Beat The Heat! Bring The Great Outdoors, Indoors

By Kent Boucher

I have every reason to list summer as my favorite season. It serves as my respite from a year of long weeks in the classroom as a science teacher. My birthday is in early August. My family usually takes a cross country vacation, plus all of the usual reasons most folks love summer, but I don’t. Here are my top three reasons for my contempt: 1. The oppressive heat 2. No hunting seasons (yes, I know squirrels and doves technically start in late summer, but it’s pretty much fall) and 3. did I mention the heat? With a bad case of summer blues, it can be all too easy to melt into the easy chair and stare at outdoor television in the comfort of the ice-cold AC. So how do you avoid wasting an entire season, and still avoid the oppressive heat? You bring the outdoors indoors.

Further Process Meat
To sum up one of my favorite Aldo Leopold lessons from his legendary book A Sand County Almanac – firewood warms you twice. The same principle can be said for venison, and its power to satisfy its harvester. First upon harvesting the animal, second once you start eating the meat, third when you get your shoulder mount back from the taxidermist and finally, when you pull the shanks (sorry osso bucco enthusiasts) rib, and neck meat out of the freezer to begin a day of grinding. Once you start working with the chilled venison you will quickly feel the power of thermodynamics’ second law dragging summer’s heat away from you, helping you forget about the reason you aren’t outside. I suggest working in a small percentage of pork fat in place of beef for creating a better tasting and less dry product. Grinding and further processing meat is a chore you can pass from the fall (when you’re busy) to the summer when it is miserable to be outside.

Tye Some Flies
Tying flies almost seems sinful this time of year, as trout fishing makes my short list for activities, I enjoy during an Iowa summer. But it does make some sense considering trout are cold water fish. With that in mind, the most scorching days of July and August provide a good excuse to pull your line out of the water and head for the comfort of an air-conditioned basement with your whip, hackle and thread. Maximize the time by playing some YouTube tutorials in the background to help you learn new types of flies, or even tune into a fisheries biologist explaining how to more effectively match the hatch during the better times of year.

Shed Antler Projects
Repair Those who know me well can speak to my obsession with shed hunting. I love hitting the frigid, south facing ridges in January and don’t wrap up my season until May is coming in hot. With all of the shed hunting I inevitably pick up a few ancient, sun bleached, busted up old antlers. As soon as I haul my latest diamond-in-the-rough through the front door, my wife makes it clear that she isn’t as excited, but I quickly reassure her that I have plans to piece them back together. This type of project of course leads to many hours in an airconditioned basement workshop scrubbing, sanding, gluing and rebuilding tines with Apoxie Sculpt. While you’re at it, this is also a good time to construct projects with those dropped antlers; maybe you want to make a hall tree or coat rack.

Project Planner
I have often tried keeping a written planner to track all of my commitments, deadlines and responsibilities. This can help you plan your year and prioritize your outdoor projects. I have had some success doing so for a semester in college, but in short order I slipped back into my old ways, and went back to keeping track of the vast majority of my chores in my gray matter. It is a system that works pretty well, but is easily preyed upon by procrastination. During my procrastination detours I am constantly haunted by a gnawing guilt about whatever chore I may be neglecting at the time. As a hunter this chore is oftentimes cleaning a dirty gun from the previous hunting season. Line up this assignment during the most insufferable days of the summer heat in your air-conditioned living room where you can flip on the TV to your favorite hunting show, and get to swabbing the barrel of your muzzleloader and shotgun to set your conscience free.

Indoor 3D Range
Although guns are an efficient tool for hunting, they are only half of the equation. Archery equipment opens up a few more pages of the deer hunting calendar, and as us bowhunters understand all too well, the margin for error with our bows is miniscule. For this reason, hunting season really begins many months before October 1st as we log many hours of target practice to make sure our skills fall within the aforementioned margin of error. The evenings and mornings can help provide some significant relief from the heat, but if you really want to liven up your foam and canvas targets, take your practice to the nearest indoor 3D range. The challenge of shooting at realistic targets, and the cold AC will provide the boost in morale to keep you motivated arrow after arrow.

Tool Maintenance
“Take care of your tools, and your tools will take care of you.” Although our instinctive reaction is to roll our eyes when we hear these poignant reminders, they do contain some truth worth acknowledging. Sharp knives make cleaner and more precise cuts- maximizing the food we harvest. Waders and boots are much more useful when all of the barbed wire, and thorn punctures are patched. Treestand harnesses are more likely to be worn when they aren’t tangled into a nest of straps. Crankbaits are more likely to be changed when the bite is slow if the tacklebox isn’t a quagmire of treble hooks. And on and I could go (sorry, I’m a dad of three). So, in honor of dads everywhere, settle into your workshop, crank the AC and take care of your tools.

Hottest Days are Best Indoors
If I’m totally honest, even though I loathe the oppressive heat of summer, I can’t help myself. I have to spend time outside. So, this list I gave you, use it for the hottest days, that’s what I do. If you’re wired like me, then you’ll sweat through your summer outdoor adventures regardless of what the weatherman says, and you should. On those days when I can’t take the indoors any longer there’s a good shot you will find me enjoying my favorite way to beat the heat: standing in the middle of a stream in driftless Iowa casting for trout.