Labor Day weekend is fast approaching. For many, this annual three-day holiday is the unofficial transition from summer to fall.
It’s a time when outdoor opportunities collide. Camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, paddling and more are all available to those looking for an outside adventure. If you haven’t made plans yet, there is still time to figure out how to make the most of this holiday that was created Sept. 5, 1882, to celebrate the laboring class of our country. Make those men and women, past and present, proud by catching a bass, barbecuing some brats or blowing off steam floating your favorite river.
I’m an outdoor generalist. Meaning, I like it all. There aren’t enough days in the year for me to pursue my array of outdoor pastimes.
There are others who specialize. Bass fishermen who have no interest in anything else. Deer hunters who obsess 365 days per year. Hikers who can’t put enough miles on their boots and paddlers who have never encountered a float too long. For generalists like me, it’s hard to decide how to spend valuable time. I tend to approach my adventures seasonally and in combinations.
This year, I plan to spend Labor Day weekend divided between camping, dove hunting, fishing and floating. This is a coordinated effort requiring time management and dedication to keeping a schedule, which I believe can be accomplished.
Friday night is devoted to watching my daughter cheer at her high school football game. Bailee’s a senior this year, so I intend to not miss a game. I’ll get a late start to my weekend away, but it’s well worth it. My truck will be loaded and ready to roll super early in the morning with my constant companion, Shotgun Willie, in the seat next to me as we head out on our first hunt of the fall season.
Saturday morning will find me in a public land dove field well before shooting light. I’ll be positioned on the edge of the field with my back to the rising sun. Doves roost at night and travel to water in the morning. They love sunflowers and most grains. Try to position yourself between their roost and water. Dove hunting is often great on agricultural lands near water. Doves are a great introduction for newcomers to hunting because the action can be fast and furious. Lessons learned from dove hunting translate into other types of hunting, and finding a place to hunt them is easier than many other types of game.
At noon, hopefully with a cooler full of doves, I’m meeting up with a group of friends to float and fish one of our favorite rivers. We’ll be enjoying the warm afternoon lazily floating along while trying to catch a few fish. Smallmouth and goggle-eye thrive in this southwest Missouri gem, and we should find success with soft plastics, crankbaits and spinners. I’ll be using a medium-light spinning rod with 6-pound line. This will be the maiden voyage of my new three-person Smith Fly raft, which I can’t wait to travel with to rivers around the country.
Saturday night will be spent camping in a tent. Good times will be had around a campfire. Hopefully the temperature will dip low enough to enjoy the first flannel shirt evening of the year. The plan will be to roast some dove breasts over an open fire while frying fish in a skillet filled with peanut oil. These simple pleasures of nature’s bounty are best shared with friends, and around a fire next to the water’s edge is as good as it gets.
Sunday we will be back on the river for another day of floating. With fall fast approaching, the days are dwindling for swimming and soaking up the last sun rays of summer. There really isn’t anything I love more than floating crystal clear rivers. I’ll float all year round, but I do enjoy it most when you spend a significant amount of the day in the water. A gravel bar lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers will keep our energy up all day on the water. A long drive will end at home Sunday night.
Monday will include a little labor of love. I’ll be out at my farm doing some final trimming around my treestands in preparation for the fast approaching opening day bow season for deer. I’ll trim trails to the stands and make sure my shooting lanes are clear. I have four trail cameras to pull the cards from. It’s always exciting to see the deer captured on camera.
I know a lot of people have to work on Labor Day Weekend, so this sort of experience isn’t available to all. I’m grateful for my opportunity to make the most of a three day weekend. If you’re fortunate like me, I hope you won’t squander this end of summer gift of time to enjoy the great outdoors.
See you down the trail. …
Brandon Butler is an outdoors columnist for the News Tribune. Contact him at [email protected]