"It's a busy time in the bush," said WW&W Fall correspondent Autumn Equinox, waiting in the wings for her gala appearance on Sept. 23. "With my birds on the wing and brookies on the wane, September is made to measure for Yooper multi-tasking at its finest."
I like having my old Remington Wingmaster hand-me-down from my Dad leaning up against a nearby tree trunk for protection in case a partridge shows up while I'm wetting a line. I'm still pretty much focused on fishing, but my Wingmaster is pumped to be riding shotgun during these last two weeks of shagging barckroads brookies.
"Yesterday was Opening Day for Ruffed grouse, my prized Bonassa umbellus," Autumn added, "partridge to Yoopers."
"'Tis also the season for fall turkey, the second coming for black bear, fox and grey squirrel, and more hot woods, water and worse action than we have a birthright to," she continued.
With just a smattering of fall color and a totally-green understory, partridge and all woodland critters have plenty of foliage and cover to protect them from the predations of opening day and early season shotgunners.
Yooper Canada goose season opens Saturday, as does snow, blue, ross, white-fronted and Brant geese. Ducks, mergansers, coots, moorhens and woodcock phase in on Sept. 24. This is Michigan Youth Waterfowl hunting weekend statewide, Sept. 17-18, for ages 10-15. Kids must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or responsible person 18 or older. Adults are not allowed to hunt and are not required to have a waterfowl hunting license.
Copper Country trout steams and brookie cricks from Trout Creek to Tapiola, from Misery Bay to the Montreal, are grown over with a bumper croppa Autumn's bright golden hay, purple Joe Pyeweed, and grasses as tall and blonde as WW&W wildlife correspondent Paris Hiltunen.
It takes patience and perseverence to get a line in the water now, but a twitching, seemingly hapless hopper in the surface film gets inhaled by a ravenous brookie in the twinklng of an eye. Just because you can't see something doesn't mean it's not there, especially when you feel that tantalizing, tingling sensation in your rod tip, and increasingly urgent tugging through the tall hay over your head.
I still thrill to that tingle of an unseen little 7-inch fish chock fulla more fall spawning color and God's own beauty than any critter oughta have; like the brookies and cricks of my boyhood that first taught me how to fish them. Guess what? Fifty years later they're still giving free lessons, no appointment necessary, just show up. Be observant, pay attention and the crick and its fish will teach you what to do.
Keep your eyes peeled on that impenetrable tag alder thicket you just bushwhacked through along the crick. That's where kingfishers perch in ambush, watching and waiting to stick their beaks into a lacksadaisical brookie straying too far from the safety of that deep, dark undercut bank just behind the hay.
Back off, don't stand too close to the bank. They can sense an intruding predator when you're standing right over their heads and the earth moves under your feet. Stand back so you cast only your line, worm, fly, cricket or hopper upon the water, not your shadow.
Like a young, inexperienced kingfisher just learning the ropes, it hasn't yet learned it's game over once his prey spots his avian predator shadow on the water. The brookies get pretty scarce and the bite turns off.
Meanwhile, back beneath a deeply undercut bank, you can't see the fish but that insistent tug tells you he's still hooked. Don't be too focused, because just overhead, a chubby, well-fed, kingfisher tries to dive bomb me outa there.
His sharing skills need work, as he doesn't take kindly to two-footed predators poaching his private stash of brookies. As I duck under the tall weeds just in the nicka time, he swoops down barely missing sticking that long beak he uses so aptly for spearing fish in my ear. The last two weeksa brookie season, Yoopers oughta put in for combat or hazardous duty pay, just to be on the safe side.
And if you believe that, you're as crazy as a loon.
In other outdoor news, local walleye guys, girls and enthusiasts don't wanna miss the CCWA at the CIBC, Copper Country Walleye Association meeting at the Copper Island Beach Club on the Hancock Waterfront, 7 p.m., Tuesday.
Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at jjunttila@ chartermi.net.