I live about 20 minutes from a very special bike trail here the Midwest. The Tunnel Hill Trail. It is a rail trail that carves its way through some beautiful sections of the Shawnee National Forest. I have managed to ride it almost every month this year, and this weekend I realized I had not hit it in November and we had a spectacular day today.
Got to the trail about 10am. 39 degrees and climbing to 50 for the day. Blue sky, little wind, perfect. I got all geared up and took off. My plan was the 20 mile out and back that takes in the trestles and the 600 ft tunnel. At 3 miles, a couple deer ran in front of me. Cool, happens almost every ride here. Another mile, a couple more and this time they are flying. As I approached the 4th trestle about 7 miles, I saw a deer jump from a short, maybe 15 foot rock ledge onto the trail. It stopped looked at me, and then BOOM, a gunshot. The deer flinched but froze. Another BOOM, but this time the slug from the gun bounced between the rock cut that the deer and i were in. After the deer ran, I rode around the corner and onto the bridge and stopped to gather myself (code for, check for poop).
As I looked around to see the if I could see where the hunter was, I noticed 5 orange vest scattered out through the hills. Holy Crap I forgot that this was one of Illinois two firearm/deer weekends. I looked down at myself and realized that I looked like the first section on the right as you walk into Gander Mountain. Grey Shimano shoes, Black wool tights, drab gray padded baggies, Olive green fleece vest and a dark tan ball cap backwards. i was invisible among gray, brown and black trees and leaves.
At first I felt indignant. I had the right to be where I was, but I did not feel safe. My logic was that this was Sunday and if the hunter was still out here, they had not gotten their deer yet and were probably getting desperate. I decided to head back and not finish my ride. I was singing and whistling as loud as I could. I am sure I pissed some hunters off. I also notice as I rode back, the 7 hunters that I missed on the ride up. They were perched up in trees, one directly over me in the trail. Not for sure about the legality of that one?
Better safe then sorry. Besides, i can ride again another day. Those poor schmucks only get 6 days out the year to maximize their cost of guns, hotels, permits, booze, hookers, gas money and all the other necessities required to stand in the cold and shoot helpless creatures.
I took the bike back to my town and rode through raked leaf piles along streets. It was actually more fun then my planned ride. Great day in the end.