By Larry Whiteley, Bass Pro Shops, Outdoor World Radio
As I begin another year in my life, I pause to think about how grateful I am. I was lucky enough to live on a farm close to nature when I was young. What did I learn? I learned to be curious and explore. I learned to discover the world of animals, insects, wildflowers, plants and trees. I learned to study what lived in flowing waters. I gained confidence, learned to be alone, enjoy myself and feel at home.
The best part? I kept the outdoors with me all through my life and still love to spend time outdoors in nature every week. It’s crucial for my physical and mental health. I love to write about nature and the great outdoors. I want to share it with others as long as I can. I want to paint pictures with words that will touch hearts so readers of my stories might discover the outdoors as I did. The outdoors can change the life of kids and adults, as it has mine, for the better.
How do I sum all that up? Nature, hiking, camping, hunting and fishing are part of the reason I am who I am and who my kids and grandkids are today. The outdoors also led me to trust and believe in God, who created it all. For all that, I am truly grateful.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir
Nature is often seen as something we can escape to when life is hard. The reality is the nature that surrounds us is far more meaningful and far more valuable than the money we chase and obsess over. If we appreciated nature the way we love money, we might just make the world a bit more peaceful and beautiful.
THE AMAZING CROW
Crows are highly intelligent birds and have the largest brain, in relation to their size, of all species of birds. Their diet is diverse and includes insects, grains, nuts, fruit, bird eggs and bird nestlings. They live in the country, in cities and in urban settings.
Missouri has a crow season, which is going on now and runs through March 3. The call of the crow is the familiar “caw.” What many people don’t know is a crow’s call has variations that signify warning, threats, taunting and cheer. Winter is a time when crows congregate in large flocks, as most deer hunters know. Hunters also know if they shoot a deer, they better get to it before the crows do. When these flocks are feeding, one or two crows can be seen on high perches, serving as lookouts for the rest of the flock. This behavior allows the rest of the flock to forage more efficiently.
Crow hunters have reported that if three of them enter a blind, the crows will fly away and won’t return to the area until not one, not two, but all three hunters have left. That puts crows in a very exclusive animal kingdom club of those that can count.
To see how smart crows really are, researchers placed a small canister full of insects inside a glass cover with no top to see what the crow would do. There was a little wire loop on top of the canister, but the crow couldn’t reach it with its beak. Next to the glass cover was a straight piece of wire. The crow picked it up and stuck it inside the glass cover but couldn’t lift up the canister. What the crow did next stunned the researchers. It pressed the piece of wire against the tabletop a few times and bent it into a small hook. It then used the hook to remove the canister. Crows truly are amazing.
SHAME ON US
According to the EPA, Americans create enough garbage every year to fill a convoy of 10-ton garbage trucks 145,000 miles long, which is more than halfway from here to the moon. Sadly, a lot of it could have been recycled. Shame on us.
SMALL GAME HUNTING
When deer seasons are over, many hunters quit hunting until the spring turkey season. More hunters are beginning to find out they can take their .22 rifle or shotgun and go after small game like rabbits and squirrels. Both are really good eating as most of us know who grew up on farms hunting them when we were younger. There were no deer in this area back then. It was a matter of survival, not fun, back in the good old days.
SCOUTING FOR NEXT DEER SEASON
When deer seasons are all over, get out and do your scouting for next season. In the winter, thinned woods make deer trails stand out like highways, and even the secondary trails are readily apparent.
All the past seasons’ signs like rubs and some leftover scrapes are easy to see. You can also penetrate the dense thickets big bucks call home. Use your hunting app to mark the buck’s core area sanctuary, including escape trails.
Because the area looks like it will look during the actual hunting season, stand sites can be better selected to take advantage of cover and terrain features. Go ahead and hang your stand for next year so it is a part of the landscape rather than a warning later of human intrusion.
Now is a good time to catch crappie. Sure, it’s cold out there but wrap up warm, take hand warmers and get out there. You’ll need to think deep and focus your search on points, ridges, humps and flats with tight contour lines on either side of the feature. Look for stumps, rock piles or brush piles near the deeper edge of the feature. That’s where you should find the crappie. The action can get so fast and furious, you won’t even think about how cold you are.