Eastern_flockSitting in my cramped cubicle of an office here on Two Park Avenue the morning of Aug. 15, I found myself in a funk. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first until it dawned on me that it WAS Aug. 15! Until two years ago, the date held a certain amount of significance in my life as it was the opening day of deer season in Aiken County, S.C. It’s where I lived for nearly seven years while working with the NWTF.

While the hunting usually stunk and the heat and bugs were ferocious in the mid-August Low Country, there was still a wonderful excitement to sitting on a stand for the first time of what I knew would be many more days over the coming months. (It was sort of like preseason football. The play is pretty bad, but at least its football!) It became a new tradition where I would go sit my stand until the heat got unbearable, and then I would go home and call all of my buddies in other states and brag how I had already been deer hunting. I could feel the jealousy ooze through the phone. Most of them still had a couple of months at least until they could entertain such thoughts.

Although I never tagged a buck in velvet as I hoped, several hunters on the various leases I hunted did kill some whoppers, and that was enough to keep me mildly motivated until the weather cooled, which down there was about early November.

With opening days in mind, Sept. 1 and the subsequent Labor Day weekend marks a significant time for sportsmen, and not just for those heading to a dove shoot this weekend. Sept. 1 marks the opening of the very first turkey seasons of the fall. General turkey seasons will start in Colorado and Montana, while only archery hunters will hit the field in Arizona and British Columbia. Back East, bowhunters in Kentucky will get a chance to chase autumn flocks a day later when their season begins Sept. 2.

With the nation’s first seasons opening, the others aren’t far behind. To help you prepare, the Strut Zone will pick up its summer pace and begin running daily tips, tactics and previews of gear to help you get ready for the season.

And if you missed my posting on season dates awhile back, check it out here, to determine when the show starts in your neck of the woods. As always, be sure to confirm the dates with your state game department as things do change.

As for my weekend, like many others, I’m kicking my fall seasons off with a traditional dove shoot. I’ll be joining some friends in Virginia for what promises to be a heck of a hunt if tropical depression Ernesto doesn’t wash us out. I’ve been promised that even if it does, the traditional barbecue and suds fest in Buck’s barn will go on as scheduled. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend no matter what you do.

(Photo courtesy of NWTF)