Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Oktoberfest — it is a term relevant to Pa. hunters, anglers, too

There is always an incomparable feeling the moment I flip the calendar hanging on the wall of my “computer room” from September to October.

I know that hot daytime temperatures and uncomfortable nights are finally on the wane, and that within a couple of weeks I may have to build a fire and finally begin digging into the seasoned pile of wood I’ve sweated to save.

Looking at that new page, I know that "my time" has finally arrived again, and it's the season to be in woodlands and fields hunting deer and small game.

Also, I perceive the urge to be along a body of water, decoys floating in front of me, while I watch gray speckled skies for incoming ducks.

I can envision myself on a nearby stream, casting flies, and loving the subsequent bend in my rod when I hook into the year’s final brace of stocked trout.

The start of hunting seasons seem to rush forward in October, almost as if their beginnings are hitched together, one right after another. And from what I’ve seen this year, those seasons should be exciting, providing many hours of delight.

In the section of forest where I’ve been cutting my firewood supply, there is ample sign of whitetail deer. Tracks — big and small — show up in the piles of sawdust I leave behind. There are a couple of buck rubs on saplings, and just last week I saw my first scrape.

Squirrels, perhaps the most under harvested of all game species, are everywhere. In the woods I’ve visited, walnuts and hickory nuts are falling in huge numbers. Fat gray bushy-tails know this, and bounce around with little fear. Squirrel season is the perfect time to get a young hunter some frequent action, plus a harvest of scrumptious meat.

From reports, it appears the local duck populace experienced an excellent nesting season. That’s good news, for the October hunting of them is more about resident populations than the migrants that will move through the state on the big cold fronts of November and December. In most areas, that means mallards and wood ducks will provide the best action, along with some green winged teal.

Although migrant Canada geese cannot be hunted until November in my area of the state, there have been some early arrivals of this fowl. I can recognize migrants by the fields they now visit, where they roost and the bigger flock size in which they travel.

Just to hear and watch them pitching from the sky in October, stirs in the back of my mind the thinking of days that I will be lying in corn stubble within a huge spread of fakes, waiting for the big birds.

October is a time to begin the pursuit of rabbits and grouse, their numbers at their respective peak. A good friend has a beagle for the former, and a springer for the latter.

Listening to the beagle’s howl, or watching the spaniel’s surplus of energy as she moves back and forth for the scent of a bird, is priceless.

October also marks the beginning of pheasant hunting, both for youth and adults. And although it differs from the days of my formative years when wild birds flourished, it is no less exciting nor fulfilling.

That little flip of my calendar's page alerts me to the things I must now do, and that is simply to get outdoors and enjoy a festive month.

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