Get out and celebrate work with a day off

I hope you had a chance to get out in the field this weekend, and with luck, you’re out there now. There isn’t much that’ll improve your mood for another week at work like a good hunt on a weekend.

In my opinion, everybody should go hunting each weekend of the hunting season. You don’t have to go after elk or deer every time. Change it up a little. Hunt doves on the first weekend, then try to get a blue grouse or some sharptails the next. Later in the fall, you can start working waterfowl and pheasant hunts into the rotation. If you mix it up, it’ll keep things fresh and give you more to talk about around the water cooler on Monday morning.

I’ve had some great hunts on three-day weekends, whether they came from a holiday or a vacation day. A normal weekend isn’t long enough to really get into a hunt, but just one more day off can make all the difference.

All the archers I know live for Labor Day weekend. There isn’t much open for rifle hunters this early in the season, but if bowhunting’s not your style, you can always pick up the shotgun. Blue, sharptail and ruffed grouse, as well as doves are all fair game right now. And you can also hunt geese in the Pacific Flyway.

Don’t waste this three-day weekend. We won’t get another one until … well, there’s one in October, but only if your office lets you out for Columbus Day.

The only thing I have against Labor Day is the heat. It’s still pretty warm this time of the season, and that can be a real drag for hunting. It can certainly be a problem for big game hunting. If you get a deer, elk or antelope, you want to keep it as cool as you can, but when it’s as hot as it usually is this time of year, that can be a real problem.

The heat can cause other problems, too, especially if you bowhunt in an area where there are snakes. A few years ago, I drove out to a walk-in area north of Burns. I parked the truck, then I went around to the passenger side to get my bow. It was a pretty cool morning, which is why I decided I’d go deer hunting with my bow rather than try to kick up some sharptails out on the prairie. It was a good thing that morning was frosty, too, because when I got to the front of the truck, I literally came an inch from stepping on a coiled rattler. I thought that snake was frozen to death, because it stayed wrapped in a tight coil. It didn’t even flick its tongue, let alone try to strike, but my nervous system didn’t get the memo. Before I knew it, I was ten feet away from that snake.

It ruined my hunt. I spent the rest of the morning paying more attention to the ground than to the deer I had come to hunt. When I came up over a hill and blundered within 30 yards of a group of mule deer, I realized I had been watching where I was stepping and not paying any attention to anything else. I think those deer stayed put because they thought there was no way I could be hunting, with as much noise as I was making. They obviously didn’t consider me any sort of threat. But they still shifted into high gear and left the county before I could get an arrow knocked.

So I gave up and went back to the truck. The snake was still there, and it had warmed up enough that when I got back, he uncoiled and slowly slithered off.

It turned out to be a bad day for hunting, but at least I got out. And I got a bunch of cool snake pictures and a good story out of it. Get outside and enjoy this Labor Day. Just watch out for snakes.

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