Saturday, January 7, 2012

A day in the woods along the Savannah river

After the holidays had died down I got the opportunity to spend an afternoon in the woods.  Firearms deer season in Georgia in the south ran from October 21st to January 15th this 2011-2012 season.  Hogs (feral) are always in "season" as they are an invasive pest. Both were fair game that day.

As these things always go, we got to the woods later than we planned. Steve is a member of a hunting club that leases the hunting rights on a 1200 acre piece of mostly wooded property about 45 minutes west of Savannah, GA where we live (well actually we live on the west side of Savannah in Garden City, and Steve in the town of Port Wentworth)  Steve's on the left. I'm the far better lookin' dude to the right. :)

The property is owned by an absentee investor, who leases the timber rights to a company that plants and harvests pine for paper mills, and the hunting rights to the hunting club Steve belongs to. They maintain gates and post the property to basically control who enters and exits.   Most of the property is relatively high, dry ground intersected with roads you can drive a pickup down. Some of it is along a section of the Savannah river that borders Georgia and south Carolina.

Down along the river there are some places that hold water when the river levels are high, depending on how much water is released from dams far up river in Augusta or how much rain we have had. This winter has been pretty dry, and when the waters recede pools remain, such as the one I snapped below all covered bright green algae and rimmed with Cypress trees.

To my left the land sloped up sharply and to the right was a fairly dry creek bed, on the other side of that a 2 foot tall bank, about 40 feet of ground, then the main river. I guess I was too busy enjoying the walk (couldn't call it hunting since we did not see anything) to take more pictures.

Then I saw the cabin. Up on a bank high above a bend in the river.  I guess it was built 60 plus years ago? It has been abandoned for some time, though the area near it is still used by hunting club members to camp out by.  Appearantly the cabin and property used to belong to the family of the main club lease holder. It was sold to the current owner, I would imagine due to financial reasons, perhaps to settle an estate with multiple benificiaries. In any case the cabin has fallen in to decay. But what a neat hangout it must have been once upon a time! 

I wish I'd turned around and got a shot of the view of the river! This screened porch was the overlook. I can tell it was a later addition. The place has seen some vandalization unfortuanately.  The remains of a white enameled wood cookstove are half burried in dirt and leaves to the left of the above picture, shot full of bullet holes. I looked under the porch and decided I would NOT go in, termites have left the structural beams hollow and the brick and cement pillars supporting it are collapsing at various angles.

Above you can see the added on front porch. I stepped inside as the door was ripped off the hinges years ago. Very cautiously I , may add, as the floor was "spongy" to say the least!  There are places the roof has leaked, and the cieling started to come in, and there looked to be a dormant bee nest in one spot. The original structure looked to be maybe 15 or 20' wide by 35' long before the rear screened porch and front room were added. A rusted refrigerator and electric stove remain, and there is a chimmney that the old wood cook stove connected to.     

All in all it was a very nice day, very windy but warm with the temps in the 60's.  After doing a walk through the swamp where the little pond I photographed was in an effort to stir up some hogs or deer bedded down, we went to the high ground. I sat in a ground blind that is set up overlooking a small patch of winter rye planted but saw not one thing. Even the squirrels were not moving that day.  But it was a nice day and in any case my freezer is nearly full from venison Steve gave me a week earlier and some from a nice 8pt buck I harvested when home in Minnesota early November,  pictured below.

That one, I took about ten minute's brisk walk up hill from mom and dad's place on the wooded family property. He had to go 180-200 lbs prior to field dressing.  It was a windy day, I had been in a stand where there was a pretty active deer trail since daylight and seen not one thing. I had gotten down and gone for a "walkabout" as Paul Hogan's character Crocodile Dundee would have said. I was just walking about the woods along a logging trail we used to get the tractor to the firewood and then I went down to the watering hole, a small 20' hole that was dug in a low low place when we kept sheep and a steer or two pastured there many years ago. I was standing by the watering hole and heard a noise, the buck came scampering along just 50-60 yards up hill from me.  I shot once and thought I had missed (later found I shot low and nicked the skin on his leg above the knee) and he jumped a bit, ran about 40 feet and stopped to look at me, facing broadside. That was his error. One slug and he fell.  That's my mighty hunting tale, no adventure in the wilderness with a spear and a loincloth.  Perhaps I will take that up next season, hmmm.......