I wish I had a better eye. Oh, my eyesight is alright for an old man, but I’ve been very conscious lately about what I’m looking at and what I’m really seeing. I think some of what’s going through my mind is just the result of getting old and remembering at the same time I’m looking at something and comparing mental notes.
I had decided to sit along a ridge overlooking the bog that borders the Jordan River on the west side north of Mancelona and south of East Jordan. I had walked by that spot many times on my way to the river on opening day of trout season, but had never really seen it. There was no need, it was just a curtain that had to be penetrated to dodge deadfalls and muck and decaying moss-covered trees that made getting to the river that much more rewarding.
On those occasions when I trudged my way through, the trick was not to get the rod or line caught or tangled on the branches that reached out like arms at a jailer at mealtime. This time, it was like looking at the bog for the first time: The thick foliage was gone, revealing a much smaller tract of land that appeared almost fragile and revealed the river was actually much closer than the effort of getting there had always suggested.
Sitting high on the ridge, I was able to see what appeared to be depressions in the bog, lines really, that were deer runs. They weren’t gravel or dirt tracks, only grass and other ground vegetation that was separated slightly, suggesting something had made its way through more than once.
Using my scope, I followed the trail paying attention to subtle changes along the edges. It reminded me of training I went through before being deployed to Viet Nam that made me conscious of how close someone or something could get to you if it used the surrounding terrain for concealment, especially if you were looking without seeing.
Nothing ever came down that trail while I was watching, but there was noise behind me. It was subtle, almost competing with my imagination. Then, it broke and dashed through brush and went deep into the woods behind me and was gone. It had spotted me and watched me just as I was trying to do to it …and It was better at it than I was