Hook and bullet club - seasons changing

by Nick Wognum

The cool nights give it away – fall is just around the corner. This may go down as being one of the shortest summers weatherwise which made it fly by all the faster. <BR><BR>We had to make a trip out to the shack last week and all the signs were in place for the best season of the year.<BR><BR>First, the bugs were nearly non-existent. Instead of having a windshield full of smooshed critters, we could actually get a clear look as we crested the hill where Bear Island Lake can be seen in the distance.<BR><BR>As the pavement turned to dirt a young sugar maple had enough of summer and had turned largely to bright red. <BR><BR>In the corner of a cutover, the tree’s red leaves stood out among the young poplar and a backdrop of pine trees. <BR><BR>We saw some yellow leaves as well and Evan, age 5, took to the game of finding “signs of fall” as we drove down the road. <BR><BR>“There’s another sign of fall,” he said. “How many more sleeps are there until fall?”<BR><BR>“That’s a good question,” I answered.<BR><BR>We had late berry crops this year, likely due to a cool June so maybe fall is still a ways away yet. We even stopped several times to pick raspberries which were in full, mouth-watering fruit last week. <BR><BR>As we grabbed handfuls of raspberries, I kept an eye out for a patch of moving black just in case we were sharing the wild treats with a black bear. <BR><BR>Baiting for bear season got underway on August 13 but I would bet with the number of berries still out, baiting is a bit slow so far.<BR><BR>Bear season starts Sept. 1 so you can bet there’ll be pick-up trucks around town with some peculiar smells coming out of the back. <BR><BR>Last year I saw a station wagon that a guy was using to haul bear bait in. Let me clarify, I smelled a station wagon that a guy was using to haul bear bait in. <BR><BR>We usually have a few bear hunters in our area which is just fine with me. I’ve found bear hunters to be good neighbors in the five years we’ve been kicking around that section of the woods. <BR><BR>Grouse season starts on Sept. 18 and for me that’s the official start of fall. I don’t care if the DNR says the grouse count is down 17 percent in northeastern Minnesota, we’ll be out looking for them anyway. <BR><BR>I can’t say we’ve seen too many this summer so far but once the leaves fall we’ll get a better idea of whether or not we are at the bottom of the grouse cycle. <BR><BR>I would agree with the DNR that the snowshoe hare population is up. Rabbits are almost as frequently seen as deer these days. <BR><BR>We’re ready for the start of the small game season, I think. Thanks to grandpa there’s enough shotgun shells to chase grouse up and down the hills even if we hunted every day.<BR><BR>A new 100 lb. propane cylinder was brought out to the shack to keep our Humphreys lit as the sunlight continues to disappear earlier and earlier each day. <BR><BR>There’s a pile of firewood stacked between two Norways that is leaning precariously but that’s an afternoon of work a guy can look forward to. <BR><BR>The shack is in good shape, although we have to get the deck stained sometime this fall. We just need to find a way to haul out enough water to wash it off first. I suggested going out there in a pouring rainstorm but that was met with some puzzled looks. <BR><BR>No matter, though. The days on the calendar continue to turn as do the leaves on the trees. Fall is in the air, all you need to do is look for it.