So long, February 

Published 2:18 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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We made it folks. March is here. I always forget my disdain for February until it arrives. Every year, the second month is a weird detox of four months filled with hunting and fishing every weekend. Around our household, the cold, rainy, and dreary days are filled with reminiscing the previous adventures and planning new ones. 


The melancholy retrievers mope as the duck decoys are washed and put away in the basement. The decoys have hung in our garage since Thanksgiving given their frequent use. Humans can tell it’s Christmas by decorations hanging around the house, but dogs know it’s hunting season by decoys hanging in the garage. 

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Training dogs this time of year can be productive. Practicing retrieves in the cold water and working on hand signals keeps the pups interested, but bumpers don’t have feathers. Just like that time I tried the imitation meat on accident, bumpers are just not as good as the real thing. 


Near where the decoys hung,  our waders hang now completely dry. Since the fall, our waders have been baptized in clear trout streams and murky swamps on the weekends. The cloudy October days that accentuate the fiery foliage that surrounds our trout animate in my mind as I take the waders into storage. When the waters warm a bit more, they will smell like fish again and have fine river pebbles in the wading boots. 


Most Saturdays in February seem strange without an alarm set well before sunrise. My internal clock still wakes me up in the dark early morning hours. Deep questions go through my head as I listen to the incessant rain pitter-patter on the window. 


“I wonder if the deer are thinking about me?” 


“If a duck is about to hit his head on something, do his duck friends say ‘human’?”


“Why do fishermen on the shore cast to the middle, and fishermen on boats cast to the shore?”


Such questions haunt me enough to get out of bed to make coffee. Outdoor articles and videos scratch the itch a bit, but by mid-morning, I really wish I was field-dressing the next week’s dinner. 


I know I am reaching the point of being a grumpy old man, but as one grumpy old man said, “The reason February only has 28 days is that people couldn’t stand any more of it.”


If you find yourself in the same frame of mind as me in February, take heart, March is here. March is the month that the mountains come alive in our area. Trees bud, fawns drop, and turkeys gobble. The fishing starts to heat up and the hatcheries fill our streams with new trout to catch. March is here and February is a whole year away.