Saturday, September 01, 2007

Hooray! My Favorite Time Of Year Is Coming Up.


There is no doubt about it. I march to a different drummer than most people.

For instance: most folks love summer. Not me, and in fact, it is my least favorite of the four seasons. Hot and humid weather is terrible, and since the only water sports I enjoy are fishing in it and duck hunting over it, I could leave summer out of my personal calendar. Hotrodding around in a boat seems boring to me; riding a crotch rocket (personal water craft) is perhaps the last thing I would do with my free time, and water skiing doesn’t turn me on.

No offense meant to those who enjoy those water sports, but they are not for me. Which is why I love September.

Most of the boating and riding of personal water craft has ended. The hordes of people have returned to the cities from whence they came, and a certain kind of peace seems to settle over northern lands, lakes, streams and woods. I don’t miss all the hub-bub, and certainly don’t miss the noise, crazy drivers and the heat.

Each of us has personal preferences, and my opinions on certain things often are expressed in this daily blogs. What follows are my thoughts and feelings, and in some case, my reasons for feeling as I do. It’s not my intention to ridicule any of the above watery pastimes, but they are not for me and that’s why September means so much to me.

September kicks off autumn. Perhaps the calendars don’t say agree, but that’s of no concern to me. Once Labor Day ends, my idea is to spend time on our lakes and streams, wander the woods, and get ready for the archery deer season which opens a month from today. The weather is cooler now, and this serves as a harbinger of the upcoming autumn.

The leaves will gradually start changing colors, and October is my favorite month of the year. September is merely the prelude to the wonders of fall color. I’m dutifully impressed with the color change in our foliage, and anticipate those golden yellow days of early autumn when a brilliant sun offers side lighting to the panoramic view of full fall colors as we approach the peak, and the sun pulls the maximum amount of color out of the leaves. My eye soaks up that change like a kitchen sponge picking up spilled water.

Later this month will be the exciting supercharged flush of a ruffed grouse in late September that kick-starts our heart into beating at an overtime rate, and the spiraling upward flush of a woodcock as it towers over the tops of 8-foot alders and popples that offer a majestic sight. Never mind that I miss more birds than I hit. Missing makes no difference to me: I’m in love with what nature offers in mid- to late-September.

It’s a time when big chinook salmon run upstream to spawn, and fly fishing for them is something I’ve done for 40 years. I don’t fish them as hard now as I did in the late 1960s because back then I was guiding fly fishermen to huge kings. Now, I guide just myself. It’s a test of my will against a big salmon that wants to surge downstream and it forces me to follow. Sometimes the fish is landed and sometimes it is not. That’s why they call it fishing, and it’s why fall is so special. It feeds my appetite for adventure afield.

September offers me more opportunities to scout for whitetail deer. I average 86 days of deer hunting each year. That gives me ample opportunity to have bucks within easy bow range once the October season opens. This preseason scouting teaches me where deer come from, where they go, and most important of all, why the animals choose that particular travel corridor. To study deer movements is to learn more about the animals, and with this increased knowledge comes more opportunities for a shot.

For me, sitting in a ground blind or tree stand and fooling a buck and the ever-present does, is a contest of wills. Mine versus theirs, and to do this on a consistent basis means more to me than shooting an animal.

September is a happy song about the passing of August and an even happier ditty about the joys of this month. Capturing the spirit of September means embracing the changes and looking forward to future changes. As surely as September follows August, October will follow September, and then comes November and the cold and snow of December. I’d rather see a snowy day anytime than one with 85-degree temperatures.

The thought of just one more month before bow season starts almost makes me delirious with pleasure. So, if you’ll excuse me now, it’s time to shoot a dozen arrows at my basement target. See you here tomorrow.

Posted by Dave Richey on 09/01 at 07:28 PM
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