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Showing posts from 2015

Annual Report

This is the infamous year end summary, sort of along the lines of the Christmas card with the letter stuffed inside.  I'll omit the photo of the dogs with fake antlers.  Some of you may remember Gene Hill . He was a well known outdoor writer,  and, I'd wager that he's still popular with the wingshooting crowd.  He occasionally wrote a piece for the sporting magazines titled "The Annual Report". I'll credit him with the title of this piece and absolve him of any responsibility as regards the content that follows.
Well, let's see, I still fish with a camera slung over my shoulder, and rarely hike without it either. Admittedly, packing an SLR is a pain, but I still think it's worth the hassle.  When I look back over the year or years, I can pinpoint dates that an event occurred.  Aha, fish that day, bugs that one, a seventy degree March day and so on. So, I can plan out my annual fishing trapline based on my meager experience with hatches, water conditi…

Three Weeks

The pups are three weeks old. Their palates are hardening.  The first teeth are starting to poke out of their gums.  Mama isn't happy.  Tender teats and little needle like teeth don't mix.  Last night the big boy was introduced to formula.  A little on the finger, he lapped it up and found his way to the dish.  This morning, five a.m., the little guy was hungry too.  Formula time. He got it figured out.  Looks like weaning time is near.   The hell raising stage is about to start.

The Process

Hunting.  The natives call it making meat. For me it's a process.  The kill has always been secondary.  For some that's all it is.  Pity.
Years ago, I'd take weeks of vacation to pursue elk.  I often hoped that I wouldn't be successful, just so I could continue the hunt. Hiking, climbing, sitting, waiting.  Alternating between sweating and freezing.  All, part of the process.  Most days I returned to the car with clean fingernails and a light pack.  But I was happy.  I could go out again.
Then I burned out.  I quit hunting.  My rifle was replaced with a fly rod and camera.
I uncased my rifle a couple of weeks ago.  Just out of curiosity.  Was a flame rekindled?  I wondered how I'd react when I saw game?  Better, how would my back respond if I completed the task?  I saw a few elk, some deer.  A buck.  Interesting.  When I got home, I left my gear in the car. A sign.
Two days later I went again.  I saw no game. Got soaked.  Again, the gear stayed in the car.  Well …

Why Wait?

What to do on a cold snowy day before Thanksgiving? Can't do much outside other than take a short walk.  Maybe tie a few flies.  Take a few puppy photos.  Avalanche game tonight.  Until then?  
Well, we're both home. So, we might as well do Thanksgiving today.  That's right, turkey sandwiches tomorrow!
The pie was baked this morning.  Ok, it's a Marie Callender pie.  At least I'll take credit for unwrapping it and turning the oven on.
The potatoes are peeled.  The squash has been gutted.  The turkey has been in the oven for hours.  The plan is to cook it low and slow.  
The turkey wrapper says that the serving size is three quarter to one pound per person. 
Let's see.
Fourteen pound turkey.
Two people. 
Hmmm.
That comes to about seven pounds each.
I hope it's enough.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.

The Great Beyond

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,     And the rivers all run God knows where;  There are lives that are erring and aimless,     And deaths that just hang by a hair;  There are hardships that nobody reckons;     There are valleys unpeopled and still;  There’s a land—oh, it beckons and beckons,     And I want to go back—and I will. 

From The Spell of the Yukon by Robert Service.


In continuing with the recent slide scan theme, this is one of my all time favorite images.  Nothing fancy, but oh the memories!
Twenty years ago my wife and I hunted the interior of Alaska.  It was mid-September, and for all the world, could have been the middle of winter.  The previous group of hunters had endured summer like conditions and biting flies.  Conditions changed overnight.  The landscape, now stark, was cloaked under a deep mantle of snow.  We arrived in camp and were greeted by the outfitter and our native guides.  One, an Athabaskan kid, guiding his first hunt, the other, an elder Inupi…

Play Time

There's just something about slides that can't, or at least in my opinion, hasn't been duplicated by digital cameras.  First, you can pick up a slide.  That's right, there's something tangible to hang onto.  Then you can drop it onto a light table, and voila!  It pops. More color.  More life. With slides, you know immediately.   Properly exposed?  In focus?  Either they're good, or garbage.   That said, the entire digital process is a hell of a lot simpler, more convenient too.  
I've had a Nikon slide scanner for years.  Unfortunately, many iterations of Mac software upgrades had rendered the Nikon software inoperable due to non compatibility.  After several years of non use,  my scanner is now functional. I purchased Vuescan driver software (www.hamrick.com) for my Nikon scanner. It's usable by most scanners and they continually upgrade the software to keep up with Mac and Windows.
I hit a minor glitch after the software download.  But, after a littl…

The Big Wait

She was the runt of the litter, the one that no one wanted.  And, arguably, she turned out to be the best of the bunch. Thats what got her into her present predicament.  That being, pregnant.  If you're going to have pups, it might as well be from a good mama.  Now, I'm no dog person, my wife is.  Whatever I've learned about dogs has come by default.  Like they say, half of life is showing up.  Well, I show up at home every day.  The dogs greet me.  To them, I'm just another member of the pack.  I scratch ears, rub bellies.  Sometimes I feed 'em popcorn.
But, as they say, I digress.  Maggie is a dog in waiting.  We're waiting too.  The living room has been converted into a nursery, the house... a sauna.  Gotta keep them pups warm (if they ever come).  Right now, Maggie is shivering, perhaps the beginnings of the whelping process? 
Meanwhile, I'm sitting in my underwear.  Its so warm that my eyelids are sweating.  


I Couldn't Resist....

I saw this decal in a truck window at the Clearwater Speyclave in September.  I thought it was hilarious, my wife, not so much. I'm getting one of these decals if I ever grow up and become a guide.

And The Point Is...

An afternoon afield, in black and white.

Bird dogs. 
An expanse of grass
It's big country. 
Huns. 
Wife too. 
Well, they are her dogs.






















Along the Salmon

I took a drive a few days back.  Actually, during the past several weeks I've taken several drives. This time to the Salmon River country in Idaho.  I try to spend a day or two there each fall. Rather than do the usual killer day by getting up real early, driving a couple hundred miles, fishing all day and then driving a couple hundred miles home in the same day, I did the sane thing and spent the night in Salmon.  A wise move.
As they say, the fishing was good, the getting not so hot.  No real surprise.  Steelhead start to trickle into the area by the third week in October.  Bigger numbers tend to arrive later.  No excuse for my lack of catching though.  I had a couple porpoise within rod length on the second morning.  So, there were a few around.
I got to play with my "new" Meiser spey rod thats been neglected for the past few years.  Made some good casts, lots of poor ones too.  The casting was largely a success, I didn't hit myself with the tungsten conehead.  I…

Burning the Wick

I've been busy.  Not with work.  I've left that to the beavers.   September. October.  Does it get any better?  Yes, that's a cliche.
Most folks vacation in summer.  Not me.  
There's too many great days.  The mantra.....up early, in late.  Don't miss a day.
Cooler weather.  Fall color.  Chasing fish.  Chasing dogs, that are chasing birds.
Camping.  Starlit skies.  The last of the summer night sounds.
So you see, I've been busy.  As for the beaver, he left his job undone. Obviously, a lack of focus. The aspen isn't quite chewed through.  Maybe he went fishing.

Forked

Yesterday was a perfectly wonderful day.  I hit the road early to make the hundred plus mile drive to the Henry's Fork.  We'd had a few cool wet days this week with snow in the high country. This would be the first "improving" day with some sunshine and warming temperatures.  I got to Last Chance a little after eight.  Low clouds and fog hung over the river.  There was no hurry to get going, the bugs would take their time today.  I piddled around, poured a cup of coffee, got my gear together, eventually pulled on waders and prepared for a long exploratory walk.  Across the river, coyotes howled, then a bull elk bugled.  Meanwhile, various waterfowl did their thing, honking, quacking, flying up and down the river.



The clouds would be slow to depart but added immensely to the now autumn sky. The distant Tetons gradually appeared as the clouds lifted. Mostly, I reveled in the sounds and scenery. There was no wind either!  This was the first day that I'd wear my sil…

Exquisite

It's hard to beat the perfect day.  Is it late summer?  Early autumn?  Maybe the day is somewhere in between.  A September day that by afternoon noses into the eighties.   I spend it by hiking into the high country.
The miles go by, I hike quickly in the comfort of the cool morning.  Aspens are yellowing, so is the thimbleberry that carpets the stream bottom trail.  Huckleberry bushes that failed to produce fruit this year put on a show of crimson.  Its as if to say "sorry for the lack of berries, here's some crimson leaves instead."




I reach the lake.  Its calm, mostly.  I drop my pack, pull out a ground tarp to set on the soggy ground, and settle in the watch for a while.  Such splendor.  A clear blue sky.  An alpine lake. Mountains.  Bear poop. 




A fish rises, then another.  I watch.  No need to hurry.  My dates not going anywhere.  She'll continue to leave little rings on the lake surface.  She can't afford to miss a meal you know.  
And so I fish.  It'…