November 13, 2011 – Fire season, deer season

Last Sunday night after I had about an hour of sleep the pager went off.  The Canton Motel was on fire.  Stacey and I spent much of the middle-of-the-night hours fighting that one.  I got our large-diameter hose hooked up to the hydrant, then put on an air pack and put water on the red stuff.  We got it out fairly quickly, but smoldering bits kept going for a long time.  As there was no power to the building, it having been closed for several months, this suspicious fire is still under investigation.  I tried to get some photos of the fire, but the crappy little camera I keep in my gear finally died.  Fortunately, our friend Theresa Gunsauls shared some of her shots with us.  I taught three classes Monday in something of a zombie state, and caught up on sleep that night.

Tuesday was the camera club meeting.  I always look forward to it, but feared I would have little to show.  Fortunately, a leopard frog that has been frequenting our little fish pond made an appearance one sunny day.  he even stayed put in spite of the dogs’ antics in the back yard.  I got some good shots with the macro lens.  So I had at least one good photo to show.  Tracy showed me Arizona Highways magazine, which has a regular photo contest twice a year.  Some of the winners weren’t that good, and I thing the top prize winner of the last contest was a photoshopped fake.  Anyway, their prizes are pretty good, so I went through all my Ruby photos from two years ago and submitted a bunch for the next contest.  You can see them on

Friday I had only one meeting in the afternoon.  I took my time driving in to Quincy, stopping at various sites to try to get some interesting photos.  I saw a nice buck at the state park, but by the time I got my camera up and ready he had high-tailed it.  I did get a shot of the burned up combine next to the highway.  It’s been there for several weeks.  Wish we had been there for that one.  There were three combine fires in our county this fall, and we didn’t get any of them.  This is called fire envy.

Firearms deer season started on Saturday.  I got out to Lowell’s early.  I didn’t hunt the archery season this year, and was surprised at how much I missed being out in the woods.  Some of the places look very different since the windstorm, and growth has changed some of the trails.  I sat in a good stand and saw more squirrels than I thought the county could hold.  No deer appeared, but I did see a pileated woodpecker.  As the morning progressed I kept drinking coffee and adding layers, but eventually I got cold in spite of my efforts.  I climbed down out of the stand and walked around the trails.  That warmed me up some, so I got back up into a different stand, number 3A, one of my favorites.  I saw no deer, but was amazed to see a butterfly flit past, perhaps a cloudless sulfur.  I went in about 11:30 and we went to Durham for lunch.  I hadn’t seen John in a year, since he only comes up from St. Louis for deer season.  It was fun to catch up.  After lunch we worked on replacing Lowell’s garage door opener.  I have lots of fresh experience with that technology, having just replaced my own. 

By the time we got done it was about 3 p.m.  I was about ready to go home, but Lowell mentioned that we only had about two hours of light left.  I figured I could stand that long sitting in a tree.  I went back to 3A and didn’t see anything for about an hour and a half.  I tend to do theoretical forestry while sitting there, thinking about which trees I would cut down to improve the timber stand.  Suddenly, a buck came over the ridge right in front of me.  He was less than 20 yards away.  I slowly moved my hands toward the gun.  He walked along the trail to my left.  I could see he was legal (>4 points on one side).  I held up the gun where he would walk into view of the scope and pulled the trigger as his foreleg passed the cross-hairs.  He ran about 20 yards like he hadn’t been hit at all.  Which is to say, he didn’t drop dead right there as expected.  As he paused on the ridge I thought i saw him coughing blood out of his nose.  But it was kind of dark already.  I could have shot again, but I didn’t have a good angle.  It would have just ruined a lot of meat.  If he was well hit, he should go down soon.  I watched him run east through the woods.  If he got far enough, John would have a shot from his stand.  I packed up and got down.  At the site of the shot, there was no blood.  When I got to the ridge where he had stopped, there was a 3-foot diameter circle of bright red blood.  A steady trail of red led me through the woods.  I kept thinking he couldn’t go far like that because he was going to run out of blood soon.  Shortly, I found him piled up in a draw.  Woo hoo!  The buck is a 10-pointer, but not symmetrical.  One side has an extra brow tine, the other has an extra fork at the end of the main beam.  I called Lowell and he came out with the tractor.  I gutted it and loaded it into the bucket of the tractor.  We hauled it back, hung it up, and hosed it out, using all of Lowell’s handy set-up for doing so, including an electric winch.

It was a bit big for the trunk of the Lil Egg.  We loaded it into Lowell’s pick-up and they hauled it to my house.  I hung it from the sweetgum tree in the back yard.  The dogs were quite interested in the smell of blood on my hands.  I spent most of Sunday (today) butchering it.  My enthusiasm for that process has waned considerably.  Perhaps next year I’ll have it done by a meat locker, or give the carcass to a friend, if I am lucky enough to kill something.

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