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George Little: Take advantage of the dog days

August 16, 2013 at 01:02 PM

The State Journal-Register

If you’re feeling a little off your feed today, it may be a natural reaction to the Dog Days of Summer.

Ancient authors contended that at this time of year, “people get bilious, febrile, hysterical and crazy.” One 18th century author said it was best for men not to let blood or to take physics, and to abstain from women, during the Dog Days. No blood letting and laying off the physics is good advice anytime.

The ancient Romans believed that Sirius, the Dog Star, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, added its heat to the sun and created hot, sultry weather in July and August, when Sirius rises and sets with the sun. The hottest and muggiest part of the summer, mid-July to mid-August, became the Dog Days of Summer.

It is hard to muster much outdoor enthusiasm during the Dog Days, when you’re feeling a little bilious. The berries are dried up. Hickory nuts and walnuts are just starting to drop. It won’t be time to gather them up for at least another month. But the Dog Days of August aren’t devoid of opportunities. It’s a good time to take up tubing, kayaking or water skiing. Anything you do out on the water will take your mind off the fact that summer is closing fast. Canoe trips are more fun in the Dog Days. In the spring, the weather is unpredictable and the water’s cold. Flipping your canoe in August might feel pretty good. Just hang on to the cooler.

The Dog Days of August are an excellent time to repopulate your upland hunting area. Releasing quail and pheasants in late summer, near food and water sources, gives birds time to adjust in the wild before cold weather closes in. Birds that are six to 10 weeks old generally have the best survival rates. Right now, standing crops provide cover and a steady diet of insects. Predators are less active on hot days.

The combination of all these things increases the chances that you’ll have some extra birds in the field when hunting season opens in November. Wild game breeders permits are issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. You need one to purchase or transport game birds.

When you’re feeling febrile and need to stay out of the heat, you can scout your deer hunting areas without leaving home. Go online and find aerial photographs of the area you hunt. Study the lay of the land. Look for natural “funnels” that deer might use to move from bedding grounds to feeding areas.

You may see places to set a deer stand that you haven’t noticed from ground level.

On summer evenings, take your dog to the pond and practice water retrieves,

or just let him lie in the water. You’ll get a little of the cooling effect yourself when he comes out. Whether it’s the Dog Days of Summer or the bone chilling days of winter, nothing is friendlier than a wet dog.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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