Communing with nature during Thanksgiving
Though turkey has probably been the bird on most people's minds recently, it's not the one that topped my holiday season list.
That's because when I arrived at my dad's southeastern Butler County home last Wednesday afternoon, what I saw were geese hundreds of them.
As I came up the driveway, the geese's shadows on the ground formed ranks of crissing and crossing black spots. The wheat stubble fields surrounding the place were alive with a rotating polka-dot pattern as the birds settled in to land.
As they roamed the fields for a late-day snack, the sinking sun bathed the birds the light was so bright it hurt to look for very long. But it was such a sight, looking away was hard too.
It turns out I wasn't the only one with geese on the mind. After a call from my Uncle Willie that night, I was hiding behind a clump of grass beside the field, shotgun in hand, by 6 Thanksgiving morning.
My uncle had brought four other guys with him, and one of them had some decoys and a call, which we used fairly successfully.
By 10 a.m., the six of us had gotten four birds (I didn't get any didn't clean any, either).
But I think going out that morning to hunt made the animal kingdom mad at me. I could just be paranoid, but the strangest things happened to me the next night.
Driving down a 10-mile stretch of winding, patchy highway after playing Pinochle at a friend's house in the nearby town of Leon, the animals spoke.
OK, they didn't really speak, but I think they were trying to send me a message that night.
When I had driven the same road into Leon several hours before I had seen nothing resembling life, but driving back it seemed like the animals were trying to reclaim the world.
A mile past Leon a herd of deer made me come to a complete stop as it crossed the road in front of me.
After the deer, all does, had crossed the road, I started forward again and was almost smashed by a buck probably in rut and chasing the does.
From that point, I felt like I was surrounded constantly watched by the animals.
Opossums scurried in the road and ditches. I saw two coyotes: One laughed at me and ran away, and the other just sat and stared at me from the side of the road.
Owls and other unidentifiable creatures kept calling to each other as if keeping tabs on my progress down the road.
And scores of beast lay in wait in the roadside fields, made visible by the telltale glint of high-beams in their eyes as I drove by them.
By the time I got back to dad's place, I was a little scared and a lot shook up. It had been a freaky experience.
And though no birds had been involved, except for the owls, I think the animals were trying to tell me something.
Maybe by frightening me, Mother Nature was trying to show me some of the fright I had shown her.
Maybe I'll reconsider before shooting her birds and destroying part of nature's beauty.
Or maybe I'll still hunt, but be more appreciative of nature and the need to maintain its precious balance which hunting plays a large role in.
I guess it could have been the moon, mating instincts or any number of things that brought the animals out that night, but I'll probably still think twice before I go goose hunting again not that any goose would ever feel threatened with me at the trigger.