Well, it's the first day of 2015, and I decided I'd kick it off with a morning hunt. I thought I'd go to my usual spot for squirrels, and then pop over to another field area and see if I could kick out any rabbits. So, I packed my .17 caliber and my 12 gauge in the truck, with a bunch of wool layers and headed over to Patuxent River State Park. It was pretty damned cold this morning. When I stepped out of the truck, it was only 17ºF. It was so cold, that the earth was frozen solid and ice crystals clung to the tall grass and weeds. I took advantage of the sun's horizontal rays whenever I stopped to look and listen for my furry friends. I did see one large squirrel, just as I entered the woods, but I was still too close to the houses that sit on the edge of the public land I was hunting. I was more than 150 yards away from the houses, but I didn't feel comfortable shooting, so I let him go.
After walking for a while, I came across the remains of a deer. It was the same deer I had seen exactly 327 days ago, while hunting squirrels in this area. Check out the amount of decay that took place since then: [Time warp back to February 8, 2014].
These photos remind me of the importance of regular brushing and flossing.
The area that I hunt, at Patuxent River State park, is too small to ever need a map and compass, still I always carry one. This morning I took my new Suunto KB-14, which Debbie gave to me for Christmas. I really love it, and have had my eye on it for a couple of years now. You could describe it as a simplified lensatic compass. Used by surveyors and forestry folks alike, it is a liquid filled, aluminum-bodied compass with an optical feature that makes it very easy to accurately shoot an azimuth. You simply hold it up to your eye, aim the compass at your target by looking over the top of it, and look through the lens to read the azimuth (70º as shown above). It's got some other cool features, like a standard tripod mount (for those surveyors out there) and super robust construction. It's lighter than it looks too; which is awesome.
After a couple of hours exploring the woods and occasionally looking for the elusive grey squirrel, I packed it up and headed over to the fields I had planned on kicking through, in search of rabbits. I exchanged my .17 caliber for my 12 gauge and loaded it with a couple No 6, low brass shells. I spent the next couple of hours meandering fields and hedge rows, kicking brush piles but had no luck. Still, it was a beautiful walk. I happened across a bald faced hornets' nest which was really neat to find. The top of it was frosted with a light layer of sparkling ice crystals. Boldly, I shook the nest. I wasn't really sure if the wasps were still inside or not. Thinking that the nest would look great perched atop my gun cabinet (Its no wonder I am not an interior decorator) I used my small Kabar to cut the sapling it was fixed to, and carried it back to the truck with me. After researching, I learned that most hornets flee the nest by October each year, and they do not reuse the nests.
(As usual, click the images to see them larger, and in all their glory)