By Bill Cooper
September is a bittersweet month for many outdoorsmen. Generally speaking, outdoorsmen love every month of the year, especially in the Ozarks. One can literally enjoy some sort of outdoor activity every month of the year in our beloved Ozarks. However, September is a problem for many due to the fact that so many hunting and fishing seasons come in during the month of September. The big problem facing outdoorsmen is deciding which activity to enjoy first, or which activities to participate in, which ones to miss out on, or delay until later.
Dove season opened September 1 and is a big deal for wing-shooters. Doves are plentiful and are very challenging targets. They are in fact the most popular game bird in North America. Literally millions of hunters go afield each season to pursue these speedy, gray denizens of the skies.
Dove hunters often group up to hunt. A party atmosphere easily takes shape as the shooting begins and guys and gals alike begin to laugh and joke about their buddies shooting abilities. Even the best of wing-shooters are humbled by the diminutive dove. Doves often display some incredible aerobatic dynamics as they approach a field to feed. Doves possess the uncanny ability to dart, dive and careen in any direction in a milli-second. As a result of their evasive moves, the average wing-shooter in the U.S. expends five shot-shells per bird downed. That’s on a good day. Everyone experiences a bad shooting day occasionally. I’ve known hunters who have expended an entire box of 25 shells and not such much as touched a feather. That, my friend is humiliating. I know. It happened to me one time in my 60 year career of dove shooting.
September is the month of the fast birds. Teal season began on the 12th. They are the earliest migrators of ducks. They begin passing through Missouri in early August on their way to Mexico and Argentina. The tiny ducks only weigh about 6-ounces, but for what they lack in weight, they make up for in speed. They are known for speeding across decoy sets at 60mph. One had better have his shooting game under control to be able to connect with these little speed demons.
Teal are prized by wing-shooters as well , because they are speedy, plentiful and make excellent table fare. Hunters prize them too, because they are among the easiest of ducks to hunt. Simply find a shallow water area, which teal prefer, and toss out a dozen decoys of any species. Teal like company and if they see your decoy set, they will generally come right to it. At times they zoom across the decay set a time or two before committing to join the fake ducks.
Waterfowl hunters are quite fond of teal, too, because they do decoy so readily. Hunters with kids along love it. They allow the ducks to set down in the decoy set, and them flush them to give young hunters a straight away shot.
Gigging season for rough fish began September 15. It is one of the most celebrated seasons of the fall. Giggers all over the Ozarks band together in groups to go out on their favorite river at night and attempt to gig enough suckers to have an immediate fish fry right on the river banks. Here, too, party atmospheres breakout as people celebrate the occasion of being on the water once again.
Gigging, too, has its special challenges. Because of water refraction, a fish is not where it appears to be. The deeper the water, the more magnified the problem of water refraction becomes. Lots of time on the water and hundreds of jobs at fish with a gig is the only known cure for this perennial problem.
Giggers also enjoy a long season, usually well up into January. Many claim that the water becomes much more clear in the cold winter months. Therefore, many people prefer to wait until cooler weather to make their gigging trips. Bryan Wilson, of Stained water Bowfishing and Gigging, from Jerome, says that many people don’t like to gig in the warm early season because of the bugs, which are attracted to the gigging lights. “I don’t mind a few bugs in my teeth,” Bryan said.
Adding to the plethora of September outdoor activities, the annual archery season for both deer and wild turkeys also opened on September 15. Bow season for white-tailed deer would become a national holiday if were up to Missouri deer hunters. “I can’t wait for the annual bow season to begin each fall,” said Dusty Nelson, owner of Tall Tine Barber Shop in St. James. Dusty obviously has a bad case of deer hunting fever. I’m expecting him to come up with a hair style model called the Rut Cut.
Interest in bowhunting has skyrocketed in the last few decades with the advent TV hunting shows and ever improving archery tackle. Brian Jenkins, owner of 4J Archery in rural St. James, says that bow season is the beginning of the fall outdoor year for thousands of Missourians. “Bowhunting for big bucks can become addicting,” Brian said.”
September is indeed an outstanding month for outdoorsmen. It’s a great month to fish, float, camp, hike, and enjoy the beginning of the fall colors display. Get outside in September and enjoy our great outdoors. It’s up to you to decide what you are going to do when!