August is a month that takes, well, a lot of heat, especially from sportsmen. Lord knows it’s hot, and that drives fish deep and fishermen into their air-conditioned dens and man caves.
I’ve sweated as much as the next guy in August, slathered on plenty of sunscreen — I learned the hard way last year that as my hair thins on top, wearing a visor may not be the way to keep the bare spots from turning a shocking and painful shade of pink. And I’m guilty of preferring that 72-degree comfort of the couch watching the Braves over spending 90-degree afternoons trimming shooting lanes or brushing up deer stands.
But if it’s nothing else, August is a month of promise. You can see September and October on the horizon. Fall is not that far away. I know from years of experience that at some point toward the end of the month, a little cold front is going to make an appearance, moving all those resident doves that have been flocking to the field I’m planning on hunting about 30 or 40 miles farther south, leaving in doubt the success of that Labor Day outing. It’s happened too often not to count on it.
I also know that fish along the coast start to really act like it’s fall later this month. All the baitfish and shrimp are around, the mullet are starting to stir and everything just seems like it’s waiting for that first big northeast blow in September to bring on full-fledged fall fishing.
I admit, I miss out on a lot of early season deer hunting, especially the early season in the Lowcountry, because I like to focus on saltwater fishing until, say, mid-October. And being color-blind to red doesn’t help my bowhunting prospects. Realizing that following a blood trail was not one of my strengths, I turned my bow over to my son a couple of years ago, and I regularly enjoy the venison sausage that weapon donation has produced and plan to for a while longer.
I know dove season doesn’t open until Sept. 2, but I start thinking about it several weeks in advance. I make sure my shotguns are functioning — two beautiful, old 20-gauge guns went to the gunsmith several weeks ago to get some old-age problems worked out before it’s time to clear out a spot in the field for my green, 5-gallon bucket.
This will be a very special dove season; my son will be toting something into the field besides his grandfather’s Remington 870. He asked for a Labrador retriever for his college graduation present this past May, and his puppy, Buckshot, will turn five months old the day before the season opens. His obedience training is going well so far, and he’s shown a special enthusiasm for duck wings dangled from a fishing rod on a length of 20-pound monofilament. I’m looking forward to that first retrieve in the field.
Come to think of it, August might be something to look forward to.