A real wall hanger

I have five beautiful, talented nieces.

Okay, I can already hear the bitching. “I thought this blog was supposed to be about outdoor stuff. You know…fishing, hunting stuff like that”.

It certainly is,  and this post about my niece Mayo fits right in. Mayo made this big, beautiful FISH out of CDs! That’s right. Each scale is a compact disc. The kind old guys like me still listen to. It’s about four or five feet long, the fins and tail are bristles from a broom. The nose is a straw hat and the eyes are mini compact discs. Is that creative and original or what?

Mayo creates other interesting objects as well: bracelets, earrings, necklaces, pendants. In other words, “wearable art”. 

Check out her attractive, easy to navigate website http://www.designsbymayo.com.

Back yard bucks

Long time friend and fellow Outdoor Writers Of Kansas member Dave Zumbaugh captured these whitetail bucks with a trail cam in his back yard. That’s right. His back yard! Dave lives in a semi-rural area of Johnson county, KS near Kansas City and is treated to sights like this on a regular basis.

No. He won’t let you bowhunt in his back yard.

 

 

 

 

It’s shed time

It was nice of this 6-point whitetail buck to pose for my friend Dave’s trail cam in his back yard. Actually there might be another tine hiding back there. Anyway now it’s a 3 or 4-pointer. It’s a little early in our part of the country for bucks to start shedding antlers but maybe this guy just wanted to get a head start and beat the rush.

End of a duck season

The season ended so suddenly at the Five Guys And A Swamp Duck Club that we didn’t even have time to pick up our decoys. Then we froze solid, and now the water has finally thawed and we can finally get in to do the job we should have done earlier. When we waded in hundreds of mallards took flight. Where the hell were they in November and December? With this fall’s weather they were probably still in Canada or North Dakota.

Dave’s dog Mota

My friend Dave Zumbaugh has a German Wirehair Pointer named Mota. This loveable dog is the quintessential all around sporting dog. Dave uses her for upland bird work, waterfowl hunting, and for all I know she fetches the morning newspaper.

These photos of Mota were taken on a frosty morning at Clinton Lake near Lawrence, KS in 2014 when Mota was still just a pup.

Mota on ice

Good dog!

 

 

Heart Of America Fly Fishers One Fly Tournament

The Heart of America Fly Fishers held their annual One Fly Tournament Saturday, June 17th at the Timber Ridge Adventure Center. Timber Ridge is a beautiful 200-acre park managed by the Johnson County Parks & Recreation Dept. It is located south of Kill Creek Park near De Soto, KS. Two small lakes on the property are open one day each year for public fishing. Reservations can be made for special events by phone (913) 831-3359 or email registration@jocogov.org.

The One Fly Tournament is an actual tournament, with rules, winners and losers, and prizes for largest fish and most fish caught. Contestants are allowed to use only one fly. If the fly is lost another of the same pattern may be tied on.

The guys who got there early caught quite a few bass, bluegill, and even a couple of big channel cats.

I got there just in time for the mid-day picnic.

 

 

 

 

 

A Bionic Pheasant Hunt

This story was originally published in the Winter 2017 issue of Pheasants Forever Journal.

 

bionic hunt

It was barely dawn when Bob pulled my truck off to the side of the road. We had left home before daylight so I let Bob drive because he can see better in the dark than I can. He’s had his cataracts removed and I’ve still got mine.

“It’s good to be pheasant hunting again”, I said as I eased my bulky body out of the truck. I was anxious to run a few rounds through my new ultra-light 20-gauge. The Doc had suggested I trade in the trusty old twelve after my rotator cuff surgery a couple of years ago. I had missed last season because of Tommy John surgery. I should have known not to keep yanking that damn rope when the chainsaw wouldn’t start.

We both had trouble finding hunting clothes to fit because we had gained a lot of weight over the years. I had to leave my pants partially unzipped but Bob had a new pair that fit him perfectly. He pulled up his coat and I could see why. I didn’t even know they made maternity brush busters.

It’s a good thing my old setter Maggie was still snoring in her crate, otherwise I might have forgotten about her.

“Rise and shine, old girl”, I said as I unlatched the door. She opened one eye, stared at me with that “leave me alone” look, then closed it and started snoring again. I decided to let her snooze a bit but I left the crate open so she could join us when she was ready.

We sat on the tailgate and rested a while. It takes a lot of energy for guys our age to get out of a truck.

I noticed Bob rubbing his knees.

“They bothering you?” I asked. ”I thought you had them fixed”.

“I did”, he answered. I could hear his knees creaking as he flexed one leg, then the other. “But they need regular maintenance and I’m overdue.”

“Time to go back to the Doc, huh?”

He slid off the tailgate and hobbled around a little. “Nope. The Doc put these things in.” He pulled one pant leg up to show me.

“Grease nipples. I get the old knees lubed every time I take my car in for service. Works like a charm but I gotta get them lubed every 6000 miles or six months. Don’t want to void the warranty. “

Maggie stood up, yawned, and stretched on the tailgate, her signal that she was ready to roll. We hefted her down and she looked around but couldn’t find anything stinky to roll in so she lay down and went back to sleep.

I put an electric collar on her and we headed out across the field. Since I started wearing support hose and arch supports in my boots I could walk almost thirty minutes without wheezing.

We hadn’t gone fifty yards when we heard the wail of a siren.

“What the hell is that?” Bob wondered aloud.

I grabbed Maggie and turned the knob on her collar down. “Sometimes my pacemaker creates some sort of electronic field with her e-collar and it winds up on the local sheriff’s frequency. Picks up 911 calls too.”

After I adjusted the collar we could still hear a squeaking, grinding, clanking sound.

“Now what?” grumped Bob.

“The squeaking and grinding is my artificial hip”, I said. “It does that at times like this when I’ve walked too long. The clanking is Maggie’s Kevlar stifle joint. She’s had it so long it’s starting to rust. The vet says I should mix a little WD-40 in with her kibbles.”

Suddenly Maggie stopped walking and sat down. “She’s getting birdy”, I whispered.

Bob stared at the dog. “Isn’t she supposed to point?”

“She did when she was younger”, I said. “Now she just sits down. I guess you could say she’s more of a sitter than a setter.”

Bob wasn’t convinced. “How do you know she’s not just resting?”

“When she wants to rest she lies down.”

Bob took a step forward and a cock pheasant burst from the underbrush thirty yards away. We both shouldered our shotguns but not a shot was fired as the bird sailed off into the distance.

“Why didn’t you shoot?” I asked.

Bob swore at his shotgun as though somehow it was the gun’s fault. ”I couldn’t get the damn safety off. Why didn’t you shoot?”

“I forgot to load my gun”.

Maggie gave us a dirty look, then lay down and immediately started snoring.

“Oh well”, I said. “There’ll be more chances.”

I fumbled at the loops on my vest, trying to remember which side the shells were on. I keep shells in the loops on the right side and suppositories on the left. Or is it the other way around?

I woke Maggie up and then, squeaking, grinding, creaking and clanking, the three of us marched off across the field together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trout fishing at Lake Taneycomo

It’s always a treat to fish Lake Taneycomo even if the fishing isn’t up to its usual standards. Last week I enjoyed some beautiful Ozarks scenery, ate a great chicken fried steak at Lambert’s (the throwed rolls place), and scarfed down some tasty barbeque at Dana’s.

My life-long buddy Ned Spence and his lady friend were supposed to come up from Oklahoma City and meet me but they took sick and couldn’t make it. I wanted to take a selfy of me holding up a huge trout and email it to him but it didn’t happen, mainly because I didn’t catch any huge trout. In fact I almost didn’t catch any trout at all.

I didn’t see anybody tearing them up Wednesday morning. I did manage to fool one little rainbow with a yellow crackleback. You know it’s slow when you catch one trout and a guy comes over and asks what you’re using.

Thursday morning the fishing Gods smiled upon me and I was rewarded with two small rainbows for my two hour’s work. Actually I shouldn’t call it work because at least I was fishing, the weather was beautiful and I didn’t fall down and drown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Build it and they will come

build-it-illust

This story was first published in the  2005 November/December issue of Wyoming Wildlife News

Let’s get one thing straight right now: building a duck blind is nothing like an ordinary carpentry project. You can’t learn skills like this from a book. They are handed down from father to son, uncle to nephew, or old duck hunter to young duck hunter. True vertical and horizontal?? That’s for sissies. Mitered corners? What are you, some kind of latte-sipping, granola-crunching, tofu-eating civilian?

To build a proper duck blind you must put aside your preconceived notions of what good carpentry should look like. You should even put aside your notions of what lumber should look like. Or all building materials, for that matter. You must learn to think outside the box. In fact you should probably tear up the box and use it in your duck blind. The well-drawn plans you see for blinds in magazines are all hoaxes.

You only BUY lumber for duck blinds as a last resort. The best blinds are fashioned from lumber that was originally intended for other purposes. Remodeling you basement? When you tear out those old studs, save them for your next duck blind. Some blinds are even made from – dare I say it? – stolen materials. I don’t mean actually STOLEN stolen. STOLEN means they were taken from their rightful owners. Say you saw a 4X8 sheet of plywood lying around and you instantly recognized the fact that it would make a perfect roof for your duck blind. So you loaded it into the bed of your pick-up and took it someplace where it would be put to good use. The fact that it was lying around near a construction site is immaterial.

What about tools, you ask? Cordless drills are indispensable, unless you forget to charge up the batteries like I usually do. But in that case you can use the drill as a hammer. If you should happen to have a measuring tape you can also use that as a hammer. In fact you can use any heavy object as a hammer. Remember the old joke about a guy who walked into the hardware store and said “I want a wrench” and when the clerk asked what kind of wrench he said, “Don’t matter. I’m gonna use it for a hammer”? That guy was probably building a duck blind.

What ordinary carpenters call measuring is unnecessary in duck blind carpentry. If you are building your blind on-site you are probably using a chain saw and your cuts will be less than precise. Simply get one of your partners to hold the board  for you and when he says “cut it along about here somewhere” you cut it along about there somewhere, making sure all feet, fingers, and dog noses are safely out of the way.

Imperfections that would drive a real carpenter batty can be an asset to a duck blind. That four inch gap on one end between the door and the floor? No problem. It just makes it easy to relieve yourself without leaving the blind. I’ve probably shot at least fifty ducks in my lifetime with my pants unzipped.

Take that eight foot 2X6 you ripped long-ways with the chain saw so it would plug the three inch gap between the front wall and the southeast corner 4X4. You know, the gap that was left because you didn’t have a tape or pencil to make the measurements you needed so you just “eye-balled it”. You thought you were cutting a straight line, but when you stepped back and looked at it, it looked like an elevation line on a topo map. No problem. It looks more natural this way. Have you ever seen a straight line in nature?

That dog ramp you worked so hard on, the one that juts off the front of the blind at a funny angle. Forget about it. If it looks okay to your dog it’s fine. Besides, this way it looks more like a beaver-chewed log. That’s probably what you wanted but you just didn’t know it.

Corrugated tin from barns and outbuildings makes excellent duck blind material. It is easily attached to a wood framework and is impossible for beavers, muskrats or squirrels to destroy. It is best to wait for the tin to be removed from the buildings by forces of nature such as tornadoes, as removing it yourself can result in animosity from your neighbors and possible legal hassles.

Any job that requires physical exertion makes a man thirsty. A recent scientific study has proven that beer is the best thirst quencher known to man. The fact that all the scientists who participated in the study were beer drinkers is not important. However, a subtle law of physics is at work here: the Law Of Diminishing Returns. If you and your partners consume… say… a case of beer while building your duck blind, it does not necessarily follow that your blind will look twice as good if you consume TWO cases. In all probability it will look worse. But then again, one objective of blind building is to build a blind that does not LOOK like a duck blind, the idea being that it might actually fool a duck or two. In this case beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the beholder is a duck.

When you and your fellow carpenters have finished your blind – and your beer – stand back and take a good look at it. If the floor is level , the walls  perfectly vertical , and the roof straight then you have probably screwed up somewhere. But take heart. A lot of camo in the form of marsh grass, oak limbs or willows  will hide this embarrassing perfection. And after a season or two your blind will sag on one end and have a hole in the floor. Some of your purloined four-by-fours will be sporting beaver notches, and muskrats and raccoons will have left their droppings here and there. Feathers, empty shotgun hulls, and junk food wrappers will litter the floor.

In other words it will look like a respectable duck blind.