Spring is coming

Published 8:37 am Saturday, February 10, 2024

January 31 is one of the more bittersweet days of the year for me. It marks the end of deer season and duck hunting. Most hardwood trees have completely lost leaves, placing a crunchy brown carpet on the forest floor. 

Some people may find the dead tones of brown and gray to be depressing but if anything it allows the green leaves of chamber bitters, sarsaparilla vines and water oak trees to shine. Wednesday morning I woke up early, slipped into my duck hunting waders one last time and walked through the silty mud in hopes of seeing some wood ducks on the Bayou Pierre. I was amazed at how open the canopy and forest floor had become following last week’s storms.

Sitting on the bank of the bayou, I listened to the bubbling water as morning came. Not a single wood duck took to the skies that morning. Usually, you can hear their crying call or whistling wings but even those were silent.

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Instead, I heard the sound of a flydown cackle and the crashing of a 15 to 20 pound bird onto the ground. Turkeys perked my spirits up and I yelped softly back hoping to see the elusive bird. After waiting for an hour, I made my trek to the edge of a cow pasture and stopped to glass the field. Usually, geese, herons or crows are all in the field but I was filled with excitement when I discovered a flock of turkey hens. 

The next five minutes, I spent gawking through my binoculars at the birds as they foraged for food and sunned in the warm rays of light. My hands trembled as I tried to take deep breaths to collect myself before slipping away. 

I’m not sure how people feel about February but for me it is one month closer to the best season of the year. I love spring because it is green, warm and full of life. Each day brings new growth and with luck the gobbling of a male turkey. 

February 1st is the day I begin to start on the work I need to get done to help the flock of hens to hatch and rear a successful brood. If you have not already contacted the MDWFP Private Lands Program to schedule a site visit I highly recommend it. Biologists are able to look at your property, give you recommendations and a plan to meet your management objectives. Visits are insightful and can help you see parts of your property in a new light. 

February is the start of baseball and softball season as well. As a sports writer, I naturally enjoy sports but baseball captured my heart a long time ago. The smell of hot popcorn, fresh cut grass and the metal ding of baseballs hitting an aluminum bat warms my soul. 

I do not wish February to pass too quickly. It is a month where you can see the plant communities slowly wake up, birds become more active and the days grow longer. Spring is coming and I’m ready for it.