Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fall Kimi Style

Oh, how my heart aches. Tis the season - the MOST wonderful time of the year, for sure. When it's nice out, I look at the trees, and breathe in the cool air and can think only of the wonderful things that most people think of - hearty soups, autumn colors, fresh bread, apples & cinnamon .... you know. Like most ladies of distinction. However,all of that happens to tie into other things that make me obsessive this time of year - Trail riding through fresh fallen leaves, fighting my horse off the apple trees, and my favorite favorite favorite part of the season .... bear hunting season.

I have long had a love for bears. Always fascinated by them, dream of them, and of course horses. One day in my future, I hope to combine the two, on a nice pack hunt out west where I can only get to my bear by long trail ride, and can only get it out by pack mule. If I'm lucky - a BIG pack mule, lol.
Anyone who has known me for even a little while at just about any juncture in my like knows that my heart yearns to go north. I want to be in the only other place in the world that I feel like I am home - the upper peninsula of Michigan. The air is cleaner, colder, and crisp. The humidity is not as bad as it is here, and the people are wonderful. So far, all the folks I've had contact with are just what I want to be around - when I want to be around people that is, which is not so often.
Bear season will start soon, and the gentleman that put me on my first bear, and his guys that crack me up so much (super nice guys) have been getting set up for the opener, I'm sure they're busy as hell, checking everything time after time after time, to be sure that they are ready for the hunters that they will guide to the woods. Whether they know it or not, I consider them friends of mine. I think they do - there was some pretty heavy picking going on both ways last time, and as my Grampa Harry always said 'If I didn't like you, I wouldn't pick on you'. We're weird like that.
Until I went hunting in that reigon of the upper, the only other place that I felt like I was home was near Escanaba - of course, that nearly is home. I have family that I love there, and I visit every chance that I get. This fall will be the second year that I haven't gone up to hunt, and my trigger finger is getting anxious. Last time I sat in my stand there, I saw wolves, coyotes, deer, pine martins, ravens, squirrels, partridge, foxes, and even got the crap scared out of me when a porcupine fell out of a tree nearly beyond my line of vision. The first bear on that trip I saw was a pair of cubbies that tried to climb my tree. I watched them for 3 days, on the final day, their mama let me know she was there, and that she knew that I was there too. I have never felt more polite, yet happy to have a gun in my lap. The next stand, was a bomb, but that's where I saw the porky. funny buggers. Another stand was a bust on my fault. I misunderstood my directions, and thought that I had to walk myself out. I stayed until I couldn't see then walked out - should have stayed. Dumb move, on my part. Saw deer and ravens there. At one point (don't remember the order, there were quite a few) came the perfect stand. Nice big, beautiful bear, and I was ready. Calm, cool, eased myself to take the shot - and clean missed. Took me a while to figure out that I was a moron for not shooting out of my treestand with all my camo on before we went up. Scared the crap out of the bear he sat down clean on his backside, then bolted. That's why I really did think I hit him- never saw him again, and there was no sign that I had actually made contact. Boy, did I feel like a jackass on that one. I could have my order of where I sat screwed up, but I digress. The last stand, I was told there was no way I would see another mama. I had gotten close enough to one, and had no desire to see another. For 3 days I watched this one little bear come in, and grind his face into the bait, scratch his butt on a tree, and act like a goon. A big bear rushed in and scared him, but I never saw him. I had stayed til nearly end of my hunt period and the fam was starting to miss me, so I decided that even if I only saw the little bear, I would take him. He wasn't a cub, but compared to my first bear he was a little guy. Still, after nearly a month of hunting, I knew that to me, it was better to go home with something than to go home empty handed. So, thats what I did. I shot the little guy, then not 20 minutes after I shot him, his bookend twin came in, and was promptly scared off by a mama and 2 cubs. Oh, boy. Mom saw the downed bear(died instantly) and treed them about 20 yards from me. They were eye level with me them in their big white pine, me in my cedar. She paced around, sniffed everywhere, circled my tree for a bit, sat at the base of my tree, walked to her cubbys tree, and laid down. She never once looked up at me. Never knew I was there. The cubbies saw me, but didn't make a sound. We 4 sat like that until after dark when my guide/friend came to pick me up. As soon as she saw the lights from his atv, she blasted off the way she came, cubs still in the tree. That was about the only time I got nervous, as I knew that they were still treed, and she would now be on the offensive. As he walked in to help me out of the tree, I told him there were 2 cubs in the pine, and mom took off the way he came. He grabbed my bear, and threw him on the atv as I climbed down. His advice to me - don't unload your gun. Oh boy. So down I went, gun loaded, safety on (not my preference, but I knew the danger was quite real) he ran to meet me at the base of the tree, telling me 'don't talk, don't rush too much, but try to be quick - I have your back' I was so happy he was there at that moment. As I undid my harness, he pulled the stand, and had me go ahead of him out of the stand. Threw the stand on the atv, and said - 'don't unload til we're at the truck' oh. wow. that, I didn't expect. I figured we were cool. not so, apparently. As we blasted down the trail, he told me that was the most dangerous situation all season. I know he was right. But I didn't want to think of it at the time. It was a great hunt all in all. Great people helping me. I cannot stress that enough. GREAT people helping me. I love those guys they're hands down the best there is, and as I said - he worked his tail off trying to get me on a bear. No one could have tried harder, and for that I am grateful. I am grateful they did much of what they did. Setting up stands, running me in & out to all of them, hauling out the bear, hell, he even gutted it for me this time. (I asked him to, there was a different method he had than I did, I wanted to see it) Hell, when I was up and on my own, he even made sure I got into my cabin before he went home. Great, gentlemen. All of em. Had fun while my hubby was up too, though he got his durning the first week, then we went home, and I went back. I couldn't stand leaving my tag unfilled.
Of course, this would bite me in the ass a bit it took me another week or so, even though I did get my bear(oh, horrors, a week alone in the UP! I was in heaven). My car died about 20 miles west of the mackinac bridge on the way home. I had to wait for hubby to come and save me, my car, and my bear. But even with that, I made some friends in Naubinway. I remember walking in flustered as hell. The woman behind the counter at the resteraunt looked concerned, asked if I needed to use the phone. I said, 'well, my car is dead. I'm stranded, at least for 6 hours. SO - what do you do for fun around here?' Such great people - you just don't have too look too hard to find them. I even wrote a story about it that got published in the Porcupine Press. My way of acknowledging the wonderful people up there. I will make it one day. All I ask for is a nice little cottage, with a wood burner, and enough land for me & my horses to be happy. Doesn't have to be massive. 12 acres would be just fine. Yep. Just enough land for a little house, a little barn, round pen, riding arena, and pastures. Hell, a little more room never hurt anyone either.... lol. One day. One day.
And when I do - oh, boy. Black bears, beware. I will stalk you for years between licenses getting to know which one I want in my freezer. Oh, my..... bear stew. How I miss you. Probably another year anyhow, unless we move there first. oh..... my dreams. Maybe still possible. I hope, I hope!

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