Don Mallicoat

A time for mending


By Don Mallicoat –

For the hunters and anglers in the mountains, March is one of those months that is a time for mending or taking stock of things. The regular hunting season has ended and Hatchery Supported trout streams are closed for restocking. Delayed Harvest and Wild Trout designated streams are open, but March weather is a mixture of warm spring days and cold windy ones that remind you winter isn’t quite over yet.

For the turkey hunters, it is time to take inventory of the assorted gear we tote into the woods: diaphragm calls, put chalk on the box call and rough up the slates, gloves, facemask and shells. We will sit around the house practicing yelps and clucks on the calls to refresh those skills, all to the tune of “Will you stop that noise” from our significant other. It’s also a good time to go out and pattern the shotgun just to make sure the same load that worked last year still throws a dense pattern this year.

Turkey season this year is April 13 – May 11 with a new twist for youth hunters. The 2013 spring turkey season has changed to allow for a longer youth turkey season in which adults can accompany more than one youth. The youth-only season will be open from the first Saturday in April — April 6 this year — to the following Friday, April 12. An adult can accompany more than one youth during this Spring Youth-Only Wild Turkey Season. The adult must be near the youth. The bag limit for the entire week is one bird.

I was able to get my hands on the WRC 2012 summer brood survey report and from the data it looks like an average to below average hunting season ahead. In the Mountain region 47% of hens were seen with poults with the number of poults per hen of 1.3. That is below the statewide average but also denotes a poor poult survival compared to 2011 survey results. And the statewide trend for poult to hen ratio is downward.

There are probably a lot of factors that affect that, most of which in the mountains has been cold and wet Springs. I’m sure the surging coyote population has to figure into that. Loss of habitat is another factor. Despite those average statistics, I saw quite a few turkeys when out grouse hunting this past season; several flocks on National Forest Game Lands.

And then March allows the opportunity to get fishing gear ready for the trout season that is just around the corner. It is a good time to clean out the fishing vest and find out what is there and most importantly what is not there. Inventory the fly and spinner box and make a list to restock. How about leaders? I always keep a few with different weights in my vest. Might be a good time to replace last years’ leader on the fly line. Let’s think about doing the same for the tackle box if we plan on fishing the French Broad for smallies. I’m the world’s worse for changing fishing line on a regular basis. That’s another item on the fishing “to do” list.

And if you are like me there is sporting clays to start thinking about. The sporting clays gun hasn’t been limbered up in a while. It’s always good to get it out and mount the gun to swing through that imaginary crossing target that causes me fits. Clean the empty hulls out of the shell vest and make sure the shooting glasses are clean and hearing protection is there. This is also a good time to stock up on the favorite target loads (especially with the ammo shortage) or reload several hundred if you are so inclined.

Yep, even though March doesn’t mean time in the field it can still be a busy month. One of the things I like about doing all of the above is the memories it brings back. Chalking the box call reminds me of the big gobbler that zigged when I zagged in what I thought was the perfect setup. Looking through my trout spinner box reminds me of the big trout that broke the line just as my son reached down to grab him. And swinging on that imaginary crossing target helps me remember the good times shooting with good friends. Mending is not just about sorting through stuff. It is also a time to bring back memories of great times afield.

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