It was just daylight, September 1, 2018 -- a Saturday.
I pulled the boat up on a sloping, deep point at the mouth of a creek on Old Hickory Lake.
We threw swimbaits as far as we could and let them sink to 12 feet. Then, a slow, twitchy retrieve. I set the hook…hard.
In ten minutes, we caught three rockfish, maybe hybrids? One of those striped varieties. Then, as the sun came up, they quit. Three-minute boat ride.
I pulled up on another, more shallow point with a huge sunken log we knew about. The butt of the log was in three feet of water, the tip in 12. Big worms. Mark set the hook and seconds later, I did the same. Four nice bass in five minutes. Then, it was over.
We loaded the boat and quickly went home. Time for an equipment change.
Shotguns, shells, dove stool and lots of water. Time for the 9th annual Jim Donnell Memorial Benefit Dove Hunt.
It is an annual, by invitation only, shoot with all proceeds going to the American Lung Association. It includes a silent auction of donated prizes and a fantastic catered lunch.
Then we go to assigned spots and shoot. In my case, I miss a lot. In fact, I am known as “Sir-Miss-a-Lot.”
You see, I don’t do much wing shooting anymore. I sold my big guns and shoot a Remington 870, 20-gauge and usually, the only time I shoot it is at this worthy, benefit hunt. But the birds fly and I do actually hit a few.
Mark and I ponder the advisability of some nocturnal fishing on J. Percy Priest. This is a prime time to catch big bass at night.
Soon, as the water starts to cool, they will begin their transition to a fall pattern. We decide to head out about one in the morning.
Then the talk turns to the approaching archery deer season. I am ready. I have shot my hated crossbow a few times to check and make sure it is on.
I have checked my stands. They are good to go. I have deer, plenty of them.
That was a year ago. A good memory. Just a couple weeks to go before the month of mixture kicks off.
Now is the time to do that last minute check for emerging food sources. Those are the preferred foods that deer prefer to eat just as they first get ripe.
Include in that, persimmons, sometimes crab apples -- if they are still dropping -- and of course, oak acorns.
Using binoculars, check the trees, red oak and white oak. See what the mast crop looks like. Perhaps you can even predict which trees will drop first.
Pay special attention to the white oak. Deer will leave just about any food source to feed on white oak acorns.
I have another problem. I am not sure how much I will hunt this year. Last year I killed six deer. I fed my family and a couple others.
But over the year between 2018 and 2019, I have aged. I am sure, on some cool, early autumn mornings, I will go.
I will hunt a day or so with muzzleloader and probably a day so with rifle. I am confident, I can kill three deer, enough for my family, easy enough. I feel this was because I will be prepared.
I will spend a cool morning or two in September, slowly and quietly walking in the woods, surveying the foods and planning. I don’t use any cameras. That just is not my style and I have no food plots.
I hunt a hardwood thicket and it has provided well for me.
September is golden month for the sportsman. Fishing is great, you can squirrel or dove hunt and it concludes with the opening of the deer archery season.
It is the time of the emerging food source. Often, this is the downfall of a deer or two for hunter who knows what to look for when it comes to a feeding deer.
So, we went that night, a year ago. We caught a few fish. We talked of the doves we hit or, in my case, just barely missed and we talked of the emerging foods and how we would hunt deer in just four weeks.
We even nibbled around going on an early morning squirrel hunt.
We will take a bite of September’s outdoor mixture.