In the Off-Season: November

When fishing quiets down in the chill of autumn, many head to the woods for hunting season.

In pursuit of the season’s last striper

When I arrive at the beach after a short walk on the path through the dunes, I can see and hear the pounding surf. I can also feel the quiet, even through the typical raging north winds of November. It’s now too cold for the sun worshippers and swimmers, and most of the fishermen I know have hung up their rods until the season begins again next April. As I cast my line beyond the breaking surf, I can’t hold back the overwhelming grateful feeling I have, and I smile.

I realize I am so fortunate to have found my passion in life: fishing from the beach in search of Morone saxatilis – better known as striped bass. For more than thirty years, this passion has taken me to the most beautiful beaches on Martha’s Vineyard, at times when one would normally be home tucked in bed. Stripers feed mostly at night, so when the beaches become dark and desolate, I am still roaming around under the stars in the moonlight.

It is difficult for me to know when it is time to turn my attention back to my family, work, and community commitments, but the bitter cold reminds me that this may be the last time I’m out here, because the fish have started their migration south into warmer waters. Even after surfcasting for so long, there are many other beaches I would love to explore on the Island. I cannot stop chasing just one more sunset, one more evening of the surf lapping my ankles, and maybe even one more tug from a beautiful fish at the end of my line.

– janet messineo

Settling into bow hunting season

I was raised in northern Vermont, just twenty miles from the Canadian border, in a town that had more cows than people. I started hunting when I was nine or ten – it was just part of the culture. I moved to the Vineyard when I was sixteen but went away to school and then to college. When I came back, I met an experienced bow hunter. I grew intrigued by the challenge of getting close to my quarry, so I began practicing with him. I had forgotten how much I loved hunting and being outdoors.

I work all year to get into the woods. I’m scouting and planning in the off-season and, by the end of the summer, shooting at 3-D targets every day. In September, I travel to Montana to bow hunt for elk, antelope, and mule deer.

Bow hunting has given me much more respect for these animals. To be successful, you have to insert yourself into their world. It is here that the extra work throughout the year pays off. The act of shooting becomes second nature. Now it’s a game of patience and steadiness – a mind game. You’re always asking, “What did I do right? What did I do wrong?” There is a lot of strategy and many times a lot of luck.

You’re out there alone, at first light or a few hours before last light. You hear the birds, every rustle of the leaves, every twig breaking. There’s a peacefulness to bow hunting that I love.
– josh kochin as told to karla araujo