Monday, January 2, 2017


Once upon a time, long long ago I used to live in three distinct regions every year. I did that for quite a while, too. The worst part; other than packing and driving, was regional dialect adjustment. It usually took me a couple of weeks before I could understand the locals; wherever it may have been. My normal route would take me from Appalachian American to the Deep South and then to the salt marsh dialect of the Maryland and Virginia Eastern Shore. Major adjustment was needed with each stop.
One conversation that really stood out was a park ranger telling me about the zinc he put in his house. The best I could get out of what he was telling me was that he spent the weekend painting his bathroom or kitchen with zinc. My mind was trying to get sense out of the conversation and the best I could come up with was that maybe it was something people on the Eastern Shore did because of the marshy environment. I had him painting his walls and floor with some kind of zinc paint. I came to find out that all he had done was replace a kitchen sink. My ears were hearing one thing and my mind was trying to get something logical out of what I was hearing.
The Deep South never gave me as much trouble; except for certain words or phrases I had to figure out. One was the pronunciation of Albany, GA. One of the people I worked for pronounced it Al-BANE-EEE. I never could get used to that. The one bright spot I had during my time down there was that I worked with a Cajun from way south of New Orleans and he didn’t know what anyone was saying, either. We spent a lot of time trying to figure stuff out. I’m not even going to go into the Cajun stuff other than to say that I sure do not need the captions they show on Swamp People.
Our boss was a Florida cowboy, ex-professional bull rider who was highly excitable and had a sharp high pitched voice. His family had sold their orange groves and moved to Alabama when all the Yankees started taking over Florida. I think you are getting the picture, now. The Ragin Cajun & I are down there7 months out of the year trying to pick words out from a central Florida cowboy and a bunch of central Alabama residents; both Caucasian and African American. I know many of them thought we were complete idiots. The reality was we had to figure out what everyone was talking about; before we could react. The understanding would eventually come and as the years went on it got a bit easier. But, still the first week or so on new turf was usually fairly tough.
There was one word that we could never figure out and the cowboy used it in a phrase quite often. It was always preceded with That’s a and ended with one. We could never get that 3rd word. It became frustrating and was our inside joke. Every time he would say it; we would just grin and shrug. It could come out at any time, too You could be handling money, a car might pass by, a pretty girl might walk by and he would say it. I finally asked his brother; whose speech was slowed down a bit from falling off too many bulls. He said its Shiny (as in shiny new, new or pretty). Mystery solved.

I Hope You All Have A Shiny New Year

This is my January 2017 article for Two-Lane Livin (c) High Virginia Outdoors ALL Rights Reserved Photos (c) High Virginia Images                                                                              

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Why We Go Look

Northern Pintail
I was sitting around this morning looking at my eBird tally for the year. It isn't bad but I missed several species this year. I had no terns, Sanderlings or Dunlins. Of course I had zero scoters (I use scoter repellant).
No Short-eared or Long-eared Owls. I missed Snow Buntings (twice) plus the Lapland Longspur. Missed the White-fronted Geese, too. In 2 states.
I figured the best chance for something I needed for the year was a Herring Gull or a Northern Pintail. six days left in the year, so not much chance of that happening, either.
Couldn't stand it. wet, dreary and boring. So, I decided to go to Elkins and get gas for some excitement. I rode through Glendale park hoping that maybe the White-fronted Geese flew down here. Nope, just a clump of Mallards. I looked one more time as I was driving out of the park and there it was amongst the Mallard mass..A lone Northern Pintail !! Yep, that is why we go and why we look. Even when we figure there isn't much use.

eBird 2016 — Year in review

American Tree Sparrow

eBird 2016 — Year in review

Masafuera Rayadito—one of the 20 new species added to eBird in 2016. Photo by Héctor Gutiérrez Guzmán/Macaulay Library.
2017 will mark the 15 year anniversary of eBird. In just a decade-and-a-half, the bird checklists that you have shared have helped make eBird the largest citizen science biodiversity project in the world. More than 1/3 million eBirders have submitted 370 million bird sightings, representing 10,313 species from every country in the world. We are continually humbled by the amazing power and passion of the birding community, and have nothing but excitement as we look to the future of what we can do together. As we compile this list of eBird’s achievements in 2016, we are reminded that these are all truly your achievements. It is your contributions that power this knowledge engine. Every time you go out and keep a list of birds you see, you’re making a real contribution to our understanding of the world’s ever-changing avian biodiversity.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Flexible Flyers & Shotgun Shells

Flexible Flyers & Shotgun Shells
I’m just sitting around thinking back to the times when trucks had gear shifts and roll up windows. Yes, you cranked the window up and down manually with your own power. You could even break the window loose from an icy grip; or break the window crank. How about actual brass keys? Remember them? See you’re not that old. Flexible Flyers now may be a little different. That is something that popped into my head today. Things tend to do that.
I do not know if they are still made. I doubt it. Metal runner sleds that you could steer a little and had no braking methods seem a bit risky for these times. Sand those runners off and rub some paraffin wax on and see how fast you could go. Down the middle of the road!! Yeah, not anymore. Remember those waffled cotton insulated” underwear? I sure hope you don’t still have some of those atrocious things stuck in a drawer somewhere. Take those frozen pants off and stand them in the corner beside the wood stove. Yep, frozen up to your zipper. Stand on their own; until they melted into a soggy clump. Fun wasn’t it?
Have you ever gotten a box of shotgun shells under the Christmas tree? Can you smell the aroma of a freshly opened box? I liked the Peters True Blues. I think they smelled the best. They were pretty, too. How about a Model 37 to go with the shells? Bringing back any memories? That is what the Christmas Season is all about. It was a time when families made their own decorations. We hadn’t even heard of Sri Lanka, yet.
Take a few moments to reflect back in time. Just think about the trouble your parents and grandparents went through to get you something special. They had to either search or create. There was no one-click shopping. Yes, times have changed and it has been a quick process in the grand scheme of things. I’m really not sure that it is for the better, either. We shall see.
There are two things that cannot be taken away from us. Those are memories and knowledge/. These are also two things that can be shared and passed on without any expense. Think for a few seconds and you will come up with something that you are glad you know today that was a gift given to you by someone you thought was being facetious at the time. Probably made you mad, too. Aren’t you glad they spent those few seconds on you?

We have all acquired knowledge over time. Things are stored somewhere on our heads. We can help and learn from everyone around us. Sharing knowledge freely to create memories for others seems to me as if it is something we all should be doing. The problem with our busy world that consumes us is that we don’t think we have time for the simple things in life. You do have the time if you take it and you will be glad you did. Give the gift of knowledge and create some memories; enjoy the simple things, slow down and live. Merry Christmas

This is my December 2016 Article for Two-lane Livin (c)2016 High Virginia Outdoors
Photo (C) High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved

Friday, November 4, 2016

Stocking Up and Winding Down

Stocking Up and Winding Down
The eleventh month has arrived. Did the year fly by? I think not. I cannot remember a summer so grueling. I am glad November is here. The cellar is full; quarts and pints aligned in rows. Gallons of water take up empty spaces. Nothing to worry about in there. Peppers were all I had to buy. Never have had a pepper failure; not sure what happened. Everything else did well, the wood shed is full and the first ton of wood pellets is stacked by the stove. Winter rye greens the garden and the garlic is happily buried under a layer of straw. Several layers of goodness. are stacked on freezer shelves. The empty space awaits the final addition. Yes, it is now venison time.
Thanksgiving to me means giving thanks for all of the bounty you have received from the earth due to your own labors. The meal is comprised of products of the gardens, fields and streams. I just believe that is the way it is meant to be. I cannot imagine chewing on a store bought turkey. It just doesn’t seem right. I know that I spent last Thanksgiving morning butchering deer and filling that dreaded empty space in the freezer. That kind of felt just right for the occasion. Everything worked out for a change and I had enough procured by then. That doesn’t happen often, but the way the weather set in after that; I’m glad it worked out that way.
I do not enjoy deer hunting one little bit. I enjoy eating venison; therefore I go. I was never one to worry about giant racks, never did care. I go deer hunting for one reason. That reason is to get the deer meat I NEED to get to next November. It used to be easier to do when I archery hunted, too. But, that was long ago. Nowadays I need to get done as fast as I can, before the totally miserable weather sets in. This may be a shocker to some, but today I just officially took of the first week of gun season. That will be the first opening week I have been off since high school and that was a long time ago. Do I worry about getting some venison? No. I worry about getting enough so I do not have to ration throughout the year, Having a whole week worry free should speed up the process. We will see.
Like it or not; it is a fact that we have become a nation of consumers dependent upon others for our survival. That is not the way it was meant to be. The scariest thing to me is that we are dependent on other nations to supply our daily needs. Think about it, really sit a think. It is scary. We depend on other countries which do not even like us to supply our needs. It has been a gradual process but it has engulfed us now.. What happened? It was the easy way out. That is what happened. When was the last time you fixed yourself a piece of toast and spread real butter on it?
We need to think about the meaning of Thanksgiving, not what we can easily run to the supermarket and buy. We need to become more reliant upon ourselves and our true neighbors. Start small; quit buying your eggs from the supermarket. Buy them from someone who actually feeds their chickens. It will not hurt at all and you will have better eggs. Happy Thanksgiving.
This is my November 2016 article for Two-Lane Livin..(c) 2016 High Virginia Outdoors Photo (c) High Virginia Images...All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 13, 2016


The Sun rises, frost shimmers on the rooftops temperatures that once began with eights are gone. Finally October has arisen for the summer doldrums. Refreshing it is; asters sway in the breeze as colors come to the trees. The time is finally here to start thinking about filling the freezers and settling in for the long winter ahead. I really do not mind winter; except for the final three months of it. I just can’t deal with February, March & April. It is just too much. We need to enjoy the next several weeks. Soon the landscape will turn from brilliant to bleak.
Contrary to what the general population believes and has witnessed for themselves; there are a few hunters out there that didn’t evolve by watching TV. Yes, they did it by trial and error; along with careful observations. They do exist, but they are rarely seen. I know this sounds unbelievable to many; but there are some successful hunters out there that have never owned an ATV, trail camera or a game feeder. Some have a GPS built into their head. You will not see that this type wandering around in the local China Mart dressed in camo, Actually they probably have neighbors that don’t even know that the hunt.
Year after year after year they have been successful in the woods, with little fanfare or publicity. They are the real experts. You will never see them on TV or in the paper. They keep quiet and go about their own business. They have been doing it for a long time and took the time to learn. They have no worries about if they will get something this year. They know it will happen. It is just a matter of when. Modern hunters should take notice but they are too busy fiddling with gadgets.
October brings a twinkle to the eyes of older hunters. They came fondly remember their youthful days in pursuit of squirrels and fall turkeys. Those were the learning and developing days. Neither shows up much on the modern hunters’ radar. It is more interesting to sit and stare at a corn pile. Squirrels and turkeys just aren’t cool. Woodsmanship isn’t either. There is no reason to waste time learning through trial and error. Not. When you can just turn on the TV or computer and see the real experts in action.
Never underestimate that old fellow that has to lean against a tree to tie his boot laces. When you pass that person on the trail and make your snide comments about his attire and ratty looking gun. When you think you are out of hearing range. You and your buddies probably have forgotten all about him; until you hear a shot on a distant ridge at noon while you are yapping, playing on your phones and eating lunch. You wonder who could be up there, so far away. Experience beats gadgets every single day. You will never know the old-timer is around; until he shoots.
Yes, it is sad to say but the ones who grew up in the woods and not staring at a feeder are dwindling away. I imagine that within the next two short decades all will be gone or nearly so.It would be good to latch onto one of these fossils before they are all gone. You might learn a little about the real world

This is my October 2016 article for Two-Lane Livin (c) 2016 High Virginia Outdoors All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Who Are You?

Who Are You?
I can’t believe I started with that. But it is fitting. Long ago when I could stand to listen to the radio; The Who and Queen were two of my quickest channel changers. Now that Shania is appearing on Classic Country stations; I am pretty much radio free America. I learned a long time ago that if you don’t like what you are hearing; you don’t have to listen.
Really, who are you? I know what many of you are thinking right now. Why I am a __. That isn’t what I mean. I’m not referring to what you do to eke out a living. Everyone has to do that; although some find a way not to. I mean who are you in reality? What do you enjoy doing? What do you sit and daydream about while eking? What do you do for relaxing and relieving stress? What do you find interesting?
We were not built to quit learning once we walk out of whatever we graduated from. I know many who quit right at that point. They quickly settled into a routine that they will never leave and they think that is the way it works; forever. I really feel sorry for them. You have heard the saying many times that you learn something new every day “you should. It isn’t really that hard.
Have you ever actually taken the effort to find out what that funny looking bug crawling on your milkweed plant is? The resources are there for all to use. It isn’t really that hard to find the right answers anymore. The only requirement needed is a little effort put forth. First you find a closely matching photo and go from there. Inquiring minds will not stop at just a name. They will wander to native or introduced and then to life cycles and habitat. Before you know it; you just learned something new today! Keep on going.
My mind tends to wander from day to day and season to season. Primarily it functions in two stages. Getting ready for winter and getting through winter. Producing and procuring food is pretty much number one. I always have something else going on too. I need to do something other than eke and watch tomatoes get ripe. That is where birds, bugs, damselflies and wildflowers come in handy. There is always something out there that you have never taken time to identify and learn about. You don’t have to go far.
Some believe that the outdoors is only hunting and fishing. That is so untrue. Besides hunting and fishing have seasons and limits. I need to do something interesting every single day that doesn’t cost much of anything. How about you? Recreation does not have to cost, neither does learning. I’m old and I have stuff to make alone time more enjoyable, It was all acquired over time and really as the big picture goes was not that expensive due to the enjoyment it has given.

The photo with this article is the stuff I had behind my truck seat on June 10. That is my stuff. Let’s face it we are all just getting older and poorer. So who are you? I guess I am a real outdoorsman and life-long learner.

This is my August 2016 article for Two-Lane Livin
(c) 2016 High Virginia Outdoors  Photo (c) 2016 High Virginia Images ALL RIGHTS RESERVED