Late-winter tinkering bides time ‘til spring in Pennsylvania’s outdoors
This is the time of year when I begin to drive my wife crazy.
Though the words are never muttered, I’m certain she must sense the restless demeanor I carry around like a heavy cloud waiting to burst. She shakes her head, occasionally rolls her eyes, and sometimes just smiles when I come up with another hair-brained idea of how to spend the weekend while infusing my love for the outdoors.
I’ll admit she’s a trooper. Most times, her response is: “That’s fine, honey,” or “Have fun.” I appreciate the regular green-light opportunities to put my pent-up childlike energy into something recreationally productive, even if it means compromise in other areas. We’re a good team, and we always make it work. I’m sure I irritate her from time to time, but she gets me — thankfully.
So the past few weeks have been spent “passing the time” until spring activities really kick back into full swing again. Nevertheless, I’ve enjoyed keeping busy, such as tapping the maple trees lining my back yard and revealing their syrupy sweetness after hours of boiling the sap on an open fire.
The conglomeration of hunting gear littering my den and garage warranted a rainy-day stop at a local retail store to purchase several large storage totes. After an entire Saturday devoted to stowing my treasures and pitching worn out gear, I’m now more organized, and that uneasy feeling of disheveled hopelessness has finally subsided.
Two brisk morning walks found me scouring the family farm for cast deer antlers. Though I covered lots of ground, my ever-scanning eyes only picked out two small sheds – a matched set — piled up in a washout of leaves from a steady rain. The walks were good exercise, and they allowed me to scout for turkey and deer sign — providing useful information for future hunts beyond the bonus of bone.
Another morning was dedicated to building wood duck nesting boxes with my fellow Ducks Unlimited Chapter members. Many hands make light work, and the five of us were able to hammer out one shy of a dozen in just a few hours. These were hung the following weekend with the help of local Cub Scouts in a nearby wetlands restoration area. It felt good to help give wildlife a boost, even if frozen boards and metal power tools don’t feel good on numb fingers.
Coincidentally, with the realization that state-raised trout are already being bucketed into Stocked Trout Waters across the Southeast Region, my fingers had a prime opportunity to warm up while re-stocking my fly box with buggy-looking nymphs in anticipation of slinging some fly line.
It’s been quite some time since my tying vice has seen any action, and the workmanship of my flies probably reflects that hiatus. However, I’m hoping my questionable imitations are still good enough to fool some extra-hungry lunkers, though the jury’s still out on that one.
When it comes to late winter, it’s all about biding one’s time until spring’s magnificent arrival. Though February and March may be two of the least glamorous months on the outdoor calendar, it doesn’t mean you can’t still be productive.
As long as your spouse grants you permission.