Monday, September 12, 2011

This Is Why They Call Me Unlucky - Part 1

This week I went squirrel hunting. I only had one afternoon free to go hunting. So, after I got off work I drove the hour and a half to Chickahominy WMA. Unlike opening day, which had beautiful weather, this day was rainy.

It has been raining a lot around here. We have even been experiencing some minor flooding. I don't mind hunting in the rain, I always see more wildlife on rainy days, and I came prepared with my Frogg Toggs. However, I did not come prepared for all of the standing water. The woods that are normally perfectly dry had turned into a swamp. The main trail was a lake. Instead of my leather hunting boots, I should have worn my knee high waterproof snake boots. I also did not come prepared for all of the mosquitoes.

I did not see a single mosquito the last time I had been here, less than a week ago. They were out in force this time! I applied DEET, but between the rain and the sheer amount of skeeters out there, I was eaten alive. I counted over 50 bites the next morning. So needless to say, this hunt had the environment going against it.

Wildlife is abundant on rainy days

When I arrived at the parking area I fired up my GPS unit. It always takes a few minutes to get satellite reception. One of my goals of this hunt was to find some ponds I had been told about that may contain wood ducks. I planned on marking them in my GPS for later use. After I gathered all of my gear, including my rain gear, I checked the GPS unit. Still no reception. I kept the thing on for my entire hunt and it never once got satellite reception! Either the clouds were too thick or my batteries were weak. Because I had planned on using my hand held GPS I had not fully charged my IPhone. So, using the IPhone for its GPS was out. This stroke of bad luck not only meant I was not going to be looking for wood ducks, I was also not going to be wandering too far off the main path. The last thing I wanted was to get lost in in the rain!

Turkeys were everywhere!

I hiked about a mile into the woods before it began raining hard. I could tell by the radar on my IPhone that the storm would pass quickly, so I decided to hole up under the low hanging branches of a dogwood tree. My Frogg Toggs were doing a good job of keeping the rain off of me, but they were not keeping me dry. It was so humid I was sweating like a pig under them. I honestly don't know if I would have been more wet if I had just never put them on. As I sat there under the dogwood the mosquitoes were swarming around my face. I actually breathed one in. I should have brought my Thermocell.

I did see quite a lot of wildlife. A baby snapping turtle was swimming in what once was the trail, but was now a pond. I saw the first huntable buck of the year, a four pointer. The turkeys were almost as thick as the mosquitoes. At one point I saw a group of over 20. I was pleased to watch a beaver working away. I also saw something I had never seen before. A rat snake climbing straight up a pine tree. It was amazing, almost magical. How did it keep from falling off? This experience almost made my miserable conditions seem worth it. Of course, I did not bring my nice camera because I knew it would be a wet day. So no nice pictures, only snapshots.

The magic climbing snake

No squirrels though....yet. In my next post I will tell you about the exciting part of this hunt. You may be amazed by my complete lack of luck (and skill)!

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