Stacey Cole's Nature Talks: Family memories are made while hunting in the woods

By STACEY COLE November 17. 2017 10:25PM
 (Metro Creative Connection)

Editor’s note: The following column was originally published in the New Hampshire Union Leader on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2006.

Fall brings the hunting season — a time of harvest from the woods.

My days with dog and gun are long past, but I remember well those times when my late wife Mildred and I, accompanied by “Lefty,’’ our Brittany spaniel, headed for grouse country. It was a joy to watch Lefty work and especially remembered is the excitement waiting for a bird to flush. The best of those times, however, were the days themselves — walking beneath a medley of autumn colors, listening to nature’s chatters and whispers — inhaling the unrefined fragrance of damp woods — each a gift of nature.

These memories were brought to mind after receiving a letter from Ken Enman of Goffstown who wrote in part: “In the past, my son and I usually spent two weeks hunting woodcock and grouse in upper N.H. One morning we woke to a world of pure white. A heavy frost during the night had turned all outdoors into a totally beautiful landscape. Mist rose from the river and as the sun came up it reflected off the frost. The sky was October-blue with huge cotton clouds blowing to the north. A perfect day to be out!

“We dressed warmly, orange hat and vest, cased the guns and loaded the English Setter Suzi in the dog box and were off to the first covert. I don’t remember how many points or how many birds we got — not our limit, that’s for sure! When we reached our second covert the sun had risen and the frost had disappeared to be replaced with droplets that glistened in the sun. Each seed head, fern and twig was a display of jewels and the little pine trees resembled Christmas ornaments! As we meandered along, the odor of frozen ferns and the earthy smell of alder and poplar leaves hung in the air and the occasional perfume of sweet grass could be detected. The bell went silent and we approached the setter only to see that she wasn’t on point but was looking at something ahead. As we got closer we could see a very large beaver very near a stump and was obviously anchored to the spot. The tree had slid from the stump and landed right on the base of his broad tail! He was alive but weak and as we moved the weight he tried to move from his prison. With some help the animal slowly lumbered over to one of his skid trails and down the embankment to the logan below. Slowly he moved into the cold water and submerged. How good that must have felt! When he came up he began to drink. After his thirst was satisfied he slowly swam across the open water to a stand of cattails and out of view. I wonder if he lived through his accident and hope he did. Nature is not always kind.

“We called Suzi in and began our return to the truck. As we approached a woodcock twittered up and flew straight away — an easy shot! We both shouldered our guns and said: ‘Bang!‘ and watched as the little russet bird with a 3-inch bill, eyes set on the sides of his head and a brain that is up-side-down flew on his way. Hopefully to some place far south of us. When we reached the truck we gave Suzi water and sat on the tail gate munching an apple. We could hear the far off gabble of geese and as we scanned the sky a huge flock flew out of white clouds and disappeared far to the south. It certainly was a day to remember! The beauty of nature, the smell and sights of a perfect October day, plus excellent dog work and the unfortunate but lucky beaver.’’

Stacey Cole, Nature Talks columnist for more than 50 years, passed away in 2014. If readers have a favorite column written by Stacey that they would like to see reprinted, please drop a note to Jen Lord at jord@unionleader.com.


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