Feathers ‘n Fins

Posted Sept. 04, 2009, at 10:55 p.m.

Contrary to their contempt for posted land, hunters are reading with pleasure the signs now appearing along rural roads. Assuming, then, that the colors of your fall wardrobe feature brush brown, camouflage and eye-catching blaze orange, you’re no doubt invigorated by the torch-like clusters of sumac berries turning crimson and the purples of aster, clover and loosestrife glowing in fields cluttered with goldenrod and Queen Anne’s lace. Likewise, the first blush of swamp maples and the rouged cheeks of apples and chokecherries ripening make you feel younger, even if you no longer have to buy a hunting license. Mellowing with age, however, hasn’t stopped you from wishing for killing frosts, line storms and thinned foliage, after the “leaf watchers” have limited out, that is.

It’s no secret, however, that the signs of the season at hand are more than visual. Thus, in driving along roads less traveled, as they say, it’s likely that you actually slow down when inhaling the earthy aromas of sun-roasted acorns, fresh-mown hay and manure being spread. And it’s a sure bet that you appreciate the pungency of burnt powder during warmup shoots at skeet and rifle ranges, and the sweet smell of Hoppe’s No. 9 afterward. Furthermore, in heeding signs that are audible, tell me the gossiping of geese doesn’t stop you in your tracks. Not to mention the training-session chiming of dog bells and the chirping of whistles. In visiting sport shops you’ll hear gabfests shifting from rods, reels and fish to guns, dogs and game; but there’s no telling what you’ll hear amid the spirited feeding chatter at Ducks Unlimited banquets. Speaking of guns, stop at a gunsmith’s shop and you’ll hear that nothing has changed: customers wait until a few weeks before hunting season to bring in rifles that jam and shotguns that won’t eject — and expect them to be repaired before opening day.

Obviously, the signs that September is posting, visual or otherwise, are many and varied, but they all point directly and unmistakably toward hunting season.

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