Lessons Learned Through The Seasons

By Raeanne O’Meara

Spring is a season of anticipation – the start of a new season of lake fishing, prawning is hitting its best at the ocean, spring bears are awakening from their winter slumber and the forest is just starting to green up with fresh life. While there is much to look forward to, it also hurtles towards you with the blink of an eye; one minute you are planning on harvesting some poplar buds to make balm of Gilead, the next you realize the trees have already leafed out and you’ve missed your opportunity.



There’s a lot that can be learned throughout the seasons, no matter how long you have been fishing, hunting or foraging. Picking morels on the site of a previous year’s burn, for example, threw curveballs that I wouldn’t have anticipated after years of successfully picking natural morels in poplar stands. Naively, I believed that it was as easy as hitting up any area that had been burnt the year prior. The first time we went out, we found a whopping two morels after a couple hours of hiking around – not exactly the haul that we were anticipating.



Feeling somewhat defeated, we headed home nearly empty handed. While cooking up a dinner of steak, potatoes and one measly morel each to enjoy, a bit of Google research revealed that fire conditions must be right for the morels to appear. Too hot and the earth will be scorched of life and too cool of a burn won’t allow the morels to access nutrients from the trees. As our unsuccessful hunt was based in a fire that had burned incredibly early in the season (mid-April), we guessed that perhaps the fire just didn’t get hot enough to produce the flush of fire morels. Armed with this new information, we searched a different burn that seemed to better fit the parameters suggested online – lo and behold, we hit the motherload that time.


Another example of knowledge learned and gained throughout the seasons is more of a “know thyself” type situation, rather than actual information being retained, and that is black bear hunting. I love a good a batch of bear sausage or pepperoni, and every spring for the past decade my partner and I head out in search of one. They are prolific in the region and we see multiple bears every outing.


However, after several hunts of humming and hawing whether one of said bears is the right bear to harvest, my excuses for passing one up start to pile. Weather? Too hot. Bugs? Way too many of them to be feasting on us as we process up a bear. Bear hunt or fish? Well, if you know me, you will know that I always pick fishing over hunting, any day of the week. And so, the cycle continues, and another year passes with an uncut tag. What have I learned (and obviously not quite absorbed, as I’m going on quite a few years of not getting a bear), you might ask? If I want a bear, I’ve got about a two-week window in early spring before my spare time gets spent other ways. Otherwise, try again next year.


And so the seasons go, with little lessons learned (and sometimes ignored) along the way. In the outdoors, you are always learning, no matter how long you have been honing your skills.