Hunting & Heritage  |  06/18/2012

Is It September Yet?

That’s what I said to a co-worker this week as I passed by his office. His response, “Yeah, it’s a long time between turkey season and dove season.” You’re telling me.
Yes, the off season doldrums have set in yet again and I’m feeling the pain. My forlorn question was prompted by reading an amazing grouse hunting tale by Robert Murphy entitled “The Phantom Setter.” Find it if you can…it is worth the read.
I spend a lot of time outdoors whether its hunting season or not, but summer gardening, canoeing, outdoor art events (I don’t fish much) and the like here in the big city (Minneapolis-St. Paul) are fun, but pale in comparison to the adventure and heart pumping exhilaration of a dog pointing a rooster, rising to swing on a screaming flock of bluebills passing over the ‘coys or fingering the trigger on a .270 waiting for a white-tailed buck to come just a bit closer.
Yes, training my dog eases the anguish somewhat. But, breaking out the whistle and collar for a run around town in shorts under sunny summer skies is just a big tease compared to the real thing: the smooth metallic click of sliding some rounds into a 12 ga., the enthusiasm of a friend’s voice when calling out “he’s on a bird” or watching the sun break the horizon from my boat on a North Dakota duck hunt.
Like many of you, I’ve planned some fall hunts already. It’s exciting to imagine giddy phone calls with a hunting buddy, packing up the gear and loading the dog before putting the lever in drive and heading for points north, west, south or east. Alas, after penning in a hunting date on my schedule, I then must simply and grudgingly forget about it all and wait for the long, interminable passing of June, July and August…ugh!
This time of year, I’m jealous of the hawk, fox and even the earthly short-tailed shrew (a subterranean insectivore that hunts my lawn all summer) as they pursue prey each and every day in plain sight, mocking modern human’s soul-stomping halt to the chase.
I guess for now, I’ll just have to hang on until the first week of September and hold on tight to the words of Hungarian writer Sandor Marai who wrote in 1942 that, “In my whole life, I think I have loved nothing so much as the first light of dawn on the day of a hunt.” Amen.

-Mark Herwig is editor of the Pheasants Forever Journal and Quail Forever Journal. Email Mark at