Well, I’m on the airplane to Chicago. Was actually a breeze through security and check-in, very few people the terminal I was flying out of Salt Lake, but a full flight, and I’m quickly reminded how spoiled I’ve been the past few months. At any given time, when I looked around the streams, or where I was hunting, there may have been a dozen people within 10 square miles of me. Now, there’s 12 people within spitting distance. Maybe 15 with good trajectory. It’s a means to an end, and certainly faster than driving, but boy, space is nice. And seriously, $7 for a beer? Really? And you take credit cards in flight now? Good thing I heard a rumor about a Hooters near the airport so I could stop for lunch and a beer before I flew.
Now that I’m done complaining, we can focus on the cool stuff. Friday and Saturday’s evening hunts. Each really made an impression on me for two totally different reason.
Friday, I headed out to a different stand than I’d ever walked to before. As remote as many of the others seem, this just seemed to be so perfectly secluded. I emerged from a stand of pine trees to see a large hill covered in sagebrush that descended into a small babbling stream. Across the stream was an open meadow surrounded by pine and aspen trees on either side.
When I entered the meadow, there were cattle cows watering at the stream that immediately trampled into the woods upwind of me, which I feared meant that any shot at seeing another animal that night would be over. Two small foxes did move through. Their rustling in the grass actually woke me from one of those eyes half open eyes half closed sleeps that I used to fall into during economics class.
After my little startled awakening, the meadow was phenomenally peaceful. A slight breeze rolled our of the pines from the northwest. I wondered how many other people may have sat in that spot before me? Maybe two dozen? Fifty at the most? Breathing air that has likely passed the nostrils of less than fifty other people.
Everything else was still. Every now and again a squirrel might walk across a downed tree and let out it squeaks. They sound like those chew toys that you’d give your dog, whistling each time they chew it. And the more they realized they can make the noise, the faster they chew to make the sound over and over and over until you want to just stick a knife through it so that it’ll never make that annoying sound again. But other than those few moments, everything was so still and peaceful.
The sun slowly fell over the ridge to the west. The last few rays of sunlight climbed the hills to the east with the sagebrush and the aspen trees. The orange and yellow fall leaves glowed in the final moments before the darkness overtook them. The sky, completely cloudless, fell from a crystal clear sky blue, past every Crayola color in the box, until a deep navy engulfed the tops of the trees.
It was incredibly scenic. Incredibly peaceful. And during the entire time, an incredible sense of excitement and anticipation was bursting inside of what may have emerged from the woods to join me.