August a good time to restore faith in being an outdoor person

During a recent ride in the country, the writer looked into some tall weeds that edge a stand of woods and saw this guy, munching contently on some food.

The constant influx of disheartening news tumbling through my head never seems to stop. Chronic wasting disease is at the forefront when the talk is about deer, but the list of harmful invasive insects, animals and plants just seems to grow longer each day. Recently added to that list are the New Zealand mudsnail, found in the Little Lehigh Creek, and a longhorned tick found on a male whitetail in Centre County.

Jumping back to CWD, the editorial in the most recent issue of Pennsylvania Outdoor News discusses the possibility that prions from that deadly disease may be carried from one place to another via air travel by eagles and other avian family members that feed on the carcasses of infected cervids. If that proves to indeed to be true, that is merely adding worse news to already horrible news.

Add the daily proclamations released by the current leaders of our federal government to “back-off” to just about every attempt by prior administrations to battle for clean air, water and soil, plus protection for endangered species, low fish stocks and shrinking unharmed and unaltered public land – with an underlying purpose of what I can only determine to be, “We’re in charge, so we can do what we want” – and my headaches increase tenfold.

Finally, throw in a spot of agonizing pain on my own body that started about two months ago and progressed to the point where I needed an assortment of tests to ultimately determine I had to undergo some serious surgery last week — from which I’ll eventually recover — and one is able to understand the overall dreadful feelings I’ve been dealing with recently.

So what do I do to help my crappy state? Last evening, with threatening skies rolling above, heavy rains from a week-long hurl of spotty showers already overflowing local streams, and the overall blush of sorrowful gray, I hopped in my truck and headed toward nearby fields and woods to look for anything wild.

I do not have to travel far from my home to where I come to a bend on a country road. As I moved through the bend, I looked into some tall weeds that edge a stand of woods, and saw the guy in the photo above, munching contently on some food as he stared at me passing.

At that moment it hit me that my discontent and gloom are but a wasted mindset. Seeing a young buck with growing antlers feeding without despair and worry of the everyday world reminded me of why I come to the world of wild things in wild places.

That deer, alone and beautiful, offered a tonic that quickly pushed the right chemicals into my brain that reduce stress. It eased my mind, my body relaxed significantly, and I moved on to see many, many more deer, a hen turkey, Canada geese that are again flying, young rabbits and squirrels sitting by the road and scurrying to cover when I passed, some black vultures circling against the dark gray clouds and a big, fat groundhog standing in a freshly mowed alfalfa field.

In a mere 30-minute drive through Pennsylvania countryside, I was allowed the chance to see wild things living the unique way they live, to feel their freedom, and understand how they never task themselves with the thoughts we humans do.

This half-hour trip made me understand once again why I come to woods and water, and how I love it so.

An August evening traveling through open fields and woods may ease the uneasiness of anyone. I advise it for all.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe

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