Outdoors Column: It Is Scary Out There

Sunday afternoon, my wife and I decided to take a ride around the farm in our never-ending quest to find more shed antlers. It is not that we have any particular need for more antlers, but it makes a good excuse to be outside and get some exercise on a warm afternoon. We tied Billie, the poodle, in the back of the Ranger and headed out. He does not like to be tied in but excited enough to get to go along, he is willing to put up with it. When not tied in the back, he is either stepping on us, blocking the driver’s view, or trying to bale out after every rabbit and squirrel he sees. We started out in the cedar trees. The plan was for my wife to walk the fence-line and I would walk the ditch that goes through the cedar timber.


Our son, Damon, and grandson, Zane, live about a mile away at the opposite end of the farm. Zane has had considerable luck finding sheds since he spends a lot of time walking the farm looking for them. We had not talked to either Damon or Zane that day, so we did not know where they were or what they were doing.


I had just started down the hill and my wife was walking toward the fence when Zane stepped out from behind a tree a couple feet from my wife and said, “Boo”. It is fortunate my wife is not prone to fainting or she would have been down. She did manage to maintain her balance while jumping backwards. She had a few choice words for her grandson and Zane thought it was hilarious. I smiled a bit but was wise enough to not laugh out loud. As we all three split up to go our separate ways, Zane let us know, his two terriers were somewhere in the cedar grove, hunting rabbits or whatever they could find.


I was almost to the other side when Zane’s dogs came running up all excited until they discovered it was me instead of Zane. They were willing to stay with me until they heard the Ranger pull up somewhere on the opposite side of the ditch. When I came out of the trees, my wife was waiting with three dogs in the Ranger. The terriers must have had all the exercise they wanted and were ready for a ride. One sat on my lap, one on the seat between my wife and me, and Billie leaned over the back of the seat. Four deer jumped up and took off toward the lake as we turned toward the house. The noise from three dogs was deafening. It took a bit to quiet the pack. Without further incident, we dropped the whole group off at the house and drove out again, this time, up by the top gate.


My wife was on one side of a big ditch and I was on the other. As I approached a large log that had fallen across the path, a tom turkey suddenly burst into flight just a few feet away. He appeared as if out of nowhere. Startled, I jumped back and almost fell down. From across the ditch, I could see my wife smiling, but she was also polite enough to not laugh.


We had a good day, with plenty of fresh air and exercise as well as each of us having a good scare. The dogs were happy to lie on the porch and soak up the sun while my wife and I re-lived the fright we had endured.