Our hunting world is always full of unexpected treasures that we sometimes just happen upon. These novelties are many times picked up as we journey to and from our blinds and stands. There is no limit to the variety of keepsakes that find their way to our coffee tables and mantles to be displayed and admired and to remind us of the good times afield.
We may find a shed antler along the edge of a field from time to time. Many times these antlers will have gouge marks from the sharp incisors of rats and squirrels. These permanent scars only add to the character and provide a little more insight to the balance of nature and how minerals like phosphorous and calcium are returned to the environment for the cycle of life to continue. I have several antlers scattered around my tables and hearths and each of them represent a story and a memory.
Marbles and arrowheads are quite common around the places I frequent. Knolls and ridges along creeks and rivers served as home sites not only for early pioneers but even farther back in time for Native Americans. Water was readily available and these high points offered refuge from rising waters when flooding occurred. I can’t tell you how many points and hand-made marbles I have picked up over the years. Each has a story within, if only they could reveal the tale of how it was back then.
I have a fence post that I brought back from Montana that has been rubbed by whitetail bucks for years and years. In fact, the post resembles that of an hour glass with the circumference in the middle being no larger than a golf ball. Trees are not nearly as abundant on the prairies of the west as they are here. I guess bucks can’t be choosey when looking for a sapling to strip their velvet or mark their territories. It is hard to determine how long ago those posts were erected, but the smooth texture of the worn wood indicates it was for sure, at least decades ago. The assortment of antlers stacked around this unique find make quite the conversation piece.
One of my most unique finds during one of my jaunts is the vertebrae of either a deer or antelope. Due to the size of it, I’m pretty sure it is not from a bison, though it is possible. What makes this find unique is the arrowhead that is embedded in the bone. I was walking along the bluff of a creek out west when I noticed this object protruding from the clay bank. I dug the tight soil from around the bone and you can imagine the look upon my face when the point came with it. I do know the noble tribe of the Sioux inhabited the country I was in, but the rest of the story is left only to my imagination. From time to time I hold it and just wonder.
Many years ago I was on a very subtle knoll no larger than that of a pick-up truck in a cactus flat a few hundred yards from the Frenchman Creek in Montana. My hunting partner and I were hoping the buck we had seen the day before would show himself again. We resembled that of two lizards sunning as we waited. I remember looking on the ground next to me to find a spent casing of a very old cartridge. I remember the open end where the bullet was seated had been crimped just a bit. For the life of me I can’t remember the caliber and over the years I have somehow misplaced it. We have often talked about what may have taken place on the small knoll years ago. Could history have been repeating itself with a man waiting on a specific buck as we were? Could this have been the place where the man’s life was at stake from some foe? Either is entirely possible but we’ll never know.
Other novel finds include old whiskey bottles, square nails, mule shoes and various other items that bring the questions of what once was. How many treasures from the field have made it to your homes and desk tops? Do you pay attention to the washes in fields and old home sites in your outdoor excursions? I often think of what those that follow us will think when they find what we have left behind. What will their thoughts be when 200 years from now someone finds all of the hulls from years and years of dove hunting in the same fields? Will they associate their find with what really took place, or will they imagine some ferocious battle with 12 gauge shotguns? We don’t know what it will be like 200 years from now, but look at the changes that have taken place in the last 200 years and I’m sure you get the picture. Regardless, it will be interesting for some, I assure you.
This article has been about inanimate objects that have captured our attention when found. I will follow up with an article that will feature novel creatures that we encounter while afield. I won’t spoil it for you but I will start on it now. In fact, Stacey accompanied me on this year’s opening weekend dove hunt and got to see something very different from what we normally encounter in the dove field. I’ll stop here so I won’t spoil the surprise. Keep your eye out for interesting objects during your excursions. Who knows what you may also find.
Until next time, enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it.