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.