Nov 7 2010

Channeling Martha Stewart


A copy of Martha Stewart Living fell into my hands, and I saw that Martha publishes a calendar of her monthly activities.  For example, today she is changing the batteries in her smoke detectors.  The calendar informs us about her planned trips, Thanksgiving activities, and daily exercise routine.

Here are my Natalie Rebetsky channeling Martha entries for November 4 – 7.    November 4:  Purchase tulip bulbs for fall planting.  November 5:  Early morning hunting in Pennsylvania.  November 6: Walking with high school friends through town of Somerset and visit to Falling Water, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home.    November 7:  Clocks turned back, marigold seeds harvested for next year.

OK.  I admit–I didn’t go hunting–I stayed in a warm house, but I did help Roger put up a new tree stand later!

Ahh!  Even the fairly poor and obscure people of the world can be calendar-worthy.

Oct 31 2009

Hunting On Halloween


I had to drag myself out of bed this morning, but I’m glad I did. These are the autumn woods, the woods I love best. The color is mostly gone; leaves are raining down with the passing breezes. There is an urgency in the air, in anticipation of the coming frosts. Earlier, a little buck ran by, chasing a little doe, both oblivious to everything around them. The rut is coming on with the full moon.

Oct 22 2009

Doe Urine


Made a pilgrimmage to Bass Pro last night to buy Doe Estrus in preparation for our weekend in Pennsylvania.  Roger is partial to Tink’s 69, but that didn’t preclude about 15 minutes in the scent aisle comparing wafers, bombs, dragging lures, gels, liquids and different brands. 

Roger seriously debated the virtues of gel and liquid with another hunter in the same aisle.  We settled for some of each.  Then, on to the arrow aisle where we were looking for some sort of powder for drying the feathers.  I’m fairly certain that after this season, I could work in the hunting section of the store.tinks_69_and_scent_bomb

Oct 10 2009

Hunting In October


Back up in a tree in Patapsco. It’s been two weeks. Already, the woods have started to open up. The ground vegetation has started to die back. The trees are still mostly green, but there’s a good deal of yellow and a few splashes of red. The canopy, up here at 20-25′, is definitely thinning. I love being in these changes. I noticed this week, the deer have lost their golden/red coats, and put on their dull winter brown. It’s breezy here today, and this tree is gently rocking. Hope it doesn’t keep the deer away. A cool front is coming in. Maybe that will make them move.
Posted from my iPhone.

Sep 19 2009

Me In My Tree Stand


Can you find my shadow?

Sep 19 2009

First Day’s Hunt


This is pretty bizarre, posting to the blog from a tree stand. Usually, I do compose observations in my head while I’m hunting – things I want to tell Natalie, or write down later. (Whoops, a doe just busted me. I stood up too fast, as soon as I saw her, instead of waiting for the right time. It always takes a bow hunt or two to get my hunting vibe back.) Anyhow…posting from a tree? Is this the “real time Web”? Maybe almost, if you’re reading this soon.

At 5 this morning, I was sitting on the front stoop putting my boots on, looked up, and there he was: Orion! The first I’ve seen him since winter. For me, he marks the hunting season, and there he was on my first day. Serendipity.

It’s chilly this morning. I have a light jacket on and I’m still cold. I won’t get much sun here. These early season woods are still dense with foliage. Seeing mostly squirrels, except for that doe…and a few other hunters. Good thing I got an early start. There were four other hunters in the parking area. I got in first.

We’ll see how this goes. More later.

Jul 26 2009

Review & Thoughts: Hunting From Home


I just this minute finished Hunting from Home/A Year Afield in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which Natalie picked up for me for $4 at the Green Valley Book Fair, itself in the Blue Ridge near James Madison University.  I’ve been nursing my way through it these four days at the beach, wanting to stretch it out, not wanting it to end.  I’m inclined to send Christopher Camuto, its author, the $20 difference between the cover price and what Natalie paid, but realistically, I’ll probably buy another of his books instead.

This book is a year of intense observation, basecamped around the 200-acre Highland Farm in the southern Blue Ridge.  Camuto is intimidatingly learned and apparently, natively intelligent.  His writing, from my view, is full of profound thoughts and observations beautifully, and frequently poetically, captured.  I have to admit my bias to his subject matter, though.  Woods and birds and trout and deer, stars and seasons, time and mortality — well, I suppose in a sense he covers everything.  My one complaint is that the title is somewhat misleading.  It starts with grouse hunting, but then spends a long stretch on trout fishing, and on birds, before moving to trees, back to grouse hunting, and then the welcome climax of hunting deer with longbow and muzzleloader.  I’m no fisherman, but I enjoyed those parts very much, and I am not and doubt I ever will be a birder; I complained a bit about the detail there, but still it was enjoyable reading.

This was one of those books that makes me wonder why I would ever try to write generic cialis online best price.  A bit of the feeling I get from reading Faulkner.  Better than I think I’d ever be able to achieve.  (Take the compliment please, Mr. Camuto, but you know as well as I — Faulkner, that’s a stretch.  But it’s the same idea.)

Had I not met the love of my life, I would be easily seduced by the solitary life Camuto describes.  Just him and his bird dog, Patches, a cabin and a woodstove, 200 acres to learn and love, hunting, doing the work of living, writing…(sigh).  Natalie thinks we could work it out.

Hunting from Home
A Year Afield in the Blue Ridge Mountains

by Christopher Camuto
W.W. Norton and Company
Buy it on Amazon

Footnote:  Just googled Camuto and found that he’s on the faculty of Bucknell University now, the school that was at the top of my daughter’s list, but she didn’t make it in. :-(

Jul 26 2009

Clouds And Treestands


The clouds skirting the Catoctin Mountains were magnificent as we drove east across the Piedmont Plateau on our way back from Pennsylvania — flat bottoms and billowing tops, sliding from south to north in an endless parade of shapes. It certainly got me thinking about how seldom we (I) stop to observe clouds, and trees, and grass, and all of the other incredible bounty of nature.  As a people, we Americans have created a bastard existence for ourselves, focusing only on people and people-created things (and mostly, on what other people think about the people-created things we’ve accumulated, spending our time keeping score instead of looking at clouds).  I myself quickly lose track of the phase of the moon or the few constellations I know, or the hour of sunrise or set, and scold myself constantly for it.

We had spent the weekend treestand-building on my sister’s farm.  The stand we know as “Little Dom’s Stand,” because it is and has been his spot, has been dangerously out of repair for several years now. Dom III hunts out of it the first couple days of rifle season every year.  He doesn’t hunt with a bow, so I often use it on my all-too-infrequent bowhunting trips to Italia Farms, and usually for a day or two of rifle season after Dom III heads back home to the Eastern Shore.  It is easily the most productive stand on the farm.  I shot my first deer with a bow from it, a doe, and my first buck with a bow as well, and a number of others.  But it had been hastily repaired with a few more nails a few too many times, and was beyond any attempt to patch it.

So big Dom, little Dom, and I loaded up and made a caravan down to the spot at the edge of the oat field — Dom III driving his truck pulling a trailer with our stack of lumber and tools, Dom II on the John Deere with the Bush Hog, and me on the IH with the salvaged 6×10’ section of deck dangling by chains from the bucket, which would be the main deck of the new stand.  I hadn’t driven a “real” tractor in some time, so they just put me in a single gear and sent me on my way.

We pulled away the 12’ commercial swimming pool ladder that had served for more than 20 years, banged off a couple of the main limbs of the treestand, draped a chain around it and pulled it down with the tractor in one neat move.  It was one of the many times over the weekend that I admired Dom and Dom’s on-the-fly engineering.  For this project, I was a glorified gopher at best, and glad to support their impressive skills.

One of the problems with the old stand was that it was attached to trees, and their swaying worked constantly to detach our unnatural appendage.  This new one would be freestanding.  We started scraping and chopping at the rocky soil to dig four postholes — the soil was rocky to start with, and strip mining brought eons more to the surface — but soon decided we needed to go back and get the auger for the tractor, though we we not convinced it would do the job as well as the out-of-commission skid loader would.  But it worked fine.

I insisted on bringing and buying as much new pressure-treated lumber as I thought we needed.  We so seldom focused this kind of effort, I wanted to be sure it was well-spent.  We set four sixteen-foot 4x6s as the main uprights, 2x10s as the bearing beams, all generously cross-braced with new 2x4s and reclaimed 1x6s.  By Saturday evening, we had it all up, including the deck on top.  Sunday we re-set the swimming pool ladder, finished bolting things together, and cleaned up the old stand and took it down to the on-farm dump.

I was amazed at the accomplishment.  It is rock-solid; my attempts to shake it produced only the slightest movement.  It’s 12-18” taller than the old stand, but that little bit of height offers greatly improved views.  We still have to put railings, side skirting, and a roof on (new luxury), and it’ll be done.  And be set to last for 20 to 30 years.  Can’t wait to hunt it!