Monday, September 29, 2008

Bow Hunters on the Trail Gaaaaahhhh!



Well I did not get a picture because I was otherwise occupied, but they did look just like this camouflaged dude.

Yesterday I did my obligatory dressage ride on Montana, and that is the way I think of it. I'm tuned out of dressage at the moment. Dressage and I are like two relatives who are sitting across the room not speaking to each other. Maybe we will become reconciled. Maybe not.

But after that I tacked up Johnnie and took off. I am leaving out his rude behavior at the gate for another day. Let's pretend it all went swimmingly. So we are past the human zoo part of our ride, the heavily used creek trail where we see bikes, strollers, dogs of all religions, and even co-workers for heaven's sake. And we are past the rather muddy woods part of our trail, just about to pop out into the beautiful golden galloping field.

When what to John's wondering eyes did appear, but two camo guys with giant packsacks and bows and arrows! They were rustling in the shrubbery and my first thought was "Army guys out on some maneuver?" and John's first thought was "Weirdo predators who eat palominos?" He believed strongly that we should turn around and run away. I called out to the guys that they were scaring the horse and maybe if they would just come stand in the clear, he could see that they are human.

Out they came. My first sight of true bow hunters. We have an in-town bow-hunting season to control the white-tail deer population. Their bows were not what I was expecting (think of Robin Hood), but small technical looking evil machines. Their arrows were metal (steel?) and it was their huge bags that really made them odd shaped.

I have never heard John snort like that, and would not have believed such sounds could come out of an anatomically normal horse nose. We got past them at a speed which increased exponentially and I decided no galloping for us today as it might come to an ugly conclusion. So we gaited across the big field, but then had to return the same way or else trespass.

Return trip: I was nervous, John was walking on eggshells past where the predators had been hiding. I decided to sing, and the only song that came to mind was one my mother used to sing in the kitchen: "I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls".

So picture me jigging along, making up words to this 19th century favorite ('I Dre-eamt that We-e did no-ot get shot"), shaking John's bear bells with my hand for maximum racket, and poor John's ears swiveling like crazed radar screens at all this unaccustomed noise.

We saw no trace of the camo guys, but we booked so fast through the woodsy part of the ride that I thought I was going to get seasick. It was not the relaxing Sunday afternoon ride I had pictured.

Maybe dressage isn't so bad after all.

Bear in mind that I have enough blaze orange to cover both John and myself: he has a quarter sheets and leg wraps, I have a helmet cover and jacket - we could look like a big orange Hindenburg floating out in the field - but I had none of it on us yesterday. Sigh.

14 comments:

Mrs Mom said...

Yep Lily, a compound bow and the metal projectiles that issue forth from it are intimidating looking. At least those two fellows came out to let Johnny know it was OK--- sort of... Most bow hunters I knew in Tundra Country would perch well up in trees, in stands they either pack in that day or build several weeks/ months in advance. Wonder if your two were on their way home for the day? The funky rucksacks might have been their tree stand packed up...

Wear Your Orange Next time Please!!!

Amanda said...

Some hunters believe the outdoors belong to them alone during hunting season and get very angry if you disturb there hideouts. The fact that they have deadly weapons on them make it even worse.
I have to ride my horse a short distance alongside a road to get to my riding area. Yesterday i had a guy on a crotch rocket zoom by, honk his horn and scream at us. My horse spooked he laughed and flipped us off. GRRRRRRRRRRRR

Flying Lily said...

Mrs. Mom: Yes that could have been a portable stand - it was big enough. And indeed, I am going to rummage out all the orange stuff I own as soon as I get home from work.

Amanda: We had a biker dude too! He revved up on the corner below the trailhead, causing John to accelerate abruptly. I can't stand that noise.

c2b said...

Ah Robin Hood. I live in Nottingham about 15 miles from Sherwood forest. Wouldn't find any evil bow hunters there anymore. Stictly for the tourists.. The poor major oak is so held up with poles and bits of metal it looks like a joke version of a tree.

Jenn said...

Oh, hunting season. So much fun! For the first couple of weekends of hunting season the horses spend a good amount of time on edge because of all of the extra gunshots going off on properties around us. We don't allow hunters on our property, but the neighbors do. I try to get out at the beginning of the season (on foot!) and talk to them to find out when they plan to be out in the woods/fields so I can plan my rides accordingly. I have permission to ride on the neighbor's GOREGOUS property, and the hunters have permission to hunt. Since they carry bows and guns, I tend to try to be very aware of when they are there. Most of the time they have finished their hunting adventure well before noon.

Flying Lily said...

c2b: Sherwood Forest! Now that is romantic - or not, if it's overrun with tourists and has mechanical trees in it.

Jenn: You have a very reasonable approach. I am always afraid of any hunters even though I'm told the bow hunters are very safe. I just fear the nip of schnapps effect...that is our regional outdoors drink of choice.

OnTheBit said...

yikes...that is not who you want to find on a trail. I think the orange is a good thing. And my friend makes "necklesses" for horses that are complete with bells and rather adroable looking (I have one that is black and red) so regardless of the season I throw those on when I am out on the trails to just be safe. My local trail club puts out a clander of when hunting season is and for what and the barn owner hangs it up so we know when it it better to go ahead and ride in the ring. I am glad that nothing bad happened at least. I hope you don't run into them again.

cynthia rousseau said...

poor baby palimino... we here in Maine deal with these scary pop-up horse eaters!!! My Sonny [jonhs look alike brother]may have fainted!!!! Extra carrots and long pats to the brave John for bringing his mama hme safe and sound!!!

Flying Lily said...

Cynthia, I am dying to see a picture of your Sonny, John's twin. If John had snorted any harder he would have fainted too.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Sounds like orange will be your new favorite color for a few weeks. We have all the hunters here too. I'm not too fond of them, I never know if they are trigger happy or not. These macho jerks think they own the woods for a few weeks and I'm always nervous they will shoot at anything that moves before seeing what it is.Be Careful out there.

Flying Lily said...

GreyHorse: We are going to be so orange the birds will scream when they see us coming. I've always heard bow hunters are very reliable but I am not taking chances. How's the knee and the good night's sleeps?

Flying Lily said...

GreyHorse: We are going to be so orange the birds will scream when they see us coming. I've always heard bow hunters are very reliable but I am not taking chances. How's the knee and the good night's sleeps?

photogchic said...

I have the orange out as well and my handy whistle that I blow now and then just in case I hear anything. I was riding in the woods on Monday and Maddy was really nervous...I decided to go home and just use the arena. I am pretty convinced someone was hunting nearby and it just wasn't worth the risk.

Flying Lily said...

What kind of whistle do you use, Photogchic? I was thinking a whistle would be better than my quavery singing voice...I'm packing up the orange for our away trail ride this Saturday too.