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Annual Report 2016

I'll start this post with a scene to warm the holiday season.  A summer pond reflection from near Cooke City, Montana.  Only the mosquitos are missing.
The year started and ended frosty.   Sub zero temperatures in January and December bookended the year.  Other than minor inconvenience, the cold weather was short lived and offered a brief respite from fishing.
I've grown to prefer fishing midges.  Often, they're a most reliable hatch.  And, mid-winter, the only game if one desires casting to rising trout.  Thankfully, February and March were both nice and offered several pleasant days and opportunities for squinting at the waters surface. Midges continued to fish well into May.
In spite of declining visual acuity, fishing with twenty-two's became routine.  I comfortably ventured into the use of 7X and now view 6X as a luxury.  Five X is nearly suitable for dredging up halibut.





Lucy, the matriarch of the sofa claiming dog clan made it beyond sixteen.  She left behind …

First Day Blues

Another year.  Another first day of September.  The traditional opening day of mountain grouse season in Montana.  Older dogs.  Older humans too.  And a pup just to round things out.

Typically, it's warm.  No exception this day. Fortunately a breeze and a few clouds early on  would make for pleasant walking.

Birds?  Not many.  Addie pointed a couple of blue grouse around mid-day.  They gave us the slip.

No shots fired.







For the pup, just another day of adventure........











For the older dogs, another day at the "office".  But it sure beats work!










I later bumped and flushed a single.  A big male blue.  Of course he lit in a tree and peered down at us defiantly.  Treed birds aren't fair game.  When they fly, ok.  He flew.






Shots fired.  He's probably still flying.  At least Katie got a whiff of bird.

One final mid afternoon walk and we were played out.  Katie found part of a deer leg.  She proudly carried it back to the truck.  In her mind the day was a resounding succe…

Mr. Foster

I started this post this winter, while sitting and listening to the pop and crackle of a wood stove.  I was leafing through some magazines, occasionally looking out at the mountains, waiting out the wind. While thumbing through one issue, I paused and took note of the editors piece.  I remembered some old correspondence with this particular magazine editor.  Sometimes a brief distant collaboration will leave a lasting memory. His did.
Now, most folks tend to ignore the editors piece, but it's the first thing that I've always read when a new issue comes to print. Some years back I'd established a relationship of sorts with a few magazine editors.  That was back when they all required film.  I was just starting to get a handle on the medium, and was beginning to get a feel for what they wanted as regards photocopy.  But I digress.  David Foster, then editor of Gray's Sporting Journal and I had exchanged a few emails. I'd sent a few basic timid inquiries as to any in…

March Winds Down

March, as I mentioned in an earlier post is a month of waiting.  Dry fly fishers wait for bugs.  We (ok, I) wait(ed) for nice weather.  Well, the first half of the month was pretty nice. The past couple of weeks, rather unsettled.   I had the opportunity to fish, or rather, endure, a variety of conditions.
I'd always wanted to fish during a snowstorm.  I did, and, let's just say that's an itch that I don't need to scratch again.  I don't care if the blue-winged olive hatch rivals the plague of the locusts. For the record, it didn't.  Even the olives had enough sense to stay in out of the snow.





Fishing in the rain?  Did that too.  Don't need to do that again either (unless I'm steelhead fishing in Alaska).   Lets just say that the novelty of being miserable wore off long ago.
So, on to fairer days.....






Today was a beauty.  It was dead calm when I arrived.  The sun had yet to hit the valley floor.  When it did, the wind kicked in.  Immediately.  Absolute…

The Keeper

The last pup left tonight.  It was quite a process.  A lot happens in eight weeks.  Watch them be born, grow and then be gone.
A choice had to be made.  It was easy getting it down to two.  Picking between them was tougher.  They're both good looking pups.  Heck, all of them were good looking pups.  But....one's just sweeter....like her mama. The decision was a no brainer.  
She and her sister got to play in the snow with the big dogs today, albeit briefly.  Little dogs get cold quick.  They got scooped up and put back into a nice cushy kennel in the cab of the truck while the big dogs finished their run.














Her name is Katie.  She's a sweetie.  Just like her mama.


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.

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.

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…