I know some hunters who feel like they would rather just skip through summer, and as soon as turkey season is over, they’d arrive right back in a dove field or bow stand. Many sportsmen and women enjoy a well-rounded year outdoors with fishing and other water sports, but others suffer through the warmer months as if it were a punishment. While summer has never been my favorite season, I have come to appreciate it with a unique perspective.
Perhaps the first, most obvious, or practical need that comes to mind for the summer months is the time to put in much of the work required to reap the rewards we seek during hunting seasons. This is the human perspective, and as is typical, what most of us would think of first. However, the broader picture, from an ecological perspective, is that the summer months are when the majority of growth happens in our ecosystems. Spring is universally associated with new life, but summer is just as much a season of life. It is the season that is essential in the growth and development of so many plants and animals that fill the fields and forests we hunt.
For many of us the thought of “summer growth” evokes images of antlers in velvet, slowly gaining inches as the sweltering days pass, but it also means turkey poults maturing, ducks nesting and brood rearing, and quail breeding and nesting. So much of our year-round management efforts are aimed at enhancing habitat that supports breeding, nesting, and the raising of young. For many wildlife populations, habitat is the most critical factor in ensuring reproductive success from season to season, as well as individual survival and long-term sustainability.
Summer is one of the most important times in the life cycle of these wildlife young. Watch out for deer fawns, turkey poults, and other little ones while summer mowing and planting. Keep your target species’ year-round habitat requirements in mind when planning your management strategy. As we ease into summer, if you begin to feel impatient, just remember all of the incredible growth happening right now that will make your dreams come true this fall.