As a man who has spent a lot of time outdoors, I find the transition from summer to fall in September a tough one to beat for many reasons.

The 30 days of September start out as warm as any summer month and gradually cools off. Even in Minnesota, you can usually find the water warm enough for swimming several weeks into September. The summer tourists clear out after Labor Day and the first good frost clears the air of mosquitos. The colors of summer are changing from a solid green to red, yellow, orange and gold. Perhaps the best thing about September for a hunter is that it heralds the beginning of the hunting seasons - deer, dove, bear, grouse, ducks and geese. A lot of pulse rates begin to quicken in September. 

A group of my friends has been traveling to Canada in September for nearly 40 years to hunt waterfowl. I was recruited to make the trip about five years after they started going up. To hear them talk it was one step up from paradise. 

On my first trip up we ran into some foul weather. We had shot some geese and ducks to take home but what we had bagged was a drop in the bucket to the number of birds we saw feeding in the fields and ponds around our camp. An early snowfall had caught the farmers in the middle of harvest. For the waterfowl, it was a smorgasbord.

The day before we were to leave a member of our group learned Canadian Wildlife Service estimated the number of migrating snow geese in our area to be close to 1 million.

Our final hunting trip of the week took us down to the lake where a huge flock was supposed to be sheltering. It was a cold morning with only a trace of wind.  We spread out across a shoreline and waited. As the sun started to rise in the east I heard the sound of a jumbo jet in the sky above us but I could not spot it. The noise was too loud to be that far away.

We were about 5 miles from a Canadian prairie town and as I glanced at I saw a white cloud lifting near the town.  I finally understood the source of the noise. It was no jet. It was the wingbeats of a million geese rising into the sky. 

On a September trip to Grand Marais, on the north shore of Lake Superior many years ago, my wife and I found an old logging trail and decided to hunt up some ruffed grouse. The woods were still thick with leaves so getting off the trail was a good way to get lost. When no ruffies flushed I finally drifted off the trail into the woods. My faithful (and careful) hunting companion stayed on the trail in case I got turned around.

The first thing I knew I was standing inside a grove of young aspen. It was like being in a big, yellow room but the difference was that it was outdoors. Everything was a golden yellow - even the sky. It was a pure moment.

September is the beginning of so many opportunities that last through the fall, not only to hunt but to be out there treating all of your senses to something special.


Brian Hansel is a reporter for the Daily Journal.

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