A few seasons back I had scouted an area for a morning hunt on a local WMA. I was very excited about hunting this particular spot, it was secluded, hard to get to and the weather had finally cooled off as well. I just knew this morning was going to be a good one to be in the woods. To add to this excitement, I had already seen a few deer along the side of the road and boy did that fire me up!
I arrived at the little parking area, where wheeled traffic ends, and discovered two trucks. My first thought was, “Okay, no big deal” because I knew most people were not going to walk a quarter mile, wade a creek, then walk another quarter mile to a hunting spot. But I figured I’d better check. I asked the first gentleman where he was hunting and breathed a sigh of relief when I found out he wasn’t anywhere near me. The relief would be short lived. The second guy was about to bust my bubble.
This was my introduction to Steve Angell and he would be hunting in the same area I planned to hunt. Now, I have a strong opinion regarding hunting public land and that is: “first come first served”. But that didn’t mean I was overly happy about it. Evidently the disappointment showed on my face because Steve stepped in and started telling me where another good spot was and how to get there. We then wrapped up our conversation, he collected his gear, and we headed off in different directions.
I followed Steve’s directions, parked where he said, walked into the woods where he advised, crossed the small creek he warned me about and looked for a tree to climb. I soon realized I’d scouted this area before but never hunted it. I was optimistic as I settled in.
The sun began to make it’s presence known, and along with it, brought the magic I loved to see in the woods. To me, watching the sun come up and seeing the woods come alive is the most peaceful time of the day. However, the moment would be short lived. My hunt was about to end much sooner than anticipated and most definitely not in the manner I was hoping for.
As the daylight grew, things began to take shape and colors became visible. I started looking around and noticed a bright yellow form on the ground no more than 20 feet away. I grab my binos and find, what appears to be, 50lbs of corn. A mix of emotions and recollections roll through my head. First, I’d arrived at my favorite hunting spot to find some stranger planning to hunt it. Then I’m directed to another “hot spot” only to arrive and find a big ol’ bait pile on a Wildlife Management Area.
My reaction was to look for the game warden I knew would come stomping through the woods at any time to give me a ticket. Finally anger set in, and while I don’t remember the exact words I thought at the time, a reference from the old Radio host “Roy D Mercer” describes it nicely. I was about to “whoop somebody’s ass”.
Now, I remembered that Steve’s truck had a lot of stickers on the back glass and after leaving the woods I drove back by where his truck was parked and got some info from all those stickers. Later that evening, I spent some time researching Steve on the Web intending to give him a piece of my mind. But as fortune would have it, I never got around to that email.
That weekend quickly became the next. I rolled into that same WMA at the same time and find the same truck. Yep, Steve Angell was there, in his pickup, collecting his gear in the dark with a flashlight held in his teeth. I get out with the intention of unleashing a bit of verbal abuse and let him know what I found. I planned to include how wrong it was of him to be baiting in the area and breaking the law. As I started explaining what I found, he looked at me funny, and I quickly realized that not only was he as disgusted about someone breaking the law, but mortified he’d sent another hunter to a location where he could have wound up in serious trouble.
Up until that moment I knew Steve had baited up the place and set me up, but his sincere apologies and inquiries about what actions I’d taken to report the situation quickly took all the wind from my sails. It was clear to me that Steve was not the person I’d created in my mind.
Since that day, not only has Steve and I become the best of friends and hunting partners, but our families have spent holidays together and even vacationed in the same place this past summer. We’ve been on a couple hunting trips and still continue to hunt together on the same WMA where we met. Steve even convinced me to convert to traditional archery. Since then I have gotten my daughter involved and we regularly attend 3D shoots with Steve and his family.
It’s funny how things turn out some times. I guess you just never know who you’re going to meet.