Light show bonus of the hunt
Traffic came to a crawl in Denton, Texas. Then it came to a halt at the intersection of I-35 and I-40 at Oklahoma City. I think highway construction is just a perpetual form of “progress” that is never ending. Come to think of it, the orange barrels that dot the lanes of the Texas and Oklahoma highways could soon be artifacts in the Smithsonian for they’ve been there so long. Of course, the relics from the bluffs of the rivers like the Cimarron and the North Canadian offer much more in the form of history than the annoying traffic obstacles that temporarily blocked our path. No need to worry for we soon broke through the mayhem with blue skies in front of us leaving stress behind.
Sambo, Bucket, and I were once again making our annual trip out west in search of those legendary whitetails. We added a traveler this year as JH finally found enough time to break away from graduate studies and join us. Insecticide trials, data collection and analysis, and classwork had taken precedence the last few years but he worked it out and was able to make the trip this time.
Our first evening was spent catching up with our outfitter, Larry Ellis, and reliving hunts of the past. He is a whitetail fanatic and spirits were high as we looked at the pictures of the many bucks that were roaming the canyons and river bottoms on the ranch we would be hunting for the next week. The fire, the laughter, and the porterhouse steaks only added to the experience. Daylight would come early so stories were finished and lights were dimmed for somewhere in the brush the glow from Orion glistened off of the mahogany antlers of a wise buck.
It was still dark as we traveled the caliche roads, dropping hunters at strategic spots along the river bottom. Larry was leading the way, while Sam rode with me. At exactly 6:13, the morning sky came to life with a ball of fire that was indescribable. A light so bright, with an almost endless tail, illuminated the entire western sky for what seemed like minutes. Sam and I both exclaimed at the same time, “look at that.” The giant meteor that fell from the atmosphere had taken our thoughts from rutting whitetails to what we had just seen. Larry stopped his truck and walked back to us to talk about it. We were awestruck.
A meteor, also called a shooting star, is the visible passage of a glowing meteoroid through the Earth’s atmosphere. The word meteor comes from the Greek “meteoros,” meaning “high in the air.” Though meteors appear huge as they fall, in reality many are no larger than a grain of sand. Travelling at speeds typically greater than 45,000 miles per hour, the aerodynamic heating of the meteoroid creates this phenomenon known as a meteor. If by chance this object impacts the earth, it is then called a meteorite.
Various colors can be emitted from a meteor depending on its mineral composition. As sodium layers abrade, an orange-yellow color is exhibited. With magnesium, there will be blue-green. Violet will be seen as calcium is degraded, and red will be visible from atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen.
Although meteors have been recorded since ancient times, they were not known to be astronomically significant until the early 19th century. Prior to this, they were noted in the West as an atmospheric phenomenon but were not connected with objects falling through the atmosphere.
As I sat on a river bluff watching for cruising bucks, I couldn’t help but think of what we had witnessed in the pre-dawn darkness. What were the odds that we were in the right place at the right time to see this streak of light. I wondered how many others were out and about and had seen what we did? Had we been back in Mississippi, it would have already been daylight and we would have never been afforded the opportunity to watch it.
As we gathered after the morning hunt conversation was primarily about the bucks that were seen. Each day of the hunt however, someone would bring up the meteor. As we sat around the fire in the evenings, eyes would casually search the darkness for a possible encore. I don’t know if any wishes were made after seeing the falling star, but of course you can’t tell anyone if you did for the wish won’t come true. I’ll say this though, several bucks came back home with us. I wonder if those hunters made a wish when the heavens were ablaze in the Oklahoma skies?
We’re already planning our next excursion. Without a doubt as we sit around the next campfire someone will say, “do y’all remember that falling star?” and we’ll reflect on another hunt from the past. Keep your eyes to the sky as you enjoy the solitude of camp with good friends around a campfire. Who knows, you may be treated to your own lightshow.
Until next time enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it.