Well, it’s been a while since I’ve done any writing. For those of you concerned, I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. For those who didn’t miss me, or didn’t notice, too bad. I’m back.

My schedule has just been so hectic for the last few months, that I needed to take a hiatus from writing, but so many things are going on in the outdoors that I couldn’t put off contributing any longer.

Hunting seasons are in full swing, and with the firearm deer season right around the corner, we will be seeing large numbers of sportsmen and women taking to the field.

Pheasant season opened statewide on Oct. 28 and most hunters found birds fairly abundant. This is a welcome change from the last decade, when pheasant and quail numbers dipped to an extreme low. Of course the old timers, like myself, can remember days when birds were quite numerous and a daily bag limit could be filled in short order. I know, I’m not really old, but I can remember glorious days of fast pheasant hunting action in my younger years. Hunters today can’t be lazy and fill the game bag. You probably will have to work a little for those birds.

The deer rut seems to be picking up steam steadily, and so archery hunters should enjoy a couple of really good weeks of deer hunting. Smaller bucks are chasing does on a regular basis, and it won’t be long before the larger deer will join in. Hang in there, and that big buck of your dreams will come along. He will be so starry eyed chasing his lady friend, that he won’t even notice you up in your stand, and give you the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. If you are going to bowhunt, now is the time to do it.

Trapping season opened November 1st, but most trappers are waiting for more prime furs. The furbearing animals are starting to prime up some, but skins are still a little blue and the fur is not super thick yet. A couple more weeks should have the furry critters with their winter coats on. In a depressed fur market, as we are seeing recently, catching only the best and most prime fur will be your most logical approach.

Some of us were too anxious to wait, so we have been out snagging up some of those earlier fur balls. I did have a use for a few early skins, so it afforded me the opportunity to whet my appetite for getting out later. One thing is for sure, animals are abundant. With the market prices being lower, less hunters and trappers are targeting furbearers, and so their populations have gone up considerably. Food has been plentiful with good crops and decent weather, and so there has been nothing to slow the propagation of these varmints. If you’ve been wanting to learn about trapping, now is a good time to get into it. If you miss something, the cost of learning doesn’t hurt as much in a good year. Also, there will be a lot less competition in the field.

Don’t forget about fishing. Just because the temperatures are dropping, doesn’t mean that you can’t get out on your favorite lake. With cooler water temperatures, fish will revert to some of their spring patterns, hanging out in shallower warmer waters. The action may be slightly more sluggish with cooler waters, but fish will still bite well in the fall. Try slowing down the action of your lures, and really finesse them past the fish. Fish have to eat too, and they are trying to put on extra weight for energy to survive the winter.

Trout have been stocked in the west side of Pawnee Park pond, and rainbows will bite aggressively in cooler waters. Taking a youngster out to park for an afternoon of fishing will fill up your memory book with some good times. Try using marshmallows, cheese, worms, corn and small shiny spinners for trout.

Taxidermy Tip of the Week

When should you take your specimen to the taxidermist? The short answer is, as soon as possible. A lot of folks figure that since taxidermy takes so long, and it will be anywhere from six months to a year before getting your mount back, that it doesn’t matter when you take it in to the taxidermist. Well, let me offer a bit of advice.

Taxidermists take so long to get your mount back to you because of two reasons. One, they take in 90% of their work in about a two to three month period of time, and then it takes the rest of the year to get caught up. Just in time to start all over again! And two, some processes take considerable time. For example, tanning of hides can take anywhere from 2-5 months. I send all of my skins to a commercial tannery, and during their busy times, they get behind too. Depending on how many people are in front of me, tanning can take from 60-120 days, and then you have to account for shipping time too. Then suddenly, the taxidermist has a whole bunch of skins back from the tannery and ready for mounting. He will then start to work through them, one at a time, to get the mounts put together and ready for the customer.

Taxidermists work through this large pile of animals in the order that they are received. So, by delaying your trip to the taxidermy shop, you have further delayed the completion date of your mount. Furthermore, the taxidermist is better equipped to store your trophy until it’s time to work on it. I’m also sure that your wife would appreciate getting that deer head out of her freezer! You can put a lot of steaks in that spot!

Taking your animal to the taxidermist sooner will reserve your spot on his/her list, you can be confident that your specimen is being well taken care of, the rest of the people in your household will appreciate the room in the family freezer, and the taxidermist knows that your trophy won’t spoil or freezer burn. Everyone is happy. Well, probably almost everyone. We’ll talk about the costs of taxidermy another time.

Daryl Keyes is owner of Pheasant Hollow Taxidermy. His columns on the outdoors are featured regularly in The Telegram.