have been better if she would have been in the bed, dead. Bed didn't have all that much blood in it.

Started tracking and she made a u-turn and starting heading for the swamp and away from the river. Good, she decided she was hurt too bad to swim.

Tracked her for a long way, 2-300 yards before I caught her eyes in my head lamp, 25 yards and through some brush in front of me. Looked like it was shaping up to be another knife kill episode. Stayed steady on her. Good sign that I got close enough to see her. From the tracks, she was not picking her feet up all the way, dragging them in the snow. Walking.

Another minute and I caught her in the light again. This time running with her tail up. Plenty of blood, but I knew I wasn't going to run her down. She was heading to a house 1/2 mile away where the occupants feed deer all year long. I know the people and they know me. I didn't want to push her there. Decided that if I didn't get her when I reach the logging road I knew I was going to hit soon, I'd stop the chase and come back out early in the AM.

I came to the logging road and walked the mile or so back to my hunting shack the long way around. I could have walked back the way I came, but I wanted to see how close I was to the main road where the logging road met it. Was planning on driving up to the logging road in the AM to try to save time. Had a business meeting at 11:30 in the morning in a town an hr. drive away. Was shaping up to be a busy morning.

Got back to the shack at 9PM, stoked the stove, read some Gray Owl and fell asleep after setting the alarm for 6:30.

Woke up in the night. Looked out the window and it seemed too light out. A hazy kinda light, the kind that is held close to the horizon due to a low ceiling. No stars. Opened the window and turned on the flashlight. Snowing....shit. No blood to follow, gotta act fast. Looked at my watch, 1:30 AM.
Got dressed and headed back out on the same tracks that would lead me back to the logging road where I left the blood trail. Snowed enough that there was no blood visible but still able to follow my own tracks without too much difficulty.

Got the logging road and the end of my footprints. Slowly followed a set of deer tracks that were a fuzzy blur in the snow, maintaining the established direction of her escape route. She got into another deer track, but I was able to see a few places where she was dragging her feet. Was able to follow the veer to the right as she left the other track.
Looking ahead, there she was, laying down, about 50 yards from where I had stopped tracking her. She must have laid right down where she was when I left her trail earlier in the evening.

Looking at her she seemed dead, but the eyes were not glassed over much and the center was not that deep shade of blue of a dead deer. I gave her gentle push with my foot and she blinked. I had to make a quick move before she "woke up". Pressing down on her head I held her tightly to the ground as I reached under her neck with my knife and made a cut across her throat, going as deep and as far as I could from side to side.

Blood starting running hard. She somehow had enough strength to try to run. Not get up then run, but to run in place, laying on her side. It took a few minutes before it was all over.

I looked at where I shot her, thinking I probably hit her high, which is common as a deer's reaction time is fast enough to "jump the arrow". To jump the arrow, though, the deer has to crouch just a little before the jump. This will cause a high hit.
The wound was directly behind the shoulder. The entry and exit points were no more than an inch or so too low, probably missing all the vital organs.

This doe would have died in it's bed 3o yards from being shot after being left 2.5 hrs. if any organs would have been hit, probably even if a lung would have been nicked. If perused without giving any time, it's conceivable a deer will run for a long way before it dies from loss of blood. This was not the case, however.

I proceeded to field dress the deer, looking what organs (heart, liver, lungs) may have been hit and as I suspected, none were. The shot was just too low.
But, as I've learned, arrows to an amazing job of killing. The wounds do not clot, so even, as in this case, by letting the deer have enough time, eventually there will be enough blood loss to eventually recover the animal.

This is why I've decided not to kill a doe with no snow. A buck I'll take a chance on, but a doe, why risk loosing it?

I drug the field dressed doe back the way I came, snow coming down hard now. Got back to the shack, deer hung up, stove stoked once more and all cleaned up and back to bed by 3AM.

Now, can I be lucky enough to bag a buck before the season is over?