25 Signs of Fall

Elk bugling There are few sounds in the wild that can conjure up stronger emotions in an outdoorsman than the bugle of monarch bull. The sound seems to speak to our very soul, and when you hear it, you know fall is on its way. Photo: Tom Pratt
Geese head south The Canada goose migration is one of the most visible signs that fall is coming. Depending on where you live, you're bound to see hundreds of northern birds flying south at the end of summer. So grab your shotgun and welcome in fall with open arms. Photo: Gidzy
Temperature drops
You've been waiting for the heatwave to break all summer and now it finally has. If you're lucky, you'll have a few weeks of sunny 60 degree weather before Old Man Winter comes calling. Hopefully the cooler weather will even knock down the bugs a little bit. Enjoy these days, and spend them outside. Photo: bradywahl
Aspens change colors Outdoorsmen love aspens, or quakies as some folks call them, and there's no better time to be in the mountains than when the aspens begin to change color. An individual aspen can live for about 150 years, but their root systems live much much longer. These roots systems are long underground networks of roots that sprout up new trees as old trees die. There is an aspen root system in Utah that is believed to be 80,000 years old. Photo:ellenm
Squirrels go crazy As the weather cools and acorns drop, squirrels start to horde food in caches for the winter. Biologists estimate that a single squirrel will make several thousand caches every year. If nothing else, watching a squirrel frantically stash food away for winter gives us something to watch on a slow day in the deer stand. Photo: Ed Sweeney
Lakes turn over Lakes turn over, or mix, when the water on the surface is cooled to a temperature that is colder than the deeper water in the lake. Since cooler water is more dense, it sinks and the water in the lake mixes. The process is helped by windy and wavy days that stir up the lake. Turnover happens at different times in different regions and can even differ from lake to lake. Some lakes don't turn at all. But most lakes in the U.S. turnover once in the spring and again in the fall, and veteran anglers know it can be a tricky time to fish. Photo: Glen Edelson
First frost The first frost really depends on what part of the country you live in. But no matter where you live, that first frost is a welcome sign for hunters. It brings us back to those perfect days when the leaves are frozen and crunchy and it seems like you can hear a big buck coming from miles away. It won't be too long now. Photo: Liz West
Days get shorter The days have been getting shorter since the Summer Solstice in late June, but now it's really starting to get noticeable. They'll continue to get shorter until the Winter Solstice in late December, which is the shortest day of the year. The shortening of days triggers migrations in many animals and is one of the main drivers of the rut. And thanks to the upcoming daylight savings switch, now you'll have to wake up at 4:30 to get to your blind in time instead of 5:30. Photo: Ted Buckner
Bucks shed velvet While deer antlers grow they are covered with highly vascular skin, which most hunters simply call velvet. Velvet supplies oxygen and nutrients to the growing bone, and once the antler has achieved its full size, the velvet is rubbed off usually at the end of the summer.
Lines at sporting goods stores get longer There's two kinds of people who hang out at your sporting goods store at this time of the year. The first is the guy who needs to outfit himself for the whole season. He's buying his license, cammo, boots, a pack, calls, scents, and maybe even a gun or two. Then there's the guy who's been ready since August. He already has all the gear he needs to hunt everything from doves to bighorn sheep. But he hangs out at the sporting goods store anyway, looking for that last item to take up more space in his garage, because just like the game we pursue, we're creatures of habit. Before the hunt, it's our ritual to go our sporting goods store. Photo: Jason Riedy
Bears bulk up During this time of the year the main thing on a bear's mind is food. He's got a long winter to hibernate through and he's got to put on as much fat as he can, which will keep him alive once winter hits. Photo: Alan Vernon
Apples ripen For an early season bowhunter, finding a secluded stand of apple trees can be like stumbling upon the holy grail. Deer absolutely go crazy for apples, so hunt near apple trees any time you can. Photo: Joy
Outdoorsmen start getting "sick"
For some reason the number of "illnesses" among hunters consistently increases as the fall progresses and more hunting seasons open. If you show up to your job on Fridays in fall and it looks like you've stepped into a ghost town, you can bet you work with a bunch of hunters. Photo: YoTuT
Teal hit the road Teal might be smarter than the rest of their waterfowl cousins. Instead of being chased south by freezing cold and biting wind in November and December like many ducks, teal migrate early and arrive at their wintering grounds well ahead of Old Man Winter. They also make for a worthy adversary for early season waterfowlers. Photo: Ingrid Taylar
Chores go undone Yards that were perfect in July will look like they have been abandoned in October. The grass grows knee-high, the garden goes unweeded and leaves scatter the lawn. Who has time to do yard work during hunting season? Photo: Tim
Hunting dogs get restless Even though he can't read a calendar or the regulations book, a veteran hunting dog knows when hunting season starts. Even the old hounds who spent all summer napping in the backyard will start to perk up once fall comes and the shotguns are uncased. Photo: Kimbo
Fall trout bite One of the best times to be on a trout stream is in the fall. By now, most of the summer rush has died down and you'll have the place to yourself. Unlike many other fish species, most trout spawn in the fall instead of the spring.
Shooting range's fill up The closer you get to the season opener, the more people you will see at your local shooting range. This is obviously a good place to tune up your shooting skills, but it's also a good place to talk to other hunters about what they're seeing in the woods and where some good hunting spots might be. Use an afternoon at the range to shoot the breeze as well as some bulls-eyes. Photo: Erik Charlton
Woodcock migration The woodcock is a odd and mysterious game bird and his migration is equally mysterious. To pattern the fall woodcock migration in your neck of the woods, check out this link from the Ruffed Grouse Society that tracks migrations around the country. Photo: guizmo
Corn gets cut
Deer, turkeys, geese and pheasants all count on corn as a food source, and because of this, corn fields are always a favorite among hunters. In the Midwest, a lot of corn gets cut in October, but it all depends on when the fields are dry enough for the farmers. Photo: Aunt Owwee
Bow season opens
Most bowhunting seasons around the country open in September. It's finally time to head out into the woods and get after that big buck you've been patterning all summer.
Hunter's moon
The hunter's moon is the first full moon after the harvest moon (the harvest moon is the nearest full moon to the autumnal equinox). The hunters moon got its name because hunters in Northern Europe used its light to shoot migrating birds. Photo: roadcrusher
Get ready for some football Football season is in full swing now and If you're not a Raiders, Lions or Browns fan, then that's a good thing. If you do happen to cheer for one of these unfortunate teams, then better luck next year decade.
Gun shots If you live in a rural area, it won't be uncommon now to hear a few gun shots off in the distance coming from a dove or goose field. The sporadic shots are like a pitter patter of rain right before the big storm (opening day of gun deer season). If you're lucky enough, you'll get to blast off a few rounds yourself. Photo: Adam Hodgson
You can't sleep You know it's fall when your dreams are haunted by heavy-racked bucks. These phantom deer will most likely keep you up at night, but if you do manage to fall asleep, you'll toss and turn, sweat through your clothes and make strange unrecognizeable noises. Yes you are sick, but there's no medical treatment that can save you. You my friend have a case of buck fever. Photo: Chaunceydavis818
What are your signs of fall? Comment Below. Photo: Jason Riedy