Monday, September 1, 2014

Opening days are rewards in themselves

Please don’t say that season openers are no big deal.

There are a big deal; for me, anyway, and I guess for more than a few other hunters who relish the lack of sleep, don’t mind a bunch gulping crow-dark coffee bought from some quick-fill pit-stop service plaza and eating so-called “breakfast sandwiches” made a fortnight ago and left to mummify under those infernal heat lamps.

I’m not complaining, mind you; really, I’m not.

In truth I’d have it no other way. Which is why I’m always amazed whenever I hear someone say he won’t be going afield this year, the excuse being “I’m too busy with (fill in the blank).”

I’ve never heard of someone on his deathbed saying “If only I had gone to work more instead of taking in so many (fill in the blank) season openers.”

Of course season openers can be better. For starters I’d like better and fresher brewed coffee along with a breakfast sandwich where one can distinguish the bread from the sausage from the egg from the genuine artificially enhanced cheese.

And yet none of this found me complaining any when Ohio kicked off the start of the statewide early Canada goose-only hunting season today. The same day, by-the-way, that Ohio also opened the gate to the statewide squirrel-hunting season and the first component of the dove-hunting season.

It was geese I chose to seek out on today’s trifecta of openers. As is my usual procedure come September 1st, too.

Not that I have anything against either squirrels or doves. Just the opposite, if truth be told and if you had a mind to ask me. In the past I’ve taken advantage of opening the door to a new hunting year by shooting doves.

But the dove fields at the Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area have fallen on hard and lean times. I won’t go into why that is and please excuse me for not getting started on that rather touchy subject.

Let’s just say, I figured my chances were better finding willing geese on a friend’s small lake than expecting doves to sashay onto Mosquito’s hard scrapple and rather misnamed “dove fields.”

Be that as it may, geese it was, just as geese it will be when the general waterfowl-hunting season commences in about six or seven weeks.

Those aren’t the only openers I’ll engage in for the 2014-2015 hunting year, either. 
There will be the one for the statewide archery deer-hunting season, and another for the restricted two-day, antlerless-only muzzle-loading deer-hunting.

Then there is the fall turkey-hunting season opener and the start for the general small-game hunting season. Not lost either is the beginning of the general firearms deer-hunting season along with the opener of the statewide muzzle-loading deer-hunting season.

Plus the reboots of seasons that went out for a spell and will return again for another go-round.

Yeah, that’s a lot of openers to remember and I try my darndest not to forget any of them.

Even my church’s late minister once took note of my obsession, if you will, with season openers. He commented (correctly, I hasten to add) some years ago that if there was a season opener on English sparrows I’d participate in that one as well.

Pastor John Ashbrook was closer to nailing it than even he knew.

An Ohio Division of Wildlife biologist who has since retired would laugh long and loud when I would call him after the crow season opener, requesting data on the subject.

So I do take my season openers seriously. A goodly reason for that is my level of preparatory activity that goes into most of these seasons.

There are hunting blinds to erect, duck and goose decoy anchor ropes to unsnarl, game feeders to fill with corn, trail cameras to set, and landowners to say “howdy” to also.

Oh, and not to forget the trips to the rifle range and the archery range. Those vital trips are intended to check to see if the squirrel-killing .22-caliber rifles, slug shotguns and muzzle-loading rifles are still zeroed tightly or need some tweaking.

One cannot forget rummaging through the heavy-duty plastic clothes boxes in order to fish out the proper gear, either. Nor night after night spending time poring through a deep stack of outdoors catalogs to determine if I have missed some essential piece of gear.

Trust me; I’m not going to forget the requirement of working with my two Labrador retrievers, Berry and Millie.

Yes, sir, a monstrous amount of time, energy - and can’t forget , coin - is spent getting ready for Ohio’s many hunting season openers.

So when this year’s Canada goose-only early season came and went without me seeing one bird I was disappointed. Importantly, however, I was not discouraged anymore than I regretted going hunting instead of following the lead of fellow outdoors writer Paul Liikaka.

Paul never gave a thought about geese let alone the date being an opening day. Nope, Paul and two friends had no difficulty harnessing up a 90-fish limit of Lake Erie yellow perch while I stared for five hours into a goose-less sky.

Thing is, I still believe I got the better of the deal. My dogs got themselves all tuckered out; I took pride in my handiwork of sprucing up the goose-hunting blind and I clucked with satisfaction the placement of the decoys along with happily noting I hadn’t forgotten this or that piece of essential gear.

Okay, I didn’t shoot a goose on the early season opener. It was no big deal; not when I know there are a passel more season openers up the road.

Shoot, I might even come up with one of my own; maybe declaring a day in May as my very own personal English sparrow opener. Which means I’ll have to buy for myself one of those expensive, tricked-out .177-caliber air rifles.

Yeah, I think that would bring a smile to Pastor Ashbrook’s face.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.


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