Anticipation of the fall hunting season really gets me, even with a busy summer of travel, fishing, paddleboarding and camping it seemed to take forever to arrive. This may have been because we experienced a crazy hot fall, not just a warning that climate change is coming, but that it is happening now. Looking through my photos from the 2021 season it was easy to see the difference, in mid September we had been wearing flannel shirts while out looking for grouse. This past fall I was in my lightest tee-shirt and still getting back to the Xterra covered in sweat and dehydrated.
Hot days made it seem like the blacktails had disappeared. Killing time looking for goats while deer hunting.
It was November before the weather really changed and it was like flicking a light switch. One day you are drowsy and basking in the sun the next bundled up in all of your cold weather winter gear and the toes are still going numb. On top of the hot fall temperatures we had been saddled with an extremely wet spring that eventually dissipated into another protracted heat dome which lasted most of the summer. My pessimism shone through and as I had suspected the animal movements were off, the hunting was difficult.
I love hunting ruffed grouse and they were worth the effort and kilometres walked for each one.
There were a lot of kilometres walked for every grouse I put in the freezer and I didn’t see any deer until the day I shot my first one mid-November. No doubt the wet spring hurt the ruffed grouse clutches, even more difficult was the persistent warm weather. Without a good frost the leaves don’t fall making it almost impossible to find a bird in the thick foliage. The warm days and nights also kept the blacktails high. Normally I spot some does and forkies every month from September on, but there wasn’t even sign that they had come down until November.
My 1st muzzleloader deer, an old blacktail that let the rut get the best of him.
I hunted as much as possible from the beginning of September through mid December and while any day afield is a good day this past fall felt like a condensed season, like things didn’t kick in till late and everything happened all at once. My best grouse days came late in October after duck camp, I only saw six deer all season, all of which happened in the space of 5 days in November. Of those six, two now reside in the freezer, alongside the grouse I eventually shot and a lone duck. The weather made for tough hunting, but in the end it made me appreciate the venison and birds that much more.
See you on the water or the mountain.