Something about the month of June invigorates small boys and antiquated outdoorsmen like nothing else can. For the boys, school being out is enough, but for those of us older, the sight of the world of nature renewing itself is one of life's prime benefits.
Fish are biting, the weather is fine — not too hot and not too cool — and the world looks cleaner in early June that it does at almost any other time. The sap has risen, even in the Old Timers, and we bumble around mentally thanking the Creator for one more June.
Nature is noticeably replenishing itself. Turkeys have just about finished hatching in this area of northwest Mississippi, and the few quail we have are nesting. Deer are dropping fawns by late June, and the woods behind the levee are alive with song birds of every kind (those that have survived the terrible increase of predators, especially the red-tailed hawks and great horned owls).
Nature, in her wisdom, programs most huntable species with the ability to reproduce many more of their kind than the habitat will support, but predators and disease have to be contended with. It is good that the adults try to bring forth so many of their kind.
As an example, every hen turkey two years old and older will attempt to nest, usually laying 11 or 12 eggs. If they all hatched out and reached maturity, the abundance would introduce disease, parasites and short rations. Because the hatched turkeys are highly vulnerable to predation and foul weather, less than 50 percent of them survive, even in good years, say the experts.
Along the Mississippi River, where population increase can be large, fall hunting seasons help keep the birds wild and better dispersed than they would be if left alone. In this latitude, most turkeys hatch off in May, but they usually are not seen in woods roads and fields until up in June. This spring might be a bit of an exception. We've been seeing some young birds considerably earlier than usual.
Most fawns seem to be dropped in very late June and early July. Deer have the ability to reproduce in such numbers than it usually is necessary to curtail production by rather heavy kills of doe deer by hunters. No predators of real consequence exist in this region, with the possible exception of coyotes. (I detest coyotes because they are a serious problem with turkeys and rabbits.)
When deer populations increase sharply because of improper harvest, disease often sets in and wipes out a herd. I've seen this happen more than once before we began proper management. It is something to be avoided if at all possible.
Nothing is much more interesting to devoted outdoorsmen than to observe the young birds and animals. One of the most delightful outdoor experiences I have ever had was on the old Miller Point Club one late-June day. I was walking slowly and carefully up a woods road that led to a small field. As the field came in sight, I realized a female bobcat was playing with her four kittens right out in the open plowed field. I hunkered down and hid myself nicely not more than 50 yards from the cats and watched for at least 20 minutes before she tired of the game and led them off into a heavy canebrake.
Cats, domestic and wild, are very interesting creatures. All of them display the same traits. That old mama cat would pick up one of the kittens behind its head and toss it around, something they all seemed to enjoy. They rolled in the dust of the plowed field, shook themselves and apparently had a wonderful time.
I can assure you that I enjoyed the show even more than they did. It was one of the unforgettable experiences that can only happen to people who are obsessed with Nature and its wonders.