My favorite time of the year? The ‘ber’ months

The second “BER” month is October and is great for hunters who like to take deer with their bow.

Does anyone know what I mean by the “Ber” months? It’s easy; SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER and DecemBER.

These are the months I long for all winter, spring and summer.

Now, do not misinterpret that I dislike shooting coyotes in the winter, turkeys in the spring and catching huge bass all summer.

But when the chill hits the air and the days get shorter, the hunter in me really gets fired up.

Starting with dove season in September, the fun begins. I by no means want to leave out those guys who love to hunt squirrels.

But for me, eating “tree rats” is not enjoyable enough to have to clean them. So let’s talk about the first “BER” month and dove hunting. 

Dove season starts on September 1st. Doves are attracted to a variety of fields to feed. Wheat stubble is usually a good place to start. Another really good bet is a freshly-cut silage field.

If you want to shoot dove consistently throughout the season, take the time in the spring to plant an acre or two of sunflowers.  

I cannot tell you how many hundred dove I have taken over sunflowers. And, if you locate your sunflower patch near a water source and roost trees, you will have it made for September.

Septem“BER” also means archery season opens halfway through the month. Early season bucks are usually easier to pattern before the rut starts.

In September, bucks are still meandering daily between bedding and feeding areas. September is still warm so hunting water sources in the evening can often be productive.

Mature bucks are generally less spooky and less nervous before the rut begins. They are also more predictable. It is possible during this period to find two or three bucks still bunched-up and traveling together.

For this reason, grunting and bleating can be very effective as September gives way to October.

Now, as November arrives there is really a lot going on in the hunting field. By now waterfowl season is in high gear.

Ducks moving south through the Midwest make for some great shooting and great meals, as well.

November may not see big ducks migrate through until after Thanksgiving. However, this “BER” month can be outstanding for teal, wood ducks, widgeon, pintails and gadwall.

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In November I recommend lots of decoys and lots of calling. The ducks that come down early will decoy well and respond nicely to calling.

My best advice to keep you legal during duck season is to be very mindful of the shooting hours. It is very tempting to shoot too early and even too late. Obey the conservation laws. You owe it to the rest of us.

There is no way to discuss November hunting in the Midwest and leave out rifle deer season. I know the new name is officially “Firearms Deer Season” but I grew up in S.E. Missouri and it was “rifle season” there and still is for me.

There are lots of deer in central Illinois this year and everyone should be able to put meat in the freezer this month.

December completes the “BER” months and has a ton of opportunities to offer. The late deer seasons top the list.

The rut has come and gone, and deer once again begin to relate to food sources. High-protein foods like acorns and soy beans are their favorites.

Hunt the food and find the deer. It is that simple once the weather deteriorates.

I also love to rabbit hunt during the holiday season. Beagles on a hot trail is music to my ears.

And when it comes to putting wild game on the supper table, there is NOTHING better than fried rabbit back and milk gravy.

My Grandpa Guy raised beagles and taught me how to hunt them. That is just one of many things for which I thank him and remember him.

Big ducks migrate now as do the big Canada geese. Waterfowlers and Labrador Retrievers have their best times in December. Cut back on your decoy numbers late in the season and call only to get their attention.

These ducks have seen it all before and it takes advanced tactics to fool these wary birds.

Camouflage is a key not to be overlooked this time of year. A month into the season your blind may be showing wear and will likely need some TLC to keep you in the game.

So, that is the story of the “BER” months. Get prepared right now to take full advantage of what is coming.

A little work right now will save lots of time and frustration when we are more worried about long underwear than bug spray.

(Mike Roux can be reached at 217-257-7895.)

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