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An Epic Journey: Part 1

Tony Jacques poses with his 18-point buck from Dunklin County, Mo.

Tony Jacques poses with his 18-point buck from Dunklin County, Mo.

By Josh Gowan

I realize this title is a bit out of the norm for the outdoor column, but I assure you the journey I speak of is quite relevant. Besides, the rest of the outdoor news can be summed up fairly quickly this week. The cold front that pushed through sent most of the ducks south of the Heartland, and area hunters are waiting on new arrivals from the north that will hopefully point their “V’s” towards our stretch of the Upper Mississippi Valley. The deer hunting has been rather stagnant due to the rain and warmer temps that came through in the last few days. The crappie are right in the beginning stages of the “fall feeding frenzy” and if you can find a spot out of the wind, the tasty panfish are ripe for the plucking!
All right, now on to my epic journey! I figured that if I titled the article “Youth Deer Hunting, Part 12” readers may begin to doubt the originality and freshness of my weekly attempts at journalism, and this story is not really about the hunt anyhow.
I was however back in the woods with my little counterpart, who despite his best effort, seems to send every deer in a 1-mile vicinity running for cover upon arrival. I have never worked this hard for anything in my life, and there are a significant number of ex-teachers and employers who will happily attest to this, some without even being asked. I figured that every deer near Current River and in West Kentucky had already seen, smelled, and heard the two of us, so I began actively looking for somewhere else to go. After delivering my woeful stories to a few buddies, someone finally felt sorry enough for us to invite us to their farm just outside of Poplar Bluff, where the deer were so thick they had to install traffic lights on the main trail crossings to avoid collisions (they tried a round-about first, but the deer couldn’t seem to wrap their head around the difference between clockwise and counter-clockwise.)
To make a long story less long, we arrived at the beautiful farm in the hills and every deer in the county began either burrowing in the ground or submerging themselves in the creek and using reeds to breathe, and the only thing we saw was a set of ears as a doe tunneled past us at 250-yards.
We were taken in via ATV across a large pasture filled with cows, down a trail in the woods, across a knee-deep creek, back up a longer trail in the woods, across an even larger pasture, and down two trails in the woods to a ground blind. We were to walk out of the woods at dark and would be picked up and taken back.
As it became dark enough to pack up, we gathered our things and began walking out of the woods. It was not yet dark enough to necessitate a flashlight, and as we arrived at the first pasture it had a very eerie look to it. In the dim light of dusk, it looked like a ghostly, aqua-green sea. Very “Scooby-doo-ish,” if you will. It began to rain, and we decided rather than to stand still and wait for the ATV which I heard or saw no sign of, that we should start making our way across the pasture, lest we drown.
Walking across the pasture became increasingly creepy as the light faded. Our feet were barely visible, although the treetops were still in plain view. We crossed the pasture and arrived at the top of the long, descending trail in the woods, and with no sign of our taxi, I turned on my flashlight and we began walking.
I am no stranger to dark woods, and as long as I am not worried, my young companion is not worried. So without worry, about two-thirds of the way down, we jumped something very large in the woods, probably a deer, but possibly a Sasquatch. I was already trying to convince my son there was nothing to be afraid of as we were coming back down from record vertical leaps, which was especially impressive for me since I was carrying his gun and a massive backpack. I told him to stay behind me for the rest of the walk, as the single-shot .243 was our only means of protection, and if it was a Bigfoot, I would have to make that shot count…
Stay tuned next week for part 2!
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine,
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December 2014
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