Hook and Bullet Club

by Nick Wognum

Anybody in the newspaper business better be in favor of logging. After all, newspapers come from trees.
This fall we’ve had to adapt to a new world at Camp Cholesterol. A winter logging cut all around us changed the woods. Some of our walking trails were obliterated. Branches and trampled trees are embedded in the ground.
One trail led from the shack down into a rocky swamp and then up a steep hill to a sanctuary of sorts. This spot of woods held deer, grouse and wolves. It was a mid level area with some massive pines, some blooming birch and a sprinkling of poplar trees.
The walk through wasn’t an easy one but it was a woodsy experience close to the shack. We put a deer stand up at the end of the trail - not so much because it was a great spot to see deer, it just felt like a good place to have a stand.
Late afternoon Saturday I took Megan’s two golden retrievers to see what the trail looked like after the logging operation. Through the rocky section an opening appeared where there had been heavy woods. From there on the trail was gone.
Criss-crossed smaller trees and limbs made it nearly impassable. I carried a small chainsaw with me so I could cut my way through. The memories of my walks through there were being cut out as well.
My cousin’s son Greg came from California to hunt with us during the 2018 deer season. It was this trail I took him on. He and I walked together and I pointed out the twists and turns so he could easily find his way back.
Last fall Mary and I picked princess pine on this trail. It grew like wildfire there. We filled two bags full so she could make wreaths. That memory was tangled in the twisted trees.
The dogs and I made it to the stand and kept walking. There was a trail ahead that would lead us to the road. Maverick kicked up a ruffed grouse that took a crazy flight from right to left 20 yards in front of me. I watched it dip and dive in the fading sunlight.
Walking back to the shack was tough, knowing that trail would never be there again. I remembered hearing the story from the California boy that night at the shack. Greg turned the corner where the trail nearly doubled back on itself and standing there was a black timber wolf. The two locked eyes and each turned the other way, never to see each other again.
Greg would never see that wolf or walk that trail, he passed earlier this year. The insulated shirt he left behind still hangs on the back of a chair in the shack. None of us can stand to move it.
But this story doesn’t end there.
I will admit my head was down as I walked up the driveway. Losing a trail I walked every year for the past 20, along with several others, was starting to get to me.
It was then the Almighty intervened. I saw a dark patch just past the driveway in an area I had cleared with a brush saw last weekend. The patch was big and part of it moved. That’s when I saw the antlers. A bull moose was standing 100 yards from the shack! He was magnificent and washed away the sorrow I had felt.
We may have lost some trails but our view has changed as well. Areas of the forest we couldn’t see are now revealed. Hills and valleys now are plain to see. And a bull moose can be spotted 20 yards away while standing in the driveway.
They say the Lord works in mysterious ways. I’m here to testify that is true.