odiousgambit's Blog

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New TurfSeptember 24th, 2013 at 9:12:58 am
Small game season has started around here. More about that later perhaps.

I moved to a different part of Virginia this summer, not close enough my old hunting grounds to regularly head back there, especially not for small game. The new area promises to be even better for most game - excepting waterfowl - the only thing being it is taking some scouting to find out where to go. I've already found out that some of the places I'm likely to like best are very close, just enough to get the vehicle warmed up properly by the time you get there. Swarming with deer, which however have a way of vanishing come open season [g]

I like the doing the scouting though. With GPS now [especially with high sensitivity that penetrates canopy] a guy can pretty fearlessly scout around compared to the old days when it was hard to get maps and satellite info like Google Earth, and you just had a compass. Having learned with those old limitations still pays off now though.

I've been thinking lately about one skill a person needs to develop in order to do hunting, and that is to keep himself from getting lost in the woods. Growing up, my Dad would take us hunting, and was actually good at teaching a lot about it. But he didn't seem to know how to teach this one skill, even though he could see we kids had problems with it. Speaking for myself at least, I could get lost easily as a youngster; someone old enough to use a gun, mind you. I had to make sure I was totally familiar with where I was and not wander out of that place; even then, I could get turned around, resulting in at least one terrifying experience. If you've never been lost in the woods, you might not realize just how discomfiting it is even for an adult. It must derive from some very basic instinctive fears.

I seem to have an instinct for compass directions that is active but completely dysfunctional. When I enter a new area, my mind immediately assigns compass directions involuntarily and almost always incorrectly, perhaps 180 degrees out of whack. Once this feeling settles in, it is very hard to get rid of. In fact it happened this summer when we moved to our new house. Very, very generally the road it is on goes west, and I knew that [unfortunately], but when you first get on it it mostly goes north for miles. Nonetheless, my mind assigned the road as running east and west. I still have trouble shaking that off. Do you suppose at one time humans had instinctive navigational skills like other animals? Is the instinct still active but just no longer properly working? Do some people still have these skills? I'm guessing the answers are yes, yes, and no. I did find an interesting article,


Perhaps this dysfunctional instinct now helps you get lost. I did climb out of my 'getting lost' problems though while still a teenager. The first step was when I went hunting with a friend in some creek bottoms that I knew about but were new to him. In these bottoms there were no landmarks to see on the horizon, so I warned him he'd better know where he was. To my astonishment he took off without a care. Later when I asked him how he didnt get lost, he pointed out that the road in went a long, long ways north and south, and that he knew we were west of it. Thus, when he was ready to come out, he knew walking east would get him back to that road. I was astonished at the simplicity of this. I advanced quite a bit as an outdoorsman that day.

Even though I have GPS now to assist I still don't regret learning how to navigate in the woods the old way. In almost any area, you can figure out that there is one direction like this that ultimately will keep you from getting lost as long as you have a compass. Once the fear of getting lost leaves you, the outdoorsman can hone some other skills.

Frankly I get a kick out of reading outdoor magazines and the like when some writer decides to write about wilderness navigational skills. Invariably he will go into getting topographical maps and have you triangulating off mountain peaks and all that. Now, certainly these are legitimate and admirable skills to have. Perhaps some of the readers will go to a wilderness area with poorly marked trails in which they were going to make a 20 mile hike or whatever. Or some day anybody might get blindfolded and set out in the middle of nowhere, eh? The skill that the average hunter or hiker is going to need though is Dead Reckoning, and this will not even be mentioned in the article.

Buying a compass these days is also a bit amusing. They give you complicated directions along with the compass on how to use it. I can only figure that if you didn't know how to use a compass, the directions would intimidate you and have you decide you will never know how. I just bought one that has a base with an arrow and a spinning dial cover with all 360 degrees marked out. After improperly mixing the words 'heading' and 'bearing' interchangeably as if they were the same thing, they have you line up north on the compass, decide on a heading, then spin the dial to that heading in degrees. This makes the big arrow point to your heading; fine. I have to say, though, that anybody who wouldn't know how to use a compass to get a heading without a spinning dial feature would feel helpless trying to decipher the complicated instructions.

I have found that the one thing that will still get me messed up [my GPS shows no map] is if you don't quite get things right to start off in a new area. There's a big difference between a road that runs W/E and one that runs a bit NW/SE. Once I had been hunting in a light drizzle and I merely wanted to walk back to a very close road I had mentally laid out incorrectly in just this manner. I was north of this road and in my mind walking south would take me quickly to it, I thought. But I wanted to go somewhat southeast to get closer to my vehicle in the big picture. The rain had gotten everything dripping wet, and as I kept walking and walking through damn thick stuff that seemed also to want to turn me more SE, I was more and more irritated, not realizing I was paralleling the road too much. Finally, exasperated, I turned due south just as the road also turned nearly south for a bit. By the time I finally found the road I was soaking wet!

Well, there will always be stories like this to tell as long as a guy keeps with the outdoors..

September 24th, 2013 at 8:07:04 pm
A sense of direction and a sense of alertness seems to be required. Some people get lost due to an initial mistake such as flying over the wrong freeway or failing to notice a trail getting progressively more feint. One sensible short cut happened to lead to a burnt out area and the hikers didn't realize its tough going and ALL trails and marks will be burnt out. Turning around is best, plodding onward can be near fatal.

Just turning around and returning to a starting point can have tremendous educational value when you realize your pathway looks different and makes you uncertain.

GPS? Heck, GPS makes headlines about leading people off cliffs and across non-existent bridges.
September 25th, 2013 at 3:09:07 am
good comments, Fleastiff.

>plodding onward can be near fatal.

You have reminded me of the program I havent seen in a while called 'I shouldnt be alive'. The mistakes people make! One I remember was a young couple stuck out in the middle of nowhere in the snow. They decided he should strike out from their disabled car on foot to get help, and surely the best way was to leave the road !!! as it looked to them like better going!Can you imagine such ignorance! Of course the roads follow the best routes already! Before it was all done they almost died.

>Just turning around and returning to a starting point can have tremendous educational value when you realize your pathway looks different and makes you uncertain.

anybody who has ever experienced the "hey, I don't remember that Y in the trail going back, I didn't realize we would have to make a decision which way to go!" moment will appreciate what you are saying!


What the outdoorsman needs is hand-held GPS, not the kind that you use in a vehicle. This doesn't suggest paths but plots where you are all the time, puts it on a screen, can show your trail, etc. Of course it only tells you where you are, if you don't know where you are supposed to go to get back out you can still get in trouble. Rescue people say people lost and needing help who had GPS often had this problem
September 26th, 2013 at 9:09:15 am
the couple that nearly died stuck in the snow was also made into a movie it seems,


Lions, Tigers, and Bears?August 7th, 2013 at 3:41:18 am
Lions, Tigers, Coyotes, and Bears OH MY!

The list of confirmed wildlife around my new neck of the woods is growing by positive sightings [including turkey] or by sign. Deer always a gimme. Coyotes as per previous posts. The latter go on the Scary List for what they can do to your pets, although you expect people to not really have to worry.

I'm scratching off tigers from the Wizard of Oz Scary List for around here of course. Scratching off lions too, although there are people claiming mountain lions have returned to our parts.

Can't scratch off bears anymore. Behold single, solitary footprint from a couple of days ago:

Black Bear. Can't be anything else, folks!

September 4th, 2013 at 10:05:46 pm
Black bears are largely harmless. They have been all around in my neck of the woods for quite some time now, and the biggest problem with them is destroying your garbage cans and leaving strewn refuse all over the street/yard/path of destruction. If they get too close to your home, just bring out a pot and a wooden spoon and make a bunch of noise and they will scamper away. Just be sure to steer clear of the path of a mother with her cubs and you will be fine.
September 10th, 2013 at 1:07:21 pm
>Black bears are largely harmless.

Yes, it was a little tongue in cheek to act like we are afraid. It would be a treat to actually see it as any around seem to be still totally wild.

>Just be sure to steer clear of the path of a mother with her cubs and you will be fine.

I only recently found out that a black bear mother will probably merely send her cubs up a tree and take off. Of course this assumes she is totally wild. It's the grizzly bear mother that will be out to kill you for this same offense. Which is not to say the wildlife people don't also suggest to steer clear of the situation with black bears, but it is a totally different thing.

Fishing With OdiAugust 5th, 2013 at 6:05:07 am

Ha! On the contrary, this is a 'big nothing' vis a vis some real fishing like we see with Face.

I like to fish. I've done some pretty cool deep sea fishing in my time too. But I have come to realize in life that to be a real fisherman you need to buy a boat, and I've pretty much decided I am not buying one.

There is a particular type of fishing I can't give up on, though, and lame as it is - sorry - I feel like blogging about it. Basically, I like to get out in a stream on a section a little hard-to-get-to. What I find then is that I have something pretty close to my own private fishing hole. Currently this is about a quarter-mile walk from my back door and hard for most others to seek out. The people who still do this kind of fishing fly-fish, and those kind of folks aren't showing up at my hole. A few floating-trip folks will come through, sure, and some will stick a hook in the water going by, yes. But that's it.

Here's my kind of goofy fishing:

Buy a spinning reel get-up right off the rack. Accidentally break off the rod tip closing a vehicle door on it, or somesuch [g] ... this way you won't really care how you treat it! I like to change into a swimming suit and cheap tennis shoes. Get out into the stream quite literally [those shoes will spare your feet]. Stick on a #6 hook, a cork bobber and a very light sinker [I suck at fly fishing]. Hook up a worm. Start catching fish! When you need a fresh worm, just dunk the reel end down into the water if you need to [meh, the tip is broken anyway, and it survives OK]. Every once in a while switch to a small lure, a popper is good. Yep, you gotta figure most of the fish are going to be kinda small, so you better learn early that big hooks and big lures are for *big* fish! In the meantime, should you catch something big, it ought to be fun!

It is amazing sometimes how many sunfish you can catch. At my new hole I have been catching the venerable smallmouth bass as well ... a much better fighter than the same size largemouth. Catfish and some red-eye [don't know the proper name for the latter] with some luck.

I like to eat fish, but most of the time I throw the small fish back, hoping to catch one fish big enough to eat ... the wife, cool about some game, is not a fish eater. So one is enough. This last time out I caught one sunfish barely big enough to eat no matter what, but the poor guy had swallowed the hook so deep no way am I getting it out. So I kept 3 eatable sunfish to make a meal, fish that probably would otherwise have gone back in. No way was I unhappy, though, sunfish can be some good eating! So the below pic was breakfast Sunday morning, fish on top of stone-ground grits and a couple of farm fresh eggs.

IMO you do *not* filet small fish, although this opinion has started an argument plenty of times. I just think fileting is for large fish. All this means is you need to learn how to pull the bones out in one piece. OK, yeah, you have to watch out for other bones too, but if you are too wimpy for that, stay away from me! The pic below shows what you should wind up with if you know what to do.

From hereon you will likely be spared further blog posts on my fishing. All I can say is, if my new location didnt offer a stream like this, the value of the property in my estimation would go down about $20,000!

Recently these fish made a great meal! But I can't identify them at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/fish/

Many possibilities are eliminated by habitat [these would not be found in brackish or saltwater]. White Bass and White Perch are eliminated by the dorsal fin of those fish not matching the small single simple one of my fish.

the beer can is for scale, although it made the fish look somewhat smaller somehow. BTW I hate trash where I hunt and fish and am a net remover of trash, especially aluminum cans.


August 5th, 2013 at 1:30:02 pm
Two things I don’t want you to ever repeat again…

1 – “To be a real fisherman you need to buy a boat”. Completely and undeniably false. The vast majority of fishing I’ve done has been by way of my two wet feet. The biggest bream, biggest largemouth, biggest steelhead, biggest salmon, biggest catfish, biggest sucker, biggest carp…all by way of foot. The biggest smallie I caught was on a boat, but by far the majority of them were on foot. Hell, you can catch walleye in the Allegany River on foot. Pretty much the only reason you’d “need” a boat is if you wanted lakers (lake trout). “Real Fisherman” has nothing to do with boats or trucks or Lowrance fish finders, or $1,000 rod and reel combos. A “real fisherman” is simply one who has to go out and do it, and will do it in spite of anything.

2 – “Crick fishing is lame”. Bullshit. I’ll take a fly rod, hell, I’ll take a stick and some line, and go down to my local chub hole and pluck minnows all day long. 4” fish? Who gives a shit lol. Catching an 8” fathead minnow is no different than catching a 30” steelhead. They’re both “big”, both require a skill, and both get you into the great outdoors. Hell, chub fishing is best when it’s 80*; sometimes that’s better than the snowstorms you have to endure for steelies lol. And a hole all to yourself? You are a blessed man.

On the “redeye”, it could be a Redeye Smallmouth (I forget the “local” name, something like Kooz), but I don’t think you’re south enough for that to be it. I’m guessing it was small, kinda had the same colors and features of a smallie, but was short and fat, almost like a crappie and a smallmouth had a baby? And very noticeable red eyes? I’d bet it was a rock bass. I’ll pop a pic of one in here when I get home so you can say for yourself.
August 5th, 2013 at 3:52:41 pm
>I’d bet it was a rock bass

I think that is it!

on the other, thanks, I consider that supportive!

and suitably chastised on the "never repeat again" [g]
August 6th, 2013 at 10:12:33 am
Got busy working on my truck and haven't got my pic in. To the intertron!

Obviously the shading and patterns can vary by location and habitat, but rock bass are all generally this color and shape. Crappie shape, smallmouth colors, and those deep red eyes. Probably not much bigger than your hand from wrist to fingertip.

Unless is was the length of your forearm, which would point it toward the Redeye Smallmouth, I'm guessing this is what it was.

And sorry about the "chastising", it wasn't meant in that manner. It was, I suppose, mistranslated passion. I prefer old-school over almost anything almost all the time, and hitting a crick with a cane pole, in my mind, is more pure than the electronic-and-composite-material world of bigwater fishing. My boat is simple, and merely makes my season longer since the cricks get too hot and the ponds too weedy in July and August. It has nothing to do with being "real" or not.

All I meant was equipment don't mean jack. If you have the passion, that's all it takes. That's all it IS.
August 6th, 2013 at 5:39:23 pm
you're pretty much confirming it on the rock bass with the photo, plus when you wrote it , it rang a bell from back when I first got it ID'd by someone

re the chastising, hey, no problem, I was glad you didn't do the opposite and go "dude, lame, lame! no more posts please!" [not that it would phase me much]
August 9th, 2013 at 12:35:21 am
I thought a sunfish was a broad.
August 9th, 2013 at 5:15:05 am
You can bone and eat those, too.

/rimshot. I'll be here all week, folks!

Ruger Luger and MoreJuly 11th, 2013 at 8:41:57 am
Coyotes howling at night has a way of motivating a guy to proceed with his gun purchases. I like to keep it local with most things I buy, especially guns, at a place that has a gunsmith. So I headed not too far away for a shop that's been around. Not surprisingly, there is also a shortage of .22 guns these days. Wouldn't you know it! I am the type of guy to wait out shortages instead of adding to the problem, but my sense of urgency didn't come from thinking Obama was a-coming-for-my-babies. Oh well, I'm sure you couldn't possibly pay more than you have to now. Being careful to buy local means paying more too, usually, although I did get the shop to come down on the price, a package deal on two weapons plus some extras. I suspect I paid $100 or so more than someone who would shop it hard and time it right. This guy offers service, though, did come down on the price, and I wanted it now, so I'm not complaining.

It was unclear when I might be able to get a Marlin 60 or 10/22 Ruger [see Face's Firearm thread], there is just a huge demand now. The dealer did have what is basically a bolt-action version of the Marlin 60, and had what I and some others like to call the Ruger Luger. Magically, some ammo appeared too! Honestly, I've always been able to dig bolt action, so that was no sacrifice. And holy cow I have lusted after that Ruger Luger since time immemorial, there was no way I was passing up this used one in good condition [wikipedia says the particular model was last made in 2005]

So I bought a Marlin XT-22TR

and a Ruger MK II, which has an interesting history


[per wikipedia] Sturm, Ruger & Company was founded by William B. Ruger and Alexander McCormick Sturm in 1949 in a small rented machine shop in Southport, Connecticut ... When it came to designing their first auto pistol, Ruger decided to incorporate the looks of the German 9mm Luger and the American Colt Woodsman into their first commercially produced .22 caliber pistol ... which became so successful that it launched the entire company.

Hunting Blog IIJune 26th, 2013 at 8:17:56 am
Exploring some areas near my house and saw a coyote today. It let me walk right up on him, so that worried me a bit ... was this critter healthy? I slowly backed up to hunt for something to use as a club, at least; it did see this movement and took off in "yikes!" fashion. Sometimes even the most wary just don't see you; a 'yote probably depends on scent a lot, and this one didnt pick up mine.


I guess rabies shots aren't as bad as they used to be. Nonetheless, I just don't like being unarmed in the woods. I'm not going to be toting around a big shotgun all the time, though, nor a muzzleloading rifle ... wouldnt want someone to think I was hunting out of season, never mind the weight of it all.

Gee, a .22 pistol or rifle would be just perfect, eh? Not an option at the moment.

What's wrong with this picture?

PS: BTW the attitude of Virginia's game and fish [DGIF] is, please shoot them on sight.

June 28th, 2013 at 5:34:38 pm
Yes, now I have heard it, "what sweet music they make"

Coyotes though. Similar, not the same. More whiney, sort of. Very creepy, we've got a pack!

June 28th, 2013 at 5:35:18 pm
They started up last night about 10 PM.
June 29th, 2013 at 1:10:50 pm
I still ain't never seen one, in the woods or otherwise. Weird than you got so close, even if it didn't sniff you out, it's still got ears.

I hate their cries. Had some at Pop's back when I was living there, sounded like a baby screaming
July 19th, 2013 at 6:20:06 am
Here are some comments by a 35 year old 118 pound female and her un-armed encounters with bobcats, wild horses and grizzlies.
Her namesake, the original blonde coyote, a deaf dog-coyote mixture in New Mexico was recently put down.

I crossed paths with this guy on the Yosemite Falls trail in January. After a cold night camping in the snow, we got up early for a hike and were the first on the trail. When I stopped to take off a layer, I saw a tuft of fur not twenty feet off the path. A bobcat! He was taking a nap. I took a couple of quick shots and at the snap of the lens, he opened his blue grey eyes and looked right at me. Then he went back to sleep.

Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America, so high that in winter the water turns to snow on the way down, sifting into a giant pile of powder on the frozen river. By the time we stomped up through knee-deep snow all the way to the thigh-deep summit and slid our way back down again, the cat’s nap was over and he was long gone, a few strands of housecat hair marking his place.

Hopefully I’ll see a desert bobcat out here one of these days. I hear they’re smaller than their mountain relatives. As they say, paths that cross will cross again…

Previous posts on other close animal encounters: Wilding Horses & The Grizz
July 19th, 2013 at 6:37:36 am
August 6th, 2013 at 5:35:42 pm
just saw this. Cool!

Very rare to actually *see* a bobcat in my various necks of the woods, however, they are definitely there!
August 17th, 2013 at 7:38:56 am
>just saw this. Cool.
Ah good. I wasn't sure how a hunter and gun aficiado would react to the adventures of a 118 pound female who confronts her wildlife armed only with a camera and steady nerves.
Often an animals sense of smell will be over-powered just as ours can be. That is when there may be trouble because the animal has been deprived of the warning he would otherwise have had and may be forced into an attack.
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