New Hampshire Wildlife News
by Certified Wildlife Biologist, Eric P. Orff

New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff

The gray days of November and it's a wrap.

Wednesday 12/01/2010

Seems like time is just flying by heading up to Christmas. And how quickly the woods have changed just the last couple of weeks. I spent all, or a good part, of most days in the woods during the first 6 days of the regular season starting the 10th. Going into the season many of the oaks still had leaf on. Though the distinct shades of pastel oranges and browns had quickly changed to a dull brown color. But a couple of overnight rain and wind storms had striped the trees of even the hard holding oak leaves. How this transforms the woods into a brighter lit land and casts mysterious shadows even mid day. This is the season of shadows. Often overlooked but it kind of transforms the woods into looking at what we call the negative of a film, back when we used film. So there really are two images to study in the woods. The real one and the one cast by the sun's shadow; and don't they look like deer sometimes. I did manage to kill me a deer six days into the season. a nice plump doe. One of the most memorable evenings of 2010 for me will be the evening my son, son-in-law and best friend of almost 50 years helped me cut, seal and freeze my deer. In just a couple of what seemed all to short hours we had her cut up and in my freezer. Stories flowed of past hunts together and for Rick, my friend and hunting/fishing partner of almost 50 years, it seems like our whole life has passed quickly like November.

And now the woods on many days have turned November gray. I heard on the weather the other night that November is the cloudiest month of the year. And so the cloudy gray skies seem to envelope all things in gray some days. My frequent hikes that lead me past Bear Brook show a completely different view than much of the year. On cool afternoons even fog seems to emerge from the chilling waters to add to the gray color of the day. And the stillness of these days is sobering. Hardly a sound can be heard on my hour long hikes through the forest save for my own steady pace. The wet leaf covered forest floor even dulls that sound at times. Silence prevails in November woods. It seems like you have to strain your senses to be a part of November woods. Chilly dry days even starve my nose of the smell of musky new-fallen leaves. That is one thing I love about hunting. You must sift the woods of all things about you from subtle tracks quickly covered by leaves, dull sounds and shadowy figures.

I did want to add for the record that I saw a frog last Wednesday, the 24th, the day before Thanksgiving. My travels that day took me south to Manchester and I swung down into Londonderry to the swamp I grew to know there Little Cohas Marsh. Hall Road bisects the souther third of the marsh. I can't help but stop there when I'm near. I learned so much there in the early 60's. And as I got out to soak in the swamp a frog leaped from the shore into the chilling waters. Go figure a late November frog. Now ,not far from where I stood that day, I could hike from my house any winter's day to a spring bubbling out of the hill side. Invariably in that spring clear of ice year round I could catch a brown colored frog. Not all frogs bury in the mud for winter I learned there. There is always so much to absorb and learn from the land around us.

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