When Fear Cheoil morphed into The Hunter this year, he joined a new club much closer to the house. Wolf Creek Hunting Club has three tracts and a little over 3400 acres. They also hunt deer with dogs on the weekends. I've never had that kind of a hunting experience and it's been many years since he has. It's much more social and you don't have to sit in a tree stand and freeze for hours at a time. I went once before the holiday craziness started and then again this past Saturday.
One thing I did to make hunting a little more comfortable: I went shopping at Bass Pro Shop in Leeds, Alabama, and bought some hunting gear that is actually made for women. I've always just worn whatever The Hunter wasn't using or has, um, outgrown. Anyway, I got a pair of camo fleece pants, gloves and cap. The pants are not at all slimming, but they fit better than The Hunter's old camo overalls and they kept me warm.
My new female friendly camo gear.
One of the best aspects of this club is that they don't start until about seven am. That seems very civilized to me. While I am a morning person, between the hours of three and six am, I'm really, really cranky. It was nice that I didn't have to make my way to a tree stand and climb into it without making a sound, in the pitch blackness of the predawn hours.
All the hunters load into the back of pickup trucks and get dropped off at 100 yard intervals along the prearranged club road. Then, they load the dogs up, take them to a couple of places close-by and turn them loose. The dogs find deer and drive them toward the hunters. At least that's the idea, anyway. The drivers and dog handlers coordinate by two way radio and the hunters can listen in. If somebody sees a deer running they tell everybody which way it's headed. Kind of like a deer hunting play by play. I could also hear the dogs baying and barking through the woods. Sometimes the dogs don't jump deer, they run rabbits. I find it fascinating that the dog's owners can tell which dog is following what.
A Beagle mix and a Black and Tan are ready to run a deer,
or maybe a rabbit, or maybe just run.
There are Beagles, Black and Tan Hounds, some Walker Hounds and a Blue Tick or two, plus several dogs of uncertain mixture. The one thing that unites them all, though, is hunting. They bark and whine and howl to be let out and run. We did two runs that morning then broke for lunch. When we got back they were planning another run for the afternoon.
As you can imagine, hunting is still a man's world kind of place. I know to just kind of hang back and watch what's going on. Sooner or later they'll get used to me. As a matter of fact, one of them nicknamed me "Double Barrel" because I use The Hunter's vintage double barreled shotgun, instead of a pump like everybody else.
I was standing in a patch of sunlight trying to warm up a little while they planned the afternoon run, when the only other woman hunter came up and introduced herself as Evelyn. She's from Pennsylvania but has been in Alabama since 1977. She is an avid hunter and even has a trailer at the camp. We didn't get to talk long because they started loading up for the afternoon run, but it was nice of her to reach out to me.
Me and Evelyn. The white trailer in the background is hers.
They will only be running the dogs until the middle of January, then it's stand/stalk hunting only until the end of January. I hope my nickname sticks until next season.