The Outsider: Hunting in another guy's territory
|By Will Jones - The Outsider | October 26 2017|
What do you reckon happens when two strangers, two hunters no less, meet in the woods?
Both prowling through their territory, silently hunting that elusive quarry. Each hears a rustle, a twig snap and senses go into overdrive, and then bam, they meet face to face. Kind of awkward, eh?
I asked what you thought might happen because it happened to me, just last weekend, and the outcome was not what I expected.
Let me set the scene. It was the opening morning of the moose hunt and a kind neighbour of mine had granted me permission to take a wander through his back 40 in the hopes that I might stumble upon a moose both stupid enough and deaf enough to allow a club footed novice like me to get within firing range.
The air was crisp as the sun shrugged off the veil of dawn. I sucked in a deep breath of the fresh morning and smiled as, clad in blaze orange, I crunched somewhat less than silently through the fallen maple leaves, my gun slung over my shoulder.
There were lots of signs of wildlife, even discounting the almost constant chattering barrage of the squirrels. Deer tracks crisscrossed muddy spots in the track; raccoons had made hand-prints on the river bank; and a bear, who obviously eats the same smash of seeds and berries for his breakfast as my lovely wife, had left ample evidence in the form of a large poo. I even saw a healthy pie of moose nuggets and the odd old track or two. Nothing to get overly excited about but the day was going well.
Venturing off the beaten path, I struck out into the thicker forest and clawed my way up through spindly pines towards a rocky bluff. Just as I was nearing the top, scraping though the underbrush, I heard a rustle and saw movement out of the corner of my eye. A large grouse trotted out in front of me, not 10 yards away. I twitched. It saw me. It didn’t fly, though, instead the bird did a swift U-turn and headed smartly over the bluff.
I heard a strange squawk and some rustling then silence. I scrambled up to look over the rock. Below, just yards from me was a lithe fellow dressed from head to toe in orange. I stared at him. He looked up at me, his beady black eyes piercing and wild. Both of us stood motionless for what seemed like an age.
My adversary, a shiny coated fox, with a paw pressed down on the grouse’s head and a mouthful of feathers, held my gaze without fear, without blinking.
My heart pounded but I dared not move for fear of breaking the spell and it wasn’t until he took the bird in his jaws and trotted nonchalantly off down the hill that I let out my breath.
I had to sit down for a moment and process what I’d just witnessed, what I’d just been part of. I’m sure on reflection that the fox had already been stalking the grouse but my bumbling entrance into the hunt had turned it back into his path and sealed its fate.
I grinned the whole way back to the truck.
I hadn’t seen any part of a moose, other than a couple more piles of those dry nuggets but I am claiming a successful hunt on the first morning of the moose season. My fellow orange-clad hunter and I, whom I guess is the real owner of that territory, bagged one.
He wasn’t very into sharing our kill, though ...
WILL JONES - is The Outsider