As far as the outdoor life is concerned, this is the time of year I most dislike.
If I were a river fisherman with a canoe or kayak, I would have a different opinion, but being a committed landlubber, my pinings are for the soon-to-be-here fall seasons.
While friends are floating the Juniata or fishing the depths of Raystown Lake, I am out battling gnats and mosquitoes, quietly watching my favorite spots for deer and trying to determine how many bucks there might be there in the fall. As I go, I'm looking for flocks of turkeys and enjoying whatever I happen to see. Dusk on a summer evening in the woods is a most pleasant time to see all kinds of wildlife.
Once I was parked on the very edge of a small clearing, sitting against the trunk of a small pine tree. The limbs of the tree dipped right to the ground, affording a perfect hideaway for watching. A small buck entered that field just before dusk and began to feed. Slowly it made its way in my direction and then, amazingly, stuck its nose under the branches to pull at grass. Its nose was actually between my feet. I could not imagine that a deer could get that close to me and not scent me. I actually pulled my feet back toward my body quietly and slowly or that deer would have bumped my feet with its nose.
I've also had more than my share of close encounters with rattlesnakes on these summer forays. This not the kind of encounter I ever want to experience. I know a friend whose prized birddog was bitten by a rattler on his own property. Sadly, that dog did not survive the bite. Except for the intervention of my squadron of guardian angels, I, too, might have long ago have succumbed to rattlesnake bite.
This is exactly the time of year to know what you need to replace for the upcoming fall seasons. I have a box call that must have the lid resanded lightly because the surface of the lid got really slick last spring as I used it. Round up you mouth calls and check them. If you didn't take care of them over this summer, they will have deteriorated. If, like me, you neglected to get them out of your vest at the end of spring and store them in the refrigerator, you are going to need a couple of new ones.
I had some company this summer and they were beside themselves laughing at what I had in my refrigerator. A couple containers of mouth calls, a half-used jar of salmon eggs, two bottles of doe-in-heat scent and, one that really grossed out my guests, a container of mealworms.
A few years ago, I purchased a long-legged, lightweight portable folding chair that makes staying on any deer stand much more bearable. I have become, in my senior years, much more apt to select a prescouted area and take up a watch there. From my younger years, when I thought nothing of covering 10 miles a day while deer hunting, I'll now do well to walk a mere mile or two.
This particular long-legged stool is not only comfortable but also gives me just enough height to be able to use low brush as a shield or cover. I can wiggle that slim stool back into the laurel thicket just enough to be able to sit comfortably and yet see all around with a "blind'' of laurel in front of me. Believe me, that stool was a dollar well spent.
I buy at yard sales the small, thin raincoats that I tuck in my hunting vest and prove so valuable if it starts to rain. I got a compass, which was an extra but proved valuable when I lost mine in the spring woods this past year. And gloves and knit hats. I could supply a small regiment with the gloves and knit hats I've picked up for next to nothing at yard sales. Sweatshirts are offered by the scores at these sales. And all are 90 percent less than you'll have to pay if you find out the day before deer season that you cannot find your knit cap or heavy gloves.
One thing I did buy last year at a local merchant was one of the portable, one-man chair blinds. I've found already, after using it just one season, that it is the greatest piece of gear I've found in quite awhile. It won't be long, I'm sure, until these blinds of various sorts will be offered at yard sales, and I'll probably buy every one. Soon I'll have 45 blinds to go with my 45 pairs of boots.
I have a couple of the folding canvas chairs we use at campsites or wherever, and this year, I found a folding canvas table, and I snapped it up. It was new, and it cost way less that it would have had I ordered it through one of the outdoor catalogs.
Getting ready for fall and winter hunting seasons means thinking about it this summer. Making a list perhaps of what you will need and then making the rounds of some yard sales and picking up needed gear at much reduced prices. It's a great way to outfit new or young hunters too. The almost new items offered at some yard sales are the things parents bought for their young hunters last year but won't fit them this year. My favorite orange deer-hunting coat is one I bought at a sale for 50 cents. I've worn it the last four deer seasons.