With a white cover of snow, perhaps even briefly and having broken through thin ice in cattails filling leather boots in search of southwest Minnesota Ringnecks I’m reminded by these clues that it’s once again almost time to turn the page on another Upper Midwestern season. I look so forward each year to the changing leaves, chilly mornings, comfortable days or “Billy Big Walks,” so named by Bob St. Pierre of Pheasants Forever, across the grassy cover of MN public lands following two Brittany noses in search of fleeing, cackling roosters bursting into flight, the unmistakable sound of waterfowl wings overhead in the pre-dawn darkness or the peaceful deafening silence of a deer stand and the endless, patient wait attempting to match wits with the elusive Whitetail who sometimes almost ghost-like simply appears. Each are ingredients in this treasured annual recipe called fall! It also affords me a very special, selfish time to spend with my sons, Chad and Erik in pursuit of a sport I’ve carefully nurtured in them, passed on to me from my father and to him from his. But something arriving annually with so much anticipation passes too quickly perhaps for the very same reason.
Last evening I scrolled back through photos on my phone that document a part of each personal season recalling fond memories. It was May 2 that Sauk Lake seemed to give up her solid ice blanket resorting to a melodic sound of millions of ice cubes noisily clanking together announcing an end of that winter season welcoming spring. With spring comes the unmistakable gobble of tom turkeys announcing their intentions. It also signals a time to turn again to closet-stored camo, shotguns, slate calls and decoys. A sport my father never knew but one I’m absolutely addicted to for reasons much different than in fall and another I can share with Erik and Chad. Filling my tag again is much like icing on a birthday cake. It tastes great and helps but the cake is every bit as tasty and special without it!
Soon fish will make an annual movement shallow for a seasonal ritual and simply become very active ushering in yet another treasured activity. The dock is unstacked from the shoreline, put back in place affording our boats a temporary place to tie up to load and unload. The cabin once again takes on a special meaning for family, friends and dogs. These days are spent both on and in the water often ending with a camp fire, lawn chairs, hot dogs and smores. Starry nights with bats silhouetted against the sky in their nightly search for bug morsels twist and turn above. But too soon the longer days begin to shorten bringing us back to a seasonal repeat described at the top of the page, the one about to arrive.
So as you can hopefully see now thoughts turn to the inevitable season change and I’m almost ready but not quite yet. Why you ask? Because although the wood stove is glowing brightly, the heat feels great, two Britts, Snap and Belle lie napping on the couch across from me waiting for the words “Time to put your huntin’ clothes on” and with tails wagging they’re instantly ready and waiting only for me! After all this is their passion too. Soon it will be time to once again drill ice holes, be mesmerized staring at my Humminbirds watching for fish to be tempted yet again into biting! But there are still some fields to walk, cattails to crash and roosters to flush! It’s sooo very special even if I miss and I get “that look” from my 2 partners!
Are you ready to turn your own seasonal page?