Saturday, July 26, 2014


Good Morning, Class of '64
I loved autumn,
the one season of the year 
that God seemed to have put 
there just for the beauty of it.
Lee Maynard

Autumn burned brightly, 
a running flame through the mountains, 
a torch flung to the trees.
Faith Baldwin
American Family

Methinks I see the sunset light 
flooding the river valley, 
the western hills stretching to the horizon, 
overhung with trees gorgeous and 
glowing with the tints of autumn—
a mighty flower garden, 
blossoming under the spell 
 of the enchanter, Frost... 
John Greenleaf Whittier
Patucket Falls 

Autumn Leaves
Eve Cassidy
Another Day with Larry 
Day 20

Hunting was a very big deal for all the men and boys. Even the ones who did not like to hunt pretended that they did. Not to have done so would have subjected them to ridicule. Hunting was an integral part of the culture. A few women were avid hunters.

I spent a lot of summer evenings hunting groundhogs. They were a real nuisance. Groundhogs eat only the best grass, and one large groundhog eats as much grass as a sheep. They live in underground dens. The openings have caused many broken legs on cattle or horses. We had a horse that spooked and jumped to the side any time he saw a groundhog hole. He had been injured by stepping in one. Groundhog hunting was more necessity than sport.

The only deer I ever shot was while groundhog hunting. It was just a bit out of season, only 2 or 3 months!

Any time we were going through the woods, we carried a gun looking for targets of opportunity. Game laws were not very important to us.

Squirrel, grouse, and turkey season opened in early October. It was a pretty big deal. There were very few turkeys then. Some people claimed that they were hunting turkeys, but most would have been shocked at actually seeing one. Grouse were rarely killed; we were not good wing shots, and they fly awfully fast. But the squirrel hunting was great. Being in the woods at daylight in October and hearing the forest come to life is a memorable experience. 

The October mornings are often frosty or foggy. They warm up, and the fog burns off turning into a warm, clear day. The relative humidity is low in October so the air is crystal clear. The colors of the sky, clouds, and fall foliage are so vivid. Acorns, beech nuts, hickory nuts, and leaves are falling, and the squirrels are storing food for winter. Their frenzied activity, the red squirrels and crows cussing the hunter and warning the entire forest, and the crisp, clear air make it a very special time in the woods.

Properly prepared, squirrel and gravy is a taste sensation second to none. 

O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow,
Make the day seem to us less brief...
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst...
Robert Frost
Autumn mornings: 
sunshine and crisp air, 
birds and calmness, 
year’s end and day’s beginnings. 
Terri Guillemets

There ought to be a way to combine
"autumn" and "morning" into one word,
the combination of the two is special 
enough to be its own entity.
Terri Guillemets

Early Autumn
Johnny Mathis
Another Day with Larry

 Day 19

Deer season was a really big deal. Opening day was almost a religious holiday. The season usually opened Thanksgiving week. Even though we didn’t pay much attention to game laws, opening day was a big deal to us.

Mason and I were still hunters. We slowly walked the woods and sometimes stopped and watched for a while. Occasionally one of us would take a stand on a deer crossing while the other swept an area hoping to drive deer past the stander.

I was still hunting the only time I ever shot at a deer in season. I was watching the intersection of 3 or 4 logging roads. A huge buck came trotting down one of the roads. He was 45 to 50 yards from me, facing toward me at an angle. It was a perfect target. We knew that buck well; he had a white streak down his left side. I shot 5 times; would have shot more, but I ran out or ammunition. The only discernable result was to top a tree or two. My only chance to get that buck was for him to laugh himself to death. Buck fever, several times over.

The Ware brothers had large, organized deer hunts. Men came from all around. Many boarded with the Wares for a week of hunting. It was a significant part of their income. The Wares, especially Walker, knew the mountains like the back of his hand. He knew the bedding areas, the feeding areas, and the favorite deer crossings. He put men on stands at deer crossings and sent the rest to sweep the mountains trying to drive the deer to the standers. They always had successful hunts.

Walker ran a very safe hunt. He ensured that there was ample separation between the hunters and that each hunter knew where the others were.

The Ware brothers also had bear hunts when bears took their sheep. We never had that problem, but they lived a little higher than us and much closer to the mountains. A friend with bear dogs came to help them. Mason went along on some of those hunts. I’m not sure they ever killed a bear, but at least they drove them back into the mountains protecting their sheep.

Wild game was scarce then. Seeing a deer or even tracking one was conversation for days. I never saw a wild turkey or a bear on our farm. Now they are all over the place.

As a kid, I thought I would get rich running a trap line - every farm kid does. The fact that I knew nothing about trapping, skinning fur-bearing animals, preserving the furs, or selling them didn’t deter me. The most notable result was that I became very unpopular a time or two. I didn’t think the skunk smell was that bad! Dad taught me to set snares for rabbits - caught one or two.

I haven’t hunted since high school days. I have no desire to kill anything. I certainly do not condemn hunting or hunters as so many misguided people do. Automobiles are the predators of deer in West Virginia. Without hunters, the deer population would balloon, causing severe crop damage and many more deer-car collisions. The population would exceed the food supply causing wide spread starvation and weakened animals more susceptible to parasites and diseases. The deer population would destroy itself. Nature creates a balance, but we have destroyed that balance by eliminating the mountain lions, the natural predators of deer. Only hunters can restore that balance.

It’s funny that the tree-huggers are usually professionals with college degrees in fields like sociology, economics, etc. They believe that they know more than trained professional foresters and wildlife managers.

We can be very lowbrow and 
get a kick out of it:
 I Won't Go Huntin' With You Jake
Jimmy Dean

We can be very highbrow 
and find great delight in it:

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi - Autumn 
"Allegro-Adagio Molto" 
(The Four Seasons)
from The National Botanical Gardens of Wales; 
Julia Fischer 
en el violin; 
acompaƱada de 
"Academy of St. Martin in the Fields"

The perils of duck hunting are great - 
especially for the duck.
Walter Cronkite

No comments:

Post a Comment