It seems I’ve had the same quandary at this time over many a year. That is to take the trout opener seriously and concentrate on that, or get that shotgun out and get with the turkey hunting season. I find it difficult to think of myself heading to a trout stream with a fly rod in one hand and my 12-gauge magnum in the other. I’ve never done that, and never really intend to do so.
Many times I’ve been asked the question, “How did you get started as an outdoor person, and writing about it?” Well now, first of all I needed to be in and around an outdoor-minded family, where we spent much of our time fishing, hunting, hiking, and all the other things that contributed to my growing up, with a shotgun in one hand and a fly rod in the other, and hiking boots on my feet.
It may seem as though we’ve had an easy winter up to now, but to me it’s still colder than a well-digger’s auger outside, and thus many waters have been frozen enough to fish. There are exceptions, and anyone who ice fishes should take extra care when fishing a lake or on any streams. Particularly on any stream with moving water under the ice. That area is extremely dangerous.
Many avid turkey hunters never scout for the big birds in the winter. That’s likely because they’re already aware of where the turkeys are hanging out. And that’s OK for them, but for newer hunters or those not having a flock or two on or near their property, winter scouting can be a plus. The birds are easy to see against a snow background, and looking for tracks and finding them is a simple task. This is much desired for those who hunt on public land.
The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Flat River Chapter has announced its annual banquet will be here soon. The banquet and fundraiser will be staged March 5 at St. Joseph’s Parish Gym in Belding. A good turnout is expected.
Prior to writing this column, I glanced out a rear window to see a fox squirrel hauling one of our bird feeders away. The little thief got it down to the river bank, where it chewed on the metal screen, around its outside, as it tried to find a way to get to the goodies inside. Well, I left my desk and got on some warm clothes. Ah, I thought, those rodents will capture and destroy every feeder we have if this doesn’t stop. So I proceeded outside and retrieved the feeder. That squirrel had actually bent one side and had a hole started, and this was one of our largest and strongest feeders.
Sure, I’m sitting at my computer and looking out at a freezing stream, while the snow just keeps on coming down. But what this really does for me is put me in mind of a summer or two long ago, when I spent the warm summer months working for the (then) Michigan Conservation Department. It was between my junior and senior high school years, and several of us boys had been hired to work on a stream-improvement project on a tributary of the PM River up in Lake County.
It was colder than a well-digger’s auger as I stepped out of the truck next to the cabin and made my way through the wind and snow to the cabin door Friday. And I wasn’t expecting this sort of weather. Fact is, the weather report had predicted a mild Friday and a fair weekend. But ah, this is Michigan I thought as I fumbled in my pocket for a key.
Sure, things change. That’s the way of the world now, and it has always been that way. And Christmas has really changed over the years, at least for my family. Now we gather for a quick dinner and to exchange presents, then we all seem to disappear to our own digs. That’s not how it used to be.
I was fly fishing the Rogue River. It seemed like a normal evening, but a wind was picking up and things seemed to get darker by the minute. My concern grew, and I was about to exit the stream and head for my vehicle when a sudden whirring sound came from overhead. I looked up toward the strange sound, and there I saw a slow-moving object overhead. It was round in shape and outlined by flashing blue lights, and was about to pass directly over my head.