Almost every day in October after my Block IV Creative Writing class ends, I leave my job as an English teacher at Lord Botetourt High School School and head for rural Botetourt County to bowhunt. I truly enjoy teaching, something I have done for nearly 30 years, but I also truly enjoy being alone in the woods. Every day in the woods, I receive a valuable lesson about nature, just as I hope my students learn something worthwhile every day in my classes.
For example, on a recent outing, I watched a flock of wild turkeys for over an hour. The young males, known as jakes, precipitated a fight with each other in their never ending desire to see which one of them would become the dominant male. The jakes chest bumped each other, periodically charged each other with wings held aloft, strutted menacingly toward their flock mates, and vocalized gobbles, fighting purrs, yelps, and kee-kees. The reaction of the jakes' mother hen and their sisters, know as jennies? The females went about the serious business of eating while the males fought.
On another trip, I sat amazed as a doe and her two fawns, some 200 yards away, scented me from such a great distance. Deer have a legendary sense of smell, and this trio stared at me, began snorting and stomping their feet, and then fled from the field they had just entered. At times like this when the wind is blowing from my position toward whitetails, I don't think it is possible to fool a deer's nose.
Of course, there are also days after school when I am fortunate enough to use my compound bow to kill a doe - a cause for joy in my household. My family does not buy meat from a store, so every fall I try to tag at least seven or eight deer so that we will have our meat needs met for the year. In the past three years, Elaine and I have learned to butcher the deer, saving a great deal of money in the process.
What will today's after school excursion bring? I will let you know next week.