Thursday, June 14, 2007
A Blood Trail
I was still-hunting a stand along the ridge that leads into the area that we call the Lost 40. This area has not had the timber cut in about 100 years. The area is open, with big woods lying south and east of the lake. I had no luck that morning and decided to hunt my way out. This involves a very slow stalk across the property. A step or two, then waiting and watching for 5 to 15 minutes, before the next step. The sun was bright as I eased slowly through the woods. I hit the blood trail late that morning. It crossed the main trail that I had come in on. I squatted down and stuck my fingers in a small red pool in the leaves. It was fresh. I scanned the trail to see which way the trail ran.
It took a few minutes, but to the right was little sign of the deer but to the left there was plenty of turned up leaves and scattered droplets of blood. The kicked up leaves seemed to lead down into the steep hollow below me. I hated the thought of a wounded deer dying needlessly, besides it could be a big buck. Standing quietly, I heard the animal start walking through the heavy leaves. Four or five steps, then stop, then five or 6 more steps. I decided to follow the trail and see if I could jump the deer and get a shot.
I followed the drops of blood down the hill, where the bloodtrail hit a main deer trail and headed up the center of the hollow. I eased along keeping my rifle ready and scanning every deer shape that I saw ahead of me.
I found a small pool of blood where the deer had stopped and figured it would lie down soon. It was getting toward lunch by now, but I felt that I had to stay on the trail until I at least found out what I was tracking.
The splotches of blood continued down the hollow weaving back and forth. Every thirty yards or so, I would find a fist sized pool of blood. I knew the deer could not last too long. I followed down the hollow for about three hundreds yards and then abruptly the bloodtrail turned South into a narrow ravine. The sides of this narrow cut quickly closed in until the sides were almost straight above me and I stepped into the sand ditch that fed through it. The blood trail
led straight up through the area and I followed along keeping a watchful eye.
Fifty to sixty yards ahead I could see that the area opened up and several trees overhang the narrow ditch at this spot.
I do not know when it finally came to me, but I found myself stopped in the middle of this tight ravine realizing that something was wrong.
The drops of blood continued but I had not seen a track of a deer or anything else. I looked back and forth for signs of the wounded animal in the smooth sand. There were no signs of staggering hoof prints or marks anywhere in the sand. Just the few drops of fresh blood every few feet. I stood absorbing this and the feeling came that maybe I should go back for help. Where were the tracks that should be right beside the drops of blood? The uncomfortable feeling hit me that there was something wrong about this whole setup. What was going on? I stood thinking for several minutes until I realized that maybe this was some kind of a strange game and I had better get the hell out of there.
I felt trapped as if something was watching me, ready to pounce. I stepped backwards, and raised my gun. Easing back, I worked my way out of the narrow opening and into the open hollow I had veered from. It was quiet as I watched to see any movement up the sand ditch that would let me know who or what had led me in there. I waited about 10 minutes before I saw a slight movement at the very end of the narrow draw. A movement, a slight blur, that is all. Then I heard a low, deep chuckle and then low and terrifying laughter rolled out of the narrow gorge. It lasted about 30 seconds and died away. I eased away, wanting to run, but watching my backtrack and walking as quietly as I could with my safety off. What was in that dark and narrow space?
I do not know, but I know that I was very fortunate to not find out.