OUR TIME OF THE YEAR
Leaves are just beginning to change into their fall colors and the woods are taking on that “AUTUMN” smell which is difficult to describe in words, but if you have spent much time in the outdoors your nose will tell you cooler weather is just around the corner. The smell I am attempting to describe is a mixture of decaying vegetation combined with the pungent aroma of ripening persimmon, berries from the sumac plant, ripe acorns and pecans hitting the ground, and what is left of the hulls of muscadine grapes that ripened a month or so ago. And… a thousand other combined smells that I can’t attempt to categorize. But I really don’t have to; you know the scents I am referring to. It is our time of the year.
In a couple of weeks, the eerie calls from those first early migrating white fronted geese will be heard from overhead, especially on a still, cool evening. Specklebellies are always the first of the geese to head south. A cold front way up in Canada or Alaska will have given them the cue to wing their way south, just as they have done for eons. In a couple more weeks, their cousins, the Snow and Canada geese will begin their long journey down the flyway to spend the winter in warmer climes.
Bow season for whitetail deer opened in North Texas this past weekend. The opener always serves as my wakeup call that fall is really here! I have a little spot about a mile from my house that at times is frequented by some really fine bucks, but it takes the rut to push them off a big cattle ranch that is adjacent the property. My trail cameras have evidenced a couple of small bucks and doe, but the big boys won’t begin to wander through my patch of woods until the scent of one of the resident doe entices them from their home turf, and that will happen sometime near the last week of October and continue through November.
But there is only one opener and I couldn’t miss “being there” in my ladder stand, which overlooks a grove of post oaks that are covered in acorns. At first light on opening morning, a sounder of hogs moved through the area, vacuuming up the acorns that had recently fallen and, the corn that I distribute by hand around the area. Any other time, I would have attempted to put one of the smaller ‘eater’ hogs on the meat pole with my Darton bow; but this was the opener of deer season and I felt obligated to limit my hunt to deer only. There’s lots of time to collect my wild pork later. I figure that the acorns are the real reason the game is there, but a few gallons of corn scattered around the area will help keep hogs and deer coming and they will stay longer when they do show up.
Early fall is the time I contemplate and plan my upcoming hunting season. There is a heavy growth of aquatic plants in the back wood ponds where I hunt ducks. Nature has provided a bounty of food this year, all that is needed is a strong northern to blow down out of Canada in a month or so and push the big flights of gadwall, widgeon, and ringneck ducks into the area. Usually by the first of December, the harvested grain fields of the upper Midwest are iced over, that is when the mallards, the most regal of all ducks begin to show.
Just a month or so ago, I left Colorado’s high country on our annual elk and bear hunt. The aspens were just beginning to change into their brilliant hues of yellow.
In about three weeks, I will be making a return trip to the mountains of New Mexico for a chance at a big mule deer buck. By then, the first week of November, winter will have come calling to the high country and up on the Continental Divide, those aspens that I left all aglow in September will be barren of leaves. There will probably be snow, which is always a good thing for the deer and elk hunter. The changing of the seasons causes the big game animals to take a clue from the waterfowl and head to their wintering grounds, the warmer valleys in the lower country where they spend the cold weather months. I love hunting elk with archery equipment when the bulls are bugling in September, but I much prefer going after those big mule deer bucks after the mountains have felt winter’s first chill, when they are on the move feeding heavily where they find abundant feed and staying on the move when the groceries become scarce.
Squirrel season is now open in east Texas. It never closes in much of the state, but it seems most of the serious bushytail hunters are from the eastern part of Texas. I am making plans to join a good friend for an early morning air rifle squirrel hunt. My plan is to use my .45 caliber Texan air rifle by Airforce Airguns with a 138 grain oversized pellet. This combination should prove lethal on squirrels. I have the rig shooting dead on at 35 yards, the average range most squirrels are killed. A big skillet of smothered squirrel and gravy with a pot of rice on the side. As they say, “It just doesn’t get any better that that!”
Listen to outdoors with Luke Clayton and Friends weekends on radio stations from Nebraska to Texas or anytime online at www.catfishradio.com.