Thursday, October 28, 2010

Half-way through year's best outdoors time

Just give me the same four weeks all year long and I’ll be one very happy camper.

Those weeks are the last two in October and the first two in November. Unfortunately, we are closing in on the half-way mark of this deliciously delightful four-week spell.

Golden is the rule now with the color change of the autumn leaves, sparkling ever so more by red-gilded mornings.

Fuse with that are cider-crisp temperatures and maybe a hint of snow and you have the fixings for a good day of pond sitting for migrating Canada geese and late-leaving wood ducks and locally grown mallards.

When that’s not enough - and it never is - the cool-down of an autumn evening makes for a perfect archery deer-hunting sit.

Such was the case yesterday. The farm pond where I’ve set up seven floating goose decoys and a half-dozen mallard duck decoys was riddled with a monstrously large accompaniment of geese. None of which wanted anything to do with the decoy set-up, however. They all took to the pond’s far side; a touch out of range.

It proved maddening but has happened once or twice already this waterfowl hunting season, unfortunately. And unfortunately as well for Blackberry, my squirt of a black Labrador retriever who likes nothing more than to swim after and then return with a dead goose locked in her muzzle.

Berry did have some work to do, though. She fetched a very impressive-looking drake wood duck which had taken a shine to the mallard decoys. It was a costly mistake for the bird but it was a treat for the dog and a welcome addition for the shooter.

Once the huge flock of geese inevitably left - and bearing no scars from any steel shot - the pond went limp, sheltering no more birds except for one drake mallard that lighted without warning and soon left the same way.

I could have waited for a few more hours but such a posting held no guarantees, especially since the day was warming and carried with it the burden of a blue sky. As the next couple of weeks will no doubt promise, we’ll see fewer and fewer opportunities for such soul-comforting days.

That’s fine as the next two weeks are when the state’s deer thoroughly become unhinged. Particularly the bucks. They’re starting to enter the rut which will climax sometime around Veteran’s Day, November 11, give or take one or two days Ohio biologists say.

However, last evening’s wait held little in the way of expectations. It was pretty warm with temperatures in the low 70s. And the wind was returning, stirring the forest’s litter of newly fallen leaves. Such are hardly good archery deer-hunting conditions.

For two hours I looked out from my fabric ground blind, the viewing extending for maybe 75 yards in front.

No deer came within eye-shot; and just as few animals have so far this season. Maybe it’s because the woods are stuffed with white oak acorns and which are providing fat-rich sustenance for the community’s white-tail deer. Or perhaps this autumn’s generally unseasonably pleasant weather is responsible.

It’s all speculation and I doubt that the deer would offer a reason if they were asked.

So this has been (so far) a slower-than-normal favorite four-week pick of the calendar. Of course, I still have two more weeks to go.

There’s always a chance that things will turn around and Berry will fetch a limit of migrating Canada geese or some love-sick, inattentive buck will come within crossbow range.

That would be nice but it’s not a requirement. At this stage in my life I’m happy just to have the opportunity to watch another autumn sunrise climb aboard a new day.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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