Since the dawn of time man has hunted to put food on the table, but as time has passed, venturing into the wild has become more recreational in its’ purpose. For most there is no longer a “need” to hunt to put food on the table but for many, such as myself, the meat gathered is a wonderful supplement to what we can find at the store. The easy way is to buy your meat wrapped in a package from the supermarket yet we still insist on trudging out through the dark to chase birds and animals. Why? Because there’s more to it…a lot more.
Hunters tend to be a reclusive lot. Yes, we like to share outings with friends and family, but we all tend to drift toward individualism for our refuge. Each and every one of us who pack a gun into the field search for that one place where we can be alone regardless of who might be around us. We long to find that a refuge where time stands still and the only place that matters on the face of the earth is where we are standing at exactly that moment. I have that place. It’s called The Woody Hole.
The Klamath River makes its’ way down Siskiyou County and winds through a wide variety of terrain. Along that course lie certain areas where waterfowl like to congregate. Those of us who hunt ducks and geese search for those spots, and once found frequent them often during the season. My favorite spot is a gravel bar with, under the right conditions, a slight back water. From experience I know where the water level will be according to the cubic feet per second of flow. Conversely I can tell you what the river flow is simply by observing the water level in that particular place. I have hunted this spot for years, I’ve shared some of my most memorable hunts there with my daughter, and I have been privy to the observation of wonderful things. It’s where I long to be. This paradise is called The Woody Hole.
Over the years at The Woody Hole I have killed many limits of ducks and quite a few geese. Every once in awhile the shooting is fast and furious, but normally it consists of a duck here and a duck there through the morning. Sometimes I do well, and sometimes I do not, yet there is no place I would rather be when it comes to hunting waterfowl. The hunting is not what endears me to the spot, its’ the spot itself.
At The Woody Hole I have watched the sun come up through clear skies, and I have seen its’ rays slowly creep through layers of fog hanging over the water. I have seen ducks swim to the bar, climb onto the rocks not ten feet from me, and preen their feathers. I have seen kingfishers ply their trade along the willow and cottonwood trees snatching unsuspecting fish from the water. I have watched families of otters move silently up and down the river in search of breakfast. I have observed a great many things there that most people will never see.
Each time I hunt The Woody Hole I strive to be there earlier than I really need to because I don’t want to miss the show presented upon the stage of life. My goal is to be seated in my blind, with a cup of coffee in my hand and my headlamp turned off a full half an hour before shooting time. Then, and only then, can I experience the full effect of nature as it dips it’s brush in the paint of life and ever so slowly places an new scene on its’ canvas. There in the darkness I am not bothered by human noises of any kind. There are no dogs barking, there are no car horns honking, there are no sirens sounding. What engulfs me in the stillness of those moments both holds me in suspense and rocks me in a cradle, and caresses my soul like a mother holding her newborn baby.
Sitting there I hear the sound of the river as it flows through the riffles and across the rocks leading to the gravel bar. I can feel the breeze as it rolls across my face on its’ way to parts unknown. Periodically the sound of a splash in the dark waters makes its’ way to my ears. Slowly, ever so slowly the darkness grudgingly gives way to the light. As it does I catch glimpses of birds in flight as they begin to work their way up or down the river and the calls of geese sing to me as they wake up from their nights’ slumber. Soon I can see the mist rising from the water as it slowly walks across the stage and ushers in a new day. When shooting time arrives I wait quietly for ducks or geese to fly near my location. As I call to them the sound echoes off the trees creating a symphony deserving to be heard only by the most adventurous ears. These are the things that capture my inner being and wrap their fingers around my heart. It is what keeps me coming back.
These things my friends are what it’s all about.