The feeling I get when heading out into the woods before the sun has risen is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I feel a combination of anticipation, nervousness, hope, and usually a little bit of fatigue, since it’s right around 5:30 in the morning when I’m heading out to my stand.
For a hunter going out in the morning or evening, anything can happen. It could be the hunt you’ve been waiting your whole life for, or you could fall out of a tree (or some other unfortunate accident could befall you) and wreck your whole hunting career.
What shouldn’t change, though, is that you spend every minute out in the wilderness observing. One of my favorite things to do when I’m not seeing deer and allowing my mind to wander is to watch the squirrels, a habit I began because they trigger noise all through the forest, noise that can initially be mistaken for animals of prey.
While sitting out there, I try to be still enough that either a squirrel or bird perches on some part of my body. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve always thought that if that happens I’m doing everything correctly as far as my tactics, behavior and movement in the tree, or rather the lack thereof.
Anyway, I saw a blog this morning about the natural occurrence of frost flowers during this time of year. I’d always seen frost flowers and wondered how they are created.
As Patsy Bell Hobson explains, frost flowers only occur when temperatures fall to freezing before the ground has become frozen for the winter. The whole occurrence depends on water still moving up through the plant while sap freezes and makes a crack in the stem, allowing the water moving through the stem to slowly seep out of the crack (capillary action) and form very thin, petal-looking ice formations. She has several beautiful photos in that blog entry, and it was cool to read about what I’ve seen so many times, and why it was happening.
But this got me thinking. What else do I see out there while I’m sitting alone that I would miss if I couldn’t hunt?
One thing, for sure, is the attainable proximity with squirrels and birds that I can’t get in any other way. I seem to see the same squirrels each time out, each recognizable by size and distinguishing marks. Subconsciously even, I look for the squirrels to be in their respective trees and wonder about them when they’re not in the neighborhood.
Subtle changes in behavior of the squirrels also can make you privy to something approaching from the rear, although I’d rather see an approaching deer before any of my squirrel pals do the same – that way I’m in position to draw a bow and send an arrow if a shooter shows.
Icicles are another natural beauty in the wilderness--although they can be dangerous and looking directly up in search of them is not something you want to do, ever.
Watching animals behave is something I love doing anytime, but the occurrence of frost flowers is another cool phenomenon not all that many people get to witness. Yet another reason I’m thankful for being able to sit in a tree in the cold, watching and anticipating …
Caleb Regan and his wife, Gwen, live in rural Douglas County, Kansas, where they enjoy hunting, fishing, and raising and growing as much of their own food as they can. Caleb can’t imagine a better scenario than getting to work on a rural lifestyle magazine as a profession, and then living that same lifestyle right in the heartland of America. Connect with him on Google+.