February can be difficult

February can be a pale month, a time when good old Mother Nature looks over past evidence and seems to sentence sportsmen to 28 days in the slammer for having too much fun the rest of the year. Although we received a reprieve with our current nice weather, it is Indiana and can turn in a minute.

My sentence actually began last weekend. The truck was loaded and I planned to spend the day fishing open water, since there was no safe ice. Before reaching my destination rain drops started spattering across the windshield. Not sprinkles mind you, but a solid, steady rain that never stopped. Not being one to let a little inclement weather derail my plans, standing in the middle of a river in a cold downpour didn’t actually peak my enthusiasm.

So how bad can the second month of the year be on rainy days? Put it this way, it’s the only time I eagerly await the postman just so I can read the volumes of junk mail that crowd our mailbox daily. I even took the time to read advertisements for new remedies that can remove gray hair and double chins, burn away fat without exercise and increase, well, a certain type of performance. And it’s all guaranteed in 24 days or you get your money back!

How sweet of a deal is that!

After perusing the rest of the mail I decided it was time to be constructive and start servicing fishing equipment. With decades of tearing apart ever more complex spinning and baitcasting reels, I have found the perfect technique to keep mine working like brand new. I disassemble each one and place the parts in sequential order in the individual pockets of a Styrofoam egg carton. Using a toothbrush and rag each piece is meticulously cleaned and oiled. With the task completed I carefully close the carton and throw everything in the trash and order a new reel.

After that, the winter doldrums and torrential downpour render me incapable of leaving the house. So I do the next best thing. Daydream. I think about last year’s most memorable moments. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably find these memories are generally not so much about catching that trophy largemouth or bagging the buck everyone wishes was theirs. These memories will more than likely involve moments of camaraderie, grace or pure humiliation. Here are a couple of mine.

It was the final week of the early archery season and I was in one of my favorite deer stands. Legal shooting time was bearing to a close when a huge great horned owl swooped in from nowhere and perched within touching distance. Sitting motionless I watched as it scanned the field in front of us with its huge yellow eyes looking for a warm meal. It stayed for about five minutes before flying off. The wind from its wings blew across my face as it launched into the fading light. I never did see any deer that particular evening but for some reason I felt the personal heartbeat of the woods.

Another time, well before the first wisps of daylight, I was headed to an area lake with boat in tow. I ended up getting stopped for exceeding the speed limit; let’s just say by a substantial amount. “Where are you going in such a hurry” the trooper asked as I handed him my registration and driver’s license. Since he had me dead-to-rights, I opted for something totally different – the truth. “Fishing,” I replied, motioning back at the boat. “I am always in a hurry when going fishing,” I added.

The officer paused for a minute then handed me back my license and registration. “Good luck but from here on out slow down,” he said. I was shocked. That was the first time I have beaten a ticket. I thanked him, then stuck my arm out the window and shook the trooper’s hand, hard!

“Today is my lucky day,” I thought as I pulled back onto the highway. My good fortune continued. The weather was beautiful and the fish were biting. Unfortunately later that afternoon, while loading my boat, I accidently slipped off the trailer ripping my right hand open. That mishap landed me in the ER, leaving with 10 stitches.

So if you are like most of us during this time of the year and you find yourself suffering from the doldrums of winter, hang in there. Think about your fondest outdoor memories, then rest assured, spring will be here before you know it

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John Martino
Martino is a well-known outdoor writer throughout Indiana and has served as longtime outdoor columnist for the Kokomo Tribune newspaper. Martino has won numerous awards for both his writing and his service to youth, conservation and the community. He recently retired as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Kokomo and now works as Ivy Tech Executive Director for Facilities for the Kokomo region.

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