July 26, 2022
For years I thought August was too early to go hunting. It was still summertime, after all. And hunting is an autumn adventure. Sure, I was thinking about hunting, and planning out fall hunts. I was shooting my bow religiously, sharpening my knives, and fine-tuning my gear. Early August was also when I realized how out of shape I’d gotten with the easy-livin’ of summer, and I’d implement a not-so-strict workout regimen of morning hikes with a heavy pack on my back. But actual hunting would have to wait for September 1 — the opening day of dove season when I’d gather with a bunch of friends sitting around a waterhole, shooting, laughing and, after the guns were put away, drinking beer and grilling fresh dove breasts.
Then, one August, I found myself sitting in a box blind in South Carolina. Or it could have been a sweat lodge. Either way, I had a gun in my hand, a valid deer tag in my pocket and I was in the woods, in August. Between the heat, the mosquitos and the lack of deer, I won’t say it ranks very high on my list of favorite hunts. But it was slightly better than sitting in my air-conditioned home dreaming about September.
A few Augusts later, I was in a bush plane on approach to a gravel bar in the middle of an Arctic river. A few friends and I spent a week on the banks of that river, hunting caribou and avoiding grizzlies. Hunts in Alaska, especially these DIY adventures in wild, untamed country, encourage a type of atavism, a regression into a more pure form of the hunter. I can’t think of a better way to kickstart the hunting season, and that particular hunt for caribou does rank high on my list of best experiences in the field.
Along with hunters in South Carolina and Alaska, Californians have long known that hunting season can be a summertime affair. Heck, some of their deer seasons open as early as July. After years of dreaming about it, I finally got to experience an early deer hunt near the Central Coast. And while it was hot, and smoky, there were plenty of deer. Along with some fine wine shared among friends, old and new. You can read about that August hunt at Steinbeck Vineyards on page 44 of this issue.
As it turns out, August is not too early to go hunting. And even if you don’t have any early season plans this month, I hope this issue gets you thinking about where to go next year. Because as it turns out, it’s always hunting season somewhere.
See you around the campfire!