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Vandiver: Living the dream outdoors
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What a wonderful spring we have had in North Georgia! Turkey hunting, trout fishing, spring showers, bush hogging, plowing and planting and watching the renewal of wildlife are all things I have enjoyed this spring.

Life is much simpler in the outdoors, as dreams can quickly become reality.

I have been blessed to experience some remarkable things this spring. I have seen a hatch of hawks nesting in my front yard, bluebirds hatched from a nest in my 3-D archery deer target, dropped fawns that couldn’t be more than a few hours old and the growth of brown top millet and sunflowers on my dove field.

Summer has arrived with hot humid days and afternoon thunder showers, fresh cut hayfields, silver queen sweet corn fields and harvesting the first vegetables of the season.

The water temperature on trout rivers and streams is warming and trout are much more difficult to catch, providing the opportunity to fish farm ponds for bass, bream and of course channel catfish.

“Every day is Saturday” living the dream in the outdoors.

Turkey season closed May 15 after a very successful season. I was able to harvest a nice gobbler the last week of the season, but nothing like the ones my son Josh and grandson Jackson had taken earlier in the season.

However, I could not have experienced a better turkey season, sharing time and success with my family.

Perhaps the most exciting part of this past turkey season is that we have trail camera pictures of gobblers after the close of the season that are larger than the ones that we have taken this year. Next year should be another record season and we have some great turkey meat from this season to enjoy this fall.

Trout fishing is beginning to get difficult as water temperatures are rising currently in the mid to upper 60s and trout activity starts to slow as the water warms. Josh and Jackson caught and released some nice rainbows in late May.

Fishing on the headwaters of streams in June and July provide an escape from the heat and warmer water temperatures, and some quality fish can be taken on flies early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

Catch and release is much more difficult during the summer as trout are easily stressed, especially after a long fight. Using barbless hooks will help even if you have some quick sportsman releases. It’s better than killing the fish.

Farm ponds provide the best opportunities for some good fishing in the summer.

Catching bream and bass with night crawlers or crickets make for some exciting family fun. Jackson caught his largest bass ever on a recent outing and you would have thought it was a state record with the smile on his face. His Pa Pa was pretty happy as well.

I love to catfish farm ponds in the summer, as you never know what you might catch. Catfish will bite a variety of bait, the worse the smell the better they seem to like it. Catfish filets, hushpuppies, hand cut fries, fresh garden tomatoes and of course coleslaw make for a wonderful June dinner. Don’t forget the watermelon.

Spring showers have provided an opportunity to get sunflowers and millet growing but the challenge is keeping the weeds under control by plowing the sunflowers on a regular basis.

I love the smell of fresh-plowed ground early in the morning and watching doves flying over the field. I have seen several does with newly born fawns browsing on the edge of my deer food plots.

Trail cameras have provided some amazing pictures of the growth of antlers of the bucks, which appear to be growing at a rate of an inch per week.

Feeding protein food is great for antler growth this time of the year — as well as mineral blocks — and will pay dividends this fall during hunting season with heavier body weights and larger antlers.

Perhaps the most enjoyable event I will remember from this spring is the hatch of hawks in my front yard and a family of bluebirds nesting in a 3-D archery target.

I was able to watch the hawks build their nest in a huge white oak tree not more than 20 yards from my house. These hawks nest in the woods around my house every year, but never this close.

I observed as two baby hawks appeared in the nest and were fed with small game, rodents and snakes daily by their parents.

They grew very quickly and stayed in their nest for several weeks as they grew larger, and last week they started flying and hunting for themselves.

They are still nesting in the white oak tree and can be seen hunting in the area. My granddaughter Taylor discovered the nesting bluebirds in the archery target and enjoyed watching three baby bluebirds grow up and fly away.

This marks the third year that they have nested in the same location. Guess I am going to have to get another archery target because Taylor and I can’t wait until next spring to see it happen again.

Get outdoors this summer and enjoy the natural beauty of the renewal of wildlife with your family while living the dream in the outdoors, because “every day is Saturday.”

Russell Vandiver, recently retired as president of Lanier Technical College, has been an avid fisherman and hunter for 50 years. His column appears monthly.

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