If you get lost in the woods, it is most likely that if you are lost long enough you will walk in a circle. You may have heard this saying. It may seem like folklore, but it is not. It has happened to me twice in my life. Both times involved deer hunting.
The first time I was twelve years old and hunting with my Uncle Buddy and my brother and my cousin Steve. Uncle Buddy was more like an older brother since he was only in his late twenties. My brother was ten and a half and cousin Steve was thirteen.
Uncle Buddy was the only one with a gun. It was a twelve gauge pump shotgun. It was illegal to hunt a deer with a rifle in Indiana. It still is. It’s a good law. You have to understand our terrain.
The plan was for the cousins to walk in a semicircle, acting kind of like a Beagle jumping rabbits. Uncle Buddy would wait on a hillside in a thicket by a deer run, where he had seen many deer cross at mid morning in recent weeks. It was a plan that had worked in the past and we were excited to get started.
The three of us took off to our right, which we knew to be east by north east. The sun was shining bright and there were tracks to be found of various sizes, since the trails were soft from the rains from the morning before. We didn’t follow a true semi circle, but tried our best to stick to the deer runs, while adjusting direction from time to time, to make sure we stayed on the course as planned.
If we followed the route correctly, we would come upon a dirt farm road, that would lead us right back to Uncle Buddy who would be waiting with the deer. Such rugged men we would be.
After a couple deviations from the deer run and the creeping cloudiness that hid the sun from us, we became a little disoriented. We were lost.
Our leader was thirteen years old, so we had total confidence, and were also totally lost. Well; maybe not totally lost. There were only forty acres on my Grandmother’s family’s old home stead. If you add the surrounding farms that didn’t always have fences as guides to show boundaries, and the increasing cloudiness that hampered our ability to tell direction then I guess you could say we were totally lost.
After more than three hours of this we caved into the fact that we were still boys, and began yelling for Uncle buddy. For quite some time we heard not a peep. We passed the same fallen tree twice and finally decided to forget about plans and take off across the pasture in front of us and that’s when we spotted the farm road that was our goal. Just about then we heard Uncle Buddy’s voice hollering for us. Now all we had to do was follow the fence row by the dirt road as his voice got louder and eventually we could tell he heard us too.
We were embarrassed, but Uncle Buddy was easy on us. I’m pretty sure he’d been in that fix before.
There was no game taken that day, but we did learn about walking in circles.
The next time this happened to me, I was hunting alone on a cloudy day. I got to the woods long before daylight and made my way slowly to a special spot I had chosen weeks before.
Just before daylight I saw two very large bucks. Both were within range, but the light would not allow a safe or accurate shot. Uncle Buddy had always taught me, if you aren’t sure don’t shoot. One shot is all you need. It’s also more humane for the animal.
By the time I reached my sweet spot it was still dark and cloudy, and the low temps and moisture that surrounded me made me shiver.
After a couple hours of waiting with no action at all, I figured the deer I had seen were heading for a comfortable spot when I saw them, and the only way to find them was to jump them from their comfortable hiding places.
I took off towards the north, with the plan to circle around clockwise until I was heading south, back toward the road where I was parked. Does any of this sound familiar?
At east two hours after I had given up on jumping a deer. My mind was more on making it back to the road than any thing else.
The second time I passed through that stand of dead trees, in the spot where it probably flooded during heavy rains in warm weather, making it uninhabitable for them, I remembered to start looking at the moss on the trees. With the clouds so heavy the sun was at best a cross reference.
Once again; here’s something that many consider a myth or folklore. Once again I assure you it is not.
With the help of the moss on the trees and the patchy clouds as a cross reference I eventually made my way back to the truck.
Once again no game was taken, but this time it wasn’t the dumb luck of a twelve year old boy, but the experience handed down to me that helped.
The pictures were taken on January 1st 2014. the moss is on the north side and the south side shows no moss.
As we start the New Year let’s remember to look for the signs all around us. Be they from nature, or
media or from cyberspace, they are there. Pay attention and discern their meaning. Follow your gut and what you have been taught from those you know and love and trust.
Try not to walk in circles.