The woodlot consists of 250 plus acres of apple orchards, ponds, brooks, hay fields, crop fields and cutovers. There are many open hardwood spots and abutting dense fir thickets. Brooks run throughout the property and there are numerous irrigation ponds, home to Canada geese, ducks, frogs and muskrat. Some of the ponds are stocked with rainbow and speckled trout.
The wildlife is plentiful, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse, spruce partridge and the odd ringneck pheasant has been seen of late. The big game consists of resident populations of whitetail deer, black bear, coyotes and the the odd moose has made some pass throughs. The only specie that we can hunt year round is the coyote and we do have fun trying to outwit the ghost of the woodlot.
Come spring it is time for splittin’ the firewood that was cut during the winter months and stowin’ the firewood in the camp shed for drying. New life is springing all around the woodlot at this time of year. It is also the time we prepare our bait stations and stand setups for the annual spring black bear hunt.
Since taking up bowhunting, I normally hunt from three strategically placed stands. One for bear and two others for deer. I also love to still hunt and familiarize myself each year with any new specie or natural wonder that may occur on the woodlot and surrounding fields.
Stand hunting is what I prefer as it allows me a greater appreciation of nature and all its aspects and also gives me some great video and still photo oppertunities. When heading into the wooded areas of the woodlot at dawn it is eerily quiet, but once settled the harmonious sounds of nature come alive. The red squirrel is scolding me, the invader, but settles down rather quickly. The brook, to me the life of the woodlot has a voice all its own as it rumbles over and around rocky outcrops, twisting and turning throughout the woodlot. Black capped chicadees flit about speedily and oft times alite on my nocked arrow. Dead leaves on the forest floor from last falls hardwoods come the natural fertilizer as new growth springs forth, and the trees are abud once again.
There in the wooded areas of the woodlot is a world of constant shifting of verticals, where having a good eye and an alert mind you can pick out the horizontal line of a back or belly. Then as quiet as it is and without warning there is the sound of a blow or snort and thin legs and raiseded tails the vertical world of the woodlot explodes, with whitetail deer running and leaping in all directions. I then must ask myself was it me?, or was it a bear.
As evening approaches the crickets start and the bullfrogs from the ponds are singing. It is now the time of the predators to prowl. Deep in the woodlot one can hear the yips and howls of the coyotes, and the shriek of the red fox, blood curdling to say the least. The shadows deepen as night draws near, then noiselessly a black bear emerges from the thicket and is at the bait station. First he eyes towards the treestand, now is the time when I become the hunted. I sit still, and quiet, frozen in time until the bear is satisfied it is safe to taste the smorgasbord in front of him. I saw the sign, claw raked trees, bark ripped and gouged some eight feet high.
Ah the woodlot, unlike city parks is noiseless and uncrowded except for the hunters and the hunted. The summer and fall months are yet another change of wonderment in the woodlot, my hunting ground.