Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Back to the South Fork (a preview)

I am about to make this tent my home again for a few days this weekend as I have in years past. The yearly Heiskell boy camp out in the wilds of Big South Fork has arrived and appears to have the potential to be more dangerous than even previous trips I have blogged about here.
This year, an old friend and honorary Hieskell boy from the past Mike Fadnek will be joining us, and unless he joined a monastery since I last ran with him, this year could be very interesting. Plus the usual riff raff should be in attendance and ready to make memories (The group of sophisticates I usually share the woods with are pictured below)
I will report back promptly next week after the excursion, with a death count (animals of course) any amusing stories of grown men doing things they know better than (including myself), and a general entertaining discussion of the events which occur when this diverse group of outdoorsmen go back to nature for a weekend.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

spring squirrel and a G-Hog

My belly was soaking wet from the dew which clung to the grass even though the sun hung high in the sky. I lay flat sweating like a man with a secret barely breathing and hoping my earlier carelessness didn't cause me to miss my opportunity.
The morning had started out well, I made it to Cove Creek Wildlife Management Area right at daylight. The squirrels were moving on this opening day of the 2002 spring squirrel season and despite It being kind of muggy and foggy I only walked 100 yards when the first boomer found itself in the cross hairs of my Marlin 22 Magnum. I probably initiated 7 stalks that morning and brought down 5 Squirrels (all gray). I had slid them into the back pouch of the dove vest I was wearing over a camo T-shirt when I noticed the squirrels were now silent. This didn't suprise me because it was 10 am, typically nap time for squirrels in my area. I knew I wouldn't see any more squirrels until an hour or so before dark, but I still wanted to hunt.
I thought maybe a ground hog or two might be in one of the fields TWRA maintains on this managed area. So I hit a nearby logging road and headed up toward the closest of the fields. I walked right up on the field like an idiot. half not expecting to see a whistle pig at the first field I walked up to I wasn't exactly sneaking. Of course there was one standing on it's hind legs and appeared to look at me as I cleared the wood line. I quickly fell to my stomach, red faced at breaking a rule my father had always drilled into my head. He always said " your always hunting even if you are walking back to the truck, you are always hunting" I decided not to wait to long, I don't know if it was to not give the ground hog enough time to run to his hole or my anxiousness to see if I had screwed up. I raised up to one knee, my Marlin in front of me. I was relieved to see the hog still standing looking in my direction. I aimed at the top of his head (since I new my rifle would drop some at 150 yards) and pulled the trigger. I don't think he even heard the shot, since the bullet blew his brains out the back of his head leaving all of his meat undamaged. I made it back to the truck by 11:30 am but felt pretty good since my dove vest was so heavy that I think I pulled a muscle taking it off.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Women should hunt, just not my wife

I believe love of the outdoors has nothing to do with your chromosomes because I have known many whiny men who can't stand to be in the woods for more than a few minutes.

It was 24 degrees and had just gotten dark. I could see my breath and frequent trips to the fire to re-warm the hands were necessary while we sat up camp on a poplar/hickory ridge near the big south fork river. The group of campers were diverse but experienced with the exception of one couple, Dave and Mary (I have changed their names to protect the innocent). The entire time we all worked in sub-freezing temperatures to make the camp comfortable Dave stayed by the fire whining and complaining about how awful this was and he was miserable and how is he supposed to sleep when he is this cold and on and on. I had bitten my tongue since I did not know Dave well but his girlfriend Mary had finally had enough and basically told him to man up or go home. She was tough and loved the adventure of being out of doors. I would share a duck blind with her any day if my wife didn't mind. I don't think Dave lasted very long, the last time I saw her, the wife and I had ran into her with a different guy at the Outback steakhouse where she immediately showed me pictures of the first buck she had killed on her cell phone. I think she found a guy she could leave at home while she brings home the back straps.

I recently read an article on the American spectator site about hunting. The author dogged women and basically said they should leave hunting to men for several ridiculous reasons. I say women should hunt if the want to and I would be glad to go hunting with a female, my daughter for instance. I think retrieving your protein from the wilds and cutting it up is a valuable lessen for any body, male or female. However I am glad that my wife has no desire to go hunting because we spend every waking moment working in concert to keep the train on the tracks any given day. It is not that she would be a bad hunting partner, its just she is already my partner in everything else. I think it is healthy for us to have some separate hobbies and interests which we do without one another.

I will give you an example. When I leave for a day of hunting we are excited, but we are also glad to see each other when I get home. She likes to go to fancy restaurants with her friends drink over priced fruity martini's and watch movies that end with a loved one dying, I don't go, that would ruin it for her, not because I don't know how to properly drink a martini, but she needs a break from me sometimes. I know it is hard to believe.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Always Hunting

While little RGD mugs for the camera (which he is famous for) Big RGD scans the hillside for the grey squirrel rustling leaves.

It tickles me when a photo tells the truth. My wife snapped this photo while her and my daughter awaited us on a trail during a recent family hike at Big Ridge State Park. I think it is telling, even when the law forbids the taking of animals to eat I can't stop my instinct to constantly scan my surroundings for that tale tale flash of a tail or glint of an eye. I think sometimes i like being outdoors because its my natural habitat, just like west town mall is Mrs. RGD's natural habitat.

Remember the old tag line "take a kid fishing", I would like to change it to "take a kid outside". Maybe I am lowering expectations but I believe kids will love the outdoors if given a chance. I think outdoors beats video games every time you try it.