10-6-2003 I am a firm believer that the only reason we ever see animals in the wild is because they allow us to see them. Today I was given such an opportunity worth writing about. Late in the afternoon i decided to fish the wee round pond below my place, my reasoning being I shouldnt drive anywhere since my plates had expired. I just barely escaped a ticket the other day and I was sure the valid registration would come in the mail by now, but no joy arrived today. Afraid to get pulled over, I resigned to stay home that day. This was my reason for practicing the art of "not doing" for one more day out of my lifetime. So naturally my only chance to catch a fish was gonna be on foot. The sun was an hour away from setting, and I quickly loaded the portable rod Sdog gave me into my nap along with some beverages, grabbed my silly hat and set off down the bike path.
Fifteen minutes later I was at the bottom of the hill on the the last of a dirt trail that led to the western edge of the pond. The water level was down several feet compared to my last visit and I decided to go to my right for a change and onto a little panhandle that had formed in the center of the pond. I could see fish hitting the surface all over. I quickly tried a few different things I knew they wouldnt hit on as I watched my shadow grow longer on the water- And instead of being the tenacious being i normally am and keep fishing, I decided to pack it in and admit defeat. I had to pee really bad anyway. So before turning toward the sunset and back up the hill, I continued to exit stage right into the weeds for a potty break.
On the eastern side of the pond, the trail dipped down and into a mile or so of cottonwoods that fringed the creek drainage into the reservoir. Before i could even reach a suitable bush out of site of the bikepath to squat behind , i looked up and saw 2 bucks up on an adjacent hill about 20 yards away. They appeared to be posing for their portait, heads up and standing perfectly still, watching me approach. Naturally i froze on the spot, expecting them to dance away in a second or two. They both studied me with ears outstretched in my direction, and I realized by some stroke of good luck, i was downwind of them. Once i froze too, they werent exactly sure what they had just heard.
I know these 2 had to be part of a band of bachelors Ive encountered all summer long in my nocturnal adventures. Being such a noisey human, I would often flush them out of the bush in the the softness just before sunrise. Away they would bounce, their health and fitness apparent as they pronked away from me in ease. Just last week near my fort, Im certain I came upon the larger of these two bucks. Still respendant in velvet only 7 days ago, he was gracious enough to let me see his backside for a split second as he vanished into the woods. So this siting was a bonus as far as i was concerned.
My camera was in my pack of course, strapped to my back, so I gave up any hope of getting a pic and enjoyed the moment, but there they remained like a pair of statues. After a good 2 minutes of communal staring, i was starting to really have to pee bad and couldnt hold still much longer. I let my legs fold under me and sat down crosslegged on the path, fully expecting the encounter to now end rather abruptly.
I slowly let my pack slide off my back, unzipped it and removed my camera. Of course, the sock i had the camera stuffed into gets hung up on the lens, and I make so much noise getting it ready and turned on. But my subjects still stood at attention though, fascinated as much by me Id like to think, as I was of them. Perhaps in deer-speak, they silently discussed my presence....."That is just 'Woman Who Fishes Quietly with Stupid Hat' ". The biggest one declaring to the others "I remember her scent and she has never meant us harm". So with nothing to lose, I clumsily snapped a couple pictures. When I tried to quickly zoom in closer, i was greeted with a rude beep from my camera which declared my smart card was full. Figures !!! I just continued to sit quietly, satisfied that my memories would have to be good enough, at least for me anyway.
At that point, the younger buck moved on out of my sight, leaving the 5pt-er standing alone and at complete ease with my presence down the hill. He seemed to disregard me with a solemn wisdom, as a silly but harmless nymph that stumbles about in the weeds, not on fast wheels or in groups like the others of my kind, but always alone, always silent and usually at sunrise or sunset. Off to my left I heard the snap of twigs as something large moved toward me thru the dry grass. Two more bachelors, 2pts each, bounced along across my path not more than 5 yards away, and caught up with the group. They quickly moved on out of my sight as well, leaving just me and DaddyWarbucks again. The big kahuna began to slowly follow, then paused and looked back in my direction for a few seconds. He seemed to nod at me in a familiar way, before disappearing behind the trees like his buddies. I nodded back and quietly uttered "Thank You" under my breath, feeling blessed once again to be allowed to see them.
As I walked toward the remainder of the sunset, getting after the hill I still had to climb before me, I had to remind myself that what I just experienced was their gift, meant just for me. And another one of those sign posts in life that says "You Are Here, Have No Worries, You are Exactly Where You Are Supposed to Be."