A Touch of Spring

NAH Staff Writer Larry Weishuhn enjoys all that spring has to offer!

Growing up in rural Texas in the gravel hills just north of the Gulf Coast plains and the Colorado River, spring meant two things I particularly enjoyed, but also things I did not care for.  Starting on the negative side of when I was growing up, spring meant hunting seasons were over until the fall.  It also usually meant spring rains brought not only spring flowers but also mosquitoes, those dreaded little vampires.  Quite often the places I “haunted” were loaded with ravenous mosquitoes.  Spring also meant chiggers, what we used to call in our part of Texas, “red bugs”, those horrible nearly impossible to see burrowing critters that caused itching that bordered on nearly unbearable. creating bites that itched for days, if not weeks. Too, there was poison oak and ivy…Horrible.  My early pre-teen days there never seemed to be a time when during spring and summer I did not have a case of poison oak or poison ivy.  And, what skin not affected by those two was covered with chigger bites.  The cure or rather relief back then, if there was such a thing, was to take baths as hot as possible into which had been added a cup of Chlorox, chlorine bleach.  This tended to “dry up” bites.  As for the poison ivy, copious amounts of “Calamine Lotion” were smeared on affected areas.  Suffice it to say, I often had what might have been described as a “ghostly appearance” from being covered with calamine lotion… 

Did I mention during those early years I spent every possible moment on the small creeks fishing and in the woods, exploring and hunting.

Those were the bad things associated with spring back then.  To some extent they still are!  But I have learned many things since I was a near walking “scab” in my youth.  Today before heading out anywhere I suspect might have to deal with chiggers or ticks, I spray my clothes and boots with Permethrin Insect Repellent, from Sawyer.  One good soaking of clothes will last six washings. After that I again thoroughly spray my pants, shirt and boots, as well as my leather gloves, and my western felt hat, or ball cap if I intend to wear one.  Having done so I have yet to be bitten, while others with me who had not sprayed their clothes with Permethrin were literally, “eaten up” by chiggers and ticks. 

Whenever I travel abroad, I spray my clothes thoroughly before leaving, including light coats, jackets and vests.  A few years ago I hunted Cape buffalo near Kruger National Park in South Africa. The region is known for an abundance of ticks, especially those carrying “tick fever”.  Although often my clothes were nearly brown with small larval stage ticks, I never got bitten.

Permethrin has certainly made the woods of spring more enjoyable and safer.

I mentioned there were two things that I especially like about spring, in the area where I grew up.  That said, after many years of absence, living in other parts of Texas, my wife and I are about to return to to near where we both grew up.  Those two things I really like are dewberries, what those north of Texas often call blackberries.  My little property in northern Colorado County, Texas where I grew up has an abundance of dewberry vines which when we get decent winter rains produce bumper crops of succulent berries in the spring. 

Over Easter weekend my wife and I were on our property, looking for shed antlers and dewberries.  I found one nice shed from a buck that should be legal this coming season, (at least 4 points on one side and a 13-inch inside spread).  I found the shed just inside the brush next to one of my Tecomate food plots. They were just about eaten to the ground, as I knew the deer would do.  What that means is, this coming fall and next spring, I’m going to have to increase the size of the plots to produce more forage!

We also found an abundance of dewberries.  In a matter of two hours we picked nearly 5 gallons.  Many delicious pies and cobblers await.  And yes, I did eat my share while picking! Absolutely delicious!

While on the property I also laid out an up to 500-yard rifle range.  I will start on the range my next trip.  Got some new Ruger rifles and Hornady ELD-X I am anxious to try and to start shooting before my hunting hunting trip.  Have two Texas hunts lined up later this spring for red sheep on the OX Ranch and Axis deer on the Lazy CK.  Currently I live about 225 miles from where the property is, but once my wife and I relocate later this fall, I will be about 30 miles away.

Oh yes, there is one other thing that is fun about spring…fishing!  I have a small seasonal creek on my property.  Thanks to fortuitous rains last fall and winter, there are several small holes with an abundance of bluegill and green sunfish, too small to eat but no less fun to catch and release.

During previous springs I have hunted black bear a lot!  Too, I have made a few trips down under to New Zealand.  During our spring, their fall is when the red stag “roar” occurs.  This year with building a new home and a few other things beyond my control, I decided to spend a little time closer to home, look for some sheds, pick some berries, do a bit fishing and a whole lot of planning for the summer and fall!

So how’s your spring going?

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