Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Superstitions

Hunters and anglers are superstitious.  We get caught up in a ritualistic way of doing things.  That's the way we're supposed to do it.  The way we always have.  The way we always will.


Maybe it's that old lucky hat.  Maybe it's doing a certain number of wraps on a clinch knot.  Maybe it's throwing out your decoys in a certain order.  Maybe it's counting each guide on you fly rod as you pass your doubled up fly line through.  Maybe it's, as a buddy of mine fervently argues, refusing to use the word "perfect" to describe the weather conditions, or anything for that matter.

For me it starts in the truck.  What's on my dash is a rabbit's foot, from a Tyrrell County cottontail.


I've got a lucky hat or two.  One's for fishing.  The other, duck hunting.  There's a duck blind/duck-boat/wood-duck-swamp snack, introduced to me by my neighbor, Tav Gauss.  Vienna sausages.  Mechanically separated chicken isn't always the the most appealing thing in the early morning cold of a duck hunt, but I've always got them in my duck box.  And when I'm tying on a new fly with a clinch knot, it's exactly seven wraps - five's too few, and I'm just not a fan of the number 6.  


But for whatever the reason, as impractical, as possibly meaningless as some of these superstitious rituals are, you still do them.  

You don't stop doing them because, sometimes, they work.



Sunday, January 25, 2015

Post Season Blues

That's it.  It's done.  Duck season 2014-15 is no more. Time to morph into fishing mode.

It hasn't been the most productive season… but it's still been good.  Probably a record number of hunting days, especially around Chapel Hill.  First season using the Mergy… aka the Gheenoe. Started my duck log after the first split.




Lotta mornings getting to the ramp at 4:30… Just to shoot a few fish ducks…


But there were some damn good days too…








You might say we'd have to be a little insane to wake up that early, trudge through the cold, stand in the water and slowly loose feeling in our fingers.  To maybe not see, or even shoot, much on public land.  Maybe we are.  

But you can't see this when you're asleep in bed.







Saturday, January 24, 2015

Colorado

This past summer I was a guide at a Colorado guest ranch.   Smith Fork Ranch.  Great experience.  Whole lotta work.

Great fishing.  Great friends.





Since I'm backtracking again, I'll let the photos do most of the work...



This southerner had a rude awakening in early May… it wasn't NC shorts and t-shirt weather


West Elks





Needle Rock






Wild Smith Fork Rainbow


First Gunnison Brown pulled out of the chocolate milk runoff




Tail end of the salmonfly hatch.  They crawled all over you.  Chukar Trail. 








The new craft - the Gheenoe


Floating with fellow guides Joe and Wyatt






Never a good thing to read on a new river
 Don't worry.... there was a narrow chute to go through





That summer flew by way too quickly. 

Rio Grande

We're starting by backtracking.

Not quite a year ago, a group of eight friends and I went on what would be an abnormal spring break for a many college kids.  One that didn't consist of crushing beers and getting sunburned on a warm beach.


What we did was a 33 mile float down the Rio Grande, through the Boquillas Canyon in Big Bend National Park.  Flew into El Paso and rented cars.  Drove five hours to Terlingua, got to Far Flung Outdoor Center.




It was dark when we got there, so we set up our tents in the parking lot.  In the chill of the next morning, we rented four canoes and hit the road.





We got to the put in and and 6 of us navigated some slight rapids.  The other two took the rental cars to the take out, a ranch right past the edge of the national park, owned by a thirty year USMC veteran, Fred.  Never got the man's last name.... quite a character.  Fred shuttled the two guys who drove back up river and our journey began.


That first day was the start of one of the coolest experiences of my life.  The thrill of the unexplored (at least I had never explored it) and the unknown made it so.  Being right on the edge of our most violent, desolate national border also made it so.  We were initially pretty unnerved at the relative ease Mexicans and Americans alike crossed the river into the neighboring country.


I don't want to overwhelm you with text.  But what followed was great times.  Tortillas.  Fried Spam.  Cowboy Coffee.  Tequilla.  Cliff diving.  Sneaking into Mexico.  It really was great.


I'll try and show it.







Floating's a whole lot easier than backpacking




View down from Mexico











We took out at Fred's a few days later, and camped on his land near La Linda.  It was by far one of the coolest things I've ever done.  But I was damn glad to get a shower after that week.