Vantage Point

Season of Change

What a transformation we witness in October! The outdoor world shifts from luxuriant green to brown, dallying briefly in stages of brilliant yellows, golds and reds. Leaves that swayed in the wind begin to pave the forest floor.

We'll endure our first frost this month and see the last of snakes and bugs for a while. Birds will be on the move. Flights of waterfowl will etch the sky, and flocks of songbirds will scramble noisily through the forests or dodge and shift above us. Species we haven't seen for months will suddenly appear at our feeders.

Deer that have been placidly feeding all summer will respond to some urge that we understand but can't explain and cross our highways and fields to search for breeding partners. Wildlife-squirrels, turkeys, quail and fish-all experience behavioral changes at this time of year, some huddle together, some disperse, others feed frantically to fatten themselves before harsh weather arrives.

People naturally respond to this season of change. Most of us will pack summer clothing into cardboard boxes and dig out the flannel and wool. We'll pile up firewood, stock up on bird seed and end our complaints about having to mow the lawn, realizing that raking it is twice as hard.

We find evidence that humans also change physically. We sleep more, and we become subject to that seasonal imperative known as winter weight, those extra pounds our bodies put on to gird us against the cold.

Those first clumpy, cold front clouds of October and the first nights crisp enough to be called crunchy alert hunters to begin scouting the deer woods, practicing their aim with bow and gun, boiling and dying traps and airing out their hunting clothing.

These are good days. The air exhilarates us with every breath, and the weather is neither too hot nor too cold. It's natural to yearn to be outdoors in October. Whether you hunt or fish or hike or just want to view wildlife and spectacular vistas from our roadsides, take advantage of this season of change.

In case you haven't noticed, the Conservationist is undergoing a bit of a change, as well. We've fiddled with the contents page, redesigned the Almanac Section and changed the type fonts in our articles and captions to some that we think you will be able to read more easily.

We've also added an outdoor calendar that will help you keep track of most hunting and fishing seasons and added a column of tips for landowners who wish to improve their yards for wildlife.

The new look may take some getting used to, and we're still tweaking things with an eye to improving the magazine even more, but we think you'll enjoy the results.

With that said, I want to remind you that we are in the process of cleaning up our mailing list. Last month's issue-September's-arrived with a wrap around white cover that included a tear-out postcard that we must have back in order to keep your subscription alive. If you haven't sent the postcard back to us, look for it now, put a stamp on it and return it to us so we won't have to drop you from our mailing list.