Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.
Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.
Our post-Christmas vacation is drawing to a close.
We hosted a niece and nephew for the past week at the farm. In keeping with the policy of No Child Left Indoors the days have been filled with snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hauling firewood, playing with Girlfriend and other assorted outdoor activities. The evenings have been spent sampling all manner of terrific food and relaxing in front of the fire. Mornings are for sleeping-in.
I had hoped to spend some afternoons doing some late season bow hunting. Alas, it was either too windy or the temperatures were in the single digits. Sometimes both.
The kids left for home with their dad today. With clearing weather and temperatures reaching into the rather tropical mid-twenties I thought - Get out there, Tom. It's probably your last chance for the year.
I suit-up in my winter hunting togs and fetch my knife, tag, dragging rope, camera, Blackberry and bow. It's a half-mile walk to a ground blind I set-up near a deer trail.
It's a bit of a hike without my snowshoes. And even though I stick to a beaten trail I keep breaking through the crust. Before too long I am sweating like a butcher.
You're almost there, Tom. One step in front of the other.
As I get closer I notice something that is strange but not uncommon - deer tracks inside the snowshoe path. Lots of them too. I think - What an odd behavior. Well, maybe not. Maybe these are lazy deer and they want to walk the path of least resistance. At that moment a couple of deer bound out of the willows, clear the trail in a single leap and bolt to the east - white tails flagging.
Humph! Good job, Tom. You've spooked the only two deer you're going to see today.
I trudge-onward. Following the snowshoe path (with deer tracks) and busting through the crust at about every fourth step. The sweat is now pouring off of me and the deer tracks lead right up to the blind! That is one bold deer. What'd it do - look inside to see if I was hiding in there?
They are taunting me.
I settle-in, wipe the fog from my spectacles, nock an arrow and wait. I'm cooling-off rather nicely and eventually have to zip-up my jacket.
Silent sports are a great way to be alone with your thoughts and let the mind wander. It is what I characterize as rebooting your brain. The Zen experience is enhanced in the winter. Everything is crisp, cold and exhilarating. Even the sounds are enhanced. All I hear are the turkeys putting and squawking, the lone alarm call of a blue jay and the occasional whine of a distant snow machine.
Hey, Tom. You're got eight to twelve inches of snow on the ground. No problem following a blood trail if you need to. What about that big buck you caught a picture of on the trail camera? Would that be a dandy to arrow. It would make for a terrific blog posting too.
The sun falls lower in the horizon. This is really good light. Picture-taking light.
I glimpse movement off to the left. A deer walks slowly into view. I pull my hands from the muff, lift my bow from its hook and clip-on the release. Another deer walks into view.
I get the adrenaline rush. You know - the adrenaline rush that should it not come means it's time to hang-up your weapon and retire from hunting.
Stay calm. Breath in. Breath out. Move slowly but deliberately. Raise the bow. Draw. Acquire with the sight pin.
Nuts. A couple of nubbin bucks. Probably brothers - or maybe just pals.
No, Tom. You told yourself only does.
One deer is so close I could hit him with a well-aimed snowball. The thought briefly crosses my mind but I banish it. If there are two deer maybe mama is in the neighborhood. Or maybe a larger antlered uncle. I reach for my camera and snap a couple of shots.
Time passes and they move on.
The Blackberry vibrates. It's an email from Lawyer asking if Girlfriend and I want to go pheasant hunting next Saturday. Nuts. I'm curling and cannot be in two places at the same time.
The sun falls below the horizon and I gather my things and walk back to the house in the dark. A couple of horned owls are calling to each other. Back and forth. They'll be laying their eggs this month.
Wow. That means spring isn't far behind.
I better get-on with planning the garden and gearing-up for turkey hunting.