Last week I never even had the opportunity to draw back on a whitetail, but I still experienced a marvelous time in the woods. One of the most fascinating aspects of the pastime is the last half hour of shooting light when the creatures of the day stir a great deal and the nocturnal animals begin to look for food.
This past Saturday, for example, as the shadows lengthened, a barred owl on top of the Craig County, Virginia mountain where I was began to belt out the species' "who cooks for you" chorus. The owl's song had a cascading effect on others of its kind and soon two other owls further down the mountain were joining in.
A few days earlier, I had observed a pileated woodpecker making its last rounds of the day. The pileated drummed on a dead tree to announce its presence, next winged to an oak and vocalized its "cuck, cuck, cuck" notes, then flew and perched just outside of a tree cavity that was only a few yards from my treestand. The woodpecker took a quick peak inside the cavity, and, apparently satisfied that the area inside was vacant, hopped in and no doubt went quickly asleep.
I enjoy bowhunting a great deal and providing healthy, nutritious venison for my family. But sitting 10-feet above the ground in a treestand is a relaxing experience and also a superlative way to observe the natural world.