I went out for a quick two hours of hunting yesterday evening since the weather was much cooler.
I made my way back to another mountain where beech trees are every where. It’s a little early for beechnuts but the squirrels still hang out on this slope when the wind blows a bit more than they like. It paid off because I was able to get three in one tree.
All three were in one of those center trees chasing each other playing around. With some quick shotgun work I was able to get all three. Unfortunately for me two of them fell and rolled down the mountain into the biggest bunch of thorn bushes and blackberry bushes you will ever see. I spent 40 minutes fighting through it trying to recover the game and had to give it up as it got too dark to see safely. Very frustrating and leaves me with a sick feeling.
This young male was the only one of the three I could find. Sometimes you lose even when you win. Sad Panda face.
One thing to keep an eye our for this time of year is the one thing I hate above all things.
Looking at this, some people will think it’s harmless. Others with more sense will see those spikey hairs and know immediately that is never an indication of something to cuddle with. It is the White Tussock Moth Caterpillar. They love to fall out of trees and onto your head, arms or back of the neck. When they feel threatened, or maybe they just do it to be pricks, they shed all those hundreds of tiny white hairs. And where those hairs touch the skin… Pain. Pain, stinging and burning. A rash that itches and stings for what seems like a week. Imagine bees stings that itch intensely. When I was in high school one fell on my left upper arm. The hairs are so fine they even stung me through the long sleeve shirt fabric. I couldn’t take off the shirt without making it worse so I had to take out my knife and cut the sleeve off. One about 10 years later fell on back of my brother’s neck. I can’t imagine that hell. This is why it pays to wear a hat like a boonie hat int he woods. Other than the protection from sun and rain, it does well in keeping stinging insects off the neck when they fall from a tree or are knocked from leaves if you shake a tree passing by.
One of the major problems in the south is the asian Kudzu vine. Another import that turned out to not be such a great idea. It’s nearly unstoppable without a major amount of work, fire ,chemicals and digging. IT will cover a multiple story house if not stopped. It will go up power lines, road signs and trees. Once over trees it kills them eventually. No sun can get through.
It doesn’t do well in shade thankfully. So it doesn’t grow under the treeline. So what it does is climb up the trees on the edge of a open area. It will eventually kill them all and as they fall, it will move and cover the area no exposed to more sun. That mass on the far left used to be one of the biggest pine trees I ever saw. It was beautiful and when I was a kid I would often play under it. None of that vine was there even 20 years ago. The vine grows what seems like 6 inches a night once summer hits.
It does have one tiny use. This time of year it blooms a purple flower that smells exactly like grape Koolaide or grape jelly. It is edible and you can make a jam out of it. You can even eat it raw and it tastes a bit like grape Not as much as it smells like grape though. Weird.
The vine can be made into a type of bread if you are dedicated enough or starving. I haven’t tried that though. Whitetail deer love to eat the leaves from the vine and all summer and late fall you can see them every where grazing on it. Once it frosts though, the deer won’t touch it. Even if it is only slightly wilted.
Walking through it is not fun but it is doable, I have learned to love with it after all these years. What other choice do you really have?