At the deer trail

18.01.2014  Ville Pohjola

It is winter and the field under my feet has been dormat for several months. The field was stripped of its barley coat during the harvest four months ago. Now the field rests under thin snow cover and it is almost a pity to walk through it. Harsh wind is blowing over the open field brutally. The weak seed of life underneath of the snow needs all possible protection to survive until spring. The temperature is -15 degrees Celsius. The cold weather came before the snow. Because of that there is no protection for the nature as in normal winter.

I pull also my jacket more tightly while walking in the field. My bright-colored clothes are almost shiny in the dark mid-winter day. While Gore-Tex protects me from the elements, the orange color makes me clearly visible to other hunters. They are waiting at their positions, trying to stand still while the freezing coldness is trying to sneak under their coats. Me and my fellow deer hunters are trying to adapt to the winter weather. After long rainy autumn you can really feel the wintery coldness.

Walking keeps me warm. Soon I will be sweating and only the correct clothing keeps me going. The jacket is breathing the extra heat to the cold air. Deer trail under my feet is also heating me up with excitement. There are fresh hoof prints at the snow. The prints are big and and I know that buck that big means also big rack. That would be welcome trophy on the wall over fire place.

Well, there is still hard work before the dream comes true. Dachshund bouncing ahead of me is also working hard to reach the deer. There is fresh scent of game in its nose.

Catching the prey is what we are here for. The driven hunt of white tailed deer is in action and we are closing the chain of hunters. This method of hunting is one of the my favourites because of the excitement it offers. I know that when others hear the barking dog is, they will also feel the excitement. In one very short moment the deer might be in front of them. In another short second the grey shadow might disappear back to the thicket. Just as quickly as the deer appears the young spruces might cover it again. Therefore the hunter must be ready to act any moment.

A buck of this size might have been in similar situations many times during its life. Using his excellent sense of smell he can find his way past the hunters, to safer areas. Or he might stop and stand still for a while and use his other excellent sense, hearing, to survive. Hunters must be completely still in order to catch the prey. They must keep quiet and their hunting outfit must not make a single noise while hunters are trying to keep themselves warm.

I can hear through the hunting radio that the deer has been detected. A big male appeared in front of one of the hunters, but was able to escape. The old hunting vest did not offer sufficient camouflage and the deer saw or heard movement. The magical moment, that one opportunity was wasted. The deer path continues deeper to the forest and I continue to follow. This is part of a hunter’s life and I anyway enjoy being out there.

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