Terry Drinkwine Outdoors!

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

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 our 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 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

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS!

 

It’s the first week of February and as you’d expect, it’s cold, snowy and, if it weren’t for the white new fallen snow, it would be dreary, almost dead looking. To sum it up without sounding like I’m whining, I’ve got the worst case of cabin fever I’ve had in years.

Like everyone else, I’ve gone through stages: from not being able to sit still – not caring what I did, just as long as it entailed moving – to wanting everything I could get my hands on, wanting it until I had it. Now, age and experience – mostly age – has me questioning, asking, why?

I hadn’t fished very much last year, partly because I bought an I/O for the grandkids to ski and tube behind and though it did its job, it was a poor boat for fishing ….poor planning in my part. Also, it takes time off the river when you’re trying to dump kids off of a tube when they tell you they can take anything you can dish out. I enjoyed it and I’ll do it again this summer.

I also got into woodworking. I turned my garage into a small woodshop with all the necessary machines; from table saw to planer to jointer and everything in between. There is something satisfying turning out a table or cupboard or nick-knack with your own hands. It’s made me appreciate craftsmanship and quality of function rather than flash. The garage isn’t heated and the kerosene heater is less effective than a candle in an ice shanty unless it’s in the high thirties.

All this brings me back to the predicament I find myself in now. Years ago I’d put on two pair of socks and layered my clothing and spent time afield, not carrying what I was doing, just as long as I was doing something, usually with a dog. Now, however, Seamus and I both suffer from cabin fever. Come on spring.

The one thing older folks have during such mind numbing times are their memories. Sitting by the fire, smelling the logs and watching the flames dance, wondering just why wood burns until it disappears into gray ash, if I close my eyes and mind to everything around me, I can relive the float down the big water of the Au Sable from Mio to Cummins in the ugliest boat that ever floated the river. It took almost five hours, stopping to fish a hole or log or feeder creek and taking time to take in what nature provided; like the doe and fawn standing in a bog, drinking and eating vegetation along the edge. Or the Bald Eagle circling overhead, on one occasion, diving like a dive-bomber, skimming the water talons first and lifting with a trout, heading to a nest to possible share the catch with young.

A nudge from Seamus, my Brittany and hunting bud, forcing his head under my hand brings me back to here and now. He wants to go outside. He doesn’t stay our long, just long enough to check behind the garage and shed and every inch of under the deck. When he’s reinforced his place in the hierarchy of his yard he’s ready to come back inside.

 

THD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Expo time!

Soon, Michigan’s trout season – the official season on all rivers and streams – will open, and for those of us anal purists (those so set in their ways, nothing new has a chance of surviving unless we deceive ourselves the change was our idea) a customary migration begins in all directions to creeks, streams and rivers for a chance to engage wits with Michigan natives.

In preparation, flies are being tied, leaders are checked, fly rods are flailed in the living room and a daily countdown is made till the Michigan Fly Fishing Expo opens March 12 – 13 at Macomb Community College. I’ll be there at the tying table on the 13th from 12 – 2pm.

Stop by and say hi!

 

TD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Looking and seeing are two different things.

I wish I had a better eye. Oh, my eyesight is alright for an old man, but I’ve been very conscious lately about what I’m looking at and what I’m really seeing. I think some of what’s going through my mind is just the result of getting old and remembering at the same time I’m looking at something and comparing mental notes.

I had decided to sit along a ridge overlooking the bog that borders the Jordan River on the west side north of Mancelona and south of East Jordan. I had walked by that spot many times on my way to the river on opening day of trout season, but had never really seen it. There was no need, it was just a curtain that had to be penetrated to dodge deadfalls and muck and decaying moss-covered trees that made getting to the river that much more rewarding.

On those occasions when I trudged my way through, the trick was not to get the rod or line caught or tangled on the branches that reached out like arms at a jailer at mealtime. This time, it was like looking at the bog for the first time: The thick foliage was gone, revealing a much smaller tract of land that appeared almost fragile and revealed the river was actually much closer than the effort of getting there had always suggested.

Sitting high on the ridge, I was able to see what appeared to be depressions in the bog, lines really, that were deer runs. They weren’t gravel or dirt tracks, only grass and other ground vegetation that was separated slightly, suggesting something had made its way through more than once.

Using my scope, I followed the trail paying attention to subtle changes along the edges. It reminded me of training I went through before being deployed to Viet Nam that made me conscious of how close someone or something could get to you if it used the surrounding terrain for concealment, especially if you were looking without seeing.

Nothing ever came down that trail while I was watching, but there was noise behind me. It was subtle, almost competing with my imagination. Then, it broke and dashed through brush and went deep into the woods behind me and was gone. It had spotted me and watched me just as I was trying to do to it …and It was better at it than I was

TD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Solitude!

It is five in the morning, Seamus decided it was time for us to get up and, as he’s figured out over the past ten years, if he persists, he usually gets his way. There is method to his madness, and I’ve learned to make the best of it and truth be told, the solitude of the quiet, dark, chilly morning lends to my getting my thoughts in order.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The first order of business is to make a fire. Though no snow, there is frost on the deck and on the tarp covering the woodpile. I take a handful of kindling I split from the kindling box and with the help of a piece of fatwood, get a fire going with one match. (The Boy Scout comes out and I delight in seeing flames after striking only one match. I indulge myself with a slight grin.)

The coffee is ground and brewing and the aroma filters into the living room and competes with the fire; It’s a wonderful mixture of smells that make the solitude of the morning more relaxing.

The main logs have begun to burn and steam from the moisture absorbed from yesterday’s rain lifts up and out through the flue.

It is going to be a good day. All is right.

TD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Careful where you step.

Is the wilderness creeping in on us or was it there all along? Green space seems to be more valued these days; at least in the mainstream of the urban population. Parks are now more than a place to put playground equipment and picnic tables. Growth of bushes, grasses, even weeds are included in the landscape to the point they’re labeled and trees especially, are revered.

These things, of course, are part of what lured some of us to the north woods and keep us coming. But, just as we expand our range of concrete and sub-divisions north, the animals we displace are coming south: Deer are a common sight in downtowns. Bears have been seen in the fringe of cities and coyotes are as common as stray dogs.

The other day while walking Seamus in a park close to the house, a snake slithered across my path. I did a double take, mostly because I hate snakes, but it was a garter snake. These snakes are the most common of snakes and are in some of our more ambitious gardens. They harm no one, but don’t waste your time trying to convince me of that, it’s almost like fear of snakes is ingrained in my mind.

Check it out for yourself the next time you hike in a local park, even if it’s deep in the city.

TD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Oh, Lord, it’s hard to be humble!

The first grouse hunt of the season is going to have to wait a week because “She Who Must Be Obeyed” had her knee replaced and Seamus and I have been delegated the jobs of nurse and gofer. I’m OK with the situation because I know the roles will be reversed sometime in the future, but I’m chomping at the bit to drudge the thickets and swamps for early season grouse and do so in my mind. I settle for the next best thing and rehash what I’ll need and gather, sort and fondle “stuff”.

bonasa umbellus

bonasa umbellus

Seamus isn’t quite sure of what’s happening, or not happening; he gets up early, makes sure I do too, and hangs around like a fly. He gets an extra walk every day and his stuff is ready to go too – although if he sees his bell and beeper collar, well, I’ve learned to pack it away without his seeing me do it.

Waiting for the opportunity to go opens a lot of time to make choices: what gauge gun do I take (I’m careful not to ask out loud, eyebrows would be raised as to why I was able to make a choice.) But after the 20’s, 16’s and 12’s are handled, cleaned and shouldered many times each, it’s the Ruger Red Label 20 gauge that gets the nod and extra shells are loaded.

When the time does come when I pack the Jeep and load Seamus, give me a break …keep right, I’ll be in the left lane all the way.

TD

 

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