The hunter's moon — also known as a blood moon or a sanguine moon — is the first full moon after the harvest moon (the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox). Call it what you will, there seems to be variation relating to the origins of the name. Some sources suggest that it relates to Europeans hunting birds by the light of the moon. Others suggest there is a Native American connection associated with the tracking of their prey by moonlight.
Any way you look at, this year, the Hunter's Moon fell on November 2nd. On the 4th? My buddy Kevin and his father, Bud, lease property not far from here. For the third year, I was invited to join them for a deer hunt.
After dropping Bud off near his site, Kevin and I trudged our way across the bean field, under the light of the Hunter's Moon (plus two days). We shook hands wishing each other a good, safe hunt, and went off to our separate tree stands. A few minutes later, I was settled in nicely to a platform half the size of a bistro table 15 feet off of terra firma. My bow was on my lap. An arrow on the string. Frozen like a statue, eyes peeled, and ears tuned to everything, I waited.
Before long, I found myself surrounded by the dawn chorus. The Cardinals. A flight of Canada Geese. The coolest sound of them all? The flight of Sandhill Cranes calling as they headed south (you can hear the call here). There is something still pretty magical about hearing Crows in the cool autumn air. Did they see me? Then there was that Red Squirrel. For a few minutes, boy, he just did not want to shut up! After a while, I think he got tired of hearing himself and went on to other things. Watching the sunrise is really something. I just don't think enough people pay attention to it. The colors. The shifting patterns of dark, light, and shadow amongst the trees. Too cool.
At one point, as the morning ticked by, I found myself in the midst of a bird feeding-frenzy. Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, and a Brown Creeper (maybe two) seemed to be on every tree in my vicinity. It amazes me how loud those little toes grabbing tree bark can be! For a brief moment, somebody was on my tree. I never saw who it was, but I knew they were there simply because I could feel the vibrations of their movement coming up the tree. I was even waiting for a bird to land on my arrow (it happens).
The picture below is what I saw from the treestand. While it seems a bit cluttered in this view, there was actually plenty of shooting room. It faces basically south and this was the view to my slight left. Below me? A deer run. Do I know deer have recently used it? I certainly do, but that is story for another time.
In the late morning, I found myself straining to a get a fix on the sound behind me to my left. Leaves rustled. It sounded kinda big. Finally, moving ever so slowly, I peeked around the tree and found myself in a staring contest with a Woodchuck. Sitting high on his haunches, he was clearly on alert. I will never be sure what he saw, but it makes perfect sense that he realized I was there but had no idea what to make of the "tree with eyes". After what seemed minutes, he went on with his day (getting fat, not chucking wood).
By noon, our day was done. My Pop-tarts where gone and sitting functionally motionless in the the chilly weather was taking its toll. We knew going out we would only have a half day available. No, we did not shoot any deer. For that matter, we never even saw one. But it didn't really matter. It was a great morning to be out with my friends and my thoughts.
I have yet to shoot a deer. Maybe next time.