Hiking During Hunting Season

(Deer photo by FB Colorado writer friend, Roni O’Connell)

Generally speaking, hiking during hunting season (with gun) is not recommended. Bow-hunting time is another matter, for it takes longer to reload, and wearing orange seems sufficient. Not so with guns. And, I’m sad to say, some hunters are simply careless. I have heard rapid gun fire hiking during hunting season, assuming that the hunter spotted a deer, shot, missed, shot again, repeat. My concern is that I’ve known stories of hunters doing this very thing, focusing on trying to shoot the deer, and not seeing another hunter nearby while the deer passes. So…where to hike on a Free Friday during gun hunting time?

Marshall Riverwalk, and the North Country National Scenic Trail!

  

Although a familiar “hiking” spot, and late fall, Jeff spotted a shivering, camouflaged blue heron this time ’round. It’s always fun to spy animals in the wild.

I realize I’ve blogged about this “hike” before, This time, I dint even need hiking poles. Even though I’ve written about it before, it’s safe to walk outdoors here during hunting season. Plus, it’s lovely any season, summer, spring, or fall. Haven’t tried it in winter. Would rather be in the woods.

     

This Marshall Riverwalk is a super easy hike (not much up and down at all), and always different in each season with the constant flowing stream.

  

I was a little concerned this time with what looked to me like an oil spill on water areas near oil pipeline markers.

There’s always the worry here, especially after the largest inland oil spill in the continental USA, in 2010, broke/started just northeast of this location. Wish I could have done more back then besides clean oil off a few turtles. Our land! We are the stewards. Or need to try to be.

Above the dam, the sound of rushing water stilled.

 

I imagine a blue sky reflected in the river-lake would have been quite pretty. Someday.

Along with the browns and grey, there were spots of red berries and orange lichen and orange barkless tree in the river’s edge.

 

I also spotted some more turkey tail mushrooms on our 90 minute walk. Then I found these other mushrooms on a sawed log. Didn’t realize till later–only after zooming in–that they, too, are turkey tails. They’re everywhere, I tell you. Everywhere!

Even out walking for such a short time is refreshing and calming to the soul. May you, also, engage in outdoor adventures for refreshment for your soul.

Plot Twists from Animal Encounters, Park 2 – Deer

Plot twists. Every editor and reader wants them. How do we think up all these plot twists? Life. Experiences. Experiencing the unusual, the unexpected.

I’ve lived in many places where deer have also lived. Here in Michigan, there are three to five of the critters which pass through our yard now and again.  If I don’t actually see them, I often see their hoofprints in the snow or mud (or nibbled down veggies, hostas, and other plants).

One spring when we lived in the Black Hills of South Dakota, we had a herd of about forty deer make their residence in our fenced-in backyard. We were the only people in the neighborhood without a dog. We were the deer Haven of Rest. I remember one morning running out our door and off our porch waving my arms and screaming. I expected the deer to scatter. As a herd, they turned their heads and stared at me. Knowing any one of them could crush my skull with one little kick, I turned and ran back to the porch waving my arms and screaming. Each afternoon after they’d left, I’d go out and scoop up the numerous piles of “raisins” and dig them into our garden. That particular summer my garden totally flourished.

I love catching sight of deer in the wild. However, with all our modern roadways and speedy vehicles, traveling along interstates or backroads have often included daily roadkill sightings of the large beasts. Once while driving through the hills of Pennsylvania, we came to a stretch of about twenty miles where there were fourteen dead deer along the road. Fourteen. After a while I closed my eyes and prayed for hunting season to come quickly for swifter deaths for these majestic creatures to thin the herds.

Thankfully, I’ve never run into a deer while driving, nor has anyone else in our family. But one time a deer ran into me.

I was heading to work (teaching elementary school) in the dark pre-dawn hours, the only car going down a 4-lane road in Rapid City. I was in the left lane, traveling about 45 mph when in my peripheral vision I saw eyes immediately outside my driver’s window. A running deer. One moment it was running perpendicular to the car and inches from my window, the next it had turned sideways. But it couldn’t stop its forward momentum. The deer slammed its full body against our little Sidekick car, shoving it into the shoulder of the far right lane. I stopped as soon as I could, certain there would be a dead deer in the center of the road, but the deer had vanished. When I got to school I climbed out of my car to find myself shaking rather badly. I checked the side of the car expecting to see it crushed in. There wasn’t a mark, and my logical mind has no idea why not. I was thankful to be alive, for this story could have ended much differently. But I shall never forget those huge, wide brown eyes about a foot away from my own.

So when you’re writing your stories, include the unusual, the unexpected, and you shall have your plot twist.

Summer Reflections — All In An August Day — Library, Hobbit Tree, and more

Last Friday — my husband’s day off for the week — we headed out in 88° weather with threats of thunderstorms overhead, to a state park, or as many are called here in Michigan, a Recreation Area. Yankee Springs Recreation Area is about an hour north of us.

On the way we passed through the town of Dowling, which has about five buildings at an intersection, including a library just one building over. There was a sale going on that day. We serendipitously decided to stop to support tiny Dowling Library. What fun! The basement was full of old books. I didn’t see any children’s, so asked. The woman’s eyes lit up and said, “Oh, sure,” and took me to a back room nearly the size of the first. It was loaded with old children’s books. Many of them were from an elementary school a few miles away which had closed in the past few years. I wish I’d taken a picture of this delightful little library for you.

We moved on. I was delighted with my bag of fifteen books and a new Dowling Library T-shirt, and grinned all the way to the park.

We’d packed a picnic lunch and picnicked in a secluded spot of Yankee Springs on one of two picnic tables near the lake, far away from the beach goers and campers. Just as we started eating, a black, dark-windowed pickup truck pulled slowly into the little lot and parked, not in any of the other five spots, but off to the side, immediately next to our van. It took about ten minutes before the person inside finally climbed out, during which time Jeff and I speculated about what sort might be in the truck and what he might be doing. When he climbed out, he had a metal detector, which I know are illegal in other Michigan state parks, but didn’t know if it was illegal in all Michigan state parks. We didn’t want to call him out on it because he had a military-grade serrated  knife, about 8″ long, which he used to dig with about every four feet. He told us his father used to pull in to this spot thirty years ago with his boat. Jeff speculated later that perhaps his pirate father had buried his treasure there and his son was now searching for it. As he walked around us, he asked if he was disturbing us. Neither of us responded for a moment, but eying that knife in his hand, we both nearly shouted at him, “No! Of course, not!”

The Creepy Metal Detector Guy

We swallowed the remainder of our lunch in two bites and packed up. We drove to the end of the peninsula, as far away as we could in that lake area from the detector guy. We were still shaking when we got out of the van, but nature laid her magic on us. About a hundred yards away, a group of seven deer ran and leapt into the woods. It’s a tiny peninsula, so we were surprised to see the deer there. We decided to take a slow walk down a path near where they’d entered the forest, but didn’t spot them again. When we exited the woods on the other side of the path, we found ourselves in Monarch Butterfly Realm — a wide field of milkweeds. I spotted two young caterpillars and six monarch butterflies. Very cool.

IMG_4478 IMG_4482

After that short hike, we wanted just a little more before going home, and more secluded, as in away from other people who may or may not creep us out. We stopped at the Hall Lake Trailhead. No one was there. No cars were parked in the tiny lot. Perfect. We’d hiked the full trail several times in the past. We walked only the twenty minutes along the poison-ivy lined trail to reach the lake instead of doing the entire trail before the mosquitoes at last turned us back to our van.

IMG_4487  IMG_4496

After I returned home, I downloaded the shots taken that day and noticed something odd about one of the forest photos. It looked like a small Hobbit tree in the background, screaming and running off to the right, while the adolescent trees marched onward to the left. It was as if they heard our quiet footsteps and froze so we wouldn’t notice them. Of course, if it were a Hobbit tree, it was probably running towards the battle, not away. Looking at the photo, I’m sure you’ll agree with my assesment. (And now you know part of my reasoning for believing I’ve seen mythical creatures in the woods. I just may have. You can decide for yourself on this one, but I know what I saw!)

Runaway Hobbit Tree

At the end of the day, back home safe and sound, Jeff barbecued some chicken while I cooked one of our yard-grown acorn squash along with some sweet Michigan corn-on-the-cob. Our diets were rather blown that evening, but it was Jeff’s day off, after all. He commented afterwards: “It was a sublime meal, worth it especially after a day of travel and hiking.” I couldn’t agree more.