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Scouting Trip

Posted February 21st, 2012 at 06:13 PM by Black Spurs

An Outing

The grass was cut; the wife and kids were gone to town. Turkey season is in 34 days (Louisiana). The woods were calling, but I had put on trail running shoes, MT101ís. I am scouting, but I hunt in these, too. And, yes, I do run in them. The running has almost become as important as turkey hunting. It really started with turkey hunting, another wonderful thing the sport has given me, trail running. Ah, but I would be looking for turkeys today.

I hiked through the woods after I left my normal parking spot along the parish (county) road; I crossed the creek on a log, quickly. I immediately thought how good my legs felt for the first time in two weeks. I knew in the back of my mind that I would be running before I got home, regardless of the IT Band that has been giving me fits since the 100 miler a couple of weeks ago. I had barely run since the race. The side of my legs all the way down to my left knee was just too painful. I needed rest, which I have been getting while keeping myself busy getting all my turkey hunting gear ready for the season, inspecting, packing, dreaming of hunts to come.

I came to a small ditch after crossing the creek. ďI wonder how that knee will hold up if I jump it.Ē I thought.

It feels strong. I leaped and landed softly on the other side, feeling confident, light. I really shouldnít run. I need to just walk this edge and see what I can see, scratching, tracks, etc. As I checked the field, a horn blew up near my truck. Hmmm. That was unusual. I crossed the creek on another log and bounded up the muddy bank to solid ground. My knee handled that jump and landing well, I thought again.

I reached the fence and saw a vehicle parked behind mine. It was, Robert, a neighbor from down the road who didnít recognize my truck and had stopped to check things out. We talked for a moment, and he explained that there had been some recent burglaries in the area. Maybe that was divine intervention because I knew I would run as soon as I hit the game trail that skirts the edge of the field. I was almost there when the horn blew. The woods were too wet to tell much about the turkeys, but I could tell enough. Scouting here is really just an excuse to get out of the house, a chance to hear one gobble or watch one strut. They are everywhere on the place, infested. Of course, that seems to be more common than it used to be around here after the disease hit and all the timber was cut in the early 90ís. It is getting better each year. I see turkeys where I havenít seen turkeys in years. Timber is coming back; timber management has improved, or maybe prices are down. Either way, the turkeys seem to like it.

I got in the truck and made my way to another part of the property. I got to the iron gate that I have climbed over on countless spring mornings and started to put my hand on the top of the gate post. It was occupied by a coiled up rat snake, sunning. I havenít killed a snake in many years, and I didnít kill him. But he sure scared me. I crossed the gate at the other side. I walked into the field, and when I saw it, I knew what the eventual outcome would be, a run. The long, black, muddy cow path meandered through the field and out of sight into the adjacent field. I took my binoculars from around my shoulders and started with a light jog, which turned into a pretty good pace down the hill and through the gate into another field. Sure, I had on a pair of old J. Crew khakis and a Patagonia t-shirt, not exactly running attire or scouting attire, but this was just a mid-day look and see around the edges. And I had my shoes, my wonderful 101ís. My knee didnít hurt at all. I made it down through the green field at a decent clip until I reached a hog trap. The place is infested with wild hogs, too. I inspected the trap and turned around to run back up the hill. No pain was evident in my knee or my hip. When I got to the top of the hill and back around the bend, I noticed the slightest tightness in my left knee and stopped running. But by then, I was already at the gate. The rat snake was gone.
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