Pond management enthusiasts experience a big void during winter months when fish activity declines.  We spend nine-months passionately caring for treasured fish and their environment.  Then, one cold day it’s like a sign appears on the dock—“Closed Until March”.  What a great time to meet other critters around the property.

Sights and sounds of Nature.  They can raise goose bumps on your arm.  Like listening to coyotes at sundown.  Such experiences make special outdoor memories.  Humans and wildlife may use different vocabulary and sounds, but messages are similar.  Be it expressions of pleasure, hunger, danger, or social outreach, it’s fascinating communication.  Put on some camo gear, venture into the woods, and experience the excitement of calling critters.

They’re not easily fooled and you’re on their playing field.  But that’s the thrill of matching wits.  You can never predict their response.  Some may come running to you.  Others may stop some distance away and not advance because instincts tell them something’s not right.  I attempted to photograph turkey in the spring when they fan tails and display brilliant plumage.  A big gobbler and I called back and forth until both our throats were sore, but he wouldn’t come within camera range.  The next time one strutted within 15 steps of my blind.

If you try calling, select calls and decoys for your interest.  Practice calling efficiency with instructional tapes to bring them in close.  It’s highly entertaining and often comical when they think something’s there, but can’t see it or confront the decoy.  If calling doesn’t interest you, install a feeding station in a quiet, undisturbed area.  Get in a blind two hours before sunset. I must admit, blinds are relaxing places to take a power nap.  It’s exciting to wake up, hear something walking on dry leaves behind you, and slowly turn around to see what snuck up.

Listen carefully to all sounds.  They give clues for activity.  Barking squirrels may have spotted movement nearby.  A deer staring intently in the same direction usually has spotted another approaching deer or critter.  Take binoculars to observe unforeseen behavior.  Get to know your wildlife neighbors by hanging an infrared game camera to see who feeds during the night.  It’s better than reading a book and sure beats watching television reruns.