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Yes, you can really tell when a good cold front sweeps through. No, I am not talking about the aching in the joints that comes from the human body aging and retaliating for all those things that youth thought was fun at the time. And, I am not talking about the fact that the clothing that was stashed away in the back of the closet, in a hidden corner of the attic, or placed in some plastic boxes marked ‘Winter Clothes’ must come out for daylight once again.
I am talking about the wondrous sounds of the woods.
You see, when the cold front — and I mean cold front meaning on the verge of snow or snow flurries type — cold front, then things start moving. Goosebumps begin to pop up on the arms of those sitting 20 feet in the air with bow or firearm. These goosebumps are not from the cold, though. These goosebumps are from the snapping of twigs, rustling of leaves, and occasional shriek of light gray blobs that begin to move around in the pre-light mornings.
The whitetail hunt is finally getting into the swing of things.
We, as hunters, try to sit a little more still. Upon hearing the ambush of noises, we are no longer startled at the onslaught of squirrels having their version of Woodstock at the base of our tree. Now we stand battle hardened and know to turn our head very slowly in anticipation of a much larger forest dweller.
Not only are the sounds among the trees, but in the fields, the valleys, the plains, and even across our digital devices. There was an overall joy of amongst the hunters that could be heard in their online voices as the deer began moving.
Perhaps it deserves a hashtag. Something like #ItsOn, #BambiCrossing, or #TheFreezerAwaits.
The fact is, the prey is up and about, and that means the past couple of months should have us readied as predators.
We may still experience some dud days ahead. The weather is forever changing. However, we have much more to look forward to than we have to look back at for this deer season. Thoughts of “should I have gone fishing today” will not be entertained any longer.
Honestly, there are few things that are more exhilarating than watching the sunlight breach the horizon on a cold, crisp morning while gently swaying to and from some 20 feet in a tree. Then that first crunch of leaves echoes behind you. Next you notice a shape, nothing with any definition at all, but just a shape, like footage of ghostly shadows seen on any paranormal television show.
Your heart beat begins to race in anxiety, while you actively slow and quiet your breathing. All becomes still in the immediate world. Did that bush move? Yes, yes it did. You make out the head and then the shoulders of the whitetail sneaking through.
She steps once, then twice, meanwhile darting her head up at any change of wind or movement of grass. Finally, she feels a little more secure and marches straight into the field below.
You begin the running of questions in your mind. “What’s next?” you ask yourself. Are there more does following her? What is still behind those bushes lurking in the shadows that you cannot see? Wait, was that movement a limb or the antlers of a buck?
You no longer know or care if it cool, cold or freezing. The deer are moving.
Bill Howard is an avid bowhunter and outdoorsman. He teaches hunter education (IHEA) and bowhunter education (IBEP) in North Carolina. He is a member of North Carolina Bowhunters Association and Pope & Young, and is an official measurer for both.