The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are just beginning to cool. I should be in the mood to go bow hunting. When temperatures are warm during the day and do not get very cool at night, deer move to feed only during the wee hours of the morning. The decreasing number of daylight hours causes the deer to grow their winter coats. If it is not cold yet and they are walking around with enough hair to protect them from a blizzard, it has to be miserable. I would sleep all day too if I had to go out bundled up for winter weather. I knew the deer would not be moving so I was sitting on the front porch watching the sun come up Sunday morning rather than being in the timber like a respectable outdoors writer should be.
The front porch is the perfect place to watch the lake and the edge of where the timber meets the open prairie. At dawn, the animals that rule the night give way to those that revel in the light. Coyotes and owls that echo their calls down the valley become silent and crows, geese, and turkeys start their daytime ritual. I am never bored by watching and listening to this transition and am sometimes quite surprised. Such was the case Sunday when out of the timber break in the valley came four trumpeter swans. The huge and beautiful birds flew just above the dam and landed in the lake in front of me. My wife was attempting to sleep in, being Sunday morning, but the arrival of trumpeters is no time to sleep. I woke her up and we both went out to marvel at giant white swans. They appeared to be a family of four, a male, female, and two juvenile cygnets. The cygnets are almost as large as the parents but are more gray in color rather than pure white. The one adult has a red collar but the numbers are worn to the point of being difficult to read. If read from the head down, I think it is 618. If the numbers are to be read the other direction, it would be 819. I am hoping one of my readers will be able to tell me about this swan. If so, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We watched them glide gracefully across the lake while we enjoyed our morning coffee. A person can be forgiven for waking up their wife on Sunday morning if it is to watch the swans.
Sunday afternoon is the time to check the trail cameras. It is a pleasant outing, driving around the woods in the Gator and gives the dogs a good long run. We had traveled a couple of miles and the dogs were beginning to wear down. Going down the hill toward Twin Sluices, as usual the Gator rattled and banged as we hit bumps. The leaves crunched and the acorns popped while we rumbled down the trail. The dogs trotted ahead, casually checking the trail, but tired enough they did not really want to hunt. To my left, I saw a flash of sunlight reflecting off something light colored not thirty yards off the trail. Before we passed a group of trees that blocked my view, I was able to focus enough to determine the flash was off a huge set of antlers. I slammed on the brakes and told my wife the get her camera out of the glove compartment. As she tells the story, I may have told her to get the camera 12 times in 30 seconds. Something about two dogs, screeching brakes and a guy yelling "Get the camera!" seemed to have spooked the deer. He bounded off before we could get photographic proof. Even without the picture, we could not ask for a better day.
It is great when we can enjoy nature together as we do. Some guys would be in trouble for waking their wives early on Sunday morning or yelling at them about not getting the camera. I am fortunate to have a wife that understands about the outdoors.
Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.