September 2015
Howle's Hints

Joy in the Outdoors

"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?" – Job 12:7-9 NIV

September is a great time to be in the woods observing God’s creation. The wildlife we harvest and the fish we take make us realize that we are dependent upon God’s blessings to keep ourselves fed. In addition to meeting our creature comforts, God gives us beauty in the outdoors that positively impacts all our senses.

Smelling fresh pasture grass, tasting honeysuckles, hearing birds sing and toms gobble, or feeling the warmth of a newborn calf remind us that God is not only our creator but He’s a creative creator as well. The fact that wildlife survive year-round off the woods and waters of a state that is truly blessed with abundant natural resources makes any outdoorsman happy to live and hunt in Alabama.

Hunt the White Oaks

White oak acorns are the bread and butter of the deer herd. If you find prolific acorn producers in the woods this time of year, you are certain to see white-tailed deer. The abundant rains of this past April and May have resulted in a bumper crop of white oak acorns for most of Alabama.

Identify these trees now so you can find productive travel corridors for hunting as the deer feast on these acorns this fall. Even after the acorns have been cleaned up, deer will often continue to use these travel routes because they are creatures of habit, and there will be occasional late acorns drop from the trees. If you keep your eyes on the doe herd in these areas, it won’t be long before you see the bucks come out during the rut phase of breeding season.

A spray bottle filled with fly control and mineral water will help keep the flies off your cattle during the end of fly season.  

Homemade Fly Sprayer

There are still plenty of flies pestering cattle this time of year. You can purchase a heavy duty, handheld spray bottle from any hardware store that will spray a stream of 10-12 feet to easily administer fly spray solution to the backs of cattle.

I mix a solution of Lintox and mineral oil that has an oily consistency allowing the solution to stick to the backs of cattle. The mineral oil won’t harm the spray bottle, and it is safe for cattle. The mineral oil will allow the solution to stick to cattle for a few days between treating. Ask your local Co-op for the best insecticides for cattle in your area.

Tap it Before You Turn it

It’s a frustrating experience to attempt to loosen a Phillips head screw only to have the screwdriver round out the head making it virtually impossible to loosen the screw. First, make sure before turning that the Phillips screwdriver is the correct size. Next, place the screwdriver into the screw head and hit the screwdriver handle with a hammer to seat the screwdriver tip into the screw head.

This will prevent slipping and rounding of the screw head. This is especially helpful when removing tight screws. For final added insurance against slippage, spray a touch of WD-40 or Break-Free cleaner and lubricant to the screw head.

Call the Co-op

If you find out your soil test report recommends lime and fertilizer on your pastures or food plots, your local Co-op is the best resource for putting out bulk quantities of lime and fertilizer. The spreader truck can put out bulk lime that is much cheaper than pelletized lime.

If your access roads to food plots are too narrow for a spreader truck, it is well worth the money to widen these access roads and get them in good shape so a spreader truck can enter. Many food plots in Alabama require as much as three tons of lime per acre to neutralize the acidic soils that grow pine trees so well. Making room for the spreader truck will save you money in the long run.

  Comfortable chairs, plenty of water and good conversation make up a traditional dove shoot.

September Dove Shoots

September dove shoots herald the opening of hunting season, and they are a great way to get youth involved with the outdoors. Make sure you have comfortable seating and plenty of water, since there can often be a lot of downtime between birds flying over. This downtime is an ideal opportunity to talk with your friends or family members who shoot with you.

To increase your chances of harvesting birds, go to the field a few days before and put up some dove decoys. If there is no nearby fence on which to clip your decoys, you can dig a post hole and put a sapling tree with limbs into the hole and place the decoys on the limbs once you’ve removed the leaves. Remember, it’s not about the doves you harvest but the time you spend together.

During this upcoming hunting season, don’t be afraid to turn the cellphone off and just simply let yourself be overwhelmed by God’s creative design we commonly refer to as the Alabama outdoors.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.