The thing that had been on my mind all morning was not fishing, but hunting. I've been chasing feathered and furred things for almost as long as I've fished, and every fall that deep, primitive instinct to hunt starts stirring. I could almost throw my calendar away, the feeling is so strong and accurate at the same time every year. It all starts with the rain. Leaves start turning, and then the nights start getting cooler. Then the first real rains of fall come. It is usually accompanied by a bit of wind, and its enough to convince some maples to shed a few leaves early. A spring rain has a fresh, green smell that signals growth and prosperity, but this first good fall rain has an almost peaty, pungent smell ushering in the death and hibernation of another winter. Within days mushrooms will pop up out of the forest duff, elk will be in full on rut, and the grouse coveys will break up. Its the best time of the year to be outdoors, as far as I'm concerned, and that's exactly what I plan to do the rest of the day.
As I arrive home, I explain the situation to my wife Meg (who's heard the same story, every year at this same time), who is understanding of my continued absence for the day. Its not that I need to go hunting, I really HAVE to go hunting. If I were to do anything else for the day, I'd be totally useless.
I head to my gun safe and pull out the trusty side-by-side twelve bore shotgun, I get my tattered shell vest, and hunting jacket. I pull on a pair of "brush pants" and find that they have somehow shrunk to the point that they won't quite button without a bunch of sucking in....Damn it! (it seems my lack of summer activity and aging metabolism has not kept pace with my love for sweets and junk food),. So I grab a pair of wool hunting pants that luckily I bought a size to big, now they fit, and will have to do for the day.
I head to the Grouse woods and a familiar covert I've hunted for years. As I walk down the overgrown logging road, I feel at peace. I take a deep breath through my nose, drinking in the moist smells of the fall rain, as drops splatter on the bill of my hat. It feels great to be back in the woods.