October, or Jimtober as I prefer to call it, is easily my favorite month of the year; a time of reflection, warm days and cool nights with beautiful scenery and fall foliage.
Now the tenth month of the year, October was once the eighth month but was moved after the introduction of January and February.
Today October is synonymous with the autumnal season, or “fall” as we Americans prefer to call it. Here in southeastern Ohio and western West Virginia the most brilliant fall foliage colors generally appear around the middle of the month.
The 20th century French philosopher Albert Camus was probably referring to October when he said, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf’s a flower.”
Early October can be a crowded time in the woods as there are several hunting seasons running concurrently with something to fit almost every hunter’s liking from squirrels to whitetail deer to wild turkey (starting Oct. 13). Several migratory bird species seasons are in as well this month.
Many hunters have put aside the shotguns and rimfire rifles from squirrel season and picked up their bows and treestands and set out in search of whitetail deer. As always, be extremely careful when using treestands!
Full disclosure here; I must confess that the past few years I don’t hunt nearly as much as I used to, so the month has come to mean less about hunting and more about just enjoying the outdoors, running or just being outdoors and enjoying the beautiful weather. For instance, this month I am looking forward to running the Army Ten-Miler.
However, I still enjoy hunting stories and hunter education and greatly appreciate the role of hunting in modern wildlife management; it’s just that lately I don’t really much care to actually kill anything - which does occasionally conflict with my desire for venison. Of course hunting stories are as much of a tradition as hunting itself, as is the camaraderie and fellowship surrounding the hunt.
The hunting, for me, will generally wait until November or December.
Sadly, I am not alone. Hunter retention and recruitment is an issue facing state wildlife agencies throughout the country, which is why I have always said it is important to introduce youngsters to hunting and fishing.
Meanwhile there are football games, pumpkin-carving and apple-butter making and other fall activities (sauger fishing) to enjoy.
Oddly enough, although October is no longer the eighth month it retained its name with the Latin prefix “Octo” meaning “eight.” Otherwise it would be December, and December would be “Duodecimber.” November, by the way, would have been changed to “Undecimber,” but those Romans, ever the practical fellows, decided to just leave the names alone.
No matter what you call it; October is an awesome time to enjoy the great outdoors.
Jim Freeman is the wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District. His column generally appears every other Sunday. He can be contacted weekdays at 740-992-4282 or at firstname.lastname@example.org