Dick Herfindahl: Sounds of silence interrupted by nature calls

Published 9:09 pm Friday, March 6, 2020

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl


As the spring season draws closer, there are a few hints that we may be heading in the right direction. The melting we have been experiencing in the last few days has left some water standing in a few fields, which I really noticed just the other day on a drive to Lake Mills. The last three months I have been driving to Lake Mills quite a bit. It is not a bad drive and I have been somewhat amazed at the wildlife I have spotted along the way.

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One day last week, I decided to change up my usual return drive from Lake Mills and take the State Line Road east out of Emmons and eventually turn on the blacktop heading north so that I would come in to Twin Lakes from a different direction. On this particular day as I passed a hill just south of Twin Lakes, I spotted seven deer not too far from the road. I consider any trip a good trip whenever I can see some wildlife and on this day, I was treated to seeing not only deer, but numerous turkeys and a beautiful rooster pheasant. This is what I am always fascinated by, nature at its natural best.

In thinking back to the many summer nights spent at our cabin, I always get a good feeling when I remember lying awake at night and listening to the many sounds that fill the forest at night. There are so many sounds I hear which, although familiar, I do not recognize. There was one particular night a few years ago when I was enjoying those many such sounds, when I heard a loud “ker plunk” like someone had dropped a large boulder into the lake. This sound repeated itself a few times that night and after listening intently, I deduced that it had to be a beaver slapping its tail on the water just down the hill from our cabin.

In the morning, I walked down to the lake and discovered a freshly dropped birch tree not far from our dock. The beaver must have been working on that tree most of the night. It is a good feeling to be that close to nature without disturbing the natural process of things. Yes, the forest can yield many surprises for man to observe and going undetected while observing the natural process of things can truly be a beautiful thing.

One night when my Grandson Trevor and I were at the cabin, I was awoke in the middle of night by the sound of a large animal growling. There have been many times when I have heard raccoons fighting amongst themselves over food, but this was definitely not one of those times. The roar I heard was too deep and throaty, something that a much larger animal would make. The roaring continued for a short time and then ceased. Trevor thought that it would be a good idea to close the inside doors just to be safe. He didn’t confer with me, but if it made him feel safer I was all for it.

Upon further investigation the next morning, we concluded that it must have been a bear chasing the raccoons away from some scraps of food that we had thrown out that evening. Yes, the sounds of the night can at times be a little unsettling, but for the most part, I just love falling asleep while playing the guessing game of “what critter is that” in the dark of the night.

In the years since, I have added some game cameras to our outside world so that I can identify some of the animals that are making those sounds. It’s not fool-proof, but it is fun to check the cameras in the morning just to see what critter has visited. You can always plan on capturing a couple of deer, some raccoons or both on those cameras almost every night. Over the years I have had a bear, badger, martin, raccoon, deer, skunk, fox, coyote and somebody’s cat. That’s quite an interesting mix and there are also a few ravens that will appear on camera from time to time.

This is what nature and the outdoors really mean to me, I have no desire to cage, catch or harm any of these magnificent creatures, but I just want to observe, enjoy and appreciate them while they are in their natural habitat.

When we first purchased the land to build our cabin I had fishing at the top of my list, but as time has passed I have become more appreciative of the other natural wonders that go with owning a little piece of what I like to call “God’s Country,” to me, it just doesn’t get any better. When I think back and look back at the many pictures of years passed, I am truly grateful for all of the good times that I have been able to share at the cabin with my family over the years.

Please take a few moments to honor those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy today. Also, take a little extra time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who have served and those troops serving today.