If there ever was a slow time for outdoors enthusiasts, it might be now. So with the long winter, and lots of snow, don’t be that summer-away-from-school child and say, “I have nothing to do outside.”
Winter weather has a way of hampering those who have to be outside, particularly landowners, farmers, and those who reside away from bus lines, newspaper delivery routes and walking distance to a market.
Anglers, hunters, hikers, campers, archers, foodies, and bikers owe many of these folks for the use of their land for playtime.
This can be payback time, and even if these folks are only neighbors, they may need assistance shoveling, for example.
Who knows, they may have bestowed the land to a relative and you could be back knocking at their door come turkey season, morel gathering days, or shed hunting.
There is always something to do outside down on the farm.
It may be helping tap maple trees or moving that last bit of wood closer to a burner, or even doing some indoors tasks such as transporting them to vote, to a store, or getting a blower or splitter gassed up and ready for the next storm.
Come snow melt, there may be brush piles to burn, prairies to over-seed, or burn before nesting season. Farmers might need help to re-establish prairies and return woods to savannas, too.
The work list is long; usually endless. Most of what we hunt lives on these farms and benefits from crop fields and fallow lands.
Here’s one: Ask a landowner if he or she needs the fields walked to pick up shed antlers, which have a way of making a $500 tire unrepairable. Who cares who gets to keep the shed antler?
It may be difficult to understand the phrase, “a farmer’s day is never done,” but it’s true.
This could be a touchy one, but many landowners don’t recognize wild ginseng and most of those probably do not want it dug, either. With a handshake and look of honesty, point it out and then forgot you ever saw it. Come September, offer to come back and help plant the seeds that the farmer may never want harvested, or he just might. If so, do it and walk away after taking him and his wife to Readstown to sell the root. Make sure he purchased a license before digging and without a license you should not dig either.
Now and in the foreseeable future, there is always work to be done on the farm and some of it is still manual labor that won’t get a finger cut off. Help where help is needed. You’ll feel better for it and there may be more wildlife the next time you visit.
What this could lead to, if nothing else, may just be a good friendship and a better understanding of why some landowners have a difficult time allowing snowmobiles to cross or deer hunters without bag tags to step into their woods and fields.
Maybe the landowner will show you the tax bill so you see what it costs just to say, “I own the land, but you can use it with my permission.”
We keep reminding children they should learn where milk and eggs come from. In return, maybe deer hunters and berry pickers should learn what keeps a wild ecosystem alive and balanced.
Jerry Davis can be reached at email@example.com.