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The Hunter's Chronicles - Thursday 25th October 2012

By noting the date of the first frosts, and comparing to my observations, I can say with some degree of certainty that we are approximately two to four weeks ahead of schedule this year.

Every so often, the trees seem to randomly and spontaneously shiver, dropping a shower of leaves that as they fall, make a sound similar to that of rain.

Clouds, heavy and laden with moisture, find themselves snared in the near skeletal forest, trapped until the Sun eventually burns them away or the wind manages to dissipate them.
The same clouds, though they make for a grey day, keep temperatures fairly even. So it was in preparation for their dispersal and the resultant plunge of the thermometer that the procurement of fuel took precedence over meat and food. 
 These activities still provide windows for surveillance, an important part of hunting. An empty garden trolley rattling and bouncing along the woodland path can make for a lonely afternoon however...

The savvy hunter, certainly in this day and age, has a few modern technological aids at his disposal. A recent sell off of surplus rifles has released equity with which I have purchased a 'Trail Camera'. This sentinel may be secured via an adjustable strap to a tree or suitable anchor at likely 'hotspots'. This tool has provided useful intelligence on the intrusions and visitors to my little patch of woods. 

As one hunter sleeps, another prowls...

By analysing the time stamps, and recording the positions the photographs were taken, I am quickly building a picture of the various species and their habits. I am not the only one.
As shown above, a fellow hunter (albeit utilising a far more primitive and specialised 'aid') has been doing the same. I cannot say how his rabbit hunt is faring, but we have lost two chickens in as many days during the night following the pictures captured and a recent dip in temperatures. The raids have been expert. I have not proof a fox is to blame, though I do have my suspicions.
As I followed the trail of feathers of the ill fated cockerel, I experienced how easy it is to take the 'theft' personally. It was as though my ego delighted in there being an adversary. I had purpose, focus, an aim, an objective, a goal. It rapidly constructed plans of how to trap, capture and ultimately exterminate this new foe.
But he is not my enemy. Quite the opposite. We have much in common.
I will continue to offer the remains of my kills that are beyond my use to the 'gods'. Though my gifts may in fact attract carnivores I would wish repelled, I keep the site of the sacrifices on the extremes of our boundaries and trust they will appease and distract those who would take more than I wish to give. For let us not forget, I too take from my environment. I too maraud the countryside, raid and slaughter (of course, only where permitted!)

The information gleaned from my sentry has resulted in the fine tuning of my timings. I know better when to keep the rifle to hand and not long after, my tax was exacted and the toll for entering my domain paid.

As I plucked this errant bird, I marvelled at its plumage. I was fascinated at the multitude of subtle colours, more so by how, collectively, the pattern served to create one of the finest woodland camouflage patterns I have ever seen (or not as the case may be!)
I pondered how it may be put to use. I am certain my ancestors would have sought to put such a gift to good use, to provide that edge and advantage on the hunt. It also led me to question how much of the new is really better than the old. An interesting line of enquiry warranting further investigation, though for another day.

Funds were also put towards decoys. Twice into the grey I ventured out with them. One Crow, two Pigeons. The first thing to be attracted took me most unawares. A buzzard plummeted from above and booted my crow three to five feet across the deck. The hollow sound of talon upon plastic shell took him by surprise causing him to retreat a good metre. As he regained his composure I watched in fascination and awe. Half fearful he would make off with my decoy. I soon had camera in hand, though he took his leave just as I pressed the 'on' button. Typical.
The next species to be fooled, was again, not any of the ones being targeted. In many ways it is one of the potentially most ignorant and stupid of all those that walk the earth despite its capacity for awe inspiring intelligence. I'm not talking about the dog, I mean Humans!
A woman, her son and black lab were heard approaching from my left so I made my rifle safe as they passed. The footpath runs to the rear of my position, yet some choose to not to stick to it.
It wasn't long before the dog and boy bounded past. It looked, for an instant, like the labrador would pass my pattern and leave it unmolested. The boy stopped to catch his breath and bent over, leaning on his knees. The dog, no longer being pursued, had a chance to glance about and quickly investigated the birds that did not flee. He went straight for the crow and nosed it.
Bugger. He's going to make off with that, I though to myself.
The womans voice called out. The boy communicated his confusion. The lad stood not three yards to the front of my position. In the hope he would call off the dog, I shouted "They're DECOYS mate!" He cast his eyes about the hedgerow uncertainly. "I just heard a voice" he intoned, half to himself and evidently forgot the message, even that one had been issued.
For the next ten minutes, a back and forth ensued reminiscent of a farcical pantomime. The boy twice took to hurling stones at the plastic birds, the woman seemed unwilling, even fearful of approaching them. Over and over they would ask each other, why weren't the birds flying away, were they dead? Why would someone leave birds out in a field? What should they do? Should they enquire at the house?
As the dog had been put on the lead I kept quiet, watched and listened incredulously. I was dumbfounded. Eventually and thankfully, they returned from whence they came and I was left in peace. Very much amused, I packed up and counted what I had seen as reward enough. I smiled and chuckled to myself all the way home, not before congratulating myself on what must have been excellent concealment.

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