Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is hunting season winding up? (Or winding down?)

I'm in a race against the clock. Or more specifically, the calendar.

Ohio's hunting seasons are reaching a crescendo; the early phase of the archery deer, fall turkey, waterfowl and squirrel seasons nearing their ends.

But the biggie - the general deer firearms hunting season - is fast approaching and will arrive Nov. 30. Expect that about 420,000 Ohio hunters will take to the field for seven days, many of them for the season opener.

And they are expected to shoot between 115,000 and 125,000 deer. For some of the successful hunters this will be their first deer and for others, their last.

Just how much the hunting pot is stirred is seen in the fact that more hunting licenses are sold the Friday after Thanksgiving to the Sunday after Thanksgiving than at any other time of the year.

Obviously then the general deer firearms hunting season is important. Not just in terms of deer killed or people participating, either.

The many circulars now going out from area sporting goods stores and gun shops are full of advertisements for deer-hunting slugs and sabots as well as deer-hunting shotguns and rifles (for those who hunt out of state). It's an exceptionally busy time.

Yet there is a certain melancholy about the arrival of the gun season. It is the pivotal point of the hunting year. Tipped in one direction and it points to the end of what came before. Which for me was jammed with activity.

But when the archery season resumes and the second phase of the waterfowl season starts don't expect a lot of activity for either from most other hunters.

Besides, the holidays will put a crimp on hunting activity. Men will be drafted into shopping and putting up the Christmas decorations, leaving little time to hunt.

Oh, there will be the hound men who'll be seeking rabbits during the day or raccoons at night but the bulk of the hunting activity will be dying embers.

I am disappointed too, though I have only me to blame. Along the way I had promised myself that I'd take another shot at bagging a fall turkey and using my .22-caliber rifle on a squirrel hunt. But I never kept either of those pledges.

Still, if the farm pond is open and ice free come Dec. 7 I'll be there with my two Labrador retrievers in the hope of shooting another goose or two.

And as long as I can drive back on a short access road to a piece of property I regularly visit I'll continue to drop off bait alongside my deer-hunting blind. It will no doubt be a lonely, cold vigil of a hunt knowing that the woodlot contains fewer though, wiser, deer.

But the late season archery deer hunt is something I've done many times before. To do otherwise risks being called a fair-weather hunter. And while I am fast approaching the 60-year-old mark I'm not ready to assume that title. No yet anyway.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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