The only reason I put up with summer in Kansas is… well, because I have to! My only alternatives are to move or die. The first takes too much energy, and the second, well, let’s just say I’ll put up with summer! (Although as I get older door number 2 looks less ominous all the time) I just spent my week totally immersed in tearing all the floor boards off my deck in 105 degree heat and humidity to make repairs underneath after water got into my basement during the most recent rain deluge, so I present to you a little trivia about the “dog days of summer.”
The term “Dog Days of Summer” has always intrigued me. This term was long ago given to the hottest and muggiest part of the summer, which someone has determined to be between July 3 and August 11.
Stars and constellations played a big part in the lives of the ancients. Two such constellations, Canis Major and Canis Minor, were said to resemble dogs. The brightest star in Canis Major is named Sirius, “the dog star,” and also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. It is in fact so bright, that ancient Romans believed the earth received heat from it. During our summer, there is a period when Sirius rises and sets with the sun, and it was believed that during this period, the Dog Star actually added its heat to the sun, creating a period of extra hot and muggy weather now known as “the dog days.”
So what can we “dog days haters,” who think it’s even too hot to fish, do to scratch our “outdoor sportsman’s itch” during this time? Frog season started here in KS July 1st and is a great nighttime sport. We hunted frogs a lot when I was a kid and thought nothing of walking a couple hundred yards across someone’s pasture in the middle of the night just to get to a pond full of frogs. Now days it’s not quite so much fun sloggin’ around a pond in pitch black darkness in soaking wet jeans and old sneakers, but the sweet taste of fried frog legs is still the same!
Now’s also a fine time to browse the Cabela’s, Bass Pro, and in my case, trapping supply catalogs to get a jump on your fall hunting and trapping wish list. This begins by going over your equipment and clothing, looking for equipment needing repaired or replaced. You know how clothing seems to “shrink” a little each season! Also order that new equipment you want to experiment with this year. Mail ordered merchandise can take considerable time to receive, and ordering early also gives you time to make returns and exchanges if needed. The large trapping supply dealers are busy with conventions in late summer and when trapping seasons start in the fall, so now is a prime time to get trapping supplies mail-ordered. This is very pertinent for me this year as I will miss our state trapper’s convention because I’ll be antelope hunting in western KS. Also, fall merchandise can often be found on sale during these dog days. So carry the catalogs from the bathroom to the easy chair and get started!
I guess when it’s 105 degrees in the shade, it’s hard to think about deer hunting, but the dog days are also a good time to begin garnering hunting and trapping permission. Unless you already have a standing agreement in place with landlords, hunting and trapping permission is often first come-first served. This can be done over the phone, but I prefer a more personal touch and like to drive to the owner’s home and talk to them in person. Remember, the early bird gets the worm (or the pheasant, the deer or
the coyote.) Also this time of year my dad and I pick up unwanted apples from under people’s trees and feed them to the deer by dumping them on the ground in front of our corn feeders.
Now is a great time to brush up on your hunting and trapping skills or learn new ones by reading “how to” books and magazine articles. Think back about the things that didn’t go as planned last season and search out the resources to correct them, be that books, magazine articles, tapes & DVD’s or fellow sportsmen. The local beavers I used to trap every year moved out during the drought and haven’t returned, so I’ll probably bust out the beaver trapping DVD’s and take a refresher course in anticipation of having some to trap this fall since we’ve gotten some rain.
So pour a glass of iced tea, settle into your recliner, surround yourself with all your wish books, magazines, DVD’s and the TV remote, and for these next few “dog-day” weeks, continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors, even if it’s from your living room!
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]