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..
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!
Fishing With OdiAugust 5th, 2013 at 6:05:07 am
EAT YOUR HEART OUT, FACE!
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.
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.