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Driftwood outdoors: Sweaty trip to woods in summer will pay off

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As much as I love being in the woods, traipsing into a forest during June, July and August can be more like torture than enjoyment.

Bugs sting, weeds make you itch, humidity makes you sweat, and thorns make you bleed. These elements combined are surely enough to deter the sane from exploring their hunting grounds during this time. But then there are those of us crazy enough about deer hunting to know that now is the time to be in the woods clearing lanes.

Summer is when vegetation is at its thickest. So if you go into your hunting areas and clear the lanes you need to travel and shoot during the summer, then chances are you will not have to make any more trimming efforts come fall. The tools I carry with me on clearing missions are a chainsaw, trimmer, pole saw, hedge shears and a rake.

I also bring a gallon of water. Staying hydrated is no joke.


Important dates for the 2013-14 deer hunting season in Indiana

Sept. 15-Jan. 31: Urban

Sept. 28 and 29: Youth

Oct. 1-Jan. 5: Archery

Nov. 16-Dec. 1: Firearms

Dec. 7-Dec. 22: Muzzleloader

Dec. 26-Jan. 5: Special antlerless*

Hunting hours are ½ hour before sunrise and ½ hour after sunset

*Only in counties with a bonus antlerless quota of four or more

SOURCE: Indiana Department of Natural Resources

You’ve probably read numerous articles covering the topic of clearing shooting lanes. You’ve read so many because this is an incredibly important topic. Yet it seems much rarer to read an article talking about clearing a path to your stand. This is something I do each year.

I begin where I enter the woods and start walking toward my stand site whacking weeds with the trimmer and clipping small limbs and sapplings with my hedge shears. If any trees have fallen over my path, I go get the chainsaw and cut them up. Once I’ve cleared the path of vegetation, I go back and start again with the rake, removing all of the dead sticks, leaves and other debris.

Clearing your walking path makes traveling to and from your stand much easier. So much easier, in fact, deer may start heavily traveling your easy-to-navigate highway. They’re smart animals, so there’s no reason to think they’ll avoid the path of least resistance.

Because of this, you don’t want your path to lead right to the base of your tree.

Design your path to lead into your prime shooting lane, and then do nothing to make your route to your tree obvious. Do remove any dead sticks or obstacles that could give you away as you tiptoe the last 15 yards from your path to your tree.

Wearing the right clothes while in the woods during the summer is extremely important to keep bugs and weeds off you, while also protecting yourself from the sun.

Wearing a long-sleeve shirt, long pants, knee-high boots, a hat and gloves sure sounds hot in July, but being hot for a while is a lot better than dealing with poison ivy and dozens of mosquito bites.

Make sure you spray down with strong insect repellant. Spray thoroughly around your waist, the tops of your boots and neck to help prevent ticks from crawling inside your clothes.

Clearing your shooting lanes and walking paths during the dog days of summer may not sound like fun, but come fall it should be rewarding. Wear the right clothes and protect yourself with bug spray, and the process will end up being much less tortuous.

See you down the trail.

Brandon Butler’s outdoors column appears Saturdays in the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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