- Inspiration abounds in spring – beautiful sunrise sunshine, birds, bees, fresh tree buds, and it seems, at least to me, there might be angels everywhere.
- Anticipation and fun to look forward to – limits of crappie, white bass, walleye, suckers and tasty fish fry’s.
- Special hunting treats – spring gobblers, fresh morel mushrooms, slow-cooked savory venison steaks. Thank you, Lord.
By Larry Whiteley
Circle the first day of spring on your calendar. Put that date in your smartphone and computer calendar with a special alert. Or, you can tell Alexa, Google Assistant, or whatever you use, to remind you of the first day of spring.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, on that exact date, you got up that morning and saw a beautiful sunrise coming through leafed-out trees with a chorus of angels singing “Hallelujah”? Birds are singing with the angels, peeper frogs are peeping, butterflies are everywhere, turkeys are gobbling and wildflowers are blooming. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Since we are daydreaming here anyway, let’s say your boss calls and tells you he knows how much you enjoy spring, so he wants you to take the week off with pay and go fishing. Did I hear the angels singing again?
As I write this, it is a March day. I pause to look out my window at icicles hanging from bare tree limbs. The ground is white, the birds aren’t singing and neither are the angels. The squirrels are shivering and their teeth are chattering. I put another log on the fire. My fishing gear is organized, re-stocked and ready. It sits in the corner of the garage waiting for spring and so am I.
I think I will quit daydreaming for a while and go inventory my turkey gear. Then, when my wife leaves to go grocery shopping, I might practice my turkey calls. I can’t practice when she’s home or she would tell me to go outside to make my yelps, purrs and cackles. Then the neighbors will yell at me and tell me to quit making those noises. I don’t want to go outside anyway. It’s cold out there!
Until she leaves, I guess I will just sit here and try not to think about the cold, windy March weather outside my door. Instead, I will daydream about spring. Wonderful, glorious spring. To me, spring is God’s gift to all of us after a long, cold winter that we don’t think is ever going to end.
To some people, the first sign of spring is a robin in their yard, leaves starting to bud out, or flowers beginning to bloom. To me, the first sign of spring is the mating call of the peeper frog. A single peeper frog is no bigger than your fingernail and couldn’t be heard if you were standing right next to it. But, when hundreds of them blend their clear, birdlike “peeps” into a chorus trying to woo a suitable mate, its music to my ears.
Other signs of spring to me are migratory birds joining year-round residents at our bird feeders and filling the air with their sounds of courtship. Joining them are the drab goldfinches of winter magically changing into the bright yellow of spring. More signs of spring are a bee buzzing around, a spider spinning his web on a bush or a lizard rustling in the leaves causing my heart to skip a beat thinking it’s a snake. There’s also a clean, fresh smell to the air.
Where I live buckeye trees are the first to leaf out. Serviceberry is the first tree to start showing off its blooms. They are followed by the white of the dogwood and the purplish tint of the redbud trees. Wildflowers begin popping through the dead leaves and so do morel mushrooms. While looking for mushrooms I never know when I will find a shed antler from a big buck and that’s a bonus. All the sights, sounds, smells and early season activities always remind me that we humans weren’t the only ones waiting for spring.
Spring to me also means limits of crappie, white bass, walleye, suckers and fish fry’s. It’s matching the hatches on a trout stream. It’s big bass and battling smallmouth. Spring is floating a river, hitting the hiking trails and getting my camping gear together for my first camping trip of the year.
Spring is also my beloved turkey hunting time. My heart always beats faster as a big old gobbler comes into my calls. I’ve spent a lot of years sitting with my back against a tree waiting for the sun to come up and the woods to come alive with the sounds of birds, chattering squirrels and flapping turkey wings. I’d like to have a dollar for every yelp, purr and cluck I’ve made on my calls.
More times than I’d like to count I did everything right and the gobbler wouldn’t respond or come in. There have been times, too, that I did everything right and then scratched an itch or blinked an eye and the gobbler caught my movement. There have also been magical times when my calls were answered by a gobble from really close by. My neck hairs bristle, my heart rate cranks up and the ache in my butt disappears. I point my gun where I expect the gobbler to appear and cluck on my mouth call. Suddenly a crinkly head appears and God smiles down on me. I smooth his bronze feathers, feel his bristly beard, admire his spurs and look up and say thank you once again for my special time in the turkey woods.
The great thing about spring is walking through the woods in search of the delicious wild morel mushroom. They are a special spring treat to me. I wash them off then slice them and sauté in butter until they’re soft and tender. Then I heap them on venison steaks or wild turkey breasts and enjoy their delicate flavor. Besides sautéing,
I also like to bread and fry them. They make great pizza toppings and I like adding them to my wife’s spaghetti. I also put them in soups, stews and sauces. If I am lucky enough to have more fresh morels than I can eat I just dehydrate them for later use. Okay, I have to quit thinking about morels. It’s making me really hungry. I wish my wife would get home with the groceries.
If only Punxsutawney Phil hadn’t seen his shadow a few weeks ago spring might already be here. But he did, so that means we have a few more weeks to wait. It turns out groundhogs aren’t the best for predicting when spring will arrive anyway. A study, probably government-funded with our tax dollars, looked at Groundhog Day predictions from the past 30 years and found that they were only right about 37% of the time.
Regardless, here in the middle of America, March will continue to seem like the longest month of the year. It drags on and on. April gets here and it, at first, teases us into thinking winter is over and spring is finally here. Then cold winds slap us in the face again. Please, God, I want winter to be over! I promise I will be good. Spring is coming, isn’t it?