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Deer Camp, part 1
November 12-14, 2004

This year’s deer camps were quite different than the previous 18 years’, both in location and in the activities. Before assembling this journal page, my impression of deer camp was that it was five days of not doing a whole lot except sitting in front of the campfire or retreating from the bad weather inside Darrel’s camper. I’m really glad to have all these pictures to remind me otherwise.
Darrel and I drove up a few days before opening day  to clean up our campsite near Kilgore Gap. The fall colors had been disappointing up until then, but then the Red Maples turned some great shades of red and orange in isolated spots. On the drive back I had to stop and snap a picture from the road along Hare Mountain.
Friday around noon Cliff, Grant and I followed Darrel up to camp. The camper had engine trouble and couldn’t make it up the big hill at the beginning of Morgan Mountain Road. While we were parked on the side of Highway 215 figuring out a solution, we noticed a small cemetery in the adjacent woods. The boys and I walked down to investigate. Hill Cemetery was surrounded by a chainlink fence and had been recently cleared of ground cover. Most if not all the headstones had dates in the mid to late 1800s. The largest headstone told a story:
We managed to hook the ATV and trailer to my truck and made camp at nearby Redding Campground on the Mulberry River. This was Grant’s first year to come up, and he was anxious to help get a fire going. He and Brother quickly found the food and snacks and seemed to be constantly consuming something. That night both boys insisted on sleeping in the camper, so I had the tent all to myself. Some time after midnight Darrel woke me up to say that Grant was sick and throwing up everywhere. I drove him all the way back home, and slept there until 9 that morning.
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Much like every morning of camp, Darrel had a fine breakfast waiting on me when I returned. Then Cliff and I drove over to Lick Branch to do some sightseeing and to shoot Cliff’s bb gun. I couldn’t resist the urge to take some pictures of falling water, even though the lighting was too harsh.
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That afternoon Cliff and I went for a drive on Darrel’s 4-wheeler. We went up Morgan Mountain Road then hung a left onto the first logging road. The Red Maples were putting on a great show, especially when against a backdrop of green pine trees. Soon that road ran into private property so we turned around and headed back to Morgan Mountain Road, where we hung a left. We then turned right onto the first logging road going east. There was a maze of roads on the mountain, some of which were in pretty bad shape. Several times I had Cliff get off the back of the 4-wheeler just in case the thing turned over. At intersections I chose the roads that took us higher up the mountain, and soon we near the top. We stopped at a beautiful spot underneath a cover of tall pine trees, with bright red maple leaves everywhere. Sad to say I left the point-and-shoot camera in the truck. Downhill from our parking lot was what looked like a good place for a waterfall, so we went down to investigate. Sure enough there was a dry waterfall there, a good 20 feet in height. I could tell this was a wet-weather-only fall, being so close to the top of the knob we were on.  I’d still like to see it running someday; it had a certain non-Ozarks quality about it. (Speaking of waterfalls, I looked on the map when we got back home and noted that the knob Cliff and I had been on was less than half a mile from Spy Rock Falls to the northeast.)

Around sunset the three of us piled in my truck and headed back down the highway east along the Mulberry. There was a spot I’d noticed earlier that day that might have made a good picture in the late afternoon. I was wrong about that and didn’t even get the camera out, but we continued down the road pulling over at several spots to take in the scenery. We wound up at the Wolf Pen recreation area, where I got out the camera and Darrel and I snapped a few photos while Cliff threw rocks in the emerald Mulberry.
Soon after dinner that night, as I was making preparations to go hunting the next morning, I noticed that everything was quiet and the lights in the camper were out. It was barely past 7 o’clock and  Darrel and Cliff were already in bed!
I took the opportunity to test my latest batch of camera settings for star trail photos. The picture below  is one of my test shots. The final picture is posted here.
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The alarm clock beeped me awake at 4:30 the next morning (I try to be at my ground stand while it is still dark). I had zero desire to go deer hunting, but I made a deal with myself that if I would get up and go, I could take my camera along. If any deer came by, I would take pictures of them first and then shoot them (a buck I mean) second, if I were so inclined.
I didn’t see any deer, but my secret hunting area near Fly Gap was just gorgeous. The fall leaves were aglow in the dark forest. I decided to shoot a series of pictures with the hopes of stitching them together into one big panoramic later on. I rotated the camera to take vertical pictures and, going right to left, it took me 13 shots to photograph the 180-degree view from my left to right. The final picture is 11 inches tall by 67 inches wide!
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I gained a new appreciation for wildlife photographers too. There were critters scampering around constantly, but I had a tough time getting pictures of them.  A 300 telephoto lens sounds like it would magnify a lot, but the squirrels, chipmunks and birds were tiny in the photos. And the same overcast skies which made the lighting nice and subdued also meant that the exposure times were relatively long.  This caused the critters to be blurry in the photos because they never stayed still.
One young gray squirrel was determined to get his picture taken though. This fellow spotted me and did his best to let all his forest friends know where I was. He climbed down the trunks of several trees less than 30 feet away, stared straight at me and barked and squealed.

After he left I figured the excitement was over for the morning so I headed back to Redding. After another great breakfast we tore down camp and went back to civilization.
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DENY.C.LEE.HILL

Daughter of
Mary.E & R.W.Hill
Born June 29, 1868

DIED
NOV 19 1871.

bill . chinouth
&
Joe .  forbush
Murdered this lovely
Child and hid her in
The Creek to get
The Family out to
Look so thay mite
Rob & Steal.