Ecotherapy

Also called messing around in the woods

Ecotherapy is now the technical term for messing about in the woods. It has become a credible treatment for mood disorders because regular visits to the woods give us a brighter perspective and stronger coping skills. I guess that’s why I bow hunt white tail bucks. I get to make a lot of trips to the woods.

Apparently the sensory stimulation in the woods is what makes it therapeutic. There is always a lot to see and hear when sitting still waiting for a decent buck to come by. But one evening last October there was too much stimulation.

I had picked a spot for a ground setup where two deer trails crossed. I hung a buck lure scent wick there, checked the wind, camoed up and sat down. I did some light antler rattling hoping to call in a pre- rut buck.

Therapy began instantly. Two red squirrels chased each other up, down and around nearby tree trunks knocking bark chips and twigs to the ground like rain. They barked out fearsome curses and death threats at each other when they weren’t trying to tear chunks out of each other with their teeth. At one point they used me for traction running across my legs. I knew then my camo was working. Finally they carried their fight off through the woods out of sight and hearing leaving me to wonder what they were fighting about – probably a girl squirrel or some territorial dispute. Red squirrels are fierce. If they got any bigger, bears wouldn’t be safe from them.

At dusk my therapy got intense. I saw a glint of antler in the fading light coming along the trail. A few more steps and the antlers were visible – a decent ten pointer. It would be my best with a bow. The buck’s kill zone would be obscured by brush until it stepped into my shooting lane to sniff the scent wick. Ten more steps. It was heading right for my lane. Three more steps and… what the… like a jack in the box, its tail popped up and the buck swapped ends right on the spot and tore off leaving a rooster tail of leaves and soil. Sadly I turned to watch it go. I knew I hadn’t spooked it but I didn’t know what had.

This is the part where too much of that sensory stimulation comes in. When I looked back to the trail, right there, sniffing the scent wick, stood a big wolf. It remained there just long enough for my jaw to drop to my lap and then it lit out after the buck.

Now, I really do enjoy seeing wildlife in the woods. That’s part of the therapy. But does it have to show up all at once? That session did not improve my mood. But it may have bolstered my coping skills because, the first chance I got, I booked anther session.

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