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We’re about to enter the fourth quarter.

The clock is ticking for the state’s hunters.

The game will soon be over.

It’s now or never if you want to get into the woods and bag a few good memories.

For most of us, the late season is bittersweet. Sure, it’s great to rest easy with a freezer loaded with meat and a fresh set of antlers hanging from the wall as the season comes to an end. But hunting seasons are short. It’s important to take advantage of every moment, no matter how full the freezer or how cold it gets over the next month.

Even if all your big game tags have long been filled, there are still plenty of reasons to brave the elements and get one last shot in Penn’s woods. A neat way to do it is to take a youngster squirrel hunting. The Christmas break offers a perfect opportunity. Or, better yet, find a buddy with a well-trained dog or two and go after rabbits. What a Christmas treat that would be.

The state’s true “deer season” has just one more day. Lots of folks will be disappointed at sundown. But as an archery hunter, I relish an unfilled tag at the end of the season.  As the crowds and the chaos that come with rifle season wanes, it’s an entirely different game out there. During the cold last quarter of the season, it’s quiet. It’s lonely. It’s late-season perfection.

I have no doubt I’ll spend some time cursing the cold as I wait for the distant winter sun to rise above the morning horizon. It happens every year. But it’s worth it.

To ease the pain, all we need to do is ponder the fleeting of the season. In six months, when our hunting gear is gathering dust in the basement and sweat is pouring from our brows, we’ll crave a frosty winter sunrise. When it’s “too hot to fish,” you’ll miss your frozen tree stand.

With just a few weeks left in the season, it’s easy to set lofty goals. I could aim for all sorts of hard-to-reach targets. But the wisdom of age has tempered my expectations. As the clock ticks down these days, I’m going after just one thing. I’m going to take advantage of every second that’s left.

My goal is to ensure there’s nothing bitter about the next few months. Everything will be sweet — the cold, the timid deer and even the memory of the one that got away. It will all soon be missed.

Another great season is slowly coming to an end.

The game clock is winding down.

Enjoy it while you can.

— Andy Snyder writes about outdoors. Reach Andy Snyder at sports@yorkdispatch.com

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