After many years of sitting out deer seasons, I returned to the woods this year with little intention of killing anything. I had ample opportunities at yearlings and does, who were invariably traveling together, carefully picking their way through a poor mast crop on Wilson’s Ridge. Wilson’s Ridge is owned by my sister and brother-in-law and overlooks the Pomme De Terre arm of Truman lake. The deer in these parts are not in a class with the beautiful bucks taken in north Missouri that have been gracing social media this year, as they have no crops to browse and are used to running the razorbacks that comprise this part of the country. So it is that I write about a deer hunt that doesn’t end in a picture of a trophy, rather a picture of barbed wire that has been encapsulated by a tree. There is a story here that is known only to God. I imagine the story goes something like this.
To some minds the picture accompanying this article has some sort of humorous connotation, however; to me it tells a story of hard living on a piece of rocky ground carefully fenced off from a neighbor many years ago. Fences are for livestock and privacy, and one has to work hard to imagine either issue being a concern on this craggy bluff. I thought about the toil involved in making a fence across these hollows and ledges, stringing wire from tree to tree as a fence post is out of the question up here. The two-barbed wire tells me this was a turn of the century fence overlooking what was once the Pomme de Terre river, in a region known for dinosaurs in ancient times. This wire has seen year upon year of blistering heat and frigid snow dulling the points and gradually sapping it’s strength. The tree, mightily offended by the tacking of the wire to its trunk, has encapsulated the wire, growing around it relying on the tree equivalent of scar tissue to make it a part of the tree for the rest of it’s life. I wondered where the fence builder, long since departed, is resting eternally. He was probably of European ancestry, likely Scotch or Irish, once removed from Kentucky, Tennessee or the Carolinas. It is certain that he gave little thought to a man testing this wire well over a hundred years from the day he strung it. There is no water on this ridge, so he undoubtedly drank from the Pomme or contrived some form of cistern on his ground. He was used to back breaking, hard work as he relied upon wood for heat and shelter many years before the advent of the chainsaw. He would have marveled and likely cussed the impoundment of Truman Lake as so many natives in these parts still do. I said a silent prayer for his soul, at rest after his existence in this rugged, beautiful part of the country. His rest is well earned.
I enjoyed this deer hunt immensely. I passed on taking a deer for the sake of killing, which would have been the case, as venison was never a particular favorite table fare for me, having long since being replaced by quail and crappie! I was able to talk strategy with Dennis, revisit history and gaze over Truman Lake, to me a nearly sacred place. I spent an hour being scolded by a young squirrel who did not appreciate my sitting close to his old snag of a den tree. Most importantly, I was able to identify with the old piece of barbed wire, a reminder that all things on earth are time limited. Like the wire, I am still here, brittle and not as sharp as in years past, likely to be offensive to someone who gets too close or takes me for granted. The wire will be here when I am gone and maybe, just maybe, another person will happen by and pay their respect to it’s history.
Have a great week!