Sportsman’s Heritage

My Father taught me and my siblings how to hunt and fish at an early age. We knew how to handle a gun by age 10, and I started at 7. Except for maybe one sister, we all learned early on how to put a worm on a hook. We learned to clean fish and skin squirrels. We never wasted our edible kills and catches, and the family diet was often subsidized with fish, squirrels, venison, and waterfowl. After we kids got old enough, my Mother joined in, and earned a formidable reputation as a crack shot. Any legal deer that got within range of her .243 Remington was destined to become table fare. Some years she shot more deer than my Father.

Even today, I would rather have deep fat fried catfish or crappie, caught in Toledo Bend Lake than salmon or trout from the supermarket. I’ll take breaded back strap over a sirloin, and squirrel makes a fine pot of dumplings.

Something happened as I grew older. The kill is no longer a necessary part of hunting, and I can fish happily without catching much. I take great pleasure in walking the woods looking for scrapes. I enjoy filling the feeder and looking at the previous night’s collection of pictures from the game cams. Just sitting in the deer stand watching the world go from gray to color is satisfying, and hearing the forest come to life is fine music. If I get a shot at a legal deer or feral hog, I will take it, but not seeing any game is not a failure. I don’t bother the squirrels which show up from time to time near the trailer.

Last season, my brother in law, James, shot a fine, fat, legal doe which ran a short distance down hill before falling. He walked out to find my brother, Ron, and me to help drag her out of the woods. We dragged her about 30 yards uphill, huffing and puffing all the way, but we made it and got her loaded on the 4-wheeler. That may not seem like much of a big deal, but the youngest member of our crew was 71. I’m thankful that we are still able to do that, and look forward to being able to do so for some time to come. Until I get too old and feeble to do it, look for me in the woods during hunting season.

Perpetual Summer

Having just enjoyed, for the most part, Autumn and Winter in Texas, I am now back in Panama, where Summer never ends. We have two seasons, wet and dry. Dry season is winding down and the rains will soon arrive. Rainy season is not as pleasant as dry season. During the dry, we have breezes most of the time and the temperature rarely rises much above 90F. In fact, the average year round high temp in Panama City is 87F. The highest temp recorded in Panama City for the last 13 years was 102F and the lowest was 68F. The real killer here is humidity. The average humidity in the morning is 91% and 72% in the evening. When July rolls around, we frequently see 90F and 90% humidity and no breeze. Even so, our hottest months can’t hold a candle to July in East Texas. Being close to the equator, our day length is pretty consistent. In December the day is 12 hours long and in July it is 13 hours long, and we don’t mess with it by changing the time twice a year.

There are places to escape the heat, however. Cerro Azul (Blue Mountain) about 20 miles outside of Panama City has lower temperatures, and sometimes drops into the 50s at night. Almost anywhere the altitude is over 500 feet ASL offers a cooler experience, and snow is not unheard of on Volcan Baru above 5,000 feet. I’ve been to the summit, at 11,400 feet and the daytime temp was about 40F. On a clear day you can see both oceans from the top of Baru.

For most of us, though, summer is year round. Thankfully, Autumn is only a 6 month wait and a plane ride away.