A Perfect Time of the Year
Go out and create your own adventure now while it's nice.
The tank of water was in a remote draw, approximately three and a half miles from the dirt road where I was parked; it was my destination for the morning.
I was scouting for wild turkeys and I felt that this would be the perfect place to find them — a group quite undisturbed by man (except for me, that is).
The trail had changed since the last time I had been on it a year ago, or was it two? Time goes so fast for me any more.
By "changed," I mean that it was much rockier; it seemed as if softball-sized rocks had simply sprouted from the earth as if planted and watered. Many were true ankle-turners. In several places, dead piñon pines lay fallen across the trail; one caught my attention because it had split in half — one half on the trail, the other lying in exactly the opposite direction.
I was surprised at the preponderance of fresh critter scat upon the trail the entire way: everything from fox, turkey and coyote, to huge piles of bear scat, full of juniper berries. In fact, all of the critter scat was laden with juniper berries! When I was last on this trail, there had been no bear poop, let alone dozens of piles.
There was even a pile or two of elk droppings. That was surprising, because the elk had left this area along about 12 years ago, if I recollect correctly. Now the critters were coming back! Not a lot, mind you, but one large pile of marble-shaped drops indicated their maker was a large bull elk, and the several tracks along the dusty path indicated groups of two or three cows. The tracks indicated that no big herds were in the vicinity, but it was still an exciting find.
On the other hand, it was disappointing to see very little sign of deer; they had been diminishing in the area for five years or so, and had now all but vanished.
By the time I reached the tank I was pretty well heated up and tired. After I checked to see what was coming to water, I figured to find a shady spot and sit and rest awhile and drink in the silence and solitude.
Again I was surprised to find a myriad of beef-cow tracks everywhere around the pond, obliterating all other sign of tracks of wild critters. Cattle had been clear of the area for at least six years until now. Drat!
Because the other tracks were obliterated, I switched to looking for poop, but alas, there was none. Only cow manure.
I looked at the water. It amazes me that any sane critter, domestic or wild, would drink from such. It was olive-drab brown in color and quite murky. On the surface floated rafts of olive-green pond scum. Even with a purifier bottle I'd be hard put to drink this stuff!
After entirely circling the small area, I sat down in the shade and leaned back against a gnarly oak trunk. How peaceful it was here! No sound of mankind assaulted my ears, although I could see white jet trails far above me to remind me that I truly was not alone.
I retrieved a bottle of blue Gatorade from my pack, along with a baggie of trail mix, and stared at the pond.
It was then that I noticed the two small pine saplings across the way, stripped of their bark and glowing dimly yellow in the bright sunlight. A bull elk had rubbed the velvet from his antlers the past August, when all of its kind do so.
It had been a rag-horn two-year-old, judging by the size of the trees. Big bulls use big trees to rub big antlers!
I looked at my timepiece; I'd have to depart all too soon. Ugh! My body had become stiff in this short time as I hobbled to my feet.
There lay a long-deposited turd from a gobbler, made sometime in the past winter. Judging by its size, it had been deposited by a two-year old tom. Big gobblers leave big, finger-thick scat shaped in the form of the letter "J." Two-year-olds leave smaller, thinner "J"s, and yearling jakes deposit even smaller, thinner scat.
This was a great adventure! April, May and June are probably my favorite times of the year to be out and about, probably because winter-cold keeps me indoors more than I like.
Now the temps are mild, although the quite windy days tend to offset the warmth.
My Celtic ancestry is stirred up to get out and explore, even if I've been to places before. There is always something new to find, even in old places, just as my story reveals.
I go lightly layered in clothing, to stay warm on chilly mornings, but able to shed and carry articles that won't weigh me down when it becomes warmer.
Another plus for these months is the fact that there is very little moisture falling, and that adds another activity — camping. I don't do backpacking; old joints don't stand up to such activity. So I like to use my ATV.
Over a decade ago I had the late Chet Brown make me up a small trailer to my design, some two feet wide and three feet long with a fold-down tailgate on spoked bicycle tires, to haul my camping gear and big game, if I was successful on a hunt. I have since shod it with solid rubber footwear to prevent flats.
Chet also made me a wide rack that installs above my receiver hitch to haul more gear. I have a dual hitch with two hitch-balls, thus enabling me to use both rack and trailer at the same time, and I can almost haul everything but the kitchen sink!
I prefer to take this outfit and find long-forgotten two-tracks. Usually they will take me to some remote pine-covered valley where I can be alone and ponder life and just plain get away for two or three days. Sometimes a favored friend will accompany me.
The whole point of this diatribe is to encourage you to get out and make your own adventure before the summer monsoons begin and the hordes of bugs again drive us indoors.
Keep the sun forever at your back, the wind forever in your face, and may The Forever God bless you likewise.