Sunday, December 24, 2017


Sometimes the greatest gifts you receive are the unintentional ones. I never ever thought I would own a Beagle. Then Joey came into my life. A couple of years later Joey found Ralphie emancipated in a briar patch. They are old and winding down now; but they both still have the heart they have always had. Poor Joey was down in the back and legs all summer. I had to carry him around everywhere we went. That was from May until September. He has been doing pretty well since then until this week. He has been lame in one back leg.
We stopped at a place where we normally go for walks about 52 times per year. Anything to be seen there; we have already seen. I left the camera in the truck this time; of course. We walked awhile and got to the waterhole they always get a drink from. There was a WalMart bag in the water; therefore Joey would not drink from it. He wanted to go to the river so there we went; him limping & hobbling down the steep rocky hill to the river. While he was drinking his head suddenly came up. He smelled something and they both started sniffing & snorting around. Joey insisted in heading upstream; so we went along with him.
They were trailing something as they always are on 30 foot leashes as always. Joey is limping and sniffing. Ralphie is getting hung up as always. Joey went over one log; Ralphie went under the same log, so I’m untangling again. I see Joey 25 feet ahead start over top of a BIG log and he lets out a high pitched scream. I thought that was it he either just broke his back or his hip had come out of its socket. Figured Oh, Shit. Then Ralphie bellowed and Joey was full steam ahead. I was running behind them for about 150 yards until Ralphie got tangled in the rhododendron really bad. I had to get him undone as a one point he was hanging by his neck and still bellowing and trying to go. I had to let go of Joey’s leash at that point.
I got Ralphie loose from the tangle and could still hear Joey screaming up ahead. By the time we got to Joey again..He had a 200 pound bear up a poplar tree..They screamed at the bottom of the tree and Joey yes, crippled up joey was climbing 6 feet up the tree with every attempt.. They got tired and couldn’t bark any more and we went limping & hobbling back to the truck. The chase only lasted about 300 yards before Joey treed him!! I looked back when we were about halfway to the truck and saw the bear cross the road and head to higher ground. The photo is from when we got back to the truck, They don't appear to be any worse off than when we started out & I'm the only one bleeding! So all is good.

Yep, some gifts you do not plan on ever getting..But, they happen anyway..Merry Christmas..

Saturday, December 23, 2017


Wow, it is December. They always said that the older you get the quicker time goes by. I never did pay any attention to old wives tales. But, this one may be correct. It seems to me that just a few months ago it was cold, rainy and dull. It was the beginning of December; I looked at the weather forecast for the upcoming week and decided to take my muzzleloader out of my truck and put it away. Yep, the day before season came in I put it back into the closet. I didn’t think I would get to use it and the weather fellow was actually right.
I do tend to dread the time period between when I put the last deer in the freezer and dig my first ramps of the season. Yep, 5 months or more of brown, black, white and gray. It will be a long time until green unfolds in the landscape. That period of time does not seem to fly by. The only thing I like about it is on those rare pleasant days; there aren’t many people stirring. The worst thing about living in a tourism based area is that when you actually have time to do something; it is too crowded to do it.
I’m sorry but I just don’t get very worked up over the holiday seasons. The commercialization has ruined the season. I saw decorations out before Halloween, this year. I have nothing against all who do. What you do and enjoy doing is entirely up to you and nobody else. Always remember that. I guess I’ll spend my free time this month hunting a little, looking for ducks when it isn’t fit to hunt and sorting photos that have accumulated over the year. The rest of the time I will spend driving on slick, dirty roads and squirting windshield wiper fluid. That’s about the extent of it. Yes, we have to take those gray days in stride.
I guess that all seems gloomy and doomy but, it isn’t meant to be. Maybe what I am trying to get to is the fact that every day is Thanksgiving Day for me. Every day I find, discover or learn something new is like Christmas to me and I get to experience many of those days throughout the entire year. Yes, as some would say; I’m blessed and I’m thankful for that every single day. It is your life to live as you see fit and ultimately you are the only one that can make you happy. Do what you really enjoy doing. It’s up to you and nobody else.
Try to enjoy the many long dull days that lay ahead. It is up to you to make the most out of them. Strive to learn something new or do something interesting every single day; even if you only have a few free moments to do so. It can be done if you actually try. Enjoy the holidays and enjoy the shades of gray. There is a light out there somewhere on the horizon. It’s called May.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!

This is my final article for Two=Lane Livin...9 years, Wow.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


Wow, it’s November already. Where did the year go? We have all been busy preparing for winter since April when the ramps popped up haven’t we? It seems to me that all we get done during the year is prepare for winter and try to make it through winter. Yes, the year flies by when you are busy. The freezers and cellars should all be brimming by now. I know the only room I have left is for meat and I need meat. That is what November is for. It’s time to head to the big grocery store on the mountain; before winter sets in.
I have always felt that the greatest time to be in the outdoors is November and May. The other months are just fillers with not much to offer. I am thankful that there are still a few places left that we can find solitude in. These places dwindle every year; but I’m glad a few still exist. I sure am thankful that we got that week of turkey season back that leads into deer firearms season. I was kind of lost without that one. It just didn’t feel right doing serious deer scouting without carrying my shotgun. It just felt weird. I put my requests in for time off this month. I sure am thankful that I can do that after all of the years of hunting and pecking for time in the woods. I got the usual “Oh, you really like to deer hunt “while I am thinking I hate to deer hunt because it is boring. I like to eat venison and that’s how you get it.
I am thankful that I am still physically able to venture off into some pretty rough country and get the meat back to my truck. I’m very thankful for that and a big plus this year is that I’m going into the season a lot lighter than over the last twenty years or so; about forty pounds is missing. That alone should make everything a bit easier and more enjoyable. I know that if I ever get to the point where I would have to sit in a box and stare at a corn pile; I would never go again. I’m also thankful that I own wool and not that fancy hi-tech stuff that you can hear a branch slap from a hundred yards away. I’m also thankful that I remembered to load some ammo two months before season and not at the last minute. I was down to 3 bullets.
Yes, I am thankful for many things but one of the biggest things is my ability to hunt, gather, catch and grow things to meet my needs. I think that is something to be proud of. The Thanksgiving season is a time to think and be thankful for what we have and what we have the ability to do. We need to be thankful for all of the veterans who have served and are serving this nation. We need to be thankful for all we have and all we have the freedom to do. If nothing else; just be thankful that it isn’t January yet. But be thankful for something. I know I am thankful that I will not be eating a butterball.

 (c) 2017 High Virginia Outdoors Photo (c)2016 High Virginia Images All Rights reserved


Do you remember back when people actually sat down and read books? How about way back in the days when there was something fit to watch on TV? If you can remember those days of the past; you will remember that a common cause of death for the pioneers of our country was listed as consumption. Yeah, that dreadful disease is now known by another name now. We all know what that is.
It has been a bountiful year and a pleasant summer; other than a couple of hot weeks early on. I look at the cellar and smile. Plenty is stored away for the upcoming months. The freezer soon will be filled with venison and we will not have to think about procuring any food until the ramps pop up in the spring. Yep, it will be good eating all winter long and we all know that winter is long. Too long.
I really enjoy the month of October. It is wind-down time and the crowds are gone. One can actually enjoy the streams and woods without tripping over others. It is just a nice period of time to be in the mountains as the colors dwindle and the leaves fall. The chores are done and it is time to relax and recharge. Yes, when the rye is sown and the garlic is in the ground it’s time to head to the woods and see what you can find. I tend to spend a lot more time looking at potential new deer hunting spots than I do actually hunting. It seems as if every time I find a productive spot; they either cut down all of the trees or decide to build a road in that spot. Therefore; I normally spend a good amount of October walking and thinking. Searching may be a better definition. I like to search. It is a good activity for a wandering mind.
Wandering, wondering and thinking just seem like the right things to do. I wonder why I see fewer gardens every year. I think back and try to remember the last time I actually saw anyone squirrel hunting. I guess it easier to drive through and get some chicken nuggets from something that once resembled a chicken. Just yesterday, I saw someone with tomatoes bought from Biggy Mart. I wonder why when I’m positive that person drove by a half dozen real produce stands. It’s just easier, I guess. Never better but less trouble.
Producers dwindle and consumers grow. We have become a nation of consumers obsessed with the easiest way to get something while expending the least amount of effort. Quality no longer seems to take priority. I do not understand the reasoning but that is the way it seems to be. I would take a quart of canned whole tomatoes over a bushel of rock hard flavorless ones any day. I just like to know where my food came from and know what it looked like. The same thing goes with meat. I like to cut up my own meat. I hear so many that say it is too much to trouble butcher their own deer. I would rather cut up deer than sit on a deer stand and wait on one to show up.
I’m afraid that consumption will eventually consume a nation.

(c)2017 High Virginia Outdoors Photos (c) High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 10, 2017


I really enjoy the period starting, now. The waning days of summer are some of the best days. Not too hot and not too cold; days and nights feel about right. The hints of fall are more frequent. Summers’ bounty is put away and cover crops are sown. It just feels good when leaves on the mountain begin to glow. I know what is in store; but that is two and a half months away. I don’t look forward to that. We will most likely pay for the previous mild winter. We will not get lucky two years in a row.
New England Asters are one of my favorite wildflowers; they tend to brighten your day when not much else is going on. These late bloomers are a sure sign that autumn is near. Flowers of purple or pink blowing in the breeze; often side by side. Pick a favorite color, it’s a hard choice; but both are prettier than goldenrods. Yes, they brighten the roadsides and fields as most other flowers fade away. We used to have a beautiful stand about a half of a mile away from my house. They were always a stunning sight against a cut stone wall. Purple and pink flowering plants were nicely intermixed. The state road cut them down a few years ago; just as they were beginning to bloom. They never came back, nothing there now but the cut stone wall. Yep, like I always say; can’t have nothing good around here. Oh, well; there are more out there. Just like everything else; you just have to go find them. Nothing stays the same; especially in these parts.
I have been getting that sick, deep in the gut feeling more and more. Every day I see more open space where trees once stood and critters actually lived. I am referring to the beginnings of the construction of Route 48 in Tucker County. Yes, it makes me nauseous to see the destruction in one of the few undeveloped regions we have left. I really don’t like to think about where I believe it may go once it crosses Rte. 72. Yep, every time I find an area to my liking; something happens to it. That something is never good. I’m really glad that I’m getting old enough to not let this stuff really bother me. I am also glad that I was able to enjoy the things the mountains had to offer; decades ago. I guess I’ve been there and done it. I’m grateful I did. I really do not see good things ahead. I only see a wind-swept road that will never be able to be maintained. That is it.
Truthfully, in the grand scheme of things ahead I do not worry much about what is going to happen. I just hate the destruction of reasonably pristine areas in the name of progress. I just ask who the progress will benefit. I still cannot see who benefitted from all of the windmill projects. I imagine if someone actually did; they live far, far away. They sure do not have to stare at the cluttered skyline every day.
Oh well, enough is enough. The way I figure it now; no matter if you are looking at a season in the year or a place in your life: When The Asters Bloom; is not a bad place to be.

This is my September 2017 article for Two-lane Livin (c)2017 High Virginia Outdoors All Rights Reserved Photo (c) High Virginia Images All Rights reserved

Friday, April 7, 2017

What Critter Are You?

What Critter Are You?
Have you ever messed around with one of those silly sites on Facebook? You know; the ones that tell you who your soulmate is and what your friends will do when you die, stuff like that. Yes you have. Don’t lie. You know you can find out all kinds of important stuff on those sites. I fiddled around one not long ago. It was something like what animal are you. I got a tiger or a grizzly bear or something; I don’t really remember. It doesn’t make any difference; but it got me thinking. I do that one occasion actually I’ve been doing it quite often. I started contemplating what organism out there in the real world is closest to my feelings.
I came up with a Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). Now I want you to know right now that we aren’t talking about those flabby, mushy, yellow fleshed things that come off the fish trucks. You know the ones that regurgitate corn or spit out a gob of play dough when you catch them. Nope, definitely not those. I hate those slimy things. I’m talking about real brook trout; the ones that were here before the forests were first ravaged, before numerous streams could no longer support any aquatic life. Yes, the real natives of Appalachia. The hardy survivors. Sadly, not the thrivers. Sometimes all we can do is just hold on.
The species has weathered a lot of turmoil. Just think back to what they have endured over a very short time in the grand scheme of things. Let’s just go back 200 years. Just think about it thousands and thousands of acres devoid of trees so humans could build cities. The trees were all gone; so what shaded the cold waters that they needed to survive? Nothing. But, they managed to hold on. Can you imagine what they thought (if fish can think) when dams full of logs were sent downstream to the mills? Imagine the impact to the streambed with millions of board feet of timber crashing downstream. Just think after they made it through that and things calmed down for a little while; the rains came. Yes, nothing on the mountain to hold anything back. Imagine the sediment clogging your gills for days and days. But, still some survived. Many did not.
They had to leave the larger waters and head into smaller, cooler tributaries when the larger, now scoured streams became too warm for survival. They could no longer grow to their normal size since they were now isolated in smaller, less fertile waters. The food was no longer available in these nearly sterile environments. It was now just a struggle to be lucky enough for a morsel of food to drift by. But, they managed to hold on. Then the orange water comes isolating them even more. They move farther and farther up the tributaries just to survive; often confined to just several hundred yards of stream. They have no choice and there is no way out. There’s nowhere for them to go.

Yes, I can definitely relate to the poor old Brook Trout.; except for the lack of food situation. I can always produce food unlike them. But, here we both are; making the best out of a bad situation and holding on. For how long? Who knows?

This is my April 2017 article for Two-Lane Livin (c)2017 High Virginia Outdoors ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Friday, March 10, 2017


It will not be long; not as long as it has been. Yes, the famous spring equinox that everyone talks about and anticipates. Everyone but me; I guess. March 20 would be a good starting point if we were in Georgia or another similar environment. It just doesn’t seem to amount to much in these parts. Spring will make it sooner or later but not quite yet. I don’t tend to think much about it until I see a hummingbird or eat some new asparagus. Then, it will be spring. Not quite yet; but soon.
Yes, there are some early signs of life. Wood Frogs quack, coltsfoot and pussy willows bloom and the poor old crocus gets smashed down by snow. It happens every time. Hey, it’s March. No need to get too excited. I never could figure out it out. I’ve never heard anyone say that they couldn’t wait for March to get here. Once it gets over with we still have to endure a few teaser days during the first half of April. We may be blessed with some good days; maybe even a week. But, it will not last. It never does.
Wood Ducks will trickle in giving us a glimpse of color and make us forget about brown, white and grey. Mourning Doves are already incubating in their rickety fragile nests. I never could figure out why they are so numerous. I guess it is because they start nesting early and finish late with numerous attempts. They can’t seem to wait for spring; either. But, it will come; soon.
The fish trucks will begin racking up some major miles and the rivers will once again be full of people and trout. Campgrounds will fill with hardy campers and everyone will be happy once again. Elbow to elbow fishing for fish that weren’t there yesterday. It’s fun for some but not for all. The only good thing I see from this is that the few remaining country stores get busy if they are near one of the stocked areas. The trout stocking program is good for the local economy for a short period of time. Personally, I don’t get any pleasure out of attempting to fish in a crowd. I usually manage to make myself go a few times during the peak stocking period. More often than not I get there; turn around and go home. Life is too good and too short to get irritated at things like that.
Sometime; about mid-month I will plant some radish and lettuce seed in an old bathtub add some onion sets and cover it with glass. The cycle will begin. Digging around in the dirt makes me start thinking of the good things to come. Yes, it will get cold again. I will start worrying and cover the glass over the bathtub with straw and worry about it some more until it warms up. I will carefully uncover it and peer inside. There they are, all of the pretty green sprouts. They are fine. They always are.

Yes, spring will come. It always does. Wood Thrushes will sing Robins will be running around pulling up worms and my Catbird will show up; telling me it is time to plant the potatoes. Not yet; but soon.

This is my March 2017 article for Two-lane Livin (c) 2017 All Rights Reserved