Grenoble: Walk this way

The Game Commission recently sent a press release outlining things outdoors people could do until the next hunting season starts.

They were the obvious: fishing, hiking, boating and the like, all of which are indeed fun things to do. Just ask Walt Young, who spends his life kayaking and fishing.

For me, when one season ends, as the spring gobbler season just did, I begin at once to ready myself for the next season. I have a gun and scope that needs repair because I fell last deer season and whacked it good. But the thing I have always done in the “offseason” for hunting is to simply spend time in the woods walking. Not hiking but walking, slowly and carefully, learning and enjoying what is there.

I generally contain my woodland wanderings to roads and trails in the summer because there is just too much risk when trekking through high grass in fields or dense foliage in the forest. Insects, snakes, bear cubs or fawns that you can get too close to, ticks, poison ivy and oak are all some of the pesky upsets you can run into during an early summer walk. I especially love to slowly walk and explore the roads on State Game Lands that are gated off to the public for most of the year.

Low, muddy spots in a road will reveal various tracks that spell out what is in the area. Big turkey tracks always get my heart pumping a tad faster but so do big deer tracks or bear tracks. Droppings reveal the presence of wildlife in any area. I tuck away these locations in my memory bankfor further exploring as their particular season draws closer.

But mainly, the purpose for a summer walk for me is to just enjoy the serenity, the slow pace, the quietness and the many sights of wildlife I can watch through my binoculars. Not unusual to come upon fawns and I generally just move on when I see one. I know Mama is nearby and I do not want to cause either doe or fawn any stress.

Still I never go to the woods that I am not immersed with a good insect repellent that is made up mainly of Deet. My outer clothes are sprayed according to directions with Permathrim to ward off ticks. A bottle of water is a must, along with my cell phone, compass, matches and a space blanket tucked in my vest. The latter provides great shelter should you get twisted up or even lost and face a night in the woods.

If hiking is your bag, this area is blessed with many good trails for that. Local state parks offer many fishing and hiking opportunities. Locally, Canoe Creek and Prince Gallitizin are two great places to start. Carry a small digital camera because there will be wildflowers, birds and wildlife that will offer great photo ops.

June is a month that has great fishing of many sorts. To the trout fisherman, stream sides are now lonely places. I’ve often written of my favorite way to lure trout in June: with a spinning rod with lightweight line, hooks and BB shot. Pick up worms, beetles, Hellgrammites and crayfish, in fact any creepy, crawly creature you come across, impaling it on a No. 14 hook and casting it softly into the head of the current and letting it drift, is a sure-fire way for fishing excitement.

Properly protected from the sun, insects, and from getting lost, a slow summer walk will usually reap big dividends. Once, I sat at the base of a tree to rest and soon a terrible racket began. It was several young Pileated woodpecker babies screaming for their lunch from a tree just a few feet away. I had a wonderful show that day, watching through binoculars as the mother bird tirelessly brought them worms and insects. I treasure such experiences.

Depending on the time of year, you can enjoy wild strawberries or huckleberries. Why do they taste sweeter when picked right out there in the woods? Early this last spring gobbler season, as I waited for a gobbler to react to my calls, I glanced down and there was a patch of teaberries. They tasted really good. Remember teaberry gum?