Rick Bramwell mug

Rick Bramwell

It is difficult to think about hunting during the dog days of July, but sneak a peek ahead or get left out when it comes to reserved special draw hunts conducted by the DNR.

The reserved hunt application period is now open for dove, waterfowl, deer and pheasant. There is little time to waste on applying for dove hunts with a deadline of July 29. Deer deadline is Aug. 26, while chances on a waterfowl or pheasant hunt run out Sept. 16.

These hunts can only be applied for online. I find it relatively easy, even though the computer doesn’t like me. Go to www.on.IN.gov/reservedhunt or do a Google search for “Indiana DNR” and click on “apply for a reserved hunt.” On most of these hunts, you are encouraged to enter with a buddy or two.

In over 30 years, I have never been drawn for a pheasant habitat hunt and get the “unsuccessful” post every year on hunting small game or deer at Deer Creek Fish and Wildlife Area. I was one out of five last year getting drawn for an early deer hunt at Whitewater State Park.

I like the state park deer hunts where you need a deer license to apply but are allowed three deer without having to use your tag. The early state park hunts run the first Monday and Tuesday after the deer firearms season opens. For that reason, it is good to apply for a state park near where you will hunt opening weekend.

A hunter is allowed to scout and set up a blind ahead of time. Such is not the case at military installations.

Visit the reserved hunt online site several times because more hunts will, most likely, be added.

I have found the hunting to be good for the first two hours. Once the deer discover they are being hunted, they take to heavy cover. This is where patience and a good supply of snacks come in handy. Let the impatient hunters move the deer.

Available state parks in 2019: Chain O’ Lakes State Park, Charlestown State Park, Clifty Falls State Park (archery only), Fort Harrison State Park (archery only), Harmonie State Park, Indiana Dunes State Park, McCormick’s Creek State Park, Ouabache State Park, Pokagon State Park, Prophetstown State Park, Shakamak State Park, Spring Mill State Park and Cave River Valley Natural Area (drawn and managed together), Summit Lake State Park, Tippecanoe River State Park, Trine State Recreation Area (archery only) and Whitewater Memorial State Park.

Two of my favorites, Brown County and Shades, are not on the list. I had a memorable hunt at Charlestown with the late Bill Shearer and like hunting there.

Planning for fall hunts is important, but I have an idea for a September/October trip for the entire family that could include a half or full day of fishing.

One of my favorite areas to visit is the Shoals Area of northwest Alabama. The area, which includes Florence and Muscle Shoals, is famous for the Swampers house band and the hundreds of top hits they helped record. There are two studios where these great artists found fame with lots of stories to go with them. One story tells that teen-aged Greg Almond sat in the parking lot three days until they invited him in to play.

Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, Almond Brothers and Lynard Skinner are among the acts to record at the studios. You will see a ticket written for one day’s recording when the Rolling Stones recorded Brown Sugar and Wild Horses. Cher made an album at the second studio.

The restaurants are fabulous and bars entertaining. We saw a guy play Free Bird with the guitar behind his head.

The Helen Keller Estates where she grew up is a marvelous place to visit where you find yourself in a time capsule.

An Indian cave made into a restaurant is a good place to eat when it doesn’t rain.

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame is great, plus you can record your own songs. They even have a coon dog cemetery.

My favorite is a half ($175) or full day ($350) fishing with my friend Brian Barton — (256) 412-0969 — to catch big smallmouths and giant catfish.

Contact Susann Hamlin at Alabama Tourism for discount tickets.