Hunting Dreams, Visions & Ghost

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I often dream of my hunting and fishing trips either past, present or future. Sometimes these dreams are the night time dreams most of us have, and some are the day dreams that comes from sitting in a deer blind and watching the squirrels and chipmunks scurry around collecting their nuts.  It can also happen sitting in a boat or kayak when the fishing is slow and the breeze is warm and inviting, and the water craft is gently rocking trying it’s damndest to put you to sleep. And of course there are those dreams that seem to be a combination of all types of dreams compiled together to make a series.

This particular dream was one of those combination dreams that happens in parts like a Netflix limited series. The kind of series that you begin to watch and soon you just can’t figure out why you’re still watching it. Sometimes you’re not even sure the actors are speaking English, so you just sit and read the closed captions, in some kind of trance.

In this dream I was sitting on a cold damp hardwood stump in the middle of some hardwoods. A stump that surely was created by a logger from a lifetime ago. It was deer season and the ground was covered with six inches or so of white fluffy powdery snow. It was the kind of day where every once in a while a small gust of wind would send a chill down your spine and whip up some of the wispy snow and send it twirling down the back of your coat. 

At about ten in the morning I was just about as cold as I could get. I don’t like sitting to long when I hunt, even in my dreams. I tend to get bored even when I don’t get cold, and it is not often I don’t get cold sitting during deer season. It seems that anything below forty degrees has a way of sneaking through any type of hunting apparel in my budget range. 

Just as I think it’s time to get up and take a walk I seen what looked like movement in some pines off to the right and quit a distance up the mountain. The movement was across the valley and much further up. From where I sat I could look into the valley and the hardwoods where sparse enough I could see a long ways up the other side of the hill as the elevation rose higher on that side higher than where I was sitting.  I decided to rough out the cold and see if anything interesting developed or to determine the movement was a Blue Jay chuckling as he watched me freeze to death.

About one hundred yards up the valley the valley splits into a Y and the elevation continued to rise through each fork in the rise. This is a good spot because the deer will follow from either side and you have three areas that intersect where deer may be traveling. Usually the deer will follow down the valley from either the left or the right  side, but once in a while they may travel straight through from right to left or left to right. I’m not sure how I know this but I figured I’d been dream hunting this spot for a while and know the habits of the game animals. If they follow straight through from left to right or right to left its near impossible to get s clear shot. You need to hope they turn and come down the valley.

Something once again caught my eye up to the right and now I’m convinced something is walking that upper ridge. As hard as I tried, I simply couldn’t pick anything up with the binoculars, so I just sat and watched. The wind would still whip up a gust from time to time and send snow swirling through the air. Sometimes in small isolated areas and sometimes most of the valley would fill with swirling snow.

After what seemed like a lifetime a form started to emerge of a whitetail sneaking along the upper edge of the pines. Was it one or more than one? Every once in a while I would catch a glimpse of flashy white which I knew was likely antlers, so at least one could be a buck.

Then the deer broke from the cover of the pines and I could see a beautiful buck with a spectacular set of antlers. I could now make them out in the binoculars and could count at least ten points.

Just a few more yard and I’d know if the deer would follow the valley or cut over to the other side. I could feel my heart trying to jump out my chest and I no longer felt the chill I had encountered earlier.

The steps were deliberate and cautious. This buck obviously didn’t like being out this time of day and was nervous. As he stepped through the valley I could see he was heading straight across. My mind was racing trying to come up with a reasonable game plan to cut him off, but I knew if I tried to climb anywhere up in his direction he would be gone. I knew my only real chance was watch him and admire and hope for a chance another day.

Suddenly however I seen movement to the left. I could see red movement in the brushy area high to the left. To the right the buck was now followed by a couple of doe and they slowly move past him. He tagged along behind but they were all being cautious.

The move to the left became clearer and I could see a hunter moving slowly down the mountainside. He stopped and was watching. He was high enough above where the deer were that they still couldn’t see each other.

The hunter seemed content to just wait and watch from where he was standing. He had a few oak trees as cover and it was a good spot for an ambush. I was still watching the deer through the binoculars as they started cresting the hill. Soon they would be in sight of the other hunter. I was slightly annoyed, but that’s the breaks, although only a few people have permission to hunt here, so watching a friend fill a tag isn’t the worst day afield. I just didn’t know who this person was.

Wanting to see who it might be I moved the binoculars from the deer to where the hunter was standing. The first doe had now broken over the crest as I watched the guy raise his rifle. The rifle looked to me like a Winchester 1894. It just so happened I was hunting with a Winchester 1894. My rifle was a gift from a late hunting buddy. Zeek had passed away about eight months ago and left me his Winchester. This rifle was the only one he owned and it was one of his prized possessions. He got it from his father. His daughter didn’t want it and she had told him he should leave it to me.

The rifle had open sites as did the one the hunter I was watching had. Zeek always said he didn’t need no foolish optics to hit what he was aiming at. I have witnessed him making some amazing shots with those open sites and never doubted his abilities. But oddly I didn’t know of another hunter who hunted with such a weapon around this area.

Zeek always wore a red wool crusher for a hat. Again this guy had on what looked like a red crusher. That looks like Zeek’s hat I thought. At that very moment I realized however I was wearing Zeek’s red wool crusher. At this point I actually slowly took my hat off to make sure I wasn’t going crazy. Sure enough, in my hand was a red wool crusher.

At the same moment the buck broke over the top of the hill. I’m now focusing on the deer. He really was a magnificent animal. I was almost bit sad someone else was getting this opportunity. I watched and waited for the report from the gunshot. Seconds seemed like days. No sound came and the deer just stood watching. He had to see them, they both had to see each other. At this point they were about seventy five yards apart and in open mature hardwoods.

I couldn’t see both hunter and deer in the binoculars at once, so my site window was focused clearly on the deer. They were just standing, watching, waiting. However, even in a dream, a mature whitetail doesn’t stand, watching and waiting when you have your gun pointing directly at them and he’s looking directly at you, but that is what seems to be happening.

After an eternity, or maybe just three or four lifetimes the buck looked down the valley. Slowly the lead doe turned and started down back toward the valley. She didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry and still being cautious as before. Obviously the guy had spooked them enough to turn them from their original intent, but not scared enough to be to alarmed.

I’m still waiting for the gunshot. As much as I did not want to hear it I seemed to be shouting in my head “shoot, shoot, shoot you fool”, but still no shot! Now I’m starting to think things like “maybe the gun jammed”. Maybe the damn fool should have cleaned his rifle”. At least I knew his scope didn’t fog up! And why would anyone wear a foolish looking hat like that if someone hadn’t given it to you who passed away? My eyes were watering from the icy breeze and the tears were freezing to my cheeks.

I spent so much time worrying about that poor sap that I wasn’t paying attention to reality and reality was the buck was getting closer and closer to me! Now I’m starting to second guess my decisions. I know Zeek could knock the balls off a gnat at 100 yards with this thing, but I’m a high powered optics kind of guy. Give me an 3.5×10 Leopold any day. I like a flat shooting modern caliber with way to much knock down power and a muzzle blast that will knock me on my butt. And this thing was made at the turn of the century, and not the last turn of the century!!!

But at some point instinct kicked. I could hear Zeek’s instructions repeating in my head, even though I knew most of it when we met, he still felt like it was his duty to make sure I understood what I needed to understand. The Winchester felt much heavier than the modern lightweight firearms I typically hunted with, but that makes ’em easier to hold steady he’d say. I didn’t buy it, but there was no arguing with him.

As the buck stepped into the open I had picked out, I took a slow breath, set the open sites just behind the front shoulder and gently squeezed the trigger. The trigger release was smooth, and the old Winchester jumped. There was that split second of nothing. A split second that seems to stop time. Sounds, smells, site, thoughts, it all seems to go blank for the time it takes for the bullet to leave the barrel.

The buck just stopped, didn’t move for another eternity, and collapsed. It wasn’t until this second I realized how hard my heart had been beating. I was now shaking and I simply couldn’t move. I’m not an overly religious man, but my head was down and I muttered “thank you lord”. I slowly stood up and just stood for a moment to get my bearings. What a day!

I slowly walked the sixty yards to the trophy. I stood and just stared and once again muttered “thank you lord”.

After several minutes of contemplation, I stood up and looked up to the left, expecting to see a hunter headed my way, but nothing was there. Now I wanted to know what had transpired up on the hill to the left. I just had to know. This deer should not have been mine. So up the hill I climbed.

As I get to the spot where I thought the guy had stood, there was no sign anyone had been there. A few wide circles, each a little wider, revealed no tracks, and it seemed the only red wool crusher on that mountain today, was the one I was wearing. The gift from Zeek’s daughter who said, “he’d want you to have it. Besides, someone needs to carry on the tradition of looking like a fool”, and she smiled a small smile, probably one of the first since the funeral.

So I suppose you know if you made it this far there were no tracks to be found. I slowly found my way back to my trophy and stopped, waited a second and said out loud “thank you Zeek”.


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