So here we are deep into the dog-days of summer around my parts and since nobody seems keen on letting me onto their property with some cottontail distress calls and a .243WIN, there’s nothing for me to hunt. I’ve never met a community that so loves groundhogs and coyotes that they look past any damage those populations are doing. Oh well.
So what do I do in the meantime to stave off the stir-craziness? Well, I do what every other dyed-in-the-wool hunter does when the hunting stops. I toy around with my gear, I tinker with things I ought not to tinker with, and I rig together solutions for problems that never really existed.
I was fortunate enough last fall to have bluebird weather for pretty much all of my waterfowl hunting. Didn’t get rained on once; and only got a bit damp and dewy one humid morning in late September. Despite that I am fanatically putting the WD-40 to all the dry, un-rusted hinges of my layout blind that prior to me slopping them with gunk were in near-mint condition. I mean downright pristine; now they are kind of shiny and slippery…but I’m good in case I do get some wet weather when I’m goose hunting in a couple of month’s time. In another semi-related example of waterfowling as a mental illness, I am seriously considering weaving together some kind of homemade “stubble-wrap” (it’s like bubble wrap, but more painstakingly manufactured and infinitely less addictive to play with) to put on my layout blind. I endured some mild teasing last goose season for my apparent ineptitude when it came to grassing up my blind, so in an effort to protect my ego, I’m thinking of creating some kind of matrix with lawn clippings, decorative corn stalks from the local craft shop, polymer glue, and chicken-wire. I’m not sure if this would decrease or increase the teasing, but if it garners me another 45 minutes of sleep, I’m all for it.
I also just can’t keep my hands of my firearms right now, and this is something I’ve come to be quite comfortable with over time. It seems that every July and August finds me almost robotically cleaning, oiling and then re-cleaning and re-oiling all of my weapons…even ones I haven’t used since their last cleaning and oiling. To the untrained eye this may seem like classic obsessive-compulsive behaviour. So what, like you’re so well-adjusted?
Game calls have a special place in my heart, as anyone who frequents this forum is well aware of. The summer months become a symphony of wilderness sounds in my house, as I tune up goose and duck calls for the workout they will be receiving from early September right through to January. This year I’ve heard a rumour that there will be a summer turkey calling contest as well for me to attend, so whereas in the past the yelping, cutting, clucking, and purring normally stops it has this year remained a fixture of the noise that permeates my house. I am likewise preparing to re-attend and re-embarrass myself at the Ducks Unlimited Goose Calling Contest in Toronto this August, so I often find myself seamlessly swapping out my turkey diaphragm calls for my Tim Grounds Super Mag: if you haven’t heard such music, I assure you that you are missing out. Throw in the tantrums of a bossy three year old and the wailings of a ten week old baby and you have the makings of a cacophonic maelstrom of wilderness and human language. When the calling ceases, I am feverishly working, almost in mad scientist fashion, to tweak and tune my instruments in an effort to smooth out any sour notes…so yes, I’m aware that most of those are due to operator error, and no I don’t care. I’m too stubborn to learn new methods so I’ll just reverse-engineer the calls to suit my style. Yes, I know that voids the warranty.
Of special focus this year is physical fitness. Before anyone that has actually met me starts giggling, know this is based solely on my recent broken leg. I have not turned over some radical new leaf, and I will continue to consume fried meats, potato chips and dip, bacon and eggs, and the occasional cold beer. Maybe some fruit and vegetables will fall in there by accident, who knows. I have, however, found that the long term sloth that I became accustomed to during my recovery has left me woefully weak in a cardiovascular sense. Since we don’t normally drive into the places we hunt (no one in our group owns a waterfowl trailer, and I don’t ATV much in deer season) I am making an effort to get jogging for the next 90 days or so. When I’m hunting, I like to save my breath for making snide remarks and using a goose call; I’d rather not be winded and gasping just from bringing in a gun and some dekes. Plus, it is nice (and cost-effective!) to fit into all the gear I wore last year.
All this preparation however, comes at a price. We are preparing our house for sale, and being out in the garage clanging away at gear or blaring on various and sundry game calls does make me less available for things like de-cluttering, home staging, picking paint colours, and providing my thoughts on carpet patterns.
Don’t worry friend, I’m managing even without those simple pleasures. I sense that these chores that my wife so graciously takes on while I do my important hunting prep are somehow mysteriously linked to much of my gear disappearing into Rubbermaid boxes that are sealed with intricate and completely impenetrable webs of duct tape. Luckily I have a variety of secret stashes where I can squirrel away all I need to ensure my continued efforts are not thwarted.
All in all, the coping process as I count down to the opening day of goose season (which is the first sure sign fall is coming as far as I’m concerned) is going pretty well. I’d be happier if the regs would just come out so I can go buy a license and really put preparations into high gear, but that usually isn’t for a few weeks yet. For now, it is just time to enjoy the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Enjoy your soda, pretzels, and beer.