September 2005
Happy Hunting Ground

Happy Hunting Ground

We are in what I call the "notch" period of the year. You know, the notch, when the average hunter has nothing to do. We are still waiting for the latest whitetail magazines to hit the news stands, hunting season is pretty far away, and it’s hot. It is too hot to even think about breaking ground on a food plot and definitely too hot to actually plant one.

The rich hunter in Alabama is able to voyage to somewhere that is a lot cooler. As a matter of fact if I ever become a rich hunter, I already have my plan.

I figure that somewhere in the world it is hunting season on any given day of the year. It’s cold in Australia and New Zealand, so, right now I could go stag hunting. Sure it’s hot in Africa, but safaris are always hot, at least the ones in the movies are. The way I figure it, if any of us had the money and nothing else to do, we could hunt year round and when the occasional time came that you just couldn’t find somewhere in the world to go hunting, you’d probably need the rest any way.
There is still one activity for hunters during this notch period and that is planning. We know that we need to plan those food plots, but as I said we are far enough away from hunting season that it’s hard to get real excited about it right now–maybe if it were closer or if it was cooler we could, but not yet, we need to pace ourselves.

The best we can hope to get accomplished is to get out and pull some soil samples. But then after we have sent off the samples we still have to wait for the results, we have to wait till planting time.

We can sit around and plan our plots to death. We know what forage we are going to plant, when we are going to plant it, how we are going top plant it, what forage we are going to try that is new, what forage we are going to rely on as the backbone of our plot program.

Some of us know the pH of our food plots but don’t know the shoe size of our spouse. (I know that I have no idea what size shoe my wife wears.) We know how many pounds per acre of Big Buck Blend we are going to plant, but we have no idea what our children weigh. We know the N, P & K content of our soils, but haven’t got the faintest idea on how long it takes to thaw out a pound of hamburger in the microwave. We can load and offload a tractor at the hunting camp, bush hog, disc, plant, run a chainsaw, cook on a fire and go to the bathroom in the woods, but getting the hairy clog out of the shower gives us the willies.

Anyway, the watchword for the notch still is planning. After we have planned on all the preceding things, we still have time on our hands and it’s still hot out there. Now is when the gun shows, catalogues and stores come into play. We now can attack the problem of the notch with a three-pronged approach.

Prong One: Gun Shows. We can tell our wives that we are not interested in buying any more guns and that we are just going to look. My wife ain’t dumb, she knows that nobody, especially men, just look at guns. We look at them because we intend to someday buy it. We don’t do like our wives. They call it "shopping," we call it "looking." While they may never intend to actually buy what they are looking at, we guys know that the only reason we are looking is because we want it. As we are looking, we are trying to figure out how to buy it, how to justify buying it and how can we buy it without her finding out. Gun shows are good because if you buy something it is almost impossible to return it. They take credit cards too! The down side is, it’s hot out there.

Prong Two: Catalogues.
The catalogue allows us to "shop" from the most comfortable seat in the house, take your pick. We can look at all of the latest gear and find things we have needed for years but never knew existed. We can look at the options, price and shipping costs. We can order it over the phone with a credit card and never leave our seat. We can take a catalogue and figure out how to buy it, justify why we need to buy it and buy it without her finding out, at least until the bill comes in the mail. By then we have worn it or used it so it can’t be returned. Remember, it’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission. And, we do not have to go out there where it’s hot.

Prong Three: Stores. Stores are a good way to get out of the house. There is always a reason to go to the store anyway such as getting some bug spray, pet food or fertilizer. You can always come up with an excuse to go to the store and while you are there, take a look at what they have. Once again, you can probably find something you have needed for years. When you decide to buy it, tell your wife that you bought it at the Co-op and that will help the store make a profit and, hey, we’re part owners so that helps us!! Practice a few times on the way home and you’ll be able to convince her that you have actually helped the family by making the purchase and don’t forget to remind her about all the "free" venison you’ll be able to put on the table with the help of your new (fill in item here).

Just remember to buy the kids something in exchange for their silence.

Now that you know how to spend your "notch" or at least plan for it, I think I’ll get started on that hairy thing in the shower drain as soon as I find the latex gloves my wife tries to make me wear when I do the dishes. I guess I shouldn’t have bought that .243 two years ago.

Ralph Ricks is the manager of Quality Cooperative, Inc. in Greenville.