A change of seasons

By DAN GEDDINGS
Posted 8/26/18

The whispering pines over my head and behind me sang a melody that I love to hear. There was a nice breeze that flowed from the west, with low white, wispy clouds scudding across the sky to the east with an imagined urgency. There was a veil of thin …

This item is available in full to subscribers

A change of seasons

Posted

The whispering pines over my head and behind me sang a melody that I love to hear. There was a nice breeze that flowed from the west, with low white, wispy clouds scudding across the sky to the east with an imagined urgency. There was a veil of thin white clouds higher in the blue that were seemingly stationary.

My elevated stand was just in the shade of the tall pines, and based on the sun's trajectory, I reckoned it would stay shaded for a while yet. I could see down the wide sandy road to my left and right. A big thicket of small pines was to my front. I could see the tops of the hardwoods in the Upper Swamp, beyond the pines.

It was pleasant sitting there waiting on the hunt to begin. This day was different from the last hundred days. I felt it when I walked outside in the predawn at home, before leaving for the Lowcountry. The mornings have been warm and muggy. This morning was cooler with a nice crispness. It is the beginning of a change in the seasons.

There will be more hot days and warm stuffy mornings, but their time is short. August is the end of the summer, and the middle of the month also brings the opening of the deer season in the Lowcountry.

The first drive of the morning yielded a nice velvet-horned buck for a young hunter. Two other bucks were sighted, but no shots were fired. This second drive at mid-morning was just now getting underway.

The hunters had loaded onto the back of a couple of pickups and were dropped off at stands along an interior club road. The stands are treated wooden tower stands 12 feet tall with a waist-high rail and a bench for sitting. These elevated stands offer an extra level of safety on a traditional deer drive with hounds and buckshot.

A pickup came down the road with a dog box on the back loaded with hounds and turned into a dead-end road just past my stand. It wouldn't be long to wait now. The standers were all in place, and as soon as all the dog handlers got to their release sites, the hunt would begin.

After a few minutes, I heard the tailgate of that last truck drop and the hounds hit the ground with some excited barks. Across the big pine thicket, I could hear other hounds sounding off. The "drivers" hollered encouragement to the packs as they "struck" trails and the scent of our quarry - the whitetail deer.

A squealy tongued dog opened up over beyond Shoot Yo Leg Alley, and some other hounds joined in the chase. The pack went straight to the west, into the wind, and was soon out of my hearing. Another pack opened up to my front, but they made big loops and circles throughout the pine thicket. I figured that pack was on a doe or maybe even a coyote. Both will circle around and cover a smaller area.

The first pack was most likely on a buck, as they will usually head into the wind and will take a straighter route to parts unknown.

My suspicion was confirmed when I heard a single shot off in the distance, in the direction that the first pack took.

That pack out front got closer, and I stood up and held my shotgun at the ready. If they were running a coyote, I wanted to be ready for a shot. I could hear the dogs close by, in the water that has ponded in these woods from all the rain. They were having some trouble following the trail and eventually turned away, back toward the Upper Swamp.

Other packs could be heard in the distance, but there were no other shots on this hunt. After a while, the woods got quiet, and then a horn sounded somewhere off in the distance, and another horn sounded closer. The hunt was ended.

I unloaded my gun and climbed down from the stand. Soon the truck that had put our group out came along, and we loaded up and headed back to the clubhouse.

Mister Tommy had a great lunch ready. Chicken bog, green beans, cole slaw, sliced bread and coconut cookies for dessert. Sweet tea to drink. That lunch alone is worth the trip down there. I got a plate and sat down across the table from Troy Murphy. Troy was telling somebody why he had missed. He had fired the single shot that I had heard in the distance. His story was a good one, and just like the weather, the hounds and the food, it's a part of the hunt.

We're changing from the end of a summer season to a new hunting season, and fall will be here before we know it.

Reach Dan Geddings at cdgeddings@gmail.com.