I have been trying to figure out a way to sum up my first hunting trip on the drive back to New York.
Early. Cold. Windy. Wet.
But, that doesn't really cover it.
Hiked out in the evening to set up the blind on the property I grew up on and used to know every strawberry plant, chuck hole and rock pile personally. Looks so different now, big trees where there weren't any at all. The house across the street is gone. The trails are still there though. You could drop me off blindfolded and I'd know where I was by the smell of the Sweet Fern and pines. Michigan is sandy, piney, mossy, mushroomy and smells completely spicy. Dad's woods is 120 acres of beech, maple, oak mixed with witch hazel, giant stands of sumac and some of the prettiest rolling pasture ever. He's carefully cultivated it for optimum deer forage for 40 years and they are...everywhere.
The first morning was sunny and the gobbler up the hill on the edge of the field was making a racket before we even got down there. Set out the decoy and Dad started calling while I got settled in. The leaves were still crackling dry and you could hear something big, a turkey or a deer circling around the back of us. Eventually three jakes came in close for a better look right on the edge of where we could see around the blind, between a couple of skinny trees. I figured I'd better draw before they saw me, so leaned forward and took a shot, taking out the edge of the blind and the zipper pull while I was at it. Ooops. Guess I need to sit on a phone book next time. They looked confused but were standing still, so took another shot and ruffled some feathers. At that point, they'd had enough and strutted off annoyed. The decoy was cute, but not THAT cute. Adrenaline rush, yuppers. I really wanted another shot to prove that I could do this.
After that, the weather changed and everything just sat tight for the next few days. We went out anyway and moved the blind to another spot in the rain. Came in for lunch and scared Gigi with the war paint on. She got her own back by beating Mom and me in Scrabble. Twice. Gigi's 96 and still running the show. Later on, I got caught in a time warp eating homemade Mexican with my sis-in-law and her hubby surrounded by new CMU grads and their families. Got to watch the Tigers win and the Red Wings lose and felt a part of Michigan again.
I may have come home empty-handed, but I came home with a full heart.