Saturday, February 6, 2010
A late winter wind cuts through the morning like an obsidian blade through new leather. Russian olive trees, chokecherry and alder fill this river bottom landscape and the smells of willow and sage fill my senses. Canadian geese and golden eye ducks float upon the clear cold waters of the river here beneath the majestic peaks of the Beartooth range. My wife Stacey and I are bow-hunting cottontail rabbits today and she is somewhere west of me stalking the heavy cover for the fleet footed long eared warriors. I see an antler tine sticking up out of the snow, for some people the finding of a shed whitetail antler would probably seem insignificant. For me it is like finding a rare treasure, the deer who carries this heavy rack all year has left his mark upon the smooth bony surface. Long gouges announce the fighting with other bucks during the rut, a broken tine tells the story of a possible battle with another warrior buck. a slight bend in the third tine tells me that this buck had an accident which left his right antler bent and mis-formed while still in the velvet. By days end eight cottontails have fallen to our arrows and we have found four sheds and one broken main beam from an obvious fight between two rivals. Eagles hawks and waterfowl have graced the skies this day. Deer, fox, bobcat, coyote, mink, rabbit, weasel, coon and skunk have left their tracks upon the trails we walked. pheasant and chuckar partridge have busted from the heavy cover and spawning rainbow and cutthroat trout are all along the icy riverbanks. Nature surely abounds here in the wild places, I feel fortunate to live here and even more fortunate to share this wild adventure with my wife today in this majestic place. The true bounty is not in the found sheds, or bunnies taken, nor in the wildlife seen. It is in the life we live, being included in the magic of it all, the circle of life all around us. As a great horned owl watches me from a nearby cottonwood branch, I am reminded by this nocturnal hunter that what I have witnessed in these few hours is only a fraction of what must go on here day and night.a whitetail buck busts from cover and races toward safety with raised tail and one lone antler still clinging to his head. I smile to myself and realize that as much as I would like to believe that I am one with this place , I am nothing but an invader of their homes. However I will return.. because my adventurous soul craves the wild places,my being would not be complete without natures Bounty surrounding me!