Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Dismal Duck Season of 2011

The duck season is more than half over in Virginia and things aren't looking up.Compared to last year I haven't even harvested half as many birds.The funny thing here,I'm not complaining one bit.Last year I was hunting in semi-urban areas surrounded by mcmansions and highways and we did great on hunting.The feeling that came from harvesting those birds was nothing more than meat in the freezer.This year I have kept it local,determined to figure out my local rivers and where the actual migratory birds are.Unfortunately the weather has no cooperated at all with highs in the 60's and lows well above freezing.For the last week I have burned a lot of gas,bumped into way to many stumps in my effort to locate birds.Bottom line is they simply are not here yet.Given my schedule at work I have one more week to hunt and that will be the end of my duck season.I have managed to scratch out a few birds and I still hold out faith I will have a few more memorable hunts.

Bright sunshine,no wind,50 degrees,no birds

Last week I set up in my boat blind by myself and watched the sun come up while I enjoyed a hot cup of coffee.I listened to the geese fly over at nose bleed level and wasn't bothered by it at all.Over the last few years I forgot what it was like to creep into a swamp before sunrise and just listen.Not to the traffic and sirens of the city but to the wind and the birds waking up.I scratched out a few geese that day and had an awesome feeling of accomplishment.The next day I went even farther back into the swamp with one of my brothers and we fired zero shots.Upset?Not at all!We hid the boat back in a creek and rested on the shoreline and simply talked about everything that life has seemed to throw at us in the last few years.It's easy too forget what this time of the year is supposed to be all about.I would hope that whatever your outdoor addiction is you take a moment and try to remember why it was you fell in love with it.For me it isn't about shooting animals and reaching limits.It's all about the camaraderie of the duck blind at 530 am.Seriously where else will grown men feel comfortable telling off color jokes at that time of day.Christmas has come and gone and New Years is only a few days away.My only hope is Winter will show up very soon but I won't hold my breath.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Is It All Worth It

If you consider yourself an outdoorsman or woman then you more than likely spend quite a bit of money on your outdoors activities.Whether it's hiking and camping or hunting and fishing it all costs money.Even if you are a Dupont on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with 1000 acres of everything outdoors,property taxes must still be paid.Is there a way to get around spending so much money just to find that bit of happiness that the outdoors brings us?The answer to that question after many hours of contemplating is no.However I believe there is a way to bring it down a notch.I will my life in the outdoors over the last ten years as an extreme example.

As a small child my father and I shared many sunrises on the local reservoir fishing for something.That's right,we fished for anything that would bite and we had fun.So much fun that 25 years later I still look back and want those simple times back.Hunting was seldom talked about in our household and never actually done.Many road trips were taken to beaches,mountains and lakes up and down the East Coast.By no means was I a sheltered child when it came to the outdoors.Fishing consisted of a cheap zebco rod and reel,yes that is what my dad fished with,a hook,bobber and a worm found in the yard.If it was an "expensive" day we may have payed the three dollars to rent a boat.Whenever at the beach or the mountains on vacation we were allowed free roam within ear shot.If your mother was like mine that was about 2.7 miles,love you mom.We could climb,run,roll around in the mud,ride our bikes,dig a hole as long as we heard the cry that dinner was ready.Through my teenage years I turned my head to the outdoors as I had other ideas of what fun was supposed to be.In my early twenties I found myself in a strange urban environment that had very few outdoors activities.I did find myself picking up a fishing rod and went right back to the only way I knew how to fish,bobber and worm.As a child it seemed natural,laid back,easy even.As an adult,standing on a crowded pier at the local city park it seemed odd that only I had a bobber.Everyone else was using.....ARTIFICIAL!This was the start of what has become my personal outdoors obsession.

I quickly versed myself and spent every last penny on new gear.I became good enough over the next few years that I bought a boat and almost became bored with bass fishing.Yes I actually went and targeted one species of fish.I was then introduced to the joys and frustrations of waterfowling.Over the last few years I have erected blinds and spent literally thousands of dollars to help tip the scales in my favor.I have an ever growing outdoors bucket list trip that includes salmon fishing in Alaska and dove hunting in Argentina,hey everybody has to have dreams.So where did it all go wrong,is it all wrong and is it all worth it?

The simple answer is yes,the more complicated answer follows in the next few sentences.Where did it all go wrong?I blame the Bass Pro Shops and the Cabela's for making me buy all the crap I love and hold so dear to my heart.Watch a hunting show and you have fallen into the trap.The merchandising is so clever I almost always end up saying,I need that!Is it all Wrong?No I don't think so.What's wrong with continually challenging yourself to get better at something you love?Seriously how could that be wrong?Is it all worth it?Sit back and ask yourself what else in your little world brings you piece of mind other than the outdoors?I don't have anything else that keeps me so grounded.It helps me enjoy the natural world for what it is and what it once was.So if that means I spend an extra few dollars on a licence to fish in another state or a few extra dollars on some braided fishing line to help me land that lunker than so be it.Just remember that at one time you either didn't have the money or weren't spending it on outdoors activities and you were just as,if not more,happy than you are now.It could be the added responsibilities of being an adult that make it more difficult to capture that feeling of serenity.Whatever it is,I will continue to drive towards it and spend my hard earned money on it.If I should find myself without money to spend then I will simply pick up that old Zebco and think about those sunrises on the reservoir with my father.

this post has no pictures because I'm trying to invoke thought so please don't hurt yourself

Monday, December 12, 2011

Almost Home

I have been slacking on my pimp posting fo sho!My excuse,work all day every day at all times of the day.I have made it through three weeks with one to go.I'm looking forward to kicking my waterfowl season into high gear when I return with a two stretch of non stop hunting.This will be the first year in almost 10 I haven't traveled to someplace in Maryland to hunt with my brother Swamp Thing.This year,as a special treat,he will be coming to Virginia to hunt with me out of the mighty Gut Runner 2.This will also be the first time in six years I will be home for Christmas and the first time I have ever hosted Christmas in my own house.The plans for the two weeks around the Holidays are still a bit in the air but they seem to be coming together nicely.Stay tuned for some hopefully exciting hunting and Holiday posts.I just ask you do me one favor and try and remember what the Holidays are about no matter what religion you may choose to celebrate.Enjoy the weather before Winter takes over!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bring on the Waterfowl

The boat blind on opening day,Blackwater Swamp, Va

The Virginia Waterfowl season opened a little over two weeks ago without a bang,pun intended.Very few local birds were moving and the resident geese didn't want to play.So what's a waterfowler to do?Enjoy the sunrise and catch up with a hunting buddy I haven't seen since last year.We set out early,minus a certain brother that didn't show up,and went through the motions.Then the crickets started talking,yes crickets I know it's wrong to hear crickets while duck hunting but we did.We told stories,watched the deer follow each others scents through the swamp and enjoyed the calm weather and sea smoke.It was a good drill,end of story.

Goose down!

That was the opening day and no hunting on Sunday brings us to Monday.My new found hunting buddy down the road is addicted to goose hunting.He is a big time deer hunter and just recently retired,so he took up goose hunting.He had only killed one goose and wanted a chance to go out in the duck boat.Easy choice because he owns fields and swamps in some key areas I would love a chance to hunt.I informed him that 48 hours earlier the geese didn't cooperate but we could try again.The geese for the most part didn't cooperate but I did manage to turn a group of six.They got close enough to take a shot and a nice dose of Hevi-Shot brought the goose down through the trees into the swamp.That was the end of the trip,yay Virginia duck hunting.My job was done,he killed a goose and invited me to hunt his property around Christmas.The weather is starting to turn now and the birds are slowly moving South.I have another two weeks of work and then I'm off for the Holidays.I can't wait to get out there again.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Rig 'Em Right Jerk Rig-Field Test take 1

I just wanted to go hunting and relax,now look at me

Unfortunately there will have to be more than one field test for this "rig".The reason,the first test didn't go so well.It was opening day for waterfowl in Virginia.The boat was loaded,the jerk rig had been deployed on land to better understand the "easy" set up.The weather was calm and cool,around 34 degrees with zero wind.A perfect day to try out the new jerk rig I purchased earlier this year.I needed movement and this was the exact reason I called upon the Rig 'Em Right Jerk Rig.I should have hung up the phone during that "call".

Duck hunting is fun!

So to keep this brief let me tell you that I took zero pictures.Seriously,what good are pictures when it is pitch black out and you are holding a mass of tangled line that is hung up under the boat on a rivet?Oh and your buddy is in stitches that your fancy new rig isn't working out like the directions said it would.It looked better on the shelf I think is what he kept saying to me.So it went down like this.I placed the anchor of the jerk rig out,my buddy slowly let out line.We came to the first gang rig clip and I placed the decoy on and overboard he went.We repeated this process two more times until all hell broke loose.We came to the forth gang rig clip and noticed that is was awkwardly bent out of shape.This is a kind way of saying it was all jacked up on Mountain Dew!This clip was so screwed up that it wouldn't close after I applied the tugboat dude method of hossing it in.This takes place when brute strength isn't enough and I bring anger into the situation.The end result is usually complete annihilation of whatever the Hoss is applied to.So almost as soon as I had it semi fixed enough to use for the day,the line became tangled under the boat.See I had to stop paying line out in order to apply the Hoss method and some extra line went over the side and got tangled up.Tangled up like a cracked out kitten in Grandmas yarn drawer.So that was it,with the sun coming up we took it back in the boat and I cursed it.I blamed it on everything,except myself of course.If you are keeping track that was strike two for the Rig 'em Right Jerk Rig.The first was the frayed bungee line right out of the box.This second slip up I attribute to the faulty gang rig clip,which I have now fixed.I am willing to get it another try and I will.Unfortunately this won't happen for about a month.I just got back to work,I mean I do have to pay bills.Coincidentally talking about about name brand products doesn't pay very well,who knew.I hope everyone is enjoying the overly warm weather on the East Coast and I hope it gets much colder in the next month.Thanks for tuning in!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Louisiana A True Sportsmans Paradise

Hard to beat the scenery,Terrebonne,Louisiana

It is what they say and more.My trip to Louisiana went by way to fast to take it all in.I will try hard to describe some of the outdoor adventure knowing that I will most assuredly temporarily forget some of it.My buddy picked me up from the airport with boat in tow and we headed to duck camp.Duck/deer camps are something I have little personal experience with and I had know idea what I was getting into.A few hours later we pulled up nest to a canal with a barge ties to the dock with a house built on it.Yes that is how they roll!Full power,electric,AC not what I expected.I was told that this was a cheap camp and this was just where we would be spending the first night.We quickly unpacked and then reloaded into the boat for a trip around the bayou within my friends hunting and fishing lease.We fished for about an hour and filled up a cooler with keeper size speckled trout,amazing.My buddy even caught a 12 pound tarpon,15 miles from the gulf in the middle of a bayou canal.He gave me the tour of the bayou,we saw alligators,moorhens,gallinules and DUCKS.The amount of ducks flying every direction just simply blew my mind.That night we ate the worlds biggest steak and called it an early night.I wanted to be ready for the main reason I went down there,duck hunting.

Jody,with a bayou tarpon

The morning came early and filled with anticipation.The boat ride was over 2 miles of winding,shallow bayou canals.I was amazed at how easily my friend navigated them.I guess that's part of growing up down there,it just comes with the territory.We set up in a nice boat hide after the decoys were placed out in no specific order.Lexi the wonder dog and grand retriever champion took her place on the dog stand.The weather on morning one was warm even by Louisiana standard at around 65 degrees with no wind and tons of marsh bugs.However within minutes it became evident that we were in fact on the X.Gadwalls,teal,mallards all flew over head and most seemed to want to commit suicide.We were dive bombed from every angle and were able to pick our shots.Most shots by me ended up being warning shots,my new nickname,steel slinger.I did manage to connect on a few key shots throughout the 1 hour of shooting before our limits were reached.I managed a double on greenwing teal.I had never even killed a single teal before that so it was a huge deal to me.My friend was not impressed by the situation however.I also took my first through fourth Gadwall that morning.As we picked up the decoys the birds kept coming and I just couldn't keep looking at the sky wondering why can't duck hunting in Virginia be like this?I don't have an answer for that but I did have another day to spend in the swamps and that was all I wanted to think about.

Two person limit of ducks by 730 AM

That afternoon while filling another cooler full of fish I spotted a helicopter low over the marsh.Now remember we are literally in the middle of nowhere.My buddy told me it was his good friend.I laughed,the helicopter came closer.The helicopter stopped over head and the fella started waving,odd.My buddy made some hand signals and the helicopter left.I asked what that was about and he said ok man we are going to a different camp tonight.So deeper into the bayou we went and we came upon what I can only call a beach house in the mud.Seriously a 2500 square foot house in the middle of the mud,two miles from any hard shoreline.The helicopter sat on a helipad in the "back yard".I couldn't believe it,what is this,some sort of awesome hunters heaven.We were greeted as we pulled up to the dock and I was quickly shown around.It was his friend and we were not only welcomed but apparently late at Camp Necessity.Yes that was the name,stickers,wood engraving said so.I asked whats with the name,it's because it is a necessity that you be there.I was shown to a 45000 dollar duck boat.Yeah a bit over kill but don't hate!Twin mud motors and a premium sound system are a necessity I guess.We ate great,we slept good and we woke up early for my last day of duck hunting in Louisiana.

Twin mud motors?Why not!

We headed to the same blind,with the same set up,same weather.This would be unheard of in Virginia.We don't have enough ducks to blow up a spot and come right back to it the next morning,the ducks simply wouldn't be there.In Louisiana though it is quite the opposite.We shot all Gadwalls the second day and were done by 8am.My shooting became worse somehow and I was constantly chastised for throwing steel and ducks and "littering" the marsh with pellets.I did however make a few decent shots and thanks to one of the nations best retrievers we made it back to the swamp mansion before breakfast was done cooking.The helicopter fella and his friend were done before us,again I heard of how my Virginia shooting skills were lacking.I tried to explain,I really did.In Virginia we have birds but very rarely do they come in 20-30 at a time like they do down there.It is extremely difficult to pick one out of a group and stay with it.I get way to worked up and hence I throw steel pellets into the marsh and not into birds.So that was it,we headed back into town for a hot shower and we crashed.We crashed hard,like at 6pm we were asleep.I woke the next morning and unwillingly got on a plane back to Virginia.My first true bucket list trip was in the books.I spend a good amount of time outdoors.That being said those 72 hours will always be stuck in my head as some of the best time spent taking it all in.I do have an open invite so what do you think,am I going back?Winning,duh!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New to Me Waterfowl Product Review

A new waterfowl season means new products.Not necessarily new products to the industry but new in my bag of tricks.This year I have picked up a few,hopefully,key products that will help make me a better watefowler.On the list I have the Rig 'Em Right jerk rig,Winchesters new waterfowl ammo,"Blindside",Ace Decoy anchors and the Edge Quiver Magnet H2O.The main Waterfowl season doesn't open until next Saturday but that doesn't mean these products can't be inspected before being field tested.So let's start with the Rig 'Em Right Jerk Rig.

Let me start this out with a general disclaimer.I bought these products with my hard earned money,unsolicited except by advertising.If these products stink I will most definitely let you know.Now on with the show!The Rig 'Em right Jerk Rig boasts to be a "so compact it fits in a coat pocket and sets up in minutes".Jerk rigs in general are never really bulky but can be a pain to set up.

As you can see,it comes with a nifty carry pouch,gang rig clips,a hefty anchor and all the shackles needed to make this work.I was impressed at the design of the anchor,it folds up and the weight seems to be significant enough to withstand a decent amount of pull.On the directions it states a nice big warning about the bungee connecting the anchor to the jerk rig."Caution,to reduce weight and bulk,the jerk rig is not equipped with a ridged line to pull the anchor up from the bottom".It goes on to advise you dislodge the anchor with your foot before pulling up from the bottom.Hmmmmm that may be difficult because they give you five feet of bungee to anchor.So if you are in five feet of water good luck dislodging the anchor with your foot without taking a swim to do so.Staying on the bungee,check this out.

Ahh yes that is the bungee in question.Yes that is a nice fray right in the middle of it.So I'm guessing I will either be losing this anchor when the bungee breaks or I will replace the bungee with a more hefty size.This would require me to buy some bungee,that's not cool with me.So moving on past the bungee in question.The rest of the jerk line along with the gang clips,shackles and eyebolts to secure it to a blind all seem to be well above par.So I just don't understand why they would cheap out one of the key important parts of the entire set up."Reduce weight and bulk" oh come on!So next Saturday I will be in the swamp with the Rig 'Em Right Jerk Rig and I will put it through the ringer.The Rig has a MSRP of 29.99 which is pretty standard in the way of price.I will be out of the blogger office so to speak for a few days.I'm off to Louisiana to try my waterfowling luck down there.More product reviews to come in the next few weeks so stay tuned.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Look out Louisiana

The Louisiana Sportsman Logo

It's hard to believe that eight years ago I was living in the ghetto living paycheck to paycheck.Now I'm worried about planning a true leisure trip that is at the top pf my bucket list,Louisiana duck hunting.Last year more ducks were bagged in the state of Louisiana than in the entire Atlantic Flyway,no serious,that's a fact.Hard to believe but science doesn't lie my friends.Like most 30 plus outdoorsmen I have a ridiculous "bucket list".Being grounded I understand some of my dream trips will more then likely never happen but without a dream life is a nightmare,don't steal my qoutes.Earlier this Summer one of my brothers and I set out on an epic road trip to southwest Virginia and into Northeast West Virginia.We went trout fishing,hiking and mudding,the mudding wasn't planned.After that trip I ended up with a renewed confidence that I could in fact go to a "foreign" place and make it out.Not just make it out,but get to know the locals and fit in just fine.We live in the best country in the world,personal opinion,and I want to see it all.The museums are nice,shopping you can have but the outdoors I want to see so it's off to Louisiana for my next big outdoor step.

Cajun people are a special kind of folk

In my line of work I meet people from all over.I'm serious, I have worked with people from Holland to Honduras.I have worked months dredging river mud from the Mississippi River.I have carried soy meal from Kenner Bend Louisiana to Guatemala.That being said I have never stopped to enjoy the state of Louisiana.We just don't get a chance to take a break and go ashore much.Earlier this year i started working for a new company in the Northeast,specifically NYC.So take that into consideration and you can see how a southern Virginia boy might stick out like a sore thumb on a tugboat in NYC.I met a true cajun coon ass and we hit it off.Mostly because I understood him and he understood me.Getting along with somebody is different than meeting a fellow waterfowler.This guy used to be a guide in Louisiana,score!It was his idea that I come down and he would help me mark this off my list.So I'm going!I'm not sure exactly where,he has an 1800 acre lease.Yeah I know 1800 acres of marsh and pot holes,I can't imagine.So with my airline ticket purchased I'm patiently waiting for the next ten days to pass.I'm hoping to see some alligators,catch some redfish and shoot some ducks.No matter what happens this is my next big outdoors step and I'm excited.On another note congratulations to my Dad who has finally retired.He worked his ass off to provide for me,my brothers and my mom and now he can relax.I can't wait to go trout fishing with you again pops!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Louisiana or Bust!

I'm hoping for Louisiana personally.It has been in the works for quite some time and it looks like it may actually happen.I may be going to Louisiana during their opening week of general duck season.Does this excite me,well let's just say,HELL YEAH!As an avid waterfowler this trip is on my "Bucket List".I'm fortunate to have this opportunity and although the details haven't been worked out as long as I get off this boat on time I will be in Louisiana.More to come so stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wood Duck Take 2

Hard to beat a morning like this

There is something to be said about showing up for a waterfowl hunt with just my gun,blind bag and waders.It RULES!It isn't very often that I get a quality invite so I have to go when I get the chance.If for nothing else at least for the knowledge of how other waterfowlers "run" the show.We all do things a little different and we all hope for the same outcome,birds in the boat.So the second day of the four day split took me to the upper blackwater river.As I like to call it where the river meets the swamp.After a quick meeting at the local store,doughnuts and coffee are necessary,my new hunting partner and I were on our way.With his local knowledge we ended up at a "ramp" that I would never put my boat in.Like a pro he had the boat in the water before I had my waders on,I needed to step up my game.I jumped in the boat and the sea smoke was immediately a problem.I'm not sure when the last time you went on a 5 am boat ride in the marsh but it's dark.Add some sea smoke and you get a black wall,no matter what kind of 70 dollar spot light you have,go me.It was an interesting ride to say the least but we made it to the spot and hunkered down for first light.

As we sat next t our chosen cypress trees sipping coffee we talked,chuckled and listened to the swamp.This my friends is my favorite time of day.Not just to be hunting but to be on the water,any water before most critters wake up.You almost always hear them before you see them and the wood ducks were no exception.It sounded like a group of puppies.The whining,chuckling mixed in with other swampy sounds I will admit was a bit spooky.A few minutes before first light my partner decided he didn't want to ruin this spot shooting at one or two birds.We were going to let first light ride out and try to get a shot at a group of four or more woodies.Then it happens in a flash.Remember we have snuck into the swamp,a part I had never visited,way before first light.So I really had no idea what ,my surroundings looked like.The light starts showing you plants,trees,vines,flowers you had no idea you were sitting nest to.The birds start flying and the shriek of the wood duck grew loud,quick.We were quickly buzzed by several singles but held our shots as we had discussed.Every waterfowler knows the first 15 minutes of shooting light are always your best chance to get a shot.This is even more so with wood ducks,they simply do not fly unless pressured to do so after the first hour of daylight.So we had our chances and we let them go,this is what I call pay it forward.After the morning flight we discussed our options.Bottom line was,enjoy the scenery and hope.

Seven years and this is what it's all about to me

Wood ducks fly fast,like jet fighter fast.That is if a jet fighter could weave through the trees less than a foot of the ground.So my buddy decided he would take a ride up into the swamp and check it out for future reference.Left alone on my ten foot island of mush I poured my last cup of coffee.I put my gun down and I laughed.Thinking the crap i have put myself to trying to down a single drake wood years on and off,missed shots,opportunities etc.On the verge of giving up a few years ago all the way to not having time off to even try.I stood up,looked down stream and then I saw it.Coming around the corner,side to me,white belly showing.So I did what any good duck hunter would do,I downed that bird.A few minutes later when the boat returned to Cypress Island we went over and grabbed the downed woodie.Now it's been no secret how mush the drake wood duck has eluded me.It's also no secret I have been planning to get my first drake woodie stuffed.Unfortunately when I dispatched the bird with one shot of my mossberg 935 it fell stone dead,in a mud puddle.Then it sat there until the boat returned so I could go get it.So getting a mud and blood stained bird stuffed wasn't the best option.The bird has been cleaned and is in the freezer for later eating.So that was it,one silly little bird.Seven years of trying and hoping and I had a smile on my face all day.I had accomplished more than one goal early in the season.I have met what will hopefully become some great local hunting partners and I downed a drake wood duck.This season may be short for me with my work schedule but it's looking better all the time.Bring on the cold weather!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wood Duck Take 1

Opening morning Blackwater Swamp, Va

A few long days at work,a few technical difficulties with some new interface on here but I'm back and ready to blog.Last week I was lucky enough to be able to hunt during Virginia's early duck season and I made the most of it.After spending a few days before the season scouting I have to admit I was a little down in the dumps about my chances of bagging any birds.I do my research,I wake up pre dawn off season and get out there trying to locate my game.Most of the time I end up with little or no leads.I have been struggling to broaden my scope and spread out in search of ducks.The decision was made last month after the fiasco with some hunting "friends" and some misplaced waterfowl blinds.I wouldn't say I gave up,I just chose to move on.So during one of my outings to a nearby boat ramp I met a fella,who introduced me to another fella and so on and so on.It was really just perfect timing as he was coming in from building a stationary duck blind way up river.I was amazed to see that not only was he near my age,he was just as excited about bird hunting as I was.I knew this was what I needed,a local,my age with the same ridiculous obsession that I have,waterfowl hunting.

Boat Hide,looks good now and I hope it stays that way

Over the next few days we exchanged emails,then phone calls then we drank and told stories.I learned quickly he was a local as were the three others in his duck hunting crew.The opener quickly approached on Thursday and they all had to work but I was dead set on going so I did.Upon arriving at the dock at 5 AM I noticed another trailer in the parking lot.Odd in deer country in October.At the boat ramp sat what would become another hunting friend.We quickly exchanged numbers and he went to his spot and I to mine.Neither of us did much good that first morning,only a few wood ducks sighted.I lost a mojo wing but enjoyed the sunrise,oops.Later that afternoon my phone rang and it was quickly established that everyone I had met over the last few days knew each other.Yes it's a small town full of deer hunters so when a new duck hunter shows up the word spreads apparently.Later that afternoon we all met at the boat ramp to take a boat ride.They took me all through the swamp,showing me places that hold birds at different times of the season.Showing me roosts,good places to set up depending on wind and places not to hunt,aka private property.I couldn't believe this!A few guys I met at the boat ramp,who barely knew me,were taking me around showing me where to start my search for birds.When I asked they simply said,you look like an honest dude.The next morning we made plans on trying a new spot,way up in the marsh.I planned on hunting everyday,I knew this was my year for a drake wood duck.The question is,could I hit one?

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's Done

My seven year quest for a drake Wod Duck came to an end this morning in the swamps of the Blackwater River.With two days left in the four day early season I'm hoping for a few more but I won't get greedy.I will wait until next week to write a proper post with all the details from this weeks hunts.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Public land and the Private Blind

Leaves starting to turn,good time of the year

It's extremely upsetting to me that it has come to this but I had to build a stationary blind for duck hunting.So what's the big deal?Well for the past 5 years I have licensed my boat as a floating blind and hunted mostly public marshes and rivers.This year the other very few "grown" men that hunt the area decided to have a war.A stationary blind war,on public water at that.So a quick rundown on Virginia and it's waterfowl blind laws,this may give you a headache.Landowners have the first right to put up a stationary blind.If they choose not to then the common man has the right to pay his 23.50 to get a tag and put up a blind by a certain date,November 1.If no stationary blind is erected by said date a floating blind may be used in that area of public land.So for the last few years it worked pretty good because there were absolutely no stationary blinds.The 3 main hunters in the area would call each other the night before a hunt and discuss locations we planned to hunt so we wouldn't step on each others toes.I guess that wasn't good enough for some and here we are coming up on the duck opener and the entire stretch of river is now locked up with stationary blinds in some sort of public land stand off.One guy says everyone is hunting "his" spot to much.Another is new to the scene and jumped the gun without talking to the locals.Then there was me,little 'ol me.So I stayed on the sidelines as long as I could and then I stood up and put my big boy pants on.

Blackwater River October 2011

If you follow the blog then you know I moved last Summer and have really just started to settle in.Last duck season I hunted mostly the same areas I had grown to know,see above paragraph.This year I have made a few contacts but none have come through so far.This meant that last month while all this stationary blind craziness was going down I made a choice.I talked to the original leader of the "grown" men.It's at this point that I need to tell you that this fella hadn't said a word to me in over two years.I left messages,I was cordial at the boat ramp,I received the stink eye.Now all of a sudden I'm his buddy because he needs me to put in for a stationary blind tag to lock down this magical spot that I haven't hunted for 3 years because he said it was his.I agreed,like an idiot,I agreed.So a few weeks on the boat got me thinking,why the hell do i want to drive all the way there and have to deal with the fuss.I just couldn't see what I was getting out of it.The simple answer was maybe a few ducks but definitely a political headache.I would quickly become that guy who took the other guys side.This my friends is duck hunting in 2011 in South Eastern Virginia.It's disgusting,inexcusable,pathetic and I won't have any of it.

OK I give up,let's build this blind!

So they can have it!It took me a few weeks to come around but they can have it.One of the only places I knew I could go to and almost always get ducks and geese to work I'm willing to give up.I Duck hunt because I love the water,sunrises,sea smoke in early December and the camaraderie of friends in the blind.I don't hunt because I like harming small animals,it's just part of it and they do happen to taste good so that's not my fault.I took that stationary blind tag and I headed to my local river around my new house and my brother and I built a boat hide.Will it hold ducks?No idea and I don't care.I know that this year I will be able to go out there,watch the sunrise through the cypress trees and tell a few jokes to some good friends.Friends that don't care how much shoreline I locked up with the strategic placement of my blind.Wood Duck season opens this Thursday so it's time to do some scouting.Fall weather is here,get outside and enjoy it friends.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ready or Not

I'm a big time person.I'm rarely ever late and if other people are well it irritates me to say the least.So with my schedule at work,gone for a month home for two weeks,it's hard to fit everything in.I tend to miss quite a bit and I can't imagine if I had a family to tend to.It's that time of the year where Summer gives way to Autumn and it's going to happen whether you are ready or not.The weather doesn't care if your done bass fishing or camping.The weather doesn't care if your duck decoys are rigged or the boat is grassed up it's going to happen plain and simple.The date will come when others head to the field and you will either be there with them because you were prepared or you will be at home waiting to here the stories of glory they bring back.The wood duck season opens in Virginia on October 6th and for the first time in several years my schedule has me home.The weather is forecast to change.Change from rain,fog,humidity and everything else tropical to a much more typical Fall forecast.I'm looking forward to spending a few mornings in the water before the season opener to pattern some birds the old fashioned way.Sit in the middle of the river,fish,watch the sun come up and watch for birds.So I hope everyone stays tuned as we enter one of the best times of the year.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ridin' on Dubs!Part 2

Crazy geese,that's a cattle farm!

With the Resident September goose season underway one would think an avid waterfowler as myself would be excited about it.Unfortunately the exact opposite was happening.Over a foot of rain,hurricane winds and crazy tides had pushed all the local birds into a pattern I couldn't figure out.So what's an outdoorsman to do?The water on the local creeks was entirely to high for fishing,the Chesapeake Bay was the color of chocolate milk and still is to this day.Dove season,that's the answer!So with a little friendly chatter with a local corn and soy farmer I gained access to a field that had been cut prior to the hurricane.Not just any field though,the one on the other side of the fence in my backyard.So i called my brother,the nutty professor,cleaned my mossberg 500 pump and looked forward to a relaxing opening day of dove season in Virginia.

High flying resident geese over the corn field

Many of the local corn fields had not been cut prior to the hurricane thus limiting the areas the doves could possibly be feeding in.However just like the local geese,the local dove population had yet to "Get Right" after the storm.The birds were very spread out and I had done zero scouting prior to heading out in the field with a gun in my hands,hunter fail.I did spend the afternoon before opening day riding around the area checking power lines right before sunset and then again early the next morning.The season opened at high noon and lets just say it was a bit warm to be hunkered down in the brush next to the railroad tracks.I headed out the backyard and across the field a little after noon to claim a spot for me and Nutty who would be a few hours late.Not being very experienced in dove hunting I picked an area in the field that funneled the birds down some railroad tracks into a neighboring field,i chose wisely.Shortly after showing up,placing my camping chair and cooler down in the brush some of the other locals began to filter in.They weren't openly upset at the "new guy" in "their" spot but I could tell I was a bit of a thorn in everyones side.So seeing as how we were all armed I walked up and introduced myself and friendships were born.I have had little interaction with the locals since I moved to the area late last Summer.That being said apparently they know who I am,kinda spooky.So with names and numbers exchanged we all set up on the perimeter of the field and waited.Then we sweated and waited.Then I walked back home to get more ice for the cooler and Nutty showed up with some good luck.

Nutty with his first Dove of the day

I quickly got Nutty set up down the railroad tracks from me and in short order he watched me miss a dove on landing on the line.Yeah,that happened!Whatever,I'm man enough to admit I scare more birds then I kill.A few minutes later Nutty had his eye on a low Dove and with one shot the bird was down.After some high fives and calls of nice shot echoed around the field we were set again.I had nutty watching the field as I watched downed the railroad tracks.The next pair came through the funnel fast and I shot and missed,Nutty took one shot and got another one.This was starting to get painful!I'm watching these little red shotgun hulls building at my feet and I have nothing but a warm gun barrel to show for it.The shooting slowed down with a few passer bys high above the trees,a flock of local geese looking for lunch flying over and a few laughs traded back and forth with the locals.

We called the hunt,gathered together,had a few beers on the tailgate and wandered back home.Simple,yes,relaxing,yes,just what I needed,hell yes.I get extremely burnt out bass fishing in the heat all Summer so I really look forward to hunting season.The problem is hunting to me means,Fall,cooler weather and North winds.In September,in southern Virginia you are dreaming if you think you are going to get any of that.However every year i get so amped up for September 1st and am usually let down by the 85 degree weather,blistering sunburns and absolutely no wind.So maybe I have found my September calling,Dove hunting.Next year the field will be planted in corn and not harvested until early November with crop rotation.So next year i will again have to man up,ask around and try to find a field to hunt in September.With one under my belt I almost look forward to gaining access on the local fields.A short note on behavior on private property.Of course none of us would ever leave shotgun hulls on the field,do donuts with our trucks,throw beer cans in the woods,right?Well how does the farmer know that when he sees it this winter when he goes to plant his wheat?He gave you and 10 other peopled permission so how does he know it wasn't you?My tip of the day,take it or leave it,pick up the other guys mess.You don't have to tell the farmer,unless the damage done is severe,just pick it up and look at it as the price of admission.So there you have it,hunting season is officially underway.In a few weeks I will be in the water trying for the 6th consecutive year to bad a wood duck,pathetic I know.Bring on the cold North winds and get outside!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ridin' on DUBS! Part 1

Next year I want permission to hunt here

In the words of Ice-T,'That ain't me dawg!".So with Hurricane Irene gone,the following week brought major flooding of all the local rivers and creeks.This translates to trees with root balls still attached floating down river at 4 knots,aka not going bass fishing anytime soon.No worries the September goose season came in!Not only was I not excited,it was almost like I wasn't enjoying the thought of going to hunt honkers.I powered through this outdoor depression and got the boat ready.Blind put back on,grass mats attached,decoys washed off,ready to roll.Opening day I was by myself in a spot that I most likely will never get the chance to hunt again.This topic I will not discuss until it all gets figured out but lets say the blind laws in Virginia are a bit strange and leave it at that.So there I was reading my current selection,The Good Soldiers,in the boat blind in 80 degree weather not feeling this hunt.Not sure if it was because i was by myself,was it the weather,was it the lack of birds?Again I powered through my second bout of outdoor depression and the birds never worked correctly and I went home empty handed.I made the decision that I needed to do something different to get the outdoors enjoyment back in my life,a boot to the pant seat if you will.After a short chat with my big brother Swamp Thing I began to realize it was time to stretch my outdoor legs and branch out.

The Goose setup
Dove season opened in a few days,sounds like a plan.I looked at public areas to hunt,I decided that was a horrible idea.People lined up on the dirt roads shooting each other in the face isn't my idea of getting in touch with the outdoors.It was high time I took a go at getting permission to hunt private land.Not just any land,but the large field directly behind my house that was planted in half corn this year. I met the farmer earlier this year,at night,while fireworks were going off,not a great time to connect with a land owner=fail.This time I drove by the harvesters at the end of the day and caught one of the farmers sons outside.A short chat later and I was in!I couldn't believe how cool he was with the idea.It definitely helped that I lived nearby and was a "hard working man trying to do right by the world."Southern people are awesome!So I made the call to my other brother who lives nearby and we had a nice setup for the next day.Dove hunting in the field directly behind my house,how much easier can it get.I didn't even care if we didn't see any birds,it promised to be a relaxing afternoon spent outdoors.Stay tuned,next time we go dove hunting,the guns work well but how about our aim?Have a good one and get outside!

Sunset on the Elizabeth River,Southern Branch

Monday, September 12, 2011


LONG LIVE AMERICA!Don't ever forget what it took to make this country the greatest country on Earth.I was planning to upload a video as a semi tribute to 9/11 however the video is to large.So I urge you to go to youtube and look up Boatlift,an untold tale of resilience.It's not just another make you cry video.It's a video that looks at the massive evacuation that took place after the towers collapsed.So watch the video and take a minute to remember.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mud and Blood

Across from Big Woods WMA,A nice piece of nature conervancy property

No name creek on Big Woods State Forest Virginia

So the weather has not cooperated much this year,anywhere in the United States for outdoor activities.Locally we went through Hurricane Irene with the rest of the East Coast.Fortunately,personally all I lost was time to spend outside.The creeks,rivers and lakes were all flooded and way past unfishable.September goose opened up on the 1st however the storm has the birds spread out.I had electricity,A.C. and a home,many people lost these after the storm so I had little to complain about.I decided to switch gears,take a drive and see if I could add some new hunting and fishing spots to my arsenal.

Give it a few years,this path won't look this nice

I ended up at the Big Woods WMA in Sussex county,Va.I was informed about Big Woods at the end of last Summer and never got a chance to make the hour drive to check it out.Big Woods is an interesting WMA in many aspects.First it is one of the few WMA that was purchased using funds from the state hunting/fishing license and ammunition tax.The last part is fact,I researched it.This next part is suspect,who owned the land prior.Before heading to the property I noticed online the maps were much like a rainbow in color.This is because it is one part state forest,one part private property,one small part WMA.Once I arrived on the property,I noticed the Nature Conservancy owns a very large portion of land surrounding the area.I suspect the land was purchased from the Nature Conservancy as they have unfortunately been struggling in the last few years financially.This is not fact,I am speculating.So regardless of who owns what and where it came from,it's now public and mostly free.

Plenty of deer around if that's your thing

I entered on a small access road not labeled on my maps but labeled on my Garmin etrex gps,thank you Garmin!No I didn't get a free gps but i wouldn't turn one down either.The roads were signed forest property and the gate was open.The sign said "While hiking,biking,hunting,fishing,permit is required."Well I was driving so on I went.Now you can imagine the interior roads 0f forest property and a WMA after 10 inches of rain.Let's just say thanks for 4wd whoever came up with that concept.The ultimate goal was to try and find a few creeks I was told about,follow the creeks to the swamps,locate wood ducks for hunting in October.It kind of went like this,drive down bumpy,muddy road,look at gps,move fallen tree,drive,drive,looks good I'm stopping here.I pulled off the "road" and slapped on my Lacrosse knee boots,again not free,they just rule.I followed the path until it ended,then I located a million deer prints,a few bear prints,coon prints and zero water.I jumped back into the truck and headed to the WMA part of the property.

It's funny to me that this property,being managed by two different state agencies,look exactly the same.I was really worried that one side of the property would be well managed and the other would be neglected.This wasn't the case!The entire property is well signed,foot paths are cleared,roads are as good as you can expect.I was actually amazed the roads were open after all the rain.I guess the fact is that the property just switched hands last year so it hasn't had long to be neglected.So on I bumped around trying to find a creek bed to follow and I did.Now that the temperature was up around 85 with ridiculous humidity,I was less than happy to trounce through the woods but i did.Being careful to avoid freshly downed trees i worked my way down the creek.With my gps in my hand I walked through thorns,moved limbs,stepped in water I had no idea of the depth,yes this is what I call fun.I never found the wood duck promise land.I headed back to the truck,sat on the tailgate and took it all in.My sandwich that is!No seriously I did enjoy my lunch on the tailgate,covered in mud and blood.I looked at myself thinking,why do I continually do these kinds of activities?The answer,because I love it!It's a sense of self accomplishment,even though I didn't accomplish anything.It's knowing now that if anyone asks me about this piece of property i have personal hands on knowledge of it.It's knowing that,I could have stayed home on the couch,but I didn't.I got outside and took in nature and to me that's priceless.Until next time,get outside everybody,seriously.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Quick Post

Just wanted to throw out a quick post.Honestly I have been so wrapped up in being home I almost forgot about the blog.No worries I have plenty of pictures and a few stories to pass along in the next few weeks.The Hurricane definitely put a few screws in the plan but I worked through them.I'm heading back to work in the morning so I should be able to find time to write up a good post or two.So strange,I have time to play on the computer at work but not at home.It's getting cooler outside and I hope everyone has been finding time to enjoy it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Goodbye Irene

Simple concept.ditches fill up and

Don't come back!So I made it through Hurricane Irene with very minimal property damage and my life.Unfortunately I can't the same for at least 5 other people and who now how many millions or billions of dollars worth of property damage on the East Coast.I awoke yesterday morning at 5am with the pine trees raining pine cones down onto my roof.There was no going back to sleep after that.I strapped on my rain suit,turned on the TV and I watched.Listening to the wind howl,it pushed the doors and windows in,then sucked them back out.The power flickered as others around me lost power.Branches fell,water levels in the ditches overtook the road and creeped into my front yard.Small trees began to fall as the ground became saturated.A little after noon the storm decided to stall and we received some of the most torrential rain I have ever seen.Mixed with 40 mph sustained winds I thought well this is just like a nor' easter,no worries.I watched the tv and it warned that the worst was yet to come.

drain into the creeks which then......

I decided I would take the rain suit off and continue to closely monitor the tv.i got complacent and around 6pm the eye of hurricane Irene was 55 mph due west of my house.The wind I had grown to deal with throughout the day kicked up.Not just another notch but into here I am bend over and take it mode.The ground,the creeks and swamps,the trees they just couldn't take it and the power went out.It was getting dark and all by myself,listening to the tv on my emergency radio i will admit,I was scared.With no tv to partially drown out the wind I was left with my thoughts,the wind and the constant threat of a tree taking out my house.At some point I self medicated myself with beer.The storm went north and I went to sleep.I woke up this morning having no idea what I would see outside.Let's just say if anyone needs any pine bows or pine cones I gotcha covered.Luckily my power was back on.Unfortunately for 80 percent of the area they still do not have power.I took a small drive and saw something unreal.

flood the river.thsi is the Blackwater River ramp.I

be able to get to close to this in the next few days.

Water is expected 8 feet above this level in the next 2 days!

I saw farmers,army national guardsmen and neighbors all literally working together to clear streets and take trees off of power lines.I saw swamps usually dry this time of year,rushing like rivers.I saw bullfrogs,snakes,geese,deer all misplaced wandering around looking for a dry home.I heard stories of a little boy with his mother in an apartment back in my old neighborhood.A tree split in half and literally ripped the second story apartment off.The 11 year old boy never had a chance and perished.Another story of a mother in North Carolina leaving her low lying house with her child during the storm.A tree falls in front of her car,she swerved,crashed and the little child didn't make it.This was a serious storm and the worst for some areas is still to come.

The Blackwater River in Franklin, Va is about ten miles from my house.If you read this blog you know that for the last year,since I moved here,i have fished this river every chance I have had.I literally love this river.We received around 10-12 inches of rain and the river just simply can't take it.The river is expected to crest at 18 feet Tuesday at some point.May not sound like much but in town there is a sign on a building two blocks from the river.It shows the level of water the river reached 3 days after hurricane Floyd passed through in 1999.This is a historic,small southern town.The town relied on the international paper mill that shut down last year.the businesses that remain have been scraping by,barely.This may be the end for yet another small town.I will monitor the situation and keep everyone informed

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Dude is 200!

For the record I am not cool with the storm track

So I reached a small milestone in blogging,200 posts.Many of my posts have been short and sour,that's how I roll.So let me say thanks for hanging in,checking in and dealing with everything that makes this blog what it is,not much.Now on a much more serious note,let's talk about this hurricane situation.I have been doing some checking in on others blogs and see that there area some lists of what to have and what to do,etc.The following will be the Dudes rules for hurricane preparedness.

Rule one don't be an idiot-Sounds like common sense but this is how the majority of people die.Hurricane party?Not the best idea until after the storm has passed in my opinion.Don't drive during the storm.Don't try and cross that road that now looks like a creek,believe me the water is hauling ass.Don't paddle your boat down the street,the water is more than likely heading to a larger body of water and guess what even if you have arms like Thor you won't paddle your way out of it,you will die.Seriously use your damn head.

Rule numero 2-just be prepared.There are so many helpful lists on line and if you haven't had to survive in the woods or without electricity and running water for a week lately you should check them out.You need water,bottled and plenty of it.Fill up all of you gas containers.I mean your vehicles,your chain saw,your generator and everything else that legally holds gas.Without electricity you get no gas plain and simple.Canned foods,duh you gotta eat.If you are going to leave,I suggest you do so 48 hours before the storm hits.If you live in a major city it will take you this long to get West or North out of the path of the storm.There are plenty of other things you need so if you can't figure out what they are go online and check or ask a neighbor over the age of 60 who has lived through plenty of these storms.There is a reason they are still alive,they know how to handle the situation.

Rule 3-prep and insurance claim.Yes a naughty,disturbing thought I know.I'm a new home owner and this is what I did.I called my insurance company,yesterday,and asked what I would need in the case I needed to file a claim.They were nice enough to email a list of paperwork,phone numbers etc.I took pictures,date and time stamped of all my property.House,boat,trucks,shed,trees,roof every damn thing.This way if something were to happen all I have to do is say well here is what it looked like,let's get it back to there,pay the man.

Rule 4-be fluid.By this I mean you may have to run and fast.Hurricanes are ever changing and even with current technology it is not even close to an exact science trying to predict these storms.So if what they forecast for your area quickly changes you may also have to change your plan.I understand this goes against rule number one but you may have to leave.Not necessarily the area but your house.You may find a tree on your house but your garage or shed untouched,move there.Have your supply kit ready to move with you,in fact make up multiple supply kits for quick get aways.Be ready to assist a neighbor.Many of my neighbors are elderly and I'm not suggesting trying to be a hero,but you may have to step up your game.I could write short book on what to do and what not to do,but this is my primary rule,BE FLUID!
I hope that pine tree is still there 3 days from now
Rule 5-be ready for the calm after the storm.So you made it through the flooding,trees being up rooted,roads being washed out etc.Now you have no power,clean water or anything else and your house is in ruins.I hope this doesn't happen to anyone but it will.So if you do what every news agency has been telling you to do for the last week and get prepared or leave then you should be fine for 5-7 days.The last major hurricane that came through southern Virginia was Isabel,almost ten years ago.We were without power for 8 days,it took a toll but we made it.We banded together what we had and we made it.I lived in a decent sized city then,now I live a little of the beaten path and it could take much longer to get power back so I'm prepared.

So that's my advice,take it,leave it,put it together with others and be safe.So what am I going to do?Well 48 hours from now we are expecting sustained category 1 winds for 8-12 hours with gust over 100 mph.I plan on staying in my house unless god forbid a pine tree decides to lay down on it.Supplies have been acquired and yes my firearms are loaded so should anyone decide to try and loot anywhere in my area I won't hesitate to stand up with my neighbors and defend what is rightfully ours and definitely not yours.Should no property damage be incurred and the power goes out I will throw some fishing tackle in the truck and head West out of the hurricane zone.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


That's what I'm suffering from,no doubt about it.I have been at work,on the tug,for four weeks now.I only have a few days to go and time doesn't seem to be going anywhere.I went from one of the best outdoors experiences of my life,fishing West Virginia,to moving thousands of barrels of gasoline around the city of New York.I completely grasp the concept of work to have fun but that doesn't mean I have to enjoy it.So I'm hoping to get home in the next week and reintroduce myself to the outdoors in a major way.I can't wait to put some gutters on the house,get estimates on building a garage,oh boy the fun I'm gonna have!In all seriousness,I do have some outdoor activities planned but at the moment all I can do is dream about them.

One of the first orders of business is putting the blind back on the boat because September goose season starts on the first and yes I will be out there.I have a few new things I have added to the duck arsenal this year,a few quiver magnets and a jerk rig.I'm hoping this will give my spread some movement.I'm looking forward to using them incorrectly and blaming the product for not working,that's how I roll.One of my old tugboat buddies has invited me to come down and visit him in North Carolina.It's been a plan in the works for almost two years now so maybe I can fit it in between all the house projects I meant to get done this past Spring.So for now all I can do is dream of what will happen over the next few months.The temperatures will drop,the ducks and geese will move South,the bass will dig in until next spring and before you know it,you will be taking down your Christmas tree.Try and stay cool everybody and get outside!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Public or Private Land Use

So what's your flavor,public or private land use.This question is offered to any outdoorsman or woman.If you enjoy hiking,fishing,hunting,rock climbing,etc what do you prefer and why?I don't actually expect any responses just think about it.I started thinking about it after I read my brothers post on it here . Great post but as Brothers we do tend to slightly disagree on some things.After reading his post I generally understand his mindset.He is a Father working multiple jobs with little spare time.So in the spare time he does have he wants his outdoor activities to flow nicely as we all do.For his situation,leasing land is ideal and more power to him.In fact I have hunted his farm lease and thoroughly enjoyed the laid back not in a hurry feel.However sometimes I have to do things that fit my bill.

The Gut Runner II before new trailer,love my boat

A short background on my outdoors experience.At 32 I am a master of nothing outdoors but interested in everything that has to do with hunting,fishing,minimalist survival etc.I have been fishing since I was a small child with my Dad.I didn't start using artificial baits until about ten years ago.I consider myself a good but not great fisherman.I went deer hunting for the first time about 8 years ago and didn't hate it but it's not for me.Running dogs through the woods chasing a 75 pound deer while twenty grown men line the trees surrounding it,not for me.My brother took me duck hunting around the same time period,my early twenties,and I was immediately hooked.Even though I never even got a shot at a bird until my fourth hunt.It started with a stationary blind,went to field goose hunts,then to guided hunts trying to learn and now I have my own boat.What I don't have is my own spots because I hunt on public property.So what if I took the money I put into the boat every year and leased a field or a farm?

Nothing better than watching your buddy bust a green head on public land

This is where a few of the problems lie.The financial aspect would be the number one culprit.Let me break this down because it's the big one.I spend between 3-5 hundred dollars every year to improve my waterfowling experience.Everything from new decoys to grass mats to hide the boat.Two years ago i bought a brand new engine,pow 2500 bucks.Last year a brand new trailer,pow 1100 bucks.Not to mention the every year licensing fees that cost me around 80 dollars just to hunt out of the boat.So why not give it all up and lease a farm.Because I can't afford it!Seriously I know it seems like I spend a ton every year just to keep it going but the decent leases aren't cheap.I could join a club on the Eastern Shore of Va,which I was invited to do,for a price of 1200 dollars a year.So what would I get?Access to a few decent fields that hold geese late in the season and a few ponds that hold residential mallards until the first freeze.I have hunted there,had a great time and seriously thought about joining.So why not private land?Maybe it's because I'm stubborn.Maybe I like the feeling of accomplishment when I put my boat on birds that I found.Maybe I'm an idiot.One thing is for sure,if I had the money this wouldn't be an issue,I would do both,in South Dakota,in retirement.I can use the boat to get around to more than one area,I can and do use it for bass fishing all Spring and Summer.I'm really just searching for a solution.Unfortunately money doesn't grow on trees.All this talk about hunting has me geared up for September Goose season,bring it!

Monday, August 1, 2011

RTOD-Road Trip of Death part 3

This will be the final entry in the RTOD series,I should be able to wrap everything up in this last post.If you missed the first two posts in the series feel free to to take a minute and catch up.So the final morning found us back in the Monongahela National Forest Ranger office.I was again put in touch with a very helpful Ranger who was kind enough to give us a nudge in the correct direction.My goals had already been reached for the road trip.I scouted some new areas in a new state,I caught trout,smallmouth and other assorted fish and I got to spend some time with one of my brothers in an awesome setting.So the plan for the day was easy,go out on a limb and see what happens.The amount of public access fishing in the Elkins,WV area is quite ridiculous and you definitely need more than a few days to fully enjoy it.I'm not rich and I can only afford a few days in this outdoor paradise.So into the truck,cooler filled up,sandwiches purchased,map in hand and we were off.

Following the directions given by the friendly Johny green jeans we rolled through the mountain roads and into Parsons, WV about 20 miles north of Elkins and onto the Cheat River.The Cheat River,in this stretch,is easily twice the size of the stretch of Shavers Fork River we had fished the previous few days.We tried wading it at the given access point,the amount of water moving was a bit on the dangerous side.We did however find a guide service on the opposite bank from where we were fishing.This falls into the good to know category and we wrote down the name and number for next time we find ourselves in West Virginia.We headed down the road to the other given access point.Finding ourselves on a gravel,one lane,mountain road was a bit sketchy but I wasn't about to turn back.The truth is I would have but there was nowhere to turn around.Following the Cheat river for a few miles,stopping at every access point and finding it to be a bit to dangerous to wade.The amount of water moving,rapids,being unfamiliar with the river all a recipe for disaster.We did however manage to get a line wet and we did catch a few very small fish.This means five days of fishing and we caught fish every single day,we would not have starved.As we took a few minutes sitting on the tailgate in the shade we watched the river roll by and ate our sandwiches.Across the river was one of many islands and on this island out of the brush came this guy.

A huge bear?No,not at all.The first bear I have seen in the wild?No,not at all.The first bear I have seen in the wild without looking for bears?Oh Hell Yes!You can't possibly imagine how thrilled I was to turn around and see this absolutely wild bear,in the middle of nowhere within 200 yards.SO I took a few pictures and watched him stroll around the island until he decided to cross the stream and climb up the other side.Mother Nature continues to impress me after 32 years on this great planet.So we drove around for a few hours,headed back to the hotel and decided we it just wouldn't be American if we didn't go to the local dirt track we saw a sign for.It was Friday night after all and could be more relaxing than watching a bunch of rednecks going around in circles on a dirt track in over powered late model cars.So that was it,the RTOD was over.A nice 6 hour drive home,then a few days to rest up and it was back to work.As I type this the sweat is still dripping off my face,the radio is sure to blast in my ear any second and it will be time to go make the benjamins.Are there things we could have done differently to make this a better trip,most certainly.Could it have gone much,much worse,oh yeah.I'm happy with it,we got out of state,aught fish in waters we had never seen before,spent five days in the mountains,didn't break any expensive gear,nobody got hurt and we didn't run out of beer.So until next time folks,thanks for reading and get outside!