Easing toward normal in the Pennsylvania outdoors
It seems somewhat strange, but last year at this time I was roaming over nearby corn stubble fields in search of full cobs that had escaped the harvester, mainly for the benefit of the squirrels and song birds that visit my feeders regularly.
Of course, that was one of my ways of adhering to the national shutdown advisory of keeping a structured distance from others due to COVID-19.
It was a strange new experience, having to separate from other people, wearing masks and generally being in a state of extensive shutdown. My outdoor episodes were singular, and with the cancellation of the trout season beginning, life overall was certainly different for outdoor minded people.
When later, the surprise opening of trout fishing across Pennsylvania was announced, it was welcomed. But even that event was bordered with bizarre conditions such as distancing and mask wearing, plus changes in the manner in which inseason stockings were conducted.
Spring gobbler season came with directives not to travel throughout the state, and summer passed with absolutely too much time spent at home doing chores around the house and yard that felt like a lenient form of imprisonment, besides being incredibly boring.
Hunting seasons could not come soon enough, and when dove and early Canada goose seasons, and finally archery hunting, were available for outdoor pursuits, those openings provided a huge sense of relief from the impression of being locked in.
Small and big game seasons made life seem a bit more customary, even if the majority of time outdoors pursuing those game species was spent alone. However, being alone in deer woods produced some mighty racked bucks that passed through my sight area this past hunting year, and even though I failed to get a shot, the thrill of their moving onward took away momentarily, any thoughts I had concerning the everyday world.
Throw in snow geese migrating through my home area, and normal times seemed darn close when I sat in blinds with friends hunting the white fowl.
So now, this coming weekend will see the Mentored Youth Trout Day on Saturday, and the following Saturday, the opening of the regular trout season, both statewide events.
I’m hopeful that people still follow recommendations from the medical profession in regard to safe behavior concerning the virus when heading to streams and lakes for trout, keeping in mind this disease is still able to exact terrible outcomes for some who are infected.
I’m also hopeful that this small occurrence, which is a return to an almost normal opening of trout fishing, will fill people with a sense of cheer and enjoyment, believing that we’re on track to winning this unwelcome battle, and returning to life as we knew it to be.