Sunday, December 10, 2006

Catoosa 2006

Friday morning dawned with extreme "quiet" in the canyons of Catoosa. Except for the rushing water in the drainage below things were very still. I dislike being in the vicinity of other hunters on these public hunts and try to get back in to some of the areas where I've never encountered other hunters. It seems most just won't put in the effort to get into some remote areas where there are a lot of oaks and zero access for quads. My thought was that if the wind were to continue on Friday like it blew on Thursday I wanted to be above the leeward side of some of the canyons covering routes to thick cover and close proximity to heavy acorns. It was frankly impossible to get into the ridges without making so much noise. The frozen leaves were crackling afoot as I moved to the light of my GPS well before daylight. I didn't know the temperature as I have a Garmin GPS that is probably archaic to many of you and it doesn't give the temperature but growing up in very cold climates I knew it was cold and I had dressed appropriately.

When it was light enough to shoot I could hear the sound of hogs well ahead rummaging in the leaves for acorns on a narrow ridge. The sound carried much farther than I thought. Thoughts of emptying my BAR .243 at a nice band of hogs were in my head as I heard some good hog sounds but as I tried to quietly move closer they moved off the ridge in single file by their tracks and headed down into the thick timber that pine beetles have put on the ground in Catoosa. Nature sure has a funny way of thinning out the pines to continue the life cycle of acorn production for the food sources that depend on mast. It is not an overnight process either.

As the sun moved higher, the land of woodpeckers came alive in the morning light and flock after flock of the gutteral croaking birds called sandhill cranes filled the air as the artic blast of cold air moved them south on their winter migration. I heard a couple of volleys of shots way off in the distance and figured either a big buck was on the ground or a coyote had met its fate. It was a great morning to be in the wilds of Catoosa. I put in my time and effort and came out in the middle of the afternoon without firing a shot. My trail-mix, jerky and Snickers bars had served me well in keeping some fuel in my belly. I often think what Catoosa may have looked like a couple of hundred years ago when there were few trees on the land. I happened on some graves of people who had died about 150 years ago and put the location into my GPS in case I ever get my boys back in there and let them see the old headstones with names hand carved into the rock.

For the day, I saw one doe. It wasn't meant to be but there wasn't a place in TN I would rather have been. Was it worth the $20 stamp? Absolutely. Will I do it again next year? Absolutely.

Bottom line, it was just another great hunt.

Dean T. Parisian
NRA Life, MN Trappers-Life, GA Trappers-Life, TN Fur Harvesters-Life.
Baiting is a signficant condemnation of a shooters ability to hunt.

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