Single Photos
December 20, 2011
Instead of me asking the boys if they wanted to accompany me on trips to the outdoors, they've started pestering me to take them. Grant developed an interest in hunting, and couldn't wait for me to have a morning off from work so that we could go to the woods. The morning of September 17, Cliff and Garret joined Grant and I on our first trip to a location that my buddies and I used to call "220",  off White Water Road in the headwaters of Cedar Creek about 4 miles east of the Lee Creek community. It was a great morning to be in the woods.. with mild temperatures, overcast skies and little breeze. Grant shot his first squirrel like a seasoned veteran, but then had problems knocking down any others. I've always had that problem with our little .410 shotgun. We had a pleasant drive through the woods north to "Number 12" then back west to Highway 220, where we turned north to the Lee Creek bridge. At the old swimming hole, I showed the boys how to clean a squirrel.
We went again on the morning of the 24th, and though Grant and I had a good time stalking the squirrels, he didn't put any in the bag.
That Sunday night I drove up Scenic Highway 7 north of Russellville around bedtime and slept in the back of the Tahoe at Fairview campground so that I could get up early for a unique photo op. The new moon would be rising over the Arkansas Grand Canyon. The morning turned out better than I imagined. Big Creek valley was covered in a beautiful blanket of fog, and the crescent moon rose over the mountains through a red haze. The only problem was that camera technology isn't quite capable of capturing the scene. Even though I adjusted the camera to gather as much light as it could and still produce a clean image, the exposure time was 6 seconds, and the moon moves a lot in that amount of time. This resulted in the moon being a bit blurry looking in the picture. My friend Randy Wilson met me a the overlook, and we witnessed an incredible display of sun rays that lasted for several minutes.
Sunday afternoon, October 2, Grant and I drove up to Boxley to do a little fishing on the upper Buffalo. We didn't catch any keepers, but had a great time. At one point on the hike back we went up in to the woods above the west bank, and spooked a bunch of elk about 50 yards back in the forest. We only caught a few glimpses of them through the thick foliage, but we sure heard them crashing through the woods. Grant’s clothes were wet up to his chest, and the temperature had dropped to 58 by the time we got back to the Tahoe. Lucky for him I'd made him pack a set of dry clothes.
The morning of October 30th, Cliff wanted to go deer hunting with a muzzleloader. I wasn't up for hunting myself, but I drove him to Dixon Ford, where I figured he could go for a walk through the woods while I shot pictures along the river. On the way, we pulled off the highway past Fallsville so I could photograph a colorful sunrise. When we parked near the river, I crawled in the back of the Tahoe for a quick nap, except I slept for over three hours. Cliff woke me up tapping on the window.
Sunday afternoon, November 6, I took Cliff and Garret to "220" for the youth deer hunt. I drove around until dark looking for scenes to photograph.
Darrel and Wanda, James and Melinda, Stacey, Cliff, Grant and I went on a weekend retreat to the Buffalo River area Friday through Sunday, November 11-13. Stacey wanted her dad to see some of the fantastic scenery we've enjoyed over the years. We stayed at The Barn on the Buffalo east of Jasper. Friday night we had dinner at the Ozark Cafe, then returned to the barn and played Uno or watched TV. Saturday morning I got up early and drove to a wooded area near Carver and sat down with my camera hoping to photograph some deer. A buck came sneaking down an old logging road behind me but he saw me first and high-tailed it out of there. Afterwards I went for a drive, crossing the bridge over Big Creek where I saw two otters way upstream frolicking in the water.
For lunch we had a weenie roast down on the Little Buffalo behind the barn, underneath a huge Bur Oak. We paddled around the creek in kayaks for a while too, but the fishing wasn't any good. We loaded into the vehicles and drove to Triple Falls, then headed to Roark Bluff on the river at the Steele Creek recreation area.
We had dinner once again at the Ozark Cafe, then headed over to the coffee shop to watch the Razorbacks play. The wind was so fierce Sunday morning that we all stayed indoors. We drove home after breakfast.
I took Grant on his first deer hunt Friday morning, November 18, in my lucky area near Fly Gap. Cliff was at the cabin hunting with Darrel. We didn't see any deer, but a bobcat walked up on us, which means we were doing a good job of being still and quiet. We watched several squirrels scampering about near us, which helps break up the monotony of sitting still in one spot for three hours. That evening I went to Lee Creek Reservoir at sundown and shot an interesting photo full of pink and dark gray clouds.
The next morning we returned, but walked down to a different spot in the woods. It was only 7:30 when I saw movement down on the old roadbed below us. I whispered "Grant, deer!" It walked slowly and I told Grant it was a doe and that a buck might be behind it, but he asked if he could shoot it and I said OK. Grant didn't seem too excited. He calmly raised the gun, aimed, and shot. I saw the deer kick up it's back legs and run off. Grant couldn't see anything from the muzzleloader smoke and said something about hitting it or not and I said "Oh yeah you got it!". I saw it run about 100 yards and fall over. I instructed Grant to stay calm and we collected our things and went down to it. Grant's aim was right on, and the spike buck had died quickly.
I'll never forget the details of that time spent with Grant. We field-dressed the deer and slowly dragged it up the steep hillside and put it in the back of the Tahoe. We sent Stacey an email from the iPad as soon as we got cell reception, then we drove to Mulberry so that Grant could show off his prize to Darrel, Wanda, and especially Cliff.
Grant and I returned to the area November 23 but didn't see any deer. Then on Thanksgiving morning we went again, and let a trophy buck walk up on us at my "grassy knoll" location. I worked every weekend the rest of the season, else Grant would have nagged me to go every possible morning.