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The Tiger

This neck of the woods: A column on the great outdoors

Nathan Pretorius, staff


Well folks, it’s that time of year again: February. It is by far the hardest of the twelve months to spell, and the frustration doesn’t end there. You see, it is the month that God squeezed into our calendars for two reasons: reminiscence and eagerness. 

Wherever you live, it’s time to face the stubborn truth that deer season is actually over. It’s time for the 160’s and 170’s, wherever they are, to shed their head horn and look like big ass does for the next few months. This depresses me. It does every year — this year especially because I did not harvest a buck from his home somewhere amongst the tall Carolina pines.

This is the month that I spend my days in class daydreaming about women (that’s a year round thing), and what could have been this deer season and what I could have done differently to be better prepared for my adventures in the woods. For example, spending a few more hours in the sweltering heat on the range with my granddad by my side giving me pointers, both for the practice and companionship. 

I also dream about the memories I made this season that can only be made with a good hunting buddy from way back. I miss the solitude that comes from the three hours or so I get to spend up an oak tree that allows me to both collect my thoughts and clear my head from the business of everyday life.

I sit in class and think about that deer I missed because I jerked the trigger, or the many battles I had with a wasp that wanted to end my life for entering his domain. I wonder why I, or anyone else I talked to, barely saw anything this year. 

Wait, I know why — it was hot as hell. 

No deer wants to move, except in the middle of the night in the unseasonably hot and wet season we had this year. But my point is this: for sportsmen in South Carolina, this is a frustrating time of year; we can no longer spend our Saturday mornings and evenings nestled back, 20 feet up a sweet gum like we did from Aug. 15 through Jan. 1.

Worry not, friends hope is on the way. 

As I stated, there are two reasons The Almighty created February, the latter of which is eagerness. I say this because, though the 2016 deer opener may seem like eons away, there are other opportunities and excuses to get out of that heated house of yours and into

the outdoors. 

The first of which is the pursuit of small game, namely, and my personal favorite: tree rats. In layman’s terms, a squirrel. I hate squirrels; he eats seemingly every bit of deer corn I lay upon the earth. This irks me, and I will take any opportunity I am given to chase him through the woods with a .22. If you are in deer season denial, as I like to call it, you should as well. 

There are also rabbits. You can rabbit hunt during this month. If you have never heard the sound of a group of dogs working a sly swamp rabbit, you are depriving yourself of one of the great joys of life, and you need to change that.

Then there is my personal favorite February pursuit — the preparation that is involved for the spring bass fishing adventure. February is a little early for the bucket-mouths to work their way into the shallows to bed and eventually spawn, but in March, all systems go. 

I love fishing the spawn — the fish are usually so shallow you can sight cast for them — and if you have never felt the adrenaline that goes hand in hand with a four-pound largemouth emerging from the bed and devouring your soft plastic lizard with a combination of grace and violence, you are, once again, depriving yourself of one of life’s best kept secrets. 

Now you can probably catch a bass or two on the beds in late February, but what I love the most is evaluating my current tackle supply and deciding what I need to waste as much money as possible on this year. (Believe me, I will waste as much as I possibly can.) If you want to fish in February, slooowww is the name of the game. 

Fish are lethargic during the cold months. I find great joy and satisfaction in piddling with my reels, oiling them up and relining them. It makes me feel like I am doing something productive, and then there is that chemistry lab report due next week.

I say to you this: if you are currently afflicted with the virus that is “deer season denial,” there is a treatment for you yet. Dust off that bait-caster, reline that spinning reel, or go introduce a tree rat to your freezer, or better yet take a few minutes and have a drink with your hunting buddy and reminisce about the 2015 deer season. 

No matter what you do, never, never, never ever take your eyes (or mind) off of next season. Until next time.

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