I was early. Early for me.
By the time I got my safety harness hooked up and settled in the ladder stand, it should have been near dawn. It wasn't quite there. In fact, it was still black dark. I could still see a piece of moon. Looked like maybe God had clipped his finger nails and one of the clippings was hanging in the sky, maybe flicking the stars around a little.
Our rifle season opens this Saturday. You know all that.
You know the limit is three does per day and no more than two bucks for the entire season. You know you have to have the right license and wear a minimum of 500-square inches of blaze orange on your head and upper body.
Was the sun ever going to get above the trees? I thought I was properly dressed. I broke a light sweat walking in.
But now, after 45 minutes sitting in the stand, I was chilly. My fingers were cold and I could have used one more layer on my legs.
My favorite big buck season is about to begin. When the TWRA set the muzzleloader season in early November, before the rifle season, I became a happy camper and had I known how, I would have done my happy dance. It is possible, I did it anyway.
I like shooting a front-stuffer, always have. My first one was a kit gun and was a genuine piece of recycled hay. I never knew where it would shoot or if it even would shoot.
When I first met Judge Bob Hamilton (ret.), he was an up and coming lawyer with a penchant for reloading rifle bullets and running good bird dogs. We hunted quail together and he reloaded some Nosler Partition bullets for my deer rifle. They shot great and now and then, we killed a few quail.
He stretched hugely, The Old Man, scratching a chigger bite on his left ankle with the nail of his right big toe.
He had scratched chigger bites that way for over 60-years. He stretched again, making the springs on the cot twang and his bad back, pop comfortably. He liked the sound.
Each year, as deer season progresses, hunters argue about and discuss the TWRA management plan for Wilson County and surrounding areas. The management of whitetail deer is not complicated or even difficult. In this column, I'll simplify it even more.
The first step is always to set a goal. Then, outline a feasible plan. So, let me start with that.
Sixty-three degrees and on the wet side of damp. My 61st opening day of deer season.
Not many people ride a lawnmower to the woods. But I do. Not many people throw up out of their treestand. But I do. Not many people quit the woods, after only three hours on opening day, because they are bored. But I do.
Not long ago, there was a tremendous hue and cry because a lion was killed in Africa. Not much was said about hundreds of humans that are killed there every month or the fact that not long before that, a lion jumped in a car and killed a woman.
Also, it was not mentioned that the natives were delighted a lion was killed.
I felt this was an appropriate time to talk about ethics. Our archery deer season opens next Tuesday (Sept. 29) and many youngsters will be hunting for the first time. You might suggest they read this or better yet, read it to them. Then, maybe discuss it. Start them off right. JLS --
This column may have little relevance to most readers. For some reason I can't fathom, I have been almost compelled to write it for quite some time.
Step back about 60-years with me. See if you can see what I see.
Ground fog gathers in the low spots. Dew glistens and their feet leave trails. I adjust the focus on my binoculars and watch closely.
I know where they came into the field. What I want to know is where they will leave. I don't know why I bother, I have been hunting this same place for 15 years. I'm not going to change anything now.
For two weeks I counted my shotgun shells and made sure my 20-gauge, Winchester, single shot was clean. My game bag had the pockets neatly filled with shells-#7 shot. I did not sleep well.
The moon was so full, looked so close, I thought I could hit it with an arrow.
Maybe before I die, I'll try. Could be, it just looked close because I am at 10,650 feet on the side of a mountain. There is just a touch of frost.
I adjust the pack and slide the bow sling over my head. There is just a touch of frost and the aspens have started to turn.
It is not as it once was. Times have changed and I, reluctantly, have changed with them. Glasses help tired eyes, ladder stands replace fixed position or climbing stands and the requirement of being prepared to hunt with the bow is a totally different deal.
It has been a quite a while since I caught a limit of smallmouth bass out of Percy Priest. It use to be common. Back when the limit was 10 and there was no size limit, it was pretty easy. I did not keep a limit this year; you would have a heck of a limit with five smallmouth over 18-inches.
Night birds, especially aquatic night birds, make strange sounds-like a kid puking. The small waves, as they break over the gravel/rocky shore, sounds like the incessant giggles of a gaggle of school girls. The croak of tree frog is reminiscent of a baby breaking wind. The plop-plop of my Jitterbug in four feet of dark water, 30-yards from the boat and just short of the bank, tells me the cast did not hit the bank. That is a good sound. All is well.
At sunrise, fog lays low on the water. It is too dangerous to run far, especially with the proliferation of kayaks. The little boats are so low profile, in fog or low light, it is easy to run up on one before you see it.
When I was a kid, they use to rib me and say I had a water mark on legs. It may have been partially true. I spent so much time wading the sloughs and bayous around Pineville, Louisiana, I probably did have a water mark. When I was not in the bateau, I was wading. I caught a lot of fish and only got snake bit once. I felt that was probably enough. I never have learned to really enjoy it.
Well, it finally happened. Yesterday, Tuesday, June 30 I became 71-years old.
That adds up to a heap of yesterdays. What a great life I have had and with God's will and a little luck, I'll be able to tout up a few more.
But think about it. I should never have lived this long, given the life I have had.
Bundled up like an Eskimo on May 1, a drought that turned into a wet winter, then a few days of spring, return to rain then, a drought and heat wave to kill. No wonder the fish were confused.
It was a spring of crazy weather. It isn't just me, either. Several anglers commented on just how nuts this spring and the spring on into summer, fishing has been.
Two sunny side up, sausage, toast and plenty of hot coffee. It is just past five in the A of M and I meet the Judge (ret.) David Earl Durham, at the Waffle House. I wonder, just how many May mornings have I started that way?
For many years, it has been the usual meeting place for my fishing partners and me on days we headed for Center Hill. When I was not staying up there, I still fished as many as four days a week and the WH is where we met.
It was early, just past six and the bush was alive.
Many yards to my left, I could hear a moose splashing in the shallows of a small lake. Two ravens were arguing about something.
A Canada jay was busy ignoring everything. Insects hummed and the fisher, raiding my pastry pile, suddenly decided he badly needed to be somewhere else.
Just enough sun to make you happy. Blue bird weather with one drawback. The wind is gusting to 18-mph. That is just a tad too much to get the Grey Ghost out on the big pond. You would be constantly fighting the wind, trying to keep the boat in position. But sitting around the house is not an option. To do so would court with the possibility of doing something stupid and quite likely, breaking something. You might even go off the deep end and mow the yard.
What to do-what to do?
We were catching Oscars, me and Russ Jackson. We were on some canal down in Florida and they were nailing the half a night crawler we were fishing under a cork.
They fought like demons and ran a pound or more. Fantastic eating, too.
So this guy from Mt. Juliet says to me, "Have you heard about all the Tilapia they are catching at the steam plant? A friend of mine at work caught 75 in a half-day, last week."
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