December 12, 2013

Unexpected weather and an unexpected visitor

John Newcom Outdoors Columnist

---- — I am starting to feel like I have lost a month somewhere along the way. It seems like the weather skipped over most of November and plunged past December into feeling like January. It is downright cold outside.

I have really decided that I dislike the cold temperatures these last few years. I long for a few days of normal high temperatures somewhere in the upper 30s but I guess that I can keep wishing according to the last weather forecast that I saw. The woods are barren looking and the deer have grouped up into what I call winter herds. I am used to this, but not in early December. I usually see it late in the month or in January, but not this year. It started early, and I don’t care for it.

I was sitting in one of my deer stands overlooking a nice area in the hopes of shooting a nice big buck early on a recent morning. The wind was cold and of course it found a crease in my clothing so that I could feel the ice cold air rushing down the back of my neck. It makes for a long day when that happens and if you cannot get warm, you are cold the entire day.

The sun did begin to break through the clouds on this particular morning and as it began to rise I saw movement. I quickly focused on it but the moisture from my breath had began to freeze on my eyelids. I slowly wiped away the moisture and blinked my vision back into focus to see two doe walking along a trail. The wind was in my favor so I relaxed and watched in the hopes that a buck was trailing them. The mature doe stopped and began smelling the air and looking around. She could just sense that something was off.

I started to focus on the area where she was looking, but I could not see a thing. A moment later she nudged the younger doe back the way they had come and left in a slight hurry. A few seconds later I heard something coming my way. I positioned myself and mentally started running through the list of things that I needed to do if it was a buck coming.

I began lowing my breathing rate to slow the increased heart rate that accompanies this hopeful process. I looked towards the sound that was coming my way and there it was. A nice medium-sized coyote.

It walked through the area and I watched it catch a few mice. I debated on shooting it, but decided not to on this day and before I knew it, it was gone and a second one came through. A moment later it laid down in a brushy area only 20 yards away and believe it or not took a nap until I proceeded to get down 20 minutes later. I enjoyed it the entire time and walking away without shooting either one that day just felt like the right thing at the time so that is what I did, but I think about it often and smile at what I observed that morning.

I hope you see lots of cool things on your outdoor adventures too. Good luck and enjoy the outdoors!

John Newcom is an outdoors columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached through the sports department at 574-732-5180 or