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<u>Summers Swoon</u>

A slight tweak of the adjusting screw sets the powder measure at precisely 37.5 grains. A few pulls to ensure its accuracy and production resumes. The 4064 fills the shiny brass cases and soon a brand new batch of 243’s are ready for the range. Another task to cross off my list!

Though it’s only late July, the hunter’s moon will soon be upon us. Except for the diehards, the woods are nearly deserted through the mid-summers swoon. The heat and humidity keep most folks in comfortable confines of air-conditioned quarters or poolside to beat the heat. Going afield can be difficult, when a simple twist of the thermostat cools life to one’s liking. Wildlife too, feels the effects of summer weather. Deer rarely venture from the cool shadows until the day’s sun has set in the west.

Unpleasant as it may be, now is the time for preparation. Through the sweltering heat, we persist. Doing our parts to ensure fall’s successes. We fashion ourselves as Mother Natures stewards throughout the ever-changing seasons. With much hard work and equally as much luck, the now bare earth of the logging road will be transformed into a lush bed of Turnips and Oats in the coming months. The faint trickle of a spring will be dug out as sweat drips to the soil. The mosquitoes will annoy endlessly as the sediment is removed and a convenient waterhole takes shape. Stands will be placed now, with an eye to the cagey old veteran the sneaks silently through these parts. How will this maze of vegetation appear after the first heavy frosts permeate the landscape? How might the winds swirl through the hollow as Autumn approaches? What will be the best approach to get in as well as out to avoid detection? Now is the time to answer these questions!!

A mid-morning trip the rifle range allows us to beat the crowds that will gather all too soon. The oppressive sultriness may dull the scopes resolution but the solitude is a good trade. The elderly Model 99 will be my companion this fall. The newly minted ammo performs admirably, and with a little tinkering it will be outstanding! Then the old girl will now await her much overdue return to the P.A. deer woods.

The evening forays to the fields serve a dual purpose for most of us. A little ‘Hog hunting briefly satisfies the hunter inside, but more importantly these are reconnaissance missions for the coming seasons. I marvel at the similarities of five year old boys to three month old fawns. The youthful enthusiasm, the endless curiosity, and the occasional mischief. On this particular evening the spotted twins are early in their arrival. A cautious old doe brings up the rear. They bound playfully into the far field corner and I ease myself lower against the gnarled old Locust. The trio is soon within 25 yards of my position as yet another game of cat and mouse ensues. The carefree horseplay and occasional mule-kicks bring a smile to my face. Soon, Moms had enough and gives a barely audible bleat that brings the duo to her side. They ease off toward the pond for some much needed refreshment just as the bachelors make their appearance. Five young bucks of varying sizes make their way into the Clover. Two are handsome eight points that with a couple more years under their belts will make someone a fine trophy! They munch eagerly on the nutrient rich legumes, following the same methodical path as the evening’s first visitors. Just as light begins to fade, He shows up! Lurking in the shadowy fence line, his velvet-clad antlers stand in deep contrast to the dark greens beyond. The Big Fella surveys his domain for quite some time before finally stepping into the filed for dinner. This is what I came here for!!

Soon, change will be in the air. The type of air that sends birds to the South and blankets of leaves to the ground. The plethora of green will slowly fade, replaced first by the fiery hues of Autumn. Eventually, only weathered remnants of fall glory will remain. The well-worn walnut of the Savage will become an extension of my hands. The spotted fawns will sport new coats to match Old Man Winters landscape. The bachelors will no longer enjoy each others company, and visions of the Big Guy will fill my dreams. It may seem a long way off, but “Our time” will be upon us sooner than we think!!

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