It's summer, and we made it through the Fourth of July, but now I am a little worried.
For the past several years, by this point, I have been hearing the first jar fly -- that's what we often called the cicada, a large, winged bug that likes to sit on a limb and sing his droning, drowsy song of summer and late summer. Now these are the regular annual cicadas, you understand, not their first cousin cicadas that appear en masse (that means in a big bunch) every 17 years and make it so that for a few weeks you can't hear yourself think because they are so noisy.
The regular guy cicada that appears every year sings his signature melody that is to me the very theme song for summer sliding into fall.
Fall? Are we talking about that already?
Yeah, I know, some of us haven't even been to the beach yet, and here I am bringing up the thought of leaves changing color and setting out tree stands and trail cameras. Sorry, gang, but fall is coming whether we want it to or not (the hunters do want this, of course). Hunters do a lot thinking about and talking about what they will do when fall gets here, but you have to get through summer first.
Here are some ideas on what to do while you wait.
Fishing? What are you talking about, dude? I thought this was for hunters. Well, it is, but I want you to think about this.
What are we really doing most of the time while we are fishing? Well, we are hunting for fish, that's what. Yes, you are, all that roving around on the river bank or in the boat looking, looking for the place where you think the fish are. I might even say this is the best part of fishing, the hunting part of it, that is.
Now there is another type of fishing that I will say is even more related to hunting, and that is sight fishing. This is great fun as you see the fish you are after, and you must carefully get in position to present a bait to your intended quarry. Careful stalking is sometimes required before you cast to the fish (almost like taking a shot). Sound familiar? It is the watery version of spot and stalk in hunting.
Those who pursue bonefish and permit in gin clear water on tropical flats know this drill well. Those of us who may not be able to travel to these places so easily have domestic versions of this type of fishing. The lowly freshwater carp has certainly gained in status and popularity in recent years, and for good reason. He can be stalked in muddy shallow water areas while feeding, much like a bonefish. The carp will give you the fight on a rod-and-reel that no freshwater fish can equal.
There, I said it. Some trout and bass guys will gnash their teeth at that, but they know it is true.
Set trail cameras.
Now I know some of you keep trail cameras out all year round. I don't see much wrong with that; I do it as well sometimes (usually because I just forgot about them and have to go get them later).
To me, trail cameras are a good way to keep in touch with what is going on in your area, especially if you usually hunt the same locale most of the time. Now, I really don't want to get into the whys and wherefores of the whole ethics argument on trail cams (but we can another time). I know some states have prohibited them altogether, or at least in certain times of the year. I truthfully don't understand that, but I would be happy to discuss it (or fight about it) another time.
Do me a favor, though, and check your state's regulations on trail cams.
The trail camera during summer and other off times is going to keep you apprised of the 411 in your area. Have some coyotes or other predators moved in? Is there a new flock of turkeys using your place? Maybe there are some two-legged predators slinking around that you may have to deal with. Your trail cameras will let you know.
Seeing the pictures and what may have come through since you last checked is just plain fun. (You remember we are supposed to be having fun out there, right?) It also gets you in the woods and moving around, checking things out at a time when you normally may not be there. There is a lot going on in the woods in summer as well as fall.
It should go without saying (but I will anyway) that summer is a great time for you guys and girls to get out to the range and shoot guns. Yes, I know you need to keep that deer rifle sighted in and not wait to the day before deer season comes around, but you should also be shooting just for fun (there is that fun thing again).
Plinking with a .22 rifle or an air gun may just be the height of fun you can have with firearms. Using your imagination on different targets just adds to it. Pop (soda) cans are good, but things such as metal silhouette animals and small pieces of candy (Necco wafers are great if you can find them) can keep the shooters interested. You shotgun shooters need to get out there as well; any kind of clay target games will show you benefits when bird season comes around. You know that dove season will be here around Sept. 1, right?
Well, as usual, you have let me go on too long, and we have run out of time and space.
You know that all of the above suggestions go for the little people you should be taking out there, don't you? Kids will love any of this. They don't care if it is an actual hunting day; like your hunting dog, they just want to go. Take them with you, and they will remember it after you are gone.
So like always, keep your guns clean, your knife sharp, and take a kid hunting.
Oh yeah, and let me know if you hear the jar fly.
"Guns & Cornbread" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at email@example.com.