By John Matonich
I have mentioned a few times how I really enjoy this time of year. The evenings are usually cool for good sleeping and the days are warm, which help us get project work done in anticipation of the upcoming winter. It is also the time of the year when spending time at camp is on the calendar about every weekend.
This year is no exception for weekends at camp but the weather has been quite different so far. It has been unseasonably hot during the day and very warm at night. Since most of the camps in this area are truly off the grid, we are lucky to have some kind of heat, let alone anything to cool them down. It means late nights sitting outside and telling stories until it is cool enough to hit the sack.
A couple of weeks ago, one of my brothers and I visited a friend who just bought a camp about 15 miles from ours. He was having a little get-together for camps in the area and since it was in the low 80s, it felt good to get in the open side by side and cruise down the road. For those who may not know, a side by side is kind of a golf cart on steroids. They are great for hunting, off road riding or simply traveling with a buddy or two.
Of course our friend’s new camp was way too hot to spend time inside, so we all sat outside on the porch and had a few adult beverages and the stories began. The owner of the new camp is an old friend of mine and we spent many years in our youth hunting rabbits together while in school. We both had beagles and they worked well together so we always had a great time and usually brought a few rabbits home for family dinner. He began to tell a story about one of the times we hunted together that I hadn’t thought about for a long time, but it sure made me smile.
He told the group a story about a Saturday many years ago when he and I headed to a swamp about 20 miles from where we lived to see if our dogs could find a few snowshoe rabbits. We had a great day and did very well on the rabbits. We got the dogs together in the middle of the afternoon and headed back out of the swamp. As we exited the woods at the road where our truck was parked, we saw another truck was parked behind ours and another rabbit hunter that we knew was sitting inside. When he saw us on the road, he got out of truck and said hello.
He asked us how we did and we said it was just OK. Most hunters (and fisherman) don’t share too much information about their spots. He then asked if we saw any deer tracks. Rabbit hunters never like to mix their dogs with deer. It never turns out well. My friend told the other hunter that we had seen deer tracks all over that swamp. The other hunter shook his head, thanked us and got back in his truck and drove away. I never said a word until we got the dogs in the truck and started heading back to town.
After we had only gone a few hundred yards down the road, I turned to my buddy and said, “I sure didn’t see any deer tracks in that swamp. It was one of the best rabbit swamps we have hunted in a long time.” My buddy just turned his head, looked at me and said, “I didn’t see any deer tracks either.” Not another word was spoken, but we laughed the rest of the way home. I guess that was one rabbit hunter we weren’t going to have to worry about hunting that swamp.
After my buddy finished the story of our trip that day, all of the guys who were sitting around burst into laughter. It didn’t help us cool down any, but it sure made the warm temps far more bearable.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.
Image credit: http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/36873