I’ve found this little set up more than once at Fallen Timbers. I’m pretty sure it is a make shift hunting station. This chunk o’log is resting on a flat stone. You can’t tell very well from this picture, but the ground in front of the log (to the left in the photo) is scraped clear of leaves and sticks. As though someone in heavy boots might have spent a lot of time sitting on that upended log.
This is near the NW corner of our “40 acre square” and it is where the land rises sharply from the wet-season creek that cuts through the northern third of our woods. As a result, this spot gives one a good view of about twenty acres of hillside rising on the other side of the creek. By November, when the leaves are mostly off the trees, it’s a nice little vista. I imagine that might be perfect for a hunter who wanted to see a deer coming from a long way off.
This little station is not very far from our northern fence, and just beyond that is a forest road that my neighbor keeps open. And this convenient access is probably the reason my interloper hunter friend has chosen this spot, for I don’t think it is an ideal spot.
The hunter would be peering (and shooting) into the sun from this perspective. Safety issues aside, how well can one spot a deer, much less shoot it cleanly, when looking at the dawn? I don’t know about such things, but it does seem bassackwards.
Not very far to the east of this are the skeletal remains of a more permanent tree stand. Not much is left of it, but it has the appearance of once looking much like the kind of treehouse most kids dream of. Someone put a lot of time and effort into this stand several decades ago. Yet it, too, looks over the same land to the south — into the sun again.
My imagination races. Perhaps my interloping hunter friend is a descendant of the person who built the hunter treehouse. Perhaps this bit of land has been hunted by the same family for generations. Perhaps it is a family ritual to come to this part of the Ozark forest to attempt to bag a deer.
I’ve heard stories of old timers holding utter contempt for things like bills of sale and transfers of title over pieces of land. Even though some Kansas City smarty-pants may have “bought” some piece of property, ain’t nobody going to tell grandpa that he can’t hunt there. He’s hunted there every year for sixty years, and no piece of paper is going to change that. Anyone who says otherwise is likely to get himself shot.
This, of course, has not happened to me personally, but I occasionally hear tales like that. Still, it leaves me to ponder. As I’ve said several times before, I am not opposed to hunting (even though I myself don’t hunt). And while this interloper is sitting on my property, I don’t really consider the deer to be mine. I mean, if the deer is on the other side of the property line, he would effectively be my neighbor’s “property” according to such reasoning. And then when he steps across the line, he becomes mine?
So once again, Pablo is tied up into non-action by his moral musings. The first time I came upon this single-log hunting station, I gave the log a nudge, and it rolled in a very satisfactory fashion down the steep hill and crashed into the dry creekbed below. I thought I was sending the interloper a good message. Ha! It was eleven months before the fellow would be back, and I guess it would be reasonable to think such a log wouldn’t necessarily remain standing on its own in that time anyway. Nor would the hunter understand that it is the landowner’s displeasure he is receiving. Any other interloper might have kicked over that log. (Even interloping loggers and interloping neighbors who don’t know where the true property line runs.)
I thought that when I know I am going to visit Fallen Timbers again, and I know I am going to hike to the NW corner again, I would write a friendly note explaining that this was private property and perhaps the interloper didn’t know he had crossed into it. I’d tell him that he is welcome to use my woods as long as he asks permission first. I’d wish him good luck. Then I would seal the note in a plastic bag and put the note on top of the log, with a stone resting atop it to keep it in place until the next deer season.
As congenial and non-threatening as I imagine this message would be, I suspect the interloper would find some other use for the piece of paper out in the woods.
Update: Leap forward to Interlopers – Part 7 for the latest installment of this saga.
Further Update: Have a look at 10.28.2007 – Part Three for the latest installment of this saga.