On a regular basis, someone will ask me what I think about gun control. Most are amazed at my answer. You see, I do not care. It is not about gun control. It is about control. Period. Guns are just the current vehicle. To make legislation more palatable, the focus is on “assault weapons”, the ones the gangstas hold sideway and spray bullets everywhere.
Outdoors By John Sloan
Outdoors By John Sloan
Blog entries categorized under John Sloan - Outdoors
It is a superb October afternoon. The temperature is in the lower 80’s with a light breeze from the south. Earlier, I caught a basket full of bass in the 1-2 pound range. Now, a turtle rests on the log in the small dove pond behind me. I guess he is sunning. I am sitting in my favorite shooting house overlooking the hay field. I watch the beautiful, silver/grey, white bellied squirrel out in the field. I have lost count of the number of does I have shot from this house overlooking a finger of the hayfield. They come here in bunches. Often the bucks follow.
I like a little variety in my outdoor activities. My deer season is over. I finished up in Alabama last Sunday and I’ll tell you all about that next week. So I am done. I probably won’t start fishing for a week or so. However, the crappie and trout are both good right now and I hear tell the sauger are red hot.
It doesn’t seem much like it now. Cold and windy a lot of the time, dreary. However, they will come, one after the other, spread out like a good Navajo blanket with the designs in order. It is simply a matter of turning some calendar pictures.
First, will come the cold, crisp mornings, the ones that hold such promise of warm afternoons. The bass will be in transition. They will be outside the standing timber, collected on the edge of the dropoff. They will want the slower lures. It is a good time to work the jigs and small worms and watch the birds lift off the rookery. The sun warms the air, the jacket will still feel good for another hour or so. The throb of a healthy bass on the end of 10-pound line will feel good. The fish is still cold to your hand.
Probably we will start slowly, too. We will be cold and old bones don’t work as smoothly as they once did. As we wind the reel handles, we might wish for the warmth of the early morning coffee cups. As the fish, begin to hit regularly, our actions become smoother. From the cast to the hook set we become almost fluid in our actions.
Later, as a page or two of calendar turns, we will catch crappie in the morning and big bream in the afternoon. These will be the “cooler” fish, the ones that go in the cooler to be converted into golden brown fillets, graced with a slice of Vidalia onion. We might take a day and go to the woods for turkeys. Perhaps we can find a mushroom or six to go with the fish for supper.
We might even kill a turkey.
Another page turned and the mornings start out hot. Still, a fog lies low on the water. The bass hit harder now. They are more aggressive, 20 fish an hour is normal and our thumbs are raw from handling rough-toothed bass. We are finding them against the grassy dam, in the deep water. Every now and then, a big fish hits. Often they get off, rolling some distance from the boat as they pull loose to fight again.
By late afternoon, we will be hot and tired. It will be a good time to sit on the porch and watch the sun begin slide down behind the trees, finally vanishing in the lake. Sunburns in new places begin to itch, old stories are told and the smell of supper wafts through the open door.
This week, I will be at the place all of that happens. I will be deer hunting. It is the rut down there and perhaps a bug buck will walk by. However, rest assured, I will have my fishing gear with me Justin case it turns off warm. Next week, I’ll tell you all about the trip. Warmer days are coming.
They will come, those days. Just be patient.
Could you maybe add this to your New Years resolutions? There are some things I would like to have. I guess it is just a matter of showing my age, this almost rage I incur at cutesy words the television “hunting” community has coined.
Sunshine. Bright, warm sunshine crawls slowly up my leg. It is 28 degrees, November 14 and the sun is welcome even though it really doesn’t give off a lot of warmth. Looking at it makes me feel as though my toes are warmer. I have severe peripheral neuropathy so my toes are seldom warm. I grin a bit and look toward the top of the bowl. The sun is just topping the rim.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
Bob was barking almost like a man hollering. Then I woke up. Uncle Lloyd was banging on my bedroom window. I had overslept for a squirrel hunt on Alligator Bayou. I may have been 13. I expect it was 1957, and we were going to enjoy one of the state sports of Louisiana- a hunt for tree rats. We were taking Bob, an Arkansas, natural bob-tailed fiest and a squirrel-treeing marvel.
Squirrel hunting is almost a state sport in Louisiana. It ranks right up there with alligator hunting, fishing, pig roasts and crawfish boils. In proper circles, football is not even mentioned. With Bob, on a good day, in the right place, with good scenting weather, you could tree 50-75 tree rats.
Hunting with a squirrel dog is a lot different from still-hunting where you slip quietly through the woods, moving slowly and stopping often to listen for the sound of falling acorn or hickory husks or a shaking tree branch. “With a dog you drag your feet. Still hunting you barely set them down,” opined Uncle Alphus, the senior member of our crew.
I grew up and learned woodcraft and how to hunt and a variety of things squirrel hunting the swamps of Louisiana. The season opened in mid-October and there was no school that day, should it happen to fall on a weekday. It wouldn’t matter if it had, nobody would have gone.
There were few if any deer and the ducks weren’t “down” yet, still hiding up North. Therefore, we hunted tree rats. Since squirrels are a part of the rodent family, the name is not improper.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
Man, it is hot! Sweat is rolling down my cheeks and the heat from my face is blurring the scope. I sight the TenPoint carefully and get the green dot in the center of the crosshairs to rest on the white spot 30-yards away. I push the second safety and slowly begin to squeeze the trigger. Whop! The arrow quivers dead center in the circle.
I am ready.
Each year, no matter how well your crossbow shot last year, you need to sight it in and make sure it is on. Then, shoot a few practice shots. My TenPoint, Phantom is ready. The string has been inspected and well waxed. All the cables are perfect and there is a new battery in the scope.
y JOHN L. SLOAN
The sun was going down. It seemed to hover just above the trees. I was sweating bullets just from reeling. I felt the boat rock and knew the first fish of the night was battling my partner in the back of the boat. It turned out to be the largest fish of the night, close to five pounds. That was a year or so ago but I thought of it on this night.
Then it got dark.
Just because it was dark did not mean it was cool. There was not a tendril of moving air. I could hear the blue/black jig hit the water but I could not see it. It was past the scant light from the black light. At the third crank of the reel, I felt that flutter that signifies a fish has picked up the jig. Then the line tightened and I set the hook. It was a smallmouth of a pound. Even the little ones fight-smallmouth.
We worked our way through the dark, the rear boat light and the black light providing just enough light to work by. Now, a breeze hit our faces now and then and not only did it cool us, it kept the bugs away. The insects were not bad, just enough to make you aware of their presence. A jet went over low, preparing to land at the airport. A siren blared somewhere in Nashville.
Big Bird caught another bass of about the same size. I was afraid that was the pattern for the night-small fish and nothing of any size. About then I caught another one-pound smallmouth. The color of the evening was the blue/black combination that I have come to favor at night. I was using a crawfish imitator from Stanley Jigs. They make a good product and in the weight I like. Most jigs today come in weights of over ¼-ounce. That are too heavy for the type of fishing I do. I wish I could still find the black or dark brown ones in bear hair or fox hair. The smallmouth seem to prefer them.
I drag and hop a jig across the bottom. I do very little, make that, I do no flipping and vertical jigging. Therefore I want a jig light enough for me to handle easily on the 6# line. My choice is 1/8-ounce and if it is deep water or windy, I’ll go to ¼-ounce. I do not want a heavy jig that stays on the bottom and usually hangs up on something. I want one that hops up and floats down.
You do not lose many fish on these jigs. Not only are the hooks good, most of the time, when a fish hits a jig and you set the hook properly, they get hooked in the top lip. It is a tough part of the lip and they don’t throw many lures when they jump as smallmouth do. Of course, bass aren’t all you catch at night. Stripers and Hybrids are not uncommon in lakes where they abound. Catfish are a regular night time catch. An experienced fisherman can just about tell what he has by the way he fights.
I enjoy night fishing. I always have. I like the dark, even on land. I don’t night fish at much as I once did. For a while, starting in late May, I used to fish four or five nights a week. Mostly I fished Center Hill. I like fishing the hill because the high ridges make for good landmarks you can see silhouetted against the sky. Makes for good running in the dark. You are required to have boat lights-a white light on the back and a red/green one on the bow. Now and then you might use a spotlight to check your location or spot a landmark on the bank. Now I mostly fish Percy Priest and there is usually enough ambient light from the area businesses to allow you to run. I try to go on nights when it is not loaded with boats. On this night it is almost deserted.
I make a long cast across the point of the island. I start bouncing and hopping the jig slowly across the point Halfway back, the tap comes. I set the hook hard, the rod bows and the drag clicks. All signs of a good fish. I can’t move him. He runs sideways toward the back of the boat, not acting like a bass. Then the line goes limp. Lost him. I think probably catfish. Then Mark and I both catch the same piece of discarded line. I save my lure, he does not.
It is now close to one a.m. Five hours is long enough. We have caught a respectable number of small fish. Even though night is when you are supposed to catch the big ones, on this night, Big Bird and I did not, just the drillers, the bank runners. However, it was an enjoyable night.
A hot night. A hot night for fishing.
By JOHN L. SLOAN Sometimes there is healing power in just a drop or two of water. Add fish, good company, warm sunshine and expand that drop to a three-acre pond and you may have a healing pond.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
They did not turn the generators on until 11 a.m. As hot as it was, a mere 94 degrees, I have no idea why they waited that long. Finally, they did and the fun began.
We had been catching catfish in the shade of the big Chickamauga Dam since seven. We caught and released 25-30 cats in the 5-15 pound range and now it was time to try something else, drifting in the tailwaters for whatever hit.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
The shadgraph began to throb. The vibration in the rod tip showed a vibrato you could throw a bluegill through. Then it hit the dips-a left dip, a right dip, a double deep dip. I reeled the rod tip underwater about three inches and performed a perfect elbows up. The elbows up are a maneuver designed to sink the hook deep in the tough upper jaw of a Rockfish.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
Many years ago in Wyoming, I spent my birthday fishing on the Powder River in the land of Butch and Sundance. I remember it as being a great birthday. That memory spawned this story. JLS
It had been a pleasant night. He had actually slept well, something he did not often do anymore. Usually he would be up every 90 minutes for one reason or another. Last night he had only gotten up once. Maybe he should try sleeping in a tent and on a foam pad at home.
The woods had been noisy last night. A variety of animals, especially the peepers, had carried on a conversation the whole time. Maybe that white noise had allowed him to sleep so well. It was slowly coming daylight now. He could feel it seeping in. He stretched making both his back and his hip pop. He shook his left arm and got the feeling going in it. Eventually he would have to have something done about the pinched nerve.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
“Hard to find a better eating fish than a walter.” Said Harold Dotson. “They aren’t much to look at and they don’t put up much of a fight but they sure plate up right nice.” Made me look again at the five fish cooling on the bag of ice in the Coleman cooler. I was starting to get hungry.
A walter is a slang name for a walleye. They are a member of the pike family and have all the attendant teeth that go with that group. They also have weird eyes. They are often called “marble eyes”. In daylight, they appear to be blind.
Senor Dotson and I were putting along on the carp arc, a small pontoon boat with a 25-hp kicker and a pump that pumped water right out of the lake and allowed a hot fisherman to cool off. We had four rods in holders-two with night crawler rigs and two with weighted, long-lipped crankbaits. The crawler rigs were winning 4-1.
By JOHN L. SLOAN, June 15, 2011
The use of bait for hunting deer is controversial and involves a complex set of biological, social, and ethical issues. Biologically, population influences related to baiting can be important in the dissemination and maintenance of disease and can affect the natural movement, distribution, and behavior of deer. Baiting can also influence survival and reproduction of deer, particularly when it moves towards supplemental feeding.
Finally, concentrations of deer at bait sites may lead to effects on other species, habitats, and ecosystems.
Just fish in the DAM SHADE
By JOHN L. SLOAN, June 8, 2011
It is a cool, 97 degrees. Even the trees are sweating. Not Judge Dave Durham, fishing guide Richard Simms and I. We are cool and comfortable bobbing gently in the shade of Chickamauga Dam. The dam rears high above us, providing plenty of cool shade. We are fishing for bluegill.
However, that is just temporary. The ‘gills are just for bait. We are cat fishing on a day that will approach record heat. Probably we will use chicken breasts, cut in strips. The ‘gills are just for insurance.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
I got plum hot the other day and that made me think of this. We were on the Tres Sombreros Ranch in the southeast corner of New Mexico and it was around the first of September. I reckon it was about 110 for an average midday temperature. We were shooting a hunting video and it was hot enough to drive me and the one of the camera girls crazy. We got so crazy we jumped into a windmill fed water tank not realizing it was 12 feet deep.
Good thing we could swim. See, we were living in teepees. Not air-conditioned wikiups, teepees. They were comfortable but at night, when it cooled off to about 95, they did tend to still be hot. I think that may be the first time I ever saw a cholla just get up and leave. See, plants, they aint supposed to walk. But thisun just walked away looking for some shade, I reckon.
By JOHN L. SLOAN,
The Wilson Post
It was just about as perfect as you could ask for. The nights were cooling, on their way to frosty and the days warmed up to high sixties and maybe a seventy thrown in for good measure. My doe was skinned, quartered and on ice. Well mostly she was. The tenderloins and a piece of back strap had gone the way all good deer meat should go -- supper.
BY JOHN L. SLOAN
One of my favorite outdoor writers is Gene Hill. One of my favorite archers is Howard Hill. One of my favorite smallmouth lakes is Center Hill. What is it about Hills that attracts me? I guess some of it may be mystery. You never know what a particular Hill may hit you with. It may be a trick shot, a surprise phrase or a fish that you did not expect. Some too, may well be sheer beauty. An arrow etched just perfectly against a blue sky or a “set” of words that become a picture or fog, low on the water that suddenly becomes a rock bluff.
By JOHN L. SLOAN
It was cold this morning, 20 at the house at 6. I dressed accordingly. The gray light had just started to show on the fringes at the top of the trees as I eased the Arctic Cat into the briar patch and shut it off. It looked as though there might not be much of a sunrise, just a spreading of the gray. I made a last check of my pockets, cocked the crossbow and began to ease into the cedars and push my way, using elbows only, into the middle.