OUTDOORS

A fair-weather hunter

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My son Clayton told me the other day that I was a fair-weather hunter.

"Remember when I was little, and we hunted ducks?" he asked. "It would be cold and raining, and we would stay out there - freezing. I would beg you to quit and go home, but you just laughed. Now, at the first hint of a shower, you are ready to pack it in."

He was right. I have changed my attitude a little through the years. I don't mind the cold so much, but the rain is another matter. I just can't take it anymore. And you know what? I don't have to. I usually choose to stay out of the rain - warm or cold.

Clayton's attitude has changed some through the years, too. He just wants to stay out there, rain or shine, hot or cold. I guess we've come full circle.

I know the hot weather is behind us, but I don't like it either. I sweat really badly. It wets me from head to toe, runs in my eyes and the corners of my mouth. It's uncomfortable, and it doesn't take much activity for me to work up a sweat, even in cool weather. I seek the shade in hot weather, or better yet air conditioning. I deer hunt some in warm weather but look forward to the cooler days of autumn.

I plan my hunting trips around family obligations and work. Weather is also a big factor in my plans. I won't take time off from work to hunt if the weather is going to be bad. I watch the weather forecast on TV and check the local newspapers. I generally think that the best time to hunt is whenever you can, but the weather has to be good. I have more than 50 years in the woods and waters, and like a lot of you, I love just being outside, doing something in the great outdoors.

But I guess I'm a little spoiled. I've had enough opportunities to hunt and fish through the years that I can afford to be choosy now. My wife, Ginger, has resigned herself to being a hunting widow - most of the time. My kids are grown, and my boss at work knows where my true priorities are. The only thing now that really limits my time afield is the air currents that swirl around this planet.

All this being said, I have still managed to set up a few contingencies just in case I change my mind or if Clayton puts too much pressure on me.

On our hunting lease, we have a box-type stand that is closed in and has a good roof with plenty of overhang. It takes a blowing rain to get you wet in that stand. Our other stands are situated along interior club roads and are easy to access with a short walk. I also have two or three waterproof, pop-up-type portable ground blinds that can be moved around easily for deer or turkey hunting.

On a recent weekend, the weather was cloudy, misty, dreary and wet. Not my favorite time to be outside, but I thought I could squeeze in maybe one decent day afield. I called Clayton to talk about our options. We decided to go to the Lowcountry and look for some arrowheads. Clayton would rather look for arrowheads than eat.

There was a very light mist on the windshield on our way down the interstate. Nobody was at the club when we got there at noon, but later we did run into a couple of new members out riding around.

Looking for arrowheads is relaxing, and we set a leisurely pace. Of course Clayton picked up a small arrowhead as soon as we stepped out of the truck at our favorite site.

I picked up maybe two dozen pieces of pottery, one with a small hand-drilled hole through it - the first I had ever seen. I also found a nice scraper, sometimes called a thumb scraper. Clayton picked up some pottery, but he doesn't keep much of it and will usually give it to me. I've got hundreds, maybe thousands, of pieces.

The misty rain got heavier, and soon I'd had enough, so we decided to pack it in and head for home. We had managed to get out in the woods for a while and enjoyed the time together. There will be better days to hunt, and the weather will soon turn colder, maybe even with some snow. Better conditions for a fair-weather hunter.

Dan Geddings is a weekly columnist for The Sumter Item. Email Dan at cdgeddings@gmail.com.