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

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


I had a lot of fun when I was young but was sent off to prison when I was about six. I never enjoyed summertime much after that time. I always knew in the back of my mind that summer would pass and I’d soon be locked up for another eight months. My bright spot was wearing out Golden Guides, catching crawdads & salamanders and damming up the crick. Summer vacation soon passed away. It was back to staring out the windows time/ Hard Time.
I just returned from a dog walk on the lower Shavers Fork, near Bowden. I call it tin can alley. Campers parked alongside each other; hundreds on them. I cannot imagine why people would want to leave one city just to go sit in another one. The two biggest campgrounds were absolutely crawling with people. I don’t quite understand why you need a fire when it is 85 degrees, either. Must be fun.
Fun to me doesn’t require spending money. I drive all week therefore I sure don’t travel more than a few miles if I don’t have to. I’m old, I’ve already seen it .Buying gas isn’t fun. You can’t drive down a country road anymore without someone riding on your bumper. There isn’t any wonder that people do not see anything anymore. They are in too big of a hurry.
I guess I could charge an expensive trip for a vacation to somewhere I’ve never been and work all the rest of the year to pay it off. That doesn’t sound like much fun, either. I worked at a place a few years ago that closes down the first week of July every year. That would be one of my last choices for a week off. I think the most exciting thing I did was change brakes on my truck.
I’ve gotten to the point where I actually have to make myself go fishing. I’m fine once I get there but some become bored with the whole process. Biting flies, mosquitoes and gnats stuck in your sweat isn’t much fun. Plus, the cost of gas and ice takes away from the enjoyment. It seems as if anything interesting to do is a sixty or seventy mile round trip. I guess I just can’t enjoy my time away when I know there is grass to mow, tomatoes to tie and critters to feed. Have you ever taken the time to read the WV Fish Consumption Advisories? You should.
I do make the attempt to take an hour out of every day for enjoyment. It is my shutdown time and I have become very adept at finding interesting things. I may steal that time with walking the dogs or it may be somewhere alongside the road. No matter where it is it is cherished time. It doesn’t cost a thing and it helps maintain sanity.

There are many things out there to discover for everyone. The only requirement to participate is a little bit of free time. I can just tie the dogs off to a tree and go sit along a ditch. You would be amazed at the lifeforms you can see in just a small location. Just sit and stare. Dragonflies, damsels, butterflies abound and you never know what bird may appear. To me that is fun and free. Try it, you might like it.

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

News From Virginia DGIF

Region III – Southwest
Elk Poachers Charged – On June 14, 2016, Virginia Conservation Police Sergeant Jamie Davis and SWVA Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation [RMEF]Coal Field Chapter Chairman Leon Boyd met with WCYB TV Fox News Center 5 at the Buchanan County elk release site.  A News 5 reporter had received information that an elk was poached and suspects had been charged.  Sergeant Davis advised this was a team effort solving this case. Conservation Officers, members of the Buchanan County community and local sportsman all played a vital role. This was definitely poachers and not hunters and it has been sportsmen through RMEF and VDGIF that have brought these elk back to SWVA.  Leon Boyd,  discussed partners like RMEF, local energy companies and volunteer sportsmen all had part in this project and how it impacts the whole community.  Leon Boyd also discussed the economic value of this crime and the penalties faced by the poachers.

Violations at “Trophy” Trout Stockings – On June 18, 2016, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Dan Hall, Larry Walls, James Brooks and Sergeant Jamie Davis worked a covert patrol on Big Tumbling Creek within Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area. This patrol was due to numerous complaints from the public concerning snagging and other violations taking place during the special “Trophy” trout stockings in the daily fee area. This past week numerous citation brook trout were stocked. As a result of the enforcement efforts by the Conservation Officers, violations were noted and appropriate charges placed

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


WVDNR investigation of illegal bear hunting in Grant and Mineral counties results in arrest of eight men on 77 charges

ROMNEY, W.Va. – Natural Resources Police Officers have completed an investigation that has resulted in the arrest of eight men on 77 charges of violations of West Virginia game laws involving the illegal hunting of black bears. The investigation began in September 2015 when an illegal bear baiting site near Mount Storm in Grant County was reported to the DNR District 2 office in Romney.
Lead investigators Sgt. G.M. Willenborg and Senior Natural Resources Police Officer A.D. Kuykendall, assisted by natural resources police officers from Mineral, Grant and Pendleton counties, completed the investigation and filed the charges. The alleged illegal bear hunting violations occurred between May 2015 and September 2015. Charges have been brought against the following individuals and are pending in court. The charges identified are allegations and any defendant is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Mark Allen Lampka, Jr. of Mount Storm, West Virginia, was charged with violations ranging from (2 counts) illegal trapping of bear, (4 counts) illegal killing of bear, (6 counts) illegal possession of bear, (2 counts) spotlighting bear, conspiring to violate Chapter 20 of the West Virginia State Code, hunting without permission, hunting bear during closed season and other game law violations. These charges were brought in Grant and Mineral counties.
Daniel Boddy of New Creek, West Virginia, was charged with (2 counts) illegal killing of bear, (2 counts) illegal trapping of bear, (4 counts) illegal possession of bear, spotlighting bear, conspiring to violate Chapter 20 of the West Virginia State Code and other game law violations. These charges were brought in Grant and Mineral counties.
Chad Fridley of Mount Storm, West Virginia, was charged with illegal killing of bear, spotlighting bear, (2 counts) illegal possession of bear and conspiring to violate Chapter 20 of the West Virginia State Code. These charges were brought in Grant and Mineral counties.
Steve Thomas Lyons, Jr. of Elk Garden, West Virginia, was charged with illegal killing of bear, spotlighting bear, hunting bear with use of bait, illegal possession of bear and conspiring to violate Chapter 20 of the West Virginia State Code. These charges were brought in Grant and Mineral counties.
Dustin Knaggs of New Creek, West Virginia, was charged with illegal killing of bear, spotlighting bear, illegal possession of bear and conspiring to violate Chapter 20 of the West Virginia State Code. These charges were brought in Mineral County.
Terry Kuh of Maysville, West Virginia, was charged with spotlighting bear, hunting bear with use of bait, illegal possession of bear, illegal taking of bear during closed season and conspiring to violate Chapter 20 of the West Virginia State Code. These charges were brought in Grant County.
James Scott Kuhn of New Creek, West Virginia, was charged with hunting bear with the use of a trap, illegal possession of bear, and conspiring to violate Chapter 20 of the West Virginia State Code. These charges were brought in Mineral County.
Ronnie P. Bothwell of Burlington, West Virginia, was charged with hunting bear with the use of a trap, illegal possession of bear and conspiring to violate Chapter 20 of the West Virginia State Code. These charges were brought in Mineral County.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Build a Better Catfish Trap

Build a Better Catfish Trap

By Ted Pilgrim
It’s remarkable to consider that some of the earliest fishing artifacts unearthed by archaeologists were those curious contraptions we call circle hooks. Equally intriguing, this singular hook was designed and fished by numerous unrelated ancient civilizations across the globe. For pre-Columbian natives of Latin America, ancient Polynesians, early Japanese, and indigenous people of the North Pacific, the circle hook was apparently a logical invention among fishermen. 
But how is it that such different cultures arrived independently at a similar, yet singularly innovative hook style? The answer, in part, lies with the fact that these early fishermen were not sport anglers in today’s sense. Rather, they were hunters and trappers of fish. As subsistence fishermen, they needed a tool that hooked fish by itself. Circle hooks did exactly that, serving as efficient “fish traps” and putting dinner on the table for hundreds of generations of early anglers. 
In more recent times, commercial fishermen as well as catfishers using trotlines, juglines, and limblines have relied almost exclusively on the self-setting power of a circle hook. The true fish-catching talents of a circle hook, however, emerge only when coupled with a well-balanced, finely designed catfish rod.
Setting the Trap
Among rod and reel catfish anglers today, circle hooks have become standard fish-catching equipment. Yet without proper use of complementary tools—the right rod, line and bait—the circle hook is no more useful than a mousetrap lacking a spring. 
Studying the hook itself, most rod and reel anglers believe that modified circle designs— those with points that turn toward the shank at roughly 45-degrees— hook cats a bit easier than true circles, whose points turn at about 90-degrees. True circles, such as Eagle Claw’s heavy stainless steel 190, remain the preference of saltwater fishermen.
Modified designs, such as Rippin Lips Tournament Grade Circle, typically sport wider gaps than true circles, a feature that plays a vital role in hooking bony-lipped catfish. In truth, hook size itself remains far less important than gap and bite – the areas between point and shank, point and bend, respectively. When attaching baits, it’s wise to leave most of the throat open in order to allow the hook to properly pivot in the fish’s jaw and drive itself home. Impale cutbaits as lightly as possible. With live baitfish, plant the hook gently through the nostrils, lips or just beneath the skin near the tail. Certainly, avoid burying the hookpoint in the bait. Finally, sharpen the point and file down the barb to a nub; you’ll hook and land more cats, and more easily extract the hook. Note, a circle hook’s design keeps catfish hooked securely during battle, even lacking a large barb.
In order for the hook to lodge itself into the corner of a cat’s soft, yet bony jowl, steady, sustained pressure must be exerted opposite the direction of a striking fish. Veteran catfish guide Captain Brad Durick, a highly instinctive angler who regularly employs circle hooks to put his clients on big cats, describes the process:  “A good circle hook ‘trap’ consists of a 7 to 10-foot rod that loads up slowly, allowing a cat to grab the bait, turn, and move away with slight, steady resistance.” During the past season, Durick has literally boated over 10 tons of big channel catfish with a single set of SuperCat rods. For big channel cats, he prefers the 7-foot 6-inch medium-action casting version of the popular Rippin Lips sticks. Durick also notes that his SuperCats’ blanks offer the perfect balance between light heft (weight), sensitivity (strike detection) and tip softness.
“Monofilament line complements the hook and rod perfectly,” he adds, “Its stretch yields a sort of bungee-cord effect. Lines like 30-pound test Ande Premium cushion the hookset just enough to prevent the hook from bouncing out of the fish’s jaw. Happens sometimes with no-stretch braid.” Durick continues, “Lots of folks want to loosen their drags, too, but a tight drag is better—helps turn and lock the hook into the cat’s jaw.” 
“Keeping the rod in a rod holder seals the deal,” he says. “Only thing hand-holding the rod does is tempt you to set the hook, which is usually a no-no. I like to set the holders to position rods at about 55-degrees to the water. This helps load the rod slowly when a fish takes the bait. When the rod tip bounces, signaling a chewing cat, I don't touch it until the rod folds over completely. Lift the rod straight up out of the rod holder, and reel down while slowly forming a deep arc in the rod.” 
Employing the aforementioned prescriptions, Durick says he hooks over 99-percent of biting catfish in the corner of the lip, with almost zero fish hooked in the throat. That’s one impressive box score—both from a fishing perspective, and from a conservation point of view. It means every big cat Durick catches is shortly swimming again, where it can thump someone else’s rod.
So goes the circle of a catfish’s life.
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