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Fly Fishing, Grouse Hunting and Fine Bird Dogs Spoken Here!

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Day Dreams

Day four and even the laziest among us are bored. I’ve never been afraid to be lazy, I always figured it was a sign of contentment. But, I was wrong.

When I was a kid, I always wanted to live on a farm. The thought of raising animals, fields to run and of course, a couple of farm dogs to follow me around was my dream.

Farm dogs are big, rambunctious and follow you where ever you go. And on a farm, there are a lot of places to go and explore, sometimes following the dogs and sometimes having the dogs follow you. Either way they are always part of a farm kid.

Being lazy, though, poses a problem: who works the fields, milks the cows, feeds the chickens and of course, who does all the clean-up and chores? My dad, when I’d go into my rant about living on a farm would say I was so lazy I’d sit under an apple tree waiting for an apple to fall into my mouth. There are times I think he was right.

I don’t want to live on a farm anymore, I just want to hunt on one.

With all this time on my hands, it’s easy to daydream. So I think about fall days with changing leaves, browning ferns and white splash over berry bushes and orchard floors. I see easy walking through thicket patches and swamps, being followed by Jake, Duke, Seamus and a pup named Gus, doing his best to keep up with the big dogs. I dream abut making doubles on grouse and woodcock with my old double: a Rossi, 20 ga. I bought for $75 fifty years ago.

But then, something brings me back to reality and suddenly I have a taste of apples in my mouth.

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Mind Games

The one thing about sheltering in place is that it forces my mind to come up with thoughts and ideas and usually in the form of questions. Looking through the woodlot from the desk, I see the lake in front still covered with ice. About a hundred yards north, the lake is wide open and I immediately remember the best fishing occurred at ice edge down on Anchor Bay in a past year. Probably the year a friend and I went through the ice in his Buick Le Sabre.

I caught the thought of me inching my way out over the ice and quickly removed it from my mind …for now anyway, there are still 18 days to go.

Gus is the only one here that doesn’t seem to be to inconvenienced, his whining gets him lots of walks and I know he’s figured out the process. Still, the highlight of the day for me is taking him along the Jordan where the snow has receded substantially, enough anyway, for me to walk without slipping and sliding and stumbling over snow covered logs. We’ve covered a couple of miles along the river on the west side and haven’t bumped a grouse.

I’m pleased with his progress. He began quartering the first time out and has developed it more since. A couple of times he stopped on a dime, his head and nose jerking straight up and in the direction of a small clump of woods with a pine in the middle. But after following his nose, it proved empty of birds. Still, it was a good sign.

I’d like to get closer to the river, but it would be at a snail’s pace and I don’t want to lay myself up with a sprained ankle or worse with the trout opener less than a month away. If this shelter in place continues, I’m in the perfect place to take advantage of it.

I haven’t seen anyone in the woods and Gus keeps a six foot distance..

 

THD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

The Jack Pine

There is a virtual highway right in front of the cabin. In fact, one tree it’s perfectly framed by the sliding door wall leading to the deck. It has many branches that go in all directions. I’m talking about the jack pine in the middle of the little woodlot leading to the lake.

Thirty six years ago, when we built the cabin, the jack pine was about five feet tall. We let it stand, though we wanted maples. Since then, maples have taken hold and have far surpassed the jack pine in height. A white pine is in the mix along with poplar. The poplar have taken over in height and overshadow the jack pine causing it to twist and bend around them to reach the sun as it grows. Still, it’s the focus of the woodlot when you look at it through the door wall.

The branches of the trees overlap in spots, creating a runway for several different types of squirrels to race from one tree to another to get to various birdfeeders or just in play with one another. Seamus used to sit on the deck, still as a rock, waiting for one to misjudge a jump and end up on the ground, then pounce from the deck like a flash of light in an attempt to get the squirrel. He never did of course, but he sure had fun trying. Gus, at eight months old, is catching on to the game. He’s a little quicker than Seamus was, I think he might have a chance.

All but the pines are bare now, but as the snow recedes, the remnants of last year’s leaves become visible and in a few weeks will occupy our time getting rid of them. There was a time when that thought would send chills up my spine, but this year, for some reason, I’m looking forward to it.

It’s a sunny day and the squirrels are taking full advantage of it; crisscrossing the highway of branches. Gus too is taking advantage of it. I just hope he remembers there is a glass door between him and the squirrels.

THD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

I Got This!

Heading north this past Saturday we didn’t encounter 100 cars. One hundred might seem like a large number, but not when you realize it’s a four hour trip covering 250 miles and usually has slowdowns due to traffic especially in Oakland County.

Grayling was a straight through shot with only one stop to get gas. I was reminded that Corvid19 was the reason for the sparse activity in Grayling when I discovered the gas station we stopped at closed their bathroom to the public. No big deal for a man, but… The last hour to the cabin was uneventful with even less traffic than on I-75.

We’ve been here for a day and still haven’t seen a person other than at the grocery store. I’m reminded of the early days when we first came to this place before every square inch of property with waterfront was sold and Orchard Lake type homes were build and called cottages – my cabin isn’t one of them.

I watched the sun come up over the hills across the lake like I’ve done for many years before, but today it looked to me like it used to years ago when I had to hoard time to make the trip. Three deer came into sight in front of the cabin slowly meandered past to head for the swamp north of the cabin. Gus saw them too and was interested, so I waited a while before taking him for his morning walk. Up north he gets to run loose, no leash. Unlike Seamus who used to take himself for a run down the lake when he thought I was out of sight, Gus looks for me when he gets too far ahead.

I received a call from work and told part-time was eliminated. That’s me.

Snow is mostly gone around the cabin but still in spots where it accumulated the heaviest over the winter. Later Gus and I will try to get into the woods along the Jordan River. I need to get Gus into some grouse cover, and it appears we’ll have plenty of time this year to hunt bonasa umbellas.  The hunting will begin though, while fishing for brookies in the Jordan this spring, listening for the drumming of  grouse, making a mental not of where it came from so Gus and I can return in October …and that’s a good thing.

THD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Merry Christmas 

From the both of us!

 

 

 

 

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Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

GUS

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With French Brittany characteristics – black nose and tri-colorings  – Gus is the third Britt to come into our lives. “She Who Must Be Obeyed” finally relented to my pouting and gave her approval to another mouth full of needles under foot.

He has big paws to fill …I think Seamus would approve.

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Acomplishment!

It was time for him to teach. He had spent a lifetime of acquiring skills and living life the best way he could… at least the way he thought it should be lived. Now it was time to pass on some of what he learned and, in some cases, improved on; things like catching trout. But, one step at a time.stock-vector-vector-illustration-of-boy-fishing-143776300

The boy was his grandson. He was almost ten and had been following him around the cabin for as long the boy could remember. “Papa” had shown him how to bait a hook, watch the bobber and what to do when it began to twitch, how to set the hook and reel it in while keeping the line tight. But Papa didn’t use the same kind of rod and he never used a bobber. Papa didn’t keep his line in the water as long as he did either, he made it fly through the air and never had a worm on the hook. What Papa had on his line was a single small hook covered with feathers.

It began with a 4 wt rod with floating line and poppers cast off of the dock. The boy spent hours trying to make the popper land on the water like Papa did. When he’d get discourage, Papa would laugh and tell him he was catching on and it would just take a little more patience. The boy always said, “Ok, Papa.” And tried some more. Finally, he got the tempo and hand coordination down to where he could send the line with the popper out far enough to reach the reeds that punched through the water in front and to the right of the dock,

He was proud of himself, but the best feeling came when Papa padded him on the shoulder and told him, “Good job.” His smile went from ear to ear and he knew he took a step to being like Papa.

All of a sudden, something pulled the rod tip down with a jerk. Instinctively he pulled back but realized fishing with a fly rod required two hands. With a little help from Papa, he grabbed the line with his left hand and following Papa’s instruction, held the rod upright while gathering in the line. Then, when there was no more slack, he began reeling in the line until the leader was almost through the tip guide. He grabbed the line and held it tight against the cork grip with both hands, raising the bluegill out of the water. His first fish on a fly rod and Papa was there to see it. Another smile appeared ear to ear with his chest protruding just a little further than usual.

It was now time to clean the catch and make plans for tomorrows fishing. Maybe Papa will take him to the river and let him fish for brookies. The boy was hooked.

THD

 

 

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

It All Depends On What You’re Used To.

“It all depends on what you’re used to,” was the reply from the fellow on the other end of the line. I had answered an ad for a remote cabin on an Upper Peninsula lake I had never heard of before. I was in one of those moods that required some kind of activity, if only a phone call.campfire_cooking2

The ad said the lake had great fishing from walleye to bass and even trout in the tributaries. And the part that caught my attention was the claim that there was no public access and no cabins on the lake. The claim was that this place, including the cabin, was as primitive as primitive got:  No electricity, only kerosene lamps, a propane stove and a wood burner for heat. A rowboat was included – “Bring your own motor and gas if you don’t want to row,” the ad said.

I was skeptical, but the chum worked and I called.

The lake was in the Seeney area, in the middle of the Hiawatha National Forest. Actually I had been there before – on Ross Lake with the Detroit Sportsman’s Congress, on a bear hunt. It was in the 80’s and it was a great time. There were 30 or so and the organizers knew what they were doing: The camp had everything you’d see in an elk hunt ad in Field and Stream; from a cook tent with grills and even an oven, to a generator for the movie projector. All the comforts of home.

I had a pickup with a camper on the back. It was big enough for two and my buddy Ken and I were comfortable, having only to supply our libation.

The area was a true wilderness in the UP tradition and required a vehicle in good mechanical condition to make the trek down the miles of two-tracks to get to the camp set up on Ross Lake.

A guide with dogs was arraigned and a new experience presented itself to Ken and me. We split up in groups – each with a walki-talkie (this was in the early 80’) and roads were dragged clear of tracks so it would be easy to spot where a bear crossed and get the dogs on a scent. When one was found, the guide would call to the other groups and give directions of where to position ourselves to get a glimpse of a bear. No one took a bear that weekend, but a couple were spotted – I decided then and there that wasn’t my type of hunting.

bonasa umbellus

bonasa umbellus

The country was beautiful and being in September, the ferns had begun to turn brown and were everywhere. It was a great time to explore the logging trails. Walking those trails, flushing grouse in pairs, made up my mind to get a pointing dog and I’ve had one ever since.

That was well over 30 years ago and I’ve been to a lot of camps since and have evolved …meaning, from rowing my own boat, to casting while a guide does it for me; to being flown into a remote cabin on a Canadian lake.

I think I’m ready to regress; doing for myself from tying my own flies to beating brush to get the just right angle to cast, sounds wonderful and satisfying. Now, if I could figure a way to talk Seamus into sleeping on a cot.

THD

 

 

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Policy Change At A Retail Icon!

thIf you are an LL Bean customer, you’re going to get a letter informing you about a new return policy. LL Bean is sending letters to all on record costumers informing them of a new return policy that will give the purchaser one year from date of purchase – with receipt – to return the product for a refund.

Those who shopped at LL Bean and used the return policy for what it was intended – if it’s broken or not up to standards the product will be replaced – will still find that LL Bean will still stand behind its products. But those who buy a pair of shoes and ten years later complain the shoe doesn’t fit and want a bigger pair; or wear the knees out of a pair of jeans that have changed color from years of washing and rough use; or buy a product at a garage sale and want to cash it in for the sale price, will be disappointed.

As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and they are us.”

THD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Hill Country Is My Country

This time of year finds me with a lot of time on my hands that eats at me until I can’t stand myself. So to soften the days, I reach for old friends, in the form of books I’ve read and re-read; usually during days of self-pity like today. Before anyone reading this wants to send me the name of a good shrink, let me say, I’m not depressed, I’m just bored. There is a difference.stock-vector-vector-illustration-of-boy-fishing-143776300

Gene Hill, is perhaps my favorite outdoor writer and has been since a friend put me on to him some 40 years ago. Hill wrote a column for several different out-of-doors magazines. The column was called “Hill Country.” It was a monthly piece located in the front portion of the magazines and had no particular intent other than take you with him while he dissected everyday things we take for granted; outdoor related, of course. There are a series of books, mostly a collection of his columns, and I think I have most of them if not all. And I read them on days like this, which usually means from mid-January to mid-March.

I think the reason I associate myself with Hill’s banter is, he has a way of making the mundane relevant. When he talks about pocket knives, I think about my first pocket knife that I was allowed to have – even though I sort of appropriated it from my dad’s stuff – without really asking. I think he understood what it meant for a boy of 10 to have his own pocket knife. Of course I wasn’t allowed to carry it, only when fishing or camping. But there was some sense of being closer to being a man if I was trusted to cut my own marshmallow roasting stick.

The idea Hill captured my imagination with, was, that even average and below average people could have as good a time and experience in their outdoor pursuits as the Davey Crocket types who could catch fish with a safety pin and piece of string. Or, be so adapt at everything, they just naturally had the latest and greatest stuff, because that was what was needed to have fun and success.

Hill reminded me that guys like me who couldn’t afford the latest and greatest “stuff,” weren’t bared from the joy of “being there.” It was the doing and getting that made the experience, not the insurance value of my rod or gun.

Don’t get me wrong, “She Who Must Be Obeyed” will tell you I’ve spent more than I should have on everything from shotguns to fly rods to boots and even for dogs. But when I did, it was because I wanted to and not because I believed I couldn’t have a good time with less expensive shotguns and such.

“Hill Country” gave me an appreciation of fine double barreled shotguns and bamboo fly rods, but never the presumption that I couldn’t catch fish with a Shakespeare glass rod or bag a grouse with a Savage gun.

The dog is another matter. Seamus is worth the money ten times over.

 

THD

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