Gazette writer Zeke Wilson

There is much to look forward in the months to come for those who hunt, fish and trap.

The water, weather and woods are still in summer patterns, although change is coming quickly. The drought-stressed trees on southern slopes are beginning to drop some leaves, but the canopy is still dense and green. In the weeks to come it will be interesting to see how the fall

colors develop despite a lack of rainfall. Leafing is a popular activity for many, and the weekend traffic in forested areas will begin to move at a slower pace.

Despite the cancellation of the Elk Expo, the license drawing was still held, and some lucky hunters are now planning the hunt of a lifetime. Luckily, anyone is welcome to go view the elk herd, which is quite popular at this time of year. If possible, planning a trip during the middle of the week would be best to avoid the crowds and traffic.

It is important to keep in mind that elk are wild animals that can inflict serious damage to anything that gets in their path. Binoculars allow an up-close look while remaining a safe distance from the elk. Constant attention and interaction with the herd and people has created some elk that are not as wild as one would like.

Squirrel hunting this week will be difficult with the abundance of vegetation in the woods. A hunter should focus on fresh signs from squirrels harvesting nuts in order to experience success. With the abundance of food in the woods, movements are limited and a hunter may have to hunt hard before locating squirrels.

Despite tough hunting in September, it is a great time to be afield. On opening day of squirrel season I enjoyed encounters with deer and turkey alike. Getting afield and covering some ground can allow the hunter to learn much about the food sources available and animals that are focusing on them.

In the weeks to come the leaves will begin to fall and squirrel hunting will

become more successful. The hunters I spoke with experienced limited success on opening day yet were able to get a jump start on their hunting season.

Archery hunters should begin to prepare for opening day because it is only a few weeks away. Preparing for the hunt well in advance allows a hunter to discover any lost, misplaced or worn-out essentials.

Practicing your shot is fun and will make for better odds of hitting your mark this October.

Those who hunt from an elevated position should give their treestand and safety harness a good inspection for any damage. Hunting from the ground is often overlooked as it can be tougher at eye level with the deer. However, with the undergrowth sill lush and thick, ground hunters can use the vegetation to their advantage when stalking in on deer.

Dropping acorns will soon attract the deer herd to the woods, all but

eliminating the summer pattern they have been on for months. An abundance of deer in the region should allow almost any hunter a chance for some fresh

venison.

Making plans with family and friends to enjoy a few hunts this fall should begin now so that schedules are still open for such adventures. Opening day is a special event, and there are plenty on the way to capitalize on in the months to come.

Although opening day is always anticipated greatly, most seasons are lengthy and provide plenty of time to pursue select species.