All pre-season I have poured all my scouting efforts into roughly a couple square miles of National Forest. And then it happened…lightning struck…literally! A fire broke out in that area, and the powers-that-be decided to let it do its thing as a controlled burn. Now, that’s a great call for the long-term health of the area, and I’m sure in a year or two I will be right by the edges of those burns as they should attract deer and elk like moths to…well…to a flame. However, it left me panicking (not just because my game cams are still in there, hopefully not getting burnt to crisps), but I realized that if the whole area goes up in flames or isn’t re-opened in a month, I have absolutely ZERO other spots scouted for deer season.
My middle child (the 6-year-old) has been all about hunting for years. He is constantly asking when he can go, if he can come with me, when we’ll go scouting…the kid just wants to be in the outdoors. Now, as a squirrelly boy who can’t sit still through a single meal, he’s not exactly ready to come out on a hunt just yet. But, a few weeks ago the whole family headed up to the woods for some much-needed R&R, and I made a plan to take Gibson out with me to hang a couple game cameras one morning. We both had a terrific time out there together, and here are the 4 things I believe I did right to make this a success…
We built our fire, ate some camp staples (all roasted over the open fire, of course), told a few hunting stories, and turned in for the night. Of course, the five year-old I was worried about most (who was spending his first night ever in a tent) fell fast asleep and stayed that way all night. Then, just as I was drifting off for the first time, I awoke to, "Dad! Dad, wake up...do you hear that? Something is breathing outside our tent!!!" Somewhat delirious, I popped my head up and listened closely...sure enough, there was a steady, growling, breathing noise that sounded extremely nearby. As I listened, trying to remember if I had, in fact, put every scrap of food safely back in the truck so as to not attract bears, I realized the sound was coming from directly in between us. I breathed a sigh of relief and whispered, "go to sleep - it's your little brother snoring."
Most of the time, a weekend of scouting for game is the most relaxing part of hunting. You walk around the woods, observe some nature, but you don't have any of the intensity of actually hunting an animal yet. Basically, it's a purposeful nature-walk, and is generally low key and very refreshing. This weekend, however, was NOT one of those times. It seemed that everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and you know it's a bad day when you actually think through how you'd direct a rescue helicopter to your location. The things we do for this glorious sport!