For many hunters the opportunity to spend long, quiet hours in the woods is as important as getting a deer. In this program, hunters describe experiences with wildlife during their time in the woods.
Gregory L. Sharrow
Deer Stories is a documentary series from Vermont Folklife Center Media that explores hunting from an insider’s point of view and is drawn from interviews with hunters from around Vermont. For many hunters the opportunity to spend time in the woods is as important as getting a deer. In this show hunters describe some of the encounters they have with wildlife while hunting.
I was up on the ridge top at one of my favorite apple orchards. That day I decided I wasn’t going to climb a tree, that I was just going to stay on the ground and I put my back up against this big boulder and I was there probably for about an hour, an hour and a half, and I heard the coyotes. There was a whole pack of ‘em. And I thought: Oh, great, this year, you know, I’m gonna get to see a whole pack here, ‘cause it sounded like they were running right towards me. And it’s a good runway. And all of a sudden I heard, you know, thrashing and crashing and I thought: Here they come. And out comes two of the biggest bucks I’ve ever seen in my life and they come right out and they stop in this orchard like twenty yards from me and they start sparring. And the whole time the coyotes are howling. I pull up with my bow, I draw it back, and just as I’m drawing it back the buck focuses right on me. And so here I am at twenty yards with this incredible buck that’s looking me eye to eye, and all ready to shoot, and the coyotes are howling in the background. And I released and the arrow hit a branch that was hanging down and deflected. But just the experience itself was probably tops of anything that I’ve experienced in the woods, just the whole scenario. It was like I was set back in time. It brought me home. [LAUGHS.] It was pretty neat.
It’s hard to explain what kind of feeling you get if you’re putting up a flock of geese or having a flock of geese fly in or having an otter swim up by you at daylight or catching, well, half a dozen deer in the back field or something, before they’ve gone into the day. Stuff that I enjoy seeing that might not do a thing for the next guy. You know, we’ve grown up with that and have learned to appreciate seeing some of that stuff. And, like I say, a lot of people could give a damn less, you know? But that’s okay, you know. Heck, if I’m the only one out there that’s looking at it and I’m going to see it, and they’re not going to be there spooking on me.
I mean, you get out there around 4:30, twenty of 5:00, right now, and listen into the different birds start talking in the morning and the bears hooting, the owls hooting, coyotes yipping. The morning sounds are incredible. We’re pretty close to God up here. This is God’s country.
Always something there to kind of pique your interest, whether you’re on bow stand and you’ve got a fox that trots by and doesn’t know you’re there, a bobcat or a coyote or you may have a doe and a couple of fawns and a couple of yearling doe, a small buck walk by you and just never pick up the bow to shoot. You know? Nothing that you’re really interested in killing, just enjoy watching ‘em go. And learn from ‘em. They’ll all do something a little bit different. And anytime you can learn something, I figure you’ve got a heck of a day.
I had this one stand site. I saw a bear one year. He kind of skirted around me. And then the following year I was sitting in the same tree stand and he came right underneath me. I was twenty feet from him. And he was feeding all around underneath me. Finally, he started moseying off and crossed my scent trail and he stood up and he put his nose straight in the air and sniffed and turned right around and looked at me and then just kind of walked off. He didn’t know what I was, for sure, but it’s just stuff like that. That’s why I hunt. It’s not necessarily to bag an animal, it’s just to have those experiences. You know, those experiences are worth pounds and pounds of meat.
Gregory L. Sharrow
You’ve been listening to Vermonters Stan Redlon of Strafford, Barry Forbes of Middlebury, and Phil Brown of Glover. Deer Stories was produced by Erica Heilman and Gregory Sharrow for the Vermont Folklife Center of Middlebury, Vermont. I’m Gregory Sharrow.