Fall Is Coming

September 4, 2014

I felt it last night.

It didn’t come like I’d expected, blowing down on a high pressure system out of the north.  No, this came from an unexpected quarter, as the outer bands of tropical storm Dolly washed up from Mexico, the cool winds blew up from the southwest.

But I felt it.

I wrapped up work for the evening and stepped out onto the front porch.

Instead of the stifling, oven-like air that has greeted me for so many weeks, there was a coolness.  It wasn’t “brisk”.  Definitely not “chilly”.  But cool.  Mid-70s cool, which is, you know, pretty damned nice at the end of a long, Texas summer.

Dove season opened a couple of days ago, and against my better judgment, I went on out on opening afternoon.  I hadn’t seen a bird move against the bright, blue sky all day.  When I got out there, I knew why.  My weather station told me it was 97 degrees, with a heat index in the neighborhood of 104.  The humidity was so high, it felt like breathing water as Iggy and I walked across the pasture.  By the time I found a place to sit, in the shade of a cedar bush, I was already soaked with sweat.

Three birds hopped up from the trees as I walked in, but in the heat they only flew 50 yards or so… just enough to stay out of range… before setting back down into a denser part of the thicket.

On a cooler day, I’d have pursued them.  Then again, on a cooler day, they’d have flown much further.

Nothing else flew.

I lasted less than an hour before I said, “the hell with it,” and came back to the house.

No matter what the regulations said, it wasn’t “hunting season” yet.

Last night, though…  last night gave me a hint of what’s coming.

It won’t last, of course.  Even this morning, the humidity has built back in and I can tell the heat is coming back when the sun gets up.  Summer is far from over.

But it gave me the first taste, and that taste aroused something that has been relatively dormant throughout the torpor of summertime.

Two weeks from today, I’ll be packing up the bow and some gear and pointing the truck toward Colorado.  Somewhere in the wilderness, high above Montrose, I hope to encounter an elk.  If all goes well, I’ll be driving home with a cooler full of fresh meat.  And if not, I’ll still have spent a week hiking the high country.  And up there, it will feel like hunting season.  I’ve been watching the weather up there, at least in Montrose, where it’s been in the 70s and 80s during the day, with temperatures dropping to the mid-low 50s at night.  Up in the Uncompahgre, it will be even cooler.

I expect (hope) the first of the aspens will be starting to turn.  The elk will be in, or near, the rut.  Bulls will be bugling through the canyons and over the ridgetops.  They feel it too.

By the time I return to the Hill Country, October will be in the wings and the worst of the Texas summer heat will have receded.

Last night, that promise was carried on the wind.




8 Responses to “Fall Is Coming”

  1. Fall Is Coming | on September 4th, 2014 10:41

    […] Fall Is Coming […]

  2. Chad Love on September 4th, 2014 11:14

    And it can’t come soon enough. Sweltering through the first wek of dove season is a tradition, but so is that first September cold front, and it gets here on Saturday. Can’t wait.

    Good luck in Colorado. A freezer full of elk would be nice. I was kicking around the idea of seeing if I could find someone selling a landowner cow tag for northern New Mexico, since I’m close, but even if I did, I don’t think I can swing the money this year, so I’m going to try to get an extra deer or two.

  3. Phillip on September 4th, 2014 12:01

    It gets harder, every year, to get psyched up for the dove season, Chad. I think it’s mostly because, usually, it’s just me. I’ve got a regular crop of birds on my place, but I’d have to hunt all day to shoot a 15 bird limit… and I’m not even sure I want to shoot that many all at once. So it becomes a question of whether I want to go sweat in the pasture for two hours to kill six birds (a big meal for Kat and myself).

    I know a lot of dove openers back in NC were just as hot and miserable, but it was a big, social event as well as (usually) some pretty good shooting.

    I hear ya on affording CO. This is my first return in seven years, and I’ve been jonesing hard. As much as I’d like to make it an annual event, it’s just hard to prioritize that much money and time every season… especially when I’ve got no shortage of venison right here in my backyard. As it is, if I’m successful on elk it’s going to put a big dent in my deer hunting for no reason other than I’ll have no freezer space. Tough spot to be in, huh?

  4. Dave on September 4th, 2014 14:30

    Freezers are cheap…..

  5. Mike C on September 4th, 2014 21:45

    Well written. I really enjoyed reading it.

    Good luck when it gets cooler.

  6. Phillip on September 5th, 2014 07:43

    Thanks, Mike. It’s funny, how much I used to long for summer, heat and all, but nowadays I’m a little more partial to fall. I wonder if, when I’m older, I’ll feel this way about winter?

  7. ian on September 5th, 2014 12:59

    Wow, lucky you. I’ve driven by the Uncompahgre Plateau a bunch en route to Telluride and always gazed up wistfully, imagining how many animals must be up there!

    How’d you manage that? My in-laws live in Colo and have been trying to fig out how to get a hunt on out there.

  8. Phillip on September 5th, 2014 13:21

    Heya, Ian.

    If you bowhunt, Unit 62 is an over-the-counter tag. You can go cow only, or either-sex. It’s a big area with a lot of wilderness. For rifle hunting, the first season is typically best, and that’s a draw tag… but you can usually draw the first or second year.

    Unit 61 is the trophy unit up there, and is much harder to draw. If I recall correctly (and that’s always a big “if”), last time I asked it was taking non-residents about 12 years to pull a tag.

    I’ve been up there a few times with an outfitter I sort of stumbled on, Dark Timber Lodge ( Rick runs a good, clean operation, and his lodge straddles the line between 61 and 62. If you don’t have local knowledge or time to scout, I definitely recommend looking into an outfitter. But the place is loaded with elk, including a few real studs.