As residents of Arkansas, we have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful colors of fall. We are blessed with a vast array of foliage in the natural state. We have varied sections of the state with their own colors of fall. There is the Ozarks, River Valley, Ouachita and of course the delta regions.
When the leaves start turning colors on a hunter, he needs to consider changing his hunting practices and camo attire. Right now hunters are enjoying the coverage of lush green grass and trees. Our dove hunt last week was very enjoyable. The leaves were still fresh and green. The Bermuda grass was at least 6” tall in the pipeline right of ways. It was easy to be quiet and stealth with the leaves still on the trees and the grass so soft and flexible. The last couple of years of droughts were not so nice to hunters. By this time in 2011 and 2012, the trees were going in a dormant state. Dried grasses and leaves were all over the ground. Good cover was gone and walking through the woods full of dead leaves and grass gave the disadvantage to the hunter. The noise of cracking leaves was like a warning bell for deer and fowl.
Early Teal season will be advantageous to the hunter this year. There is plenty of natural cover around all the water impoundments where the ducks will land. But this natural cover won’t last the whole hunting season. Remember, when the weather starts to change, the surroundings you hunt in will start to change.
The mixture of all the beautiful colors of October and November; yellows, browns, reds, purples, and oranges, are just a breath taking sight in this wonderful place we call home. When the leaves start turning, the environment you hunt in will change. When the forest is becoming gold, yellow and brown with turning leaves, don’t wear your green camo to the woods. These days a hunter has to know how to be flexible and dress for the environment he will be hunting in.
There is a huge uncontrollable factor in the color changes each year. That factor is called the weather. If we experience hot, dry summers, the foliage season won’t be as colorful or last near as long. In hot, dry summers trees start to shut down early to survive because of drought conditions. This affects the leaves changing color in the fall. An early frost can also put an end to the foliage season. A normal summer with a mild fall season means a good foliage process for the hunter to stalk his prey in. A good hunter is aware of the forest conditions he intends to hunt in at all times.
In normal fall weather patterns, trees sense the shorter days of sun light. The trees start the process of preparing for winter. The leaves on trees are actually the food processing centers for the trees and have done their job in producing enough food to be stored by the trees during winter for survival. Although during the last couple of years of draught conditions, a lot of trees have died as a result of the lack of proper food storage by the tree. Most of those dead trees are still in the woods. It is possible for a hunter to be faced with two different camo patterns in the early season of hunting this year. Just pick the one you feel will meet the majority of your needs.
At the point where the leaf’s stem is attached to the tree, special cells are grown by the tree in the early fall and actually pushed between the stem and the tree, eventually separating the leaf from the tree. At the same time this is going on, the tree is also sealing the severed place where the stem was attached to protect itself from bugs and diseases. The hard winds of early winter will start blowing leaves right off of the trees.
At this point the hunter will be facing a different set of surroundings and once again the hunter must adapt to the environment he has chosen to hunt. That adaptation for late fall/early winter hunting can be as simple as a color adaptation to your camo, re-positioning a blind to a more suitable and secluded area, or putting more cover on an existing blind.
The fall foliage only lasts a short time so enjoy it while you can and be flexible while hunting your prey in the field. The color change starts sometime in late September to early October. The peak time for color change will usually be in late October. Because of the areas elevations, the River Valley and Ouachita’s will start their color change around the first of October, with the peak being around early November. As for the Delta Region, the color changes occur from early to mid-November.
Whatever region you are planning to hunt, I hope you have good luck with your endeavors.