ASK FOUR PEOPLE what their favorite season is and you might get four different answers.

There are good things about all seasons, but for me, there is only one season that is No. 1. That would be fall; the months of September, October and November.

Spring has much going for it, like bringing green leaves and beautiful flowers, not to mention bringing all sorts of newborn wild critters, to life.

Summer brings days of warm sunshine; days which, for some people, means going to the beach to get a suntan. Unless it would be with 200 buxom young ladies in string bikinis surrounding me, I will never have a yen to spend summer days lounging on a beach.

I do enjoy winter, especially the hundreds of hours I spend cross-country skiing in that season, but about two months of snow and cold have come to be more than enough for me.

That said, over the past couple of weeks I’ve been gladly heading for the woods almost every day, soaking up the smells and colors of the early fall season.

My 20-gauge over-under has been carried in the crook of my arm on a couple of occasions in hopes of finding a partridge or two that would willingly fly into the path of a load of No. 71⁄2. So far, I have not found even a single partridge willing to do that.

Most of the time, I’ve been carrying my 12-gauge loaded with magnum loads of No. 4 in hopes of finding a gobbler willing to hold still long enough to put a bead on him. That hasn’t happened yet either, though I came within a second or two of bringing one home last week.

On a cool, early morning I was slowly walking an old logging road when I glimpsed just around the corner the movement of a turkey. Conjuring up my best Daniel Boone persona, I crouched low behind a handy tree and waited.

Sure enough, he came in range. It was going to be an all-too-easy and short turkey hunt is what I was thinking. Mr. Gobbler was thinking elsewise. With eyes sharper than an eagle’s, he caught me raising my gun and in a split second, he was two quick steps into heavy brush along the logging road. An opportunity fallen by the wayside.

Twice I could have easily killed a turkey while driving home from unsuccessful hunts. Flocks of hens and poults thought it would be great sport to stand along a road edge and tease me when I pulled up to say hello. Anyway, to kill a turkey that way is not my way of hunting and I would rather end the season emptyhanded than shoot anything but a gobbler.

Last Saturday was the grandest day of the grandest season in the world. That would be duck season and even though I had affairs of state to tend to that kept me from sitting in a blind at daybreak, a hunt that began at 9:30 in the morning ended in success.

I hiked a mile to a slough that was filled with wood ducks last fall. It was empty as I sneaked up to its edge Saturday morning, but finding a soft place to sit along its edge, I waited for what I hoped would be a duck or two to drop in.

Five minutes after I sat down, Mrs. Woodie silently slid in for a landing not 10 yards in front of me. I watched her for several minutes, deciding during that time that she was too pretty to shoot. Instead, I waved at her, said how-de-do to her and wished her well as she promptly took off, apparently deciding I was not fit company to be seen with.

Two more woodies sailed in 20 minutes later for a landing, both beautiful drakes. Again, I watched as they paddled around about 20 yards away. Something must have tipped one of them off. He started up with a few danger peeps, followed by a quick takeoff.

As both winged away, I made the greatest trick shot of my career. They were separated by about 6 feet, one trailing the other by a foot or so. I swung on the lead bird, fired and the trailing bird went down dead as a doornail.

Now, normally I would not admit to this, but to the best of my memory, I have never managed such a trick shot before. The scofflaws who share the little white house on the prairie in North Dakota with me would gleefully tell you that the only ducks I ever hit are by accident, so I’m guessing I’m only welcoming their insolence by telling this tale now.

I will tell you I earned that woodie and then some. He fell about 35 yards away. Trudging through a muddy, boot-sucking bottom was bad enough, but a jungle of drowned brush and long-ago fallen logs made for an obstacle course no sane 72-year-old man would try to navigate.

But with my dog laid up with a bad case of an allergic reaction that has caused half the hair on his neck and chest to fall out, I had to be my own retriever.

All’s well that ends well, as they say. I managed to find my woodie, get back out of the morass to solid ground and most important lived to tell the tale. Oh, and by the way, Mr. Woodie made for a very tasty duck breast sandwich for breakfast the next day.

To paraphrase Patrick Henry, such days as last Saturday find me saying “Give me fall days or give me death.”

I much prefer the former.