I made it out on Friday for my first attempt at bear hunting. I did my best to still hunt up a slope in the Green Mountain National Forest. There hasn’t been any rain to speak of in about a week, and the duff layer was brittle and loud. As I drove along the main roads there was a faint tint of gold in the forest canopy. But when standing among the beech and maples a penumbra of foliage still made for a very small world, and shattered notions of Fall being close at hand.
My intent was to find one of several boulder-strewn clearings I had scouted out over the summer. Back then all I had to do was walk and after half an hour, I’d have found one. But of course this time, after two hours of walking I hadn’t found a clearing. One hour before sunset I settled on a spot with reasonable visibility. If a bear came in, it might be in view and range for a long time, but I might not ever have gotten a shot opportunity. As the light faded I heard several barred owls calling. That and a lone deer I jumped on my way in were about it for wildlife activity.
I called it quits at sunset. I would have liked to stuck it out until the end of legal hunting light, but the notion of navigating the mountainside after dark wasn’t something I was too keen on. As it turned out, I had miscalculated how far in the woods I had gone. I thought for sure I’d be out in under 30 minutes. It took nearly an hour. I double-checked my direction with the compass just to be sure (one of the perks of hunting a mountainside is that you always have a reference point) at the 30 minute mark and pulled out the headlamp shortly thereafter. But I made it out just fine and by the time I turned the key on the car’s ignition I was already looking forward to the next outing.