Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A New Hunting Spot...Paid for in Friendship and Respect

My new bowhunting spot - complete with unhunted herd!
Out of nowhere, I landed a new local hunting spot recently.  It's full of big deer and no hunters - I don't know which is more exciting. The invitation came during a conversation about trying to protect a nice wooded swamp (that one on the left) from development and simultaneously keep the landowner from going bankrupt.

To even get the conversation to that point required me to chew up my own free time, call on personal relationships at various agencies and non-profits, and burn the midnight oil (for free, of course) to see if a good outcome can be reached here.

And then it came. I started peeling off my mud boots in the driving rain, struggling to get my truck unlocked, already looking forward to a sip of the mug of coffee in the truck's cupholder.  Then something hit me in the head, and fell with a clink into my boot. What the..???  And the landowner said, "There's the gate keys.  I want you to have a crack at that 10-pointer.  He's still here.  It would just mean a ton to us if you were the one to bring him down."  I always remember moments like this.

In 37 years of living, I've learned that there are certain things you can't beg for, plead for, or least of all demand out of life or of people, with any expectation of receiving them.  Friendship is one.  Respect is another. Offers of free and open access to private land and water, while not even on the same level of importance, are yet another.  And of course, such offers are inextricably tied to those first two critical ones - friendship and respect.  

You can count some of their friends in, as well - sincerity, clarity of mind and purpose, and an acceptance of the impact of how other people view you, your actions, and your words. Used in our daily lives, these things can bring great opportunities and deep relationships.  When those things are forgotten from day to day, we sometimes wonder, "who are my real friends?" and "are people abandoning me?"  Admit it - you've had that day.  Was it a great day? I bet not.

The swamp drains from north to south, split in a wishbone across a prehistoric dune at the southern end, a dune that just refuses to erode or sink into the swamp.  The does, fawns, and young bucks work their way south, into the swamp through the morning hours, especially on cloudy days, eventually coming to rest on the dune in the south.  The two eight pointers maintain positions in the tall reeds southeast of the swamp nearly all day, finally creeping up the eastern fork of the wishbone, northward into the swamp.  The ten pointer sleeps all day under the cedars on the point, moving long after sunset up the western fork of the swamp, past the old dune, and into the swamp's low, interior belly.  He's still there.  

And if you take care of people, they might just help you go get that big buck.  That Osceola turkey.  That trophy size Gila Trout. Or that business or networking connection you keep falling short on, time after time.


Tim Borkert said...

Its great to see hard work rewarded. My best hunting opportunities have come from helping people.

e.m.b. said...

"sincerity, clarity of mind and purpose, and an acceptance of the impact of how other people view you, your actions, and your words. Used in our daily lives, these things can bring great opportunities and deep relationships." Hear, hear to that. Wonderful piece.

Alex said...

Confirming that friendship gets you Osceola Turkeys...At least for me :)

And yes...I'm super jealous. How many acres is it? And how far is it from where you live?

Kirk Mantay said...

Tim - a great example is the farm where a dozen of us hunt on the eastern shore. None of us met the landowner through hunting. NONE.

Erin - some days it's easier to focus on that than others. Thanks for compliment - means a lot coming from you!

Kirk Mantay said...

Alex - you lucky dog! I haven't killed an Osceola yet. But I will, one day.

The property is only a few dozen acres, but it's a waterfront holdout where the surrounding properties are built into McMansions on waterfront/wooded lots.

The kicker? While it's 45 minutes from home (still not bad), it's only 5 minutes from the office.

Alex said...

Hey River Mud,

I've been trying to find a 'contact me' link or some-such on your page, but I'm having no luck.

I have a question for you that I think you might be able to help with.

Could you email me through my site? It'd be greatly appreciated :)

Kirk Mantay said...

Alright, I am literally bow hunting this spot as I type this...hooray android! Will email you tonight.

Steve Z said...

Chandler has been telling us for so long about the coming Apocalypse that it's refreshing to hear of stories that cut in the other direction.

Kirk Mantay said...

Ha ha ha. Some outdoors bloggers like to spend all their time complaining. I prefer to go the hell outside, and not sit down at the computer until I've had a good time outside.

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