It’s Finally Fall
November 17, 2015
It was recently pointed out to me that we’re halfway through November, and my most current post here on the Hog Blog was at the end of October. That’s just shameful, isn’t it?
So here’s a little something…
It’s been a pretty typical fall here in southeastern NC. Summer and winter are slugging it out. One day dawns in the low forties or upper thirties, and the next is pushing its way above 80 degrees. The leaves have turned colors and are dropping like rain. The pecans and walnuts have been dropping too. We’ve picked several coffee cans full, and the neighbors are filling five gallon buckets.
We had the first frost over the weekend. According to local farmers’ lore, that means the collards are ready (which is a good thing, with Thanksgiving right around the corner). It’s also time, according to the old-timers, to hunt squirrels, since the “wolves” are gone. “Wolves” are actually just botfly larvae, harmless enough as far as the meat goes, but seeing one pop out while you’re skinning a bushytail can sure put you off your feed. Cold weather knocks the flies back, so you’re not likely to encounter the nasty little buggers after the first frost of the year. Of course, in Texas I hunted squirrels in all seasons, but now that I’m home, I enjoy the tradition.
I’ve been deer hunting since the archery opener in September, but there’s something sort of special about being in the woods when the chill is settling and the leaves are falling. I’ve tried many times to describe the smell of dirt and leaves and pine trees, but bringing it together in words always falls short. But there are times, sitting quiet in the stand, that it comes together in a heady rush and takes away my breath for a moment or two.
Deer activity during shooting light has dropped off a bit, due mainly to the weekly pressure of dog drives and pickup trucks. I’m still seeing a few does and yearlings, but that big boy has become a ghost (maybe literally, if he happened to drift off of my place to the neighbors’). I’ve still got work to do as far as scouting and setting stands, but much of that will have to wait until next year. In the meantime, the season goes on… and will until January 1.
The second phase of waterfowl season opened this weekend (the season here is split into three phases). Kat and I made it out for a bit on the opener. This isn’t exactly my old stomping grounds, so I wasn’t sure what kind of pressure I’d run into, but when I pulled into the public boat landing, the place was empty. We were the only boat on this section of the river. Unfortunately, our boat is a canoe, and due to the unusually wet year we’ve had, the river was running hard. It was all I could do, even with Kat paddling, to maintain headway into the stream.
Still, it was a pretty morning. I found a likely looking fork in the river and pulled us into the overhanging brush. My decoys aren’t rigged for this sort of water, so I didn’t put any out at first. They probably would have helped, as the wood ducks were soon all over the place, just looking for a place to land. As it turned out, we were also on the wrong side of the river. The birds popped out of the treeline right overhead, and were gone before we could even raise the guns… if we even saw them. But I learn from my mistakes, so I have a better plan for the next trip.
I have also been lucky enough to be offered a piece of private swamp to hunt. The place has been flooded by beavers, and the landowner said the ducks get pretty thick in there. My first venture was thwarted by a lack of knowledge, but it was good scouting. I’m pretty excited about the place, especially as the migration brings more birds into the area. I anticipate good mallard shooting here, in addition to the ubiquitous wood ducks.
Fall is falling, hard, and I find myself falling into my element, just as hard.
So, stay tuned if you will.