How do you know it's a whippoorwill? It says it's name;
whippoorwill ...whippoorwill...whippoorwill. It does it right at dusk and like a Swiss watch the Whippoorwill is accurate.
When I fly fish I loose track of time and when the Brookies are biting it is easy to let the dark creep up on you. The river proper stays very light late into the night at this time of year, but the forest back to the car will be pitch black. Walking in the dense dark woods along the river can be very hard on you and your rod tip. Tripping over dead fallen trees, branches slapping you in the face, did I mention unidentifiable loud sounds only yards away? The river isn't much easier to travel. Even though lighter than the game trails (easier to walk along a trail deer ,and other animals, have carved out in the woods), in the river you can't see the holes and logs in the water. Have you ever said..."I've got myself in trouble this time ", apply that here. A flashlight is a last resort. It's limited beam is like looking through a pipe, peripheral vision is non existent. Traveling with a flashlight can be problematic, weak batteries or bulb failure can be a very bad situation. I never carry one. When I need it...it never works and when you think you have a light and it doesn't work, your in deep #%X#. The solution is...always night fish a familiar part of the river. Be able to recognize tall trees silhouetted against the sky and of course know direction. You always have the North Star, if the sky is clear, but even then traveling 100 yards can take a hour...ouch. iPhones and flashlights are nice, but a well charged battery is nicer, and what if that did happen? The punishment for bad judgement is a night in the forest, an upset family, and lots of embarrassment. So take the Whippoorwill's advice, when you hear his call start your exit plan, time to leave and get back to the car. Brook trout seem to stop feeding just as the Whippoorwill calls. Brown trout fly fishers stay well into the dark but stay at one hole with the exit path in sight or float from one bridge to the next with several flashlights in the boat. You must always have a plan if you are going to stay out until dark.
The Whippoorwill is nocturnal, such a peaceful bird, shy and harmless. At night they fly over the forest canopy, diving with long thin wings vibrating like a strummed rubber band...vrrrrrrm. They eat bugs like the mosquito. They disappear at dawn roosting in barns and abandoned buildings, on the ground, or a branch. They lay their eggs on the ground and are preyed upon by coyotes, foxes and feral cats. They are confused with Chuck-will's-widow or the Night Hawk.
This past week my son Hunter and I did a night trip. I parked the car upstream and waited for him on an old logging trail next to the river. I have always told him, fish in the evening alone, use stealth and work the holes, you will catch some big ones. He timed it right arriving at the car as the Whippoorwill called (10:00 PM). He caught several Brookies in the 12 inch class; large for Brook Trout. Though I didn't fish, his stories and pictures excited us both. My reward was my son admitting, "Now I know what your talking about - dark at night and the Whippoorwill".
That's a first!
Sweet Is The Lore That Nature Brings