Turning point in the season

This week marks a turning point in the season when we change from a fishing area to a hunting region.
Large game hunting with rifles begins this Saturday (Oct. 9) across the eastern half of the Rainy River District, as well as in the Kenora and Dryden areas. As I cut the grass and raked leaves this past weekend, I watched as many trailers headed east.
I also watched as many vehicles had their boats loaded on trailers heading to garages and yards. The lake season has ended.
It almost is a ritual. The weekend before hunting season opens, the hunt camp is readied. Trailers are pulled to the location and then blocked, tarps are hung between trees, and wood is gathered for the campfire.
Some hunters bring their heavy-duty tents and erect them with their built-in wood stoves to keep themselves warm at night.
Others have booked cottages at camps in the area and will begin arriving at their destinations, complete with food supplies, four-wheelers, and hunting gear. Bright-orange fluorescent camo will be the fashion in the woods for the next two months.
Making the last trip to the cabin on the weekend, I couldn’t help but notice that the brilliant leaves I enjoyed the previous weekend now have left the forest floor a golden colour, just as my yard had received a new carpeting of golds and reds from the birches and the maple.
Where I couldn’t see far into the bush from the cabin, the brush was now clear and you could see much farther. It will make hunting easier this coming weekend.
Without rain for most of the week, the forest floor had dried and there was a crunch underfoot from the dried twigs and leaves. It will be brittle underfoot for the hunters this weekend.
The sun is expected to shine throughout the course of this week, with temperatures forecast to rise into the mid- to upper teens C. The outdoors will be enjoyed.
For many, this is a family outing covering many generations. Moms, dads, children, and grandparents make the opening of the hunting season a family affair.
Coinciding with the Thanksgiving holiday, meals are planned well in advance of the weekend and take on the feel of the real traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Most people who go hunting go for the enjoyment of the outdoors and the companionship of their fellow hunters. Hunting now is more about that social time around dusk and sunrise as meals are prepared and eaten.
A beverage is enjoyed and stories are shared around open-air campfires without bugs and flies. The radiant heat is reflected off faces.
The silence of the night is broken only by the friendly banter and the crackle of the pine burning.
At this time of year, the sky is bright and the brilliance of the stars lights the surrounding area.
By 10 at night, the more serious hunters will be packed into their sleeping bags—oblivious to the night with their clocks set for a rise shortly after 5 a.m. Somewhat bleary-eyed, they’ll enjoy a quick breakfast and then be on their way to be stationed at their post by sun up to begin their hunt.
The less serious will talk later into the evening, catch an occasional shooting star, and wake at a much later hour. A late breakfast and short hunt will make their day.
Back early to camp, unless they get unlucky and shoot an animal, the ritual of social camping will return.
Serious, casual, and family hunters can look forward to this Thanksgiving, sharing in the outdoors and the spirit of the wilderness that has attracted people to this area of the world for eons.

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