CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The phrase "four-letter word" has a bad reputation, for obvious reasons. But there are good four-letter words too. Here are a few four-letter verbs for outdoors lovers to keep in mind as fall begins.
Hunt: Shorter, cooler days mean a variety of hunting seasons are about to open. Waterfowl, small game and white-tailed deer keep hunters busy until the end of the year.
But it's not just about the actual hunts. Many hunters shop in the fall. It's a time for new guns, scopes and tree stands. Outdoor store such as Cabela's love the fall. Parking lots become seas of SUVs and pickup trucks as business booms.
And between shopping trips and actual hunting, hunters plan. They scout their favorite locations looking for signs of wildlife activity. Their ultimate goal is to "fill" the freezer with fresh meat.
Fish: Though some may consider fishing a warm-weather activity, many anglers enjoy their passion year-round. A trip to the East Coast finds many charter captains make daily offshore trips. The Great Lakes remain busy even in midwinter after the water freezes. Ice fishing is not for everyone, but for some it's almost a way of life. And as long as mild weather persists, streams and smaller lakes get plenty of visitors.
Bird: Fall migration is second only to spring migration for those who like to bird. In recent weeks, flocks of nighthawks filled the sky as they foraged to food to fuel their southbound journeys. Skeins of ducks and geese head south in familiar "V" formations. And hawk watches at places like Cape May, N.J., and Hawk Mountain, Pa., have become annual rites of passage for many.
Swim: It may seem odd to suggest swimming as a fall activity, but large bodies of water are heat sinks. Water cools slowly so when air temperatures cool, water is often a warmer place to be. I'm writing this from the Jersey shore, where the ocean temperature is warmer than the air. Just be sure to keep a towel handy because the ever-present sea breeze quickly chills a wet body.