(Editor’s note: This article is continued from the November issue of the River Hills Traveler.)

Fellow outdoor writer Ron Kruger and I ventured to the Meramec River for four days of floating, camping, hunting and fishing.

We spent the first day of our trip floating to our intended destination, setting up camp and scouting for good places to hang our deer stands.Camping river fall copy copy

We met back at camp before sundown. We shared scouting stories by the light of our campfire, while filling our bellies with hot deer stew. Each of us had found heavily used deer trails, mine at the base of a hardwood ridge ad Kruger’s in a pawpaw patch near the river.

We took turns expressing our hopes for arrowing a decent buck. We desperately wanted to set up the perfect bowhunting photo with a buck lying in the bow of Kruger’s red canoe while he and “Doc” navigated downstream amongst the glowing fall colors along the Meramec River. The idea was a dream photo for sure.

After a brief breakfast and cup of coffee the next morning, Kruger drifted downriver towards his intended hunting spot. I simply paddled 30 yards across the river and climbed a steep bank. My headlamp illuminated my way through a thick pawpaw bottom. Soon I reached a small stream. The faint moonlight provided enough light that I could do without the headlamp.

I picked up a heavily used  deer trail I had found on my scouting trip the previous evening. I eased through the softwood bottom another 100 yards before reaching my chosen tree for my climbing stand.

Visions of a nice buck filled my head as I slowly inched 20 feet up the tree and adjusted my safety harness for the morning sit.

Fall smells of sweet decaying leaves, damp earth and cool air wafted up the air current to my position. I enjoyed the last few minutes of darkness as cardinals began to sing in the underbrush and the guttural sounds of a Great Blue Heron echoed from a nearby rookery as the grand bird began its day of fishing on the Meramec.

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