October is the month of options
By Dennis Jensen
STAFF WRITER | October 07,2012
Dennis Jensen photo
A mature hen scans the terrain in front of her as a small flock of wild turkeys moves across a cut field in Castleton last week.
Does it get any better than October?
For most sportsmen, it’s a month of decisions. Bear hunting, bow hunting, small game hunting, waterfowl season and the fall wild turkey season.
Throw in the seven-day New York muzzle loading season and you have a month that can mean long days in the woods, perched in a tree stand with a bow, pushing the thickets for cottontails, sitting in a duck blind with a great dog or pushing the woods, hoping to bust up a flock of turkeys.
We will be headed up to Camp Swampy in the great Saint Lawrence Valley next week, where the prospects for the fall “smoke pole” season look very good.
But we’re going to arrive a few days before the opener to put some wood in the woodshed and to get the old camp in shape.
That once-vacant field next to camp is again planted in corn and, according to brother Tom, there are deer tracks everywhere, leading into and out of the corn.
Just last season, Tom put up a tree stand, tucking it just inside the wood line, facing the corn field. Hearing the sound of rustling leaves early one morning, Tom slowly turned his head and, not 15 yards away, a big, white-antlered 8-pointer was on the move, sight-checking the field for any available does.
But it was not to be. Tom is a left-handed shooter and that buck was in the thick cover before he could turn his gun and get off a shot.
Last season was a big bust for me during the fall muzzle loading season. I hunted for six days and never saw a deer. In more than two decades, it was the only time I went without seeing a single deer.
It was warm temperatures and rain that did both myself and Tom in. But Tom’s son Paul managed to take a nice 4-pointer, so the season was not a total bust.
I took a mountain bike ride yesterday and counted nine cottontails on my way in. Never have I seen so many rabbits. There’s some nice rabbit cover up the road a ways and I plan on taking out the shotgun in a couple of days with the hope of some rabbit stew.
Squirrels also seem abundant and I’m not sure why. While we have a good population of oak trees hereabouts, I can’t find any acorns. Hopefully, there are some mast nuts out there because that plays a big role in both deer and turkey hunting.
A fall morning, walking quietly with my .22-calibre rifle, fitted with a scope, is a great way to seek out squirrels. It can also help to sharpen the eye for the coming firearms deer season.
Speaking of wild turkeys, the season opener on Oct. 20 looks promising. We’ll be heading to camp down in Pawlet that weekend, with my old pals Bob Walker and Mike Heaton, who made a great shot on a bird last fall.
One of the biggest regrets I have about October is fishing for bass. Bass can bite in a big way this month but there’s only so much a man can do. The fishing tackle has already been put away.
Even if you don’t hunt, the fall can be a great time to walk the woods. But be smart. After you lace on those hiking boots, be sure to pull on a blaze-orange cap. For good measure, wear an orange vest as well.
With the colors of autumn spread out like nothing any of the great artists could render, the scent of apples and pine needles in the air and the sweet sound of Canada geese winging overhead, there is nothing that matches the month of October.
Get out and enjoy it.