Several springtime thoughts running through my mind

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Dennis L. Clay

This is a great time of the year. The Columbia Basin is awakening to a fresh and new springtime. The lawns are turning green and some landowners are mowing on a regular basis.

Spring flowers and bushes are blooming. Trees are budding, with some developing their first leaves. Gardeners are planting seeds inside, with the anticipation of moving the resulting plants outside after the passing of the last frost. The vegetables produced will be added to soups, stews and other wild game dishes cooked in slow cookers and pressure cookers.

Turkey season approaching

The spring wild turkey season will begin on April 15 and run through May 31. Generally, the limit will be two bearded turkeys, but there are restrictions in some parts of the state. Checking the turkey hunting pamphlet is a must.

The youth turkey season will be April 2 and 3, with the combined youth and spring hunt having the save limit. The various youth seasons provide a super chance for close mentoring of a young hunter.

Wild turkey legs

Do not throw those wild turkey legs away. Many people do so and are missing out on some great meat. Look for a recipe for wild turkey leg meat in early April as part of the CBH Spring Hook & Bullet publication.

Camping

Campers are excited about the prospects of rolling down the road to a favorite camping spot. Garnet and I are planning several nights at Potholes State Park this spring on two different occasions. Yep, in Site 23 and we already have the reservations.

Lesson learned

Deep snow was encountered, 18 to 24 inches deep, during the damage elk hunt south of Wenatchee in late January and early February. The landowner, Bill Witt and I looked for cherry-tree-eating elk on several trips to the area.

We decided to walk through an orchard on one trip. The landowner and Bill were light enough not drop to ground level during the walk, but would drop only six to eight inches below the surface. My 200-pound body put my foot on ground level, of 18 to 24 inches, with every step.

My rifle was over my shoulder and I had no other support. Walking wasn’t my big problem, but the lack of a third point of support became apparent right away. A walking stick or shooting sticks would have solved the problem and given me the support required. I finally steadied myself by holding onto Bill’s shoulder.

This was a situation I had never encountered before. Snow shoes would have been a big help and the landowner offered them.

A walking stick accompanied me on the next trips to the area, but we never hiked through the snow again on the next trips. If an elk would have been downed, we would have used snow shoes to reach the animal.

Fishing

Anglers have been wetting lines all winter long, but my angling excitement is just beginning. A bunch of Basin lakes are open all year long, others opened on March 1 and others will open on April 1.

My plan is to capitalize on spring yellow perch fishing. There is no season, but these tasty fish should begin hitting hooks in earnest in the I-90 Bridge area any day now.

There is no minimum size and the limit is 25. Fellow angler Bill Green has told me his boat is ready. He has put his own minimum size at 10 inches.

The practice of high grading is allowed with perch. This is the practice of keeping only the larger fish and throwing the small ones back with the limit remaining 25, no matter how many are released.

Last year there were 20 or more boats anchored on the north and south side of the bridge. Sounds as if this fishing experience will be great fun, resulting in great eating.

Day trips

Day trips are a part of our camping trips to Potholes State Park or any other place we camp. Actually we don’t need to be camping to enjoy the various trips.

Such spring trips are a chance to see a bunch of wildlife, such as Sandhill Cranes this weekend in the Othello area.

Anticipation of warmer weather

The warmer weather of spring is a welcome change for this outdoor-minded person. Oh, for sure, cold weather will not keep me from venturing outside. However, the reason for the adventure will determine my enthusiasm.

An elk hunt will have me out the door in zero-degree temperatures, but warmer days are needed for me to sit in a boat catching perch.

Yes, bring on the warm weather.

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