Sunday, December 07, 2014

Reunion with Long Time Friends

Warning: Absolutely zero moto-content.

A bit over 33 years ago, I met both Lee and Otto.  I was a new cadet in the University of Miami's Army ROTC program and they'd been part of it for a couple of years already.  We were to become life long friends.

Going through the ROTC program together, training together, partying together and as part of a small group of was the start of a friendship which has lasted over 30 years as we all went our separate ways after being commissioned into the U.S. Army.

Both Otto and Lee are now retired from the Army after distinguished careers in Military Intelligence and Engineering jobs respectively, now working civilian jobs.  Lee lives in Virginia and Otto is a resident of New Hampshire.

It was Otto that was hosting both Lee and I this time, one of the somewhat infrequent meetups we've had over the years.  The objective was to go hunting for deer (Bucks, to be specific) in the woods near Otto's town of Jaffrey, NH.

Dinner at a nearby watering hole
Lee, Otto and yours truly

The first evening was filled with good food, drinking and catching up on each other's lives.  There was of course the re-telling of tales, the spinning of new ones and drinking.  We retired at a late hour, with the plan to sally forth into the dawn for some hunting.

This was, by the way, only my second experience hunting.  The first time had been decades ago and was really just a one day event.  This trip would ultimately involve 3 days of hunting where we'd start soon after sunrise, and I'd tramp in the snow-covered ridges and valleys comprising the hunting area.

I would begin to learn the art of moving quietly over snow covered wooded terrain, enjoy the sitting in a post, enjoying the quiet and the cold temperatures, all the while hoping to catch a glimpse of movement perhaps; movement which might be a deer moving through the trees.

Rain had washed away a lot of the snow that had fallen previously in the week

Temperatures were cold but we were geared up for it so no one suffered.  The hiking up some steep hills in broken wooded terrain certainly built up heat for each of us as well!  I became quite winded on the uphill climbs, while trying to be quiet, slipping on snow and ice that hid roots and branches underneath. 

Otto and Lee, day 1 of hunting

We even managed to find ourselves in a swamp, a snow-covered swamp, which added the possibility of wet feet into the equation while one tried to avoid twisting an ankle.  Fun.

Otto and Lee were armed with their hunting rifles, I was armed only with my new Sony A5000 camera as I had not gotten a hunting license.

Lee, preferring to hunt alone, would post in one area and Otto and I would wander about; stopping now and then for quiet watchful periods where he strived to get me to be quieter.  I am told I got better by the third day.  Most of the movements were aimed to "drive" any deer in front of us towards Lee's position of the day.

Much time was spent in silent "posts", hoping to catch a glimpse of a buck.  In the end, on the third day of hunting, Otto would spot and point out to me two Does perhaps 70 feet in front of us which we flushed from hiding.

It had been lightly but steadily raining that day you see, so no wind and the rain made so much noise we managed to surprise the deer somewhat.  I caught fleeting glimpses of gray bodies racing away through the trees.  That was a win for me, my first sight of a deer while on a hunt.  NO pictures of the deer running away though, it happened within the space of 2-3 seconds I think.

Day One, scouting possible post locations for the next day, we
would stay together this day as we explored.

As you can see, the snow was not deep at all.
Otto told me it had been closer to knee-high the week prior

At various posts, I'd take pictures of nearby flora that caught my eye

Above is a beaver dam, one of two we ran across while 
moving about the hunting area

Otto and Lee discussing the many tracks found, possible post sites
and where Otto had seen deer sign in the preceding week.

The cut pattern left on this tree trunk caught my eye as
I sat quietly in a post near the above picture with the trees.

The interesting growth in the downed tree trunk located a few
feet from me, shot using the zoom lens.

A relaxing Otto, probably thinking that any nearby deer could hear
the clicking noises made by my camera

Early start, hunting day 2, we were all staying at Otto's
large home in Jaffrey, NH.  Early morning roads were a bit icy but
not too bad if you took things easy, which we did.

The consensus is the above are bear paw prints, I found them
shortly after Lee went off to his post and I walked with Otto to ours.

As you can see above, the roads were pretty dry except for
ice-covered patches here and there.

 The road which led up a small hill which held 2-3 small open fields lined
by stone walls.   It was much warmer up on the hill, when exposed to the sun's rays!

 At the edge of the biggest one of the three fields on top of the
hill, nice location.  It was warm with temperatures in the mid-30s 
I think, and we had 3G network coverage so I did a little work:

Pitiful, isn't it?  I must say though, it was only for a few minutes.

 Small streams were encountered by us as we meandered about the
hunting area, easily crossed at selected points with a bit of care.

At yet another post location, being quiet and watching for movement.

 Above and below, pictures taken near the end of the hunting on day 2

 A small frozen pond near where we parked for the day.

Fallen leaves trapped under the ice in the frozen pond,
the light making them look like golden/bronze objects underwater.

All smiles at the end of day 2's hunting

 Last day of hunting, overlooking the small pond created by the 
beaver dams, you can see the beaver's house in the center of the picture above.

 We had a bit of snow and ice fall overnight, making Old Dublin Road
look more winterlike as we moved about.

The "young" forest we were hunting in, had been in years past open
farm fields, divided by rock walls.  The rocks, as you can see above, were
collected as the fields were cleared and remain in place as trees slowly
take over the cleared areas of yore.

 One last shot of Otto, as he walks to the truck at the end of the day's hunting

 A flock of turkeys which were spotted not far from Otto's 
back yard in Jaffrey, NH.

Otto, the consumate host, put out quite a spread during our visit.
Here we are enjoying a lunch of bratwurst with sauerkraut and red cabbage.

No motorcycling but still quite the enjoyable visit with old friends.  I count myself fortunate to have friends like Lee and Otto.  Otto is currently renovating his 140+ year old house back to correct period condition, and hopes to have it ready by Christmas 2015, so that may be the next time I see it.  

Oh, by the way, no Bucks were seen by us, and thereby none were shot by either Lee or Otto.  Still, an enjoyable time was had by all!  Am I now a fan of hunting?  Probably not.  The quiet introspective solitude mentioned by both Lee and Otto as one of the perks of hunting I can achieve while on my motorcycle, and it sure is much less exercise!  :)


Bridget Machida said...

Hi, Dom, I sure enjoyed reading about your hunting adventure. My dad used to go hunting every year with family cousins. He never shot a deer. I found out later that he took a rifle just in case a deer would jump out at him. He liked walking in the solitude of the woods.
I once saw a frozen river in Alaska that showed beautiful rocks through the ice.

RichardM said...

Nice photos and write up of the experience and since you suggested it, "pitiful" doesn't even begin to describe taking a laptop out on a hunting trip. But you didn't have to camp out, isn't that a key part of the experience? I think the way I've heard it described is hunting = camping with guns.

VStar Lady said...

My Dad was an avid 'hunter.' He never shot a deer though he did bag two with the Mercury Zepher one night coming home from my Aunt Jeans ...does that count? For him, I'm sure, hunting season was about spending time with good friends.

Bluekat said...

Who am I to complain about a lack of moto content :)
Love the hunting pics/adventure. My family did a lot of hunting back in the day, so your post reminds me of those times past.

Trobairitz said...

It looks like such a beautiful area for a walk in the woods.

I don't mind the non-moto content, especially with such wonderful scenery.

I am glad you had a great visit with such good friends.

redlegsrides said...

Bridget, glad you liked the post.

RichardM, thanks but besides pitiful, it was also a test of whether I can work remote from "any" location. It was a pain to lug that laptop through the swamp though.

VStar Lady, methinks you're correct as to the true purpose of hunting trips.

Bluekat, it seems hunting is a common theme in many families...

Trobairitz, it was pretty land to walk through, could have done without the rain though.

SonjaM said...

I certainly appreciate your hunting style: shooting pictures. But despite the unsuccessful animal killing it looks like the outing had been a success. Friends united, good food and drinks, and having a great time together.

And sitting on a log in the woods in the middle of nowhere in the snow with a laptop... hilarious.

redlegsrides said...

SonjaM, glad that I amused you :)

BMW HACKER said...

Nice post / photos. Great that you have kept in touch with your old comrades. My Dad (nearly 99) lost track of his WW2 B-24 Crewmates, save for one. I've located 2 of the crewmen who are still alive. All the rest have passed. Sadly, one of his crewmates only lived 100 miles away for years. He passed away before I was able to locate him. My WW2 blog"