25 January 2009

Bear Creek Swamp Tales #3

One wonders what makes a man get out of a warm bed at 4:00 a.m. and head out for the woods in freezing weather to look for deer that are so smart that they can smell a person at 200 yards. I am a man of habit. I have got to have something on my stomach before I hit the woods. So I would stop at the Big Bass store on the way out highway 14 to get me a honey bun and a cup of hot coffee. There is nothing as good as a hot cup of coffee on a frosty morn before you hit the coldness of the hunting woods where most likely you will think that you will freeze half to death up a tree. Leroy Jones was owner of this establishment and was a friend of mine. In fact he loaned me his four wheel drive truck so I could travel down a muddy road to retrieve a deer I had killed at the Swamp. This particular morning when I was sitting in a ladder stand some 14 feet up I could see the swamp about 100 yards down the way. I was sitting there and looking hard for one of those ole swamp bucks when I noticed to my left and south toward the Alabama River that a fog bank was rolling steadily toward me and up the swamp. The sight was something to behold. The fog looked like something straight out of the Science Fiction TV channel as it crept closer and closer toward me. There was not a sound as this mass of fog was coming right toward me. A strange sight it was! Eventually the fog engulfed me on its way northward and up the swamp. I am sure that a 10 point buck came within a few feet of me and I could not see one thing. Was this a planned action by the creatures of the wild to keep hunters from detecting their escape? My mind is still foggy as to whether or not that was the case.

Now I have still got my hearing. One smart friend asked me if I saw that fly a hundred yards away. I told him no but I could hear its wings a-flapping. This particular morning I was up in the stand just before dawn. I did hear the breaking of dawn that day. I had often wondered what it sounded like but no one had ever been able to describe it to me. When deer hunting I watch for every movement whether it is a bird or a squirrel. I also listen to the various sounds as creatures of the bottom on the forest are moving about. One morning along side Double Branch in Crenshaw County I mistook the sound, thinking it was a deer and low and behold it was an Armadillo. Say, do you know what an Armadillo is? It is a possum on the half shell. Well, anyway, that creature almost got a 308 caliber 150 grain bullet a-headed its way. When you hunt near Bear Creek Swamp you are going to hear some more noise in the early morning time. For about 10 minutes I could not have heard a deer walking near me for the noise of the ducks quacking on the water, the birds of every variety chirping their songs, the turkeys talking in the trees and the squirrels barking and a-running around on the dry leaves. I heard about this ole timer saying that the first thing that you will hear when it gets light in the morning will be the fowl kingdom and that I believe. But then I thought to myself. My, I could not have heard such beautiful noise in downtown Prattville that early in the morning. You had to be out in God’s nature to be blessed to hear such beautiful music!!

Only the older folk will recognize that statement coming from a song in the movie ‘SONG OF THE SOUTH’. One morning I had sat in a stand for a long time along side the Swamp but I had not seen any action so I decided to walk further up the ridge to an area that was just beautiful. Lo, and behold, someone had placed a stand a-way up a tree near to where the clouds are found. But I did accept the challenge and I got up in that stand a long way from the earth beneath. I should have gone home instead since I had been in the woods for most of the morning. There I sat a-swaying with the breeze then suddenly A Gold Finch came flying by and began feeding around the briars about 40 feet from me. Then there came two Blue Birds that began flitting around the same bunch of briars. You might not believe me but a few minutes later here came a Cardinal and his Red Bird mate. I couldn’t believe that I was looking at yellow, blue and red birds. I watched those birds for several minutes and if my blood pressure had been high that morning I know it fell way down. A peace came over me with such calm. I was being entertained with God’s creatures and had I not been up half way to the moon, I could have fallen asleep. It was so quiet and I was so relaxed, that is, until I heard a ‘crack’ behind me and then I turned around and there stood a buck. Let me put it this way, I disturbed Walt Disney’s World of the Bird Kingdom when I squeezed the trigger of that slug shooting shotgun. That was the end of my bird watching for the day.

Do you really know what you would get if you drop a piano down a mine shaft? Why that is easy. You would get an A flat minor.

**Photograph courtesy of B. Raymond Elliott**

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