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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hanging a Tree Stand (Blog 205)

Yesterday I spent nearly two hours trying to find a place to hang a tree stand on a Roanoke County property where I will bowhunt next Saturday on opening day of Virginia's Urban Archery season.  In short, I could not find a place where I feel I have a decent chance to tag a doe.

The woodlot I searched through (picture below) has a pasture or fields on all sides of it.  A number of oaks are dropping acorns, but there was no tree near any of the bearing oaks that I could hang a stand in.

One of the best places where there were acorns was the pond that borders one side of the woodlot.  The forecast for next Saturday is for temperatures in the 80s, and I though the combination of food and water offered great potential.  But every tree near the pond was too large for a stand or left me too exposed to any deer that might come by.

I finally positioned my stand along a logging road that runs through the property.  But I have no confidence in the spot.  We will see what happens next Saturday.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Snake in the House (Blog 204)

"Bruce, come down here, right now!" Elaine yelled from the kitchen this morning.  My first thought was that I had committed some egregious error, but then it occurred to me that she was very scared.  I ran from my writing room, scurried down the steps, and charged into the kitchen.

"Just look," she pointed to the recycling bin.  "I thought the sealing of the back door meant that we were done with those things!"

I still couldn't see what she was so aggravated about, but, finally, she pointed directly at the reason for her anxiety.  A sticky label from our bananas had fallen on the floor, landed on the side of the recycling bin, and a five-inch Eastern ringneck snake had become stuck on the label.

The poor creature was wriggling about in obvious duress, and I felt real sympathy for the stuck snake.

"Get it out of here, right now," Elaine demanded.  "I will not share my house and kitchen with snakes."

"They're harmless," I meekly replied.  "But I will remove it from the kitchen right now."

I took the banana label and the attached snake outside and carefully removed the poor creature from its sticky prison.  The last I saw of the Eastern ringneck it was winding its way across the sidewalk and into the at last.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Deer Scouting (Blog 203)

My son-in-law David Reynolds and I spent this morning scouting for deer on various properties in Craig County, Virginia and Monroe County, West Virginia.  We checked on stand sites, looked for deer and turkey sign, and, most importantly, assessed the acorn crop.

Our most important finding was that there seem to be more acorns this year than last.  I noted scarlet oak and black oak acorns at several sites, though I found no white or chestnut oak acorns anywhere.  Of course, it is still early in the "acorn dropping" arena, but, still, we were encouraged about what we found.

I have my compound bow and two crossbows sighted in, but I have not begun work on preparing my shotgun, rifle, or muzzleloader for the season ahead.  That needs to be done shortly, as I like to have things prepared well in advance.  And, of course, more scouting will be done as well.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Copperhead in Front Yard (Blog 202)

Yesterday evening after school, I was cleaning out the hen house of our Rhode Island Reds.  I had placed our birds in the chicken tractor that rests next to the sidewalk, so that they could feed on any vegetation or insects they encountered.

As I began walking up the sidewalk toward the tractor, the chickens began emitting their alarm call, and I noticed that a copperhead was sunning itself on the edge of the sidewalk.  Our chickens have not had a good summer predator-wise, from a bear attaching the run to a stray cat stalking the perimeter.  For that matter, our birds become alarmed when deer wander into the backyard.

I don't like killing snakes or copperheads.  On a number of times since we have lived in our Botetourt County, Virginia home, I have observed copperheads and let them go on their way.  They are a beautiful reptile that feeds mostly on mice and insects.

But our grandson Sam had earlier yesterday been playing on the sidewalk, and I just can't risk him being bitten, especially since he is only 26 months old.  So I took a shovel and dispatched the copperhead.  I felt very sad after doing so, but I felt I had no choice.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Back to School (Blog 201)

Tomorrow, Monday, I go back to teaching English and Creative Writing at Lord Botetourt High School, and I am really looking forward to beginning the school year.  I began my teaching career 40 years ago, but I still really enjoy the classroom.

It is so much less stressful to teach school than to be a freelance writer.  This summer I have had many book signings and fishing trips for articles and it has been exhausting.  Being away from home and Elaine is no fun.  I enjoy meeting folks at the book signings, but the long, lonely trips home are not something I enjoy.

Every day in the classroom there is an opportunity for me to teach my students something new, and for them to teach me something about life that I didn't know before.  What could be better.