Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thoughts of Marcellus Shale Drilling

I was listening to Bill Stewart ramble about the makeup of the WVU football team yesterday.  He said that the team was made up, just like the state of West Virginia; on a solid foundation.  The first thing that popped into my mind was the foundation of the land that we call home.  How strong can this foundation be if it is constantly interlaced with tunnels?
Let us experiment with this foundation, we will first drill thousands of holes deep into the core of this foundation.  Then we will inject water and who knows what else into these holes.  Is that strong foundation now as strong as it once was?  I don't think so.  Do you believe for one minute second that there are not other cracks and fissures for this fracking mixture to flow into?  Think.  How about all of the underground water flows and not to mention the uncharted mine tunnels?

These methods of natural gas production were developed out West.  I am not a geologist, but I doubt the the geology of the Appalachia and Texas are the same.  I truly fear that it will take a disaster of gigantic proportions, before the dreams of money are offset by the sorrow of reality.  I also believe that the Marcellus gas fields will be another boom and bust of Appalachia's resources.  It happens time and time again: Seek, Destroy, Leave.  It isn't too bad for the ones who come in, make the money and then go home.  But, what about those of us who have to stare at the destruction for the rest of our natural lives?  Do you know what it is like to wake up and the first thing you see is orange water, clear-cuts or wind farms?

It is a hollow feeling, deep in your gut.  The feeling comes from the fact that you will never see the land and water as it once was and was meant to be.  Wake up West Virginia and the rest of the Appalachian region, before it is too late.  Damage to our region will be irreversible and beyond our imagination.  Remember also that isn't bad if you don't have to look at it for the rest of your life.  When water quality is gone: So is Life.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Deer Season-So Far

Opening day was hot and bright, I started walking to my chosen stand at 5am. I arrived at the spot at 5:45, never turned on the light; the whole way in over two ridges and a dense laurel thicket.  I kept waiting for the crowd to close in on me, but it never happened.  I was the only one on the ridge.

Several deer passed by me in the darkness, as I waited for daylight to arrive.  I heard the first shot of the season at 6:15.  I believe that he was a little early, since shooting hours started at about 6:40.  At 7:05, a doe and 2 fawns ran up the ridge to me and stopped at about thirty yards on my left.  Then 2 does came from the same area, their tails were tucked between their legs and they were looking back over their shoulders.  They stopped about twenty-five yards straight in front of me.  I cocked the hammer of my T/C Encore, knowing that a buck was chasing the does.  Nothing happened, the 2 does were nervous and constantly looking back.  The buck must have chased another doe in the other direction.  That was all of the excitement for a long time.  Very little shooting was heard in the distance, at 9:30 I turned on my phone; hoping to get called to work.  At  10:05 a deer appears on my left at about fifty yards, a small deer, I didn't pay much attention to it as he fed on acorns.  He turned and started feeding downhill and I could see that it had 4 inch spikes.  I put the scope on him twice and decided not to shoot.  Nothing else happened until 12:10 when I got called to work.

Tuesday morning was still bright and I got to the oak flat stand at 5:45.  At 6:10 a big deer came through and was following along a trail with quite a few big rubs.  He never even slowed to feed, just that steady gait as he headed for his daytime laurel thicket.  At 6:20, several deer came on the flat and fed on the acorns, I believe there were 8-10 deer present; come on daylight! They feed  toward the thicket and one deer lags behind.  Light comes, one deer is left and is straight ahead at about twenty yards.  Straining to see what it is, while it is getting lighter and lighter, its the same little spike from the day before.  I let him go.  Two days in a row.  This really goes against my rule of national forest hunting, but we'll see how it works out as the season progresses.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How's You Day Going ?

I hate the two nights preceding the full moon.  I cannot sleep at all.  The night of the full moon is probably my best sleeping night of the month.  That is why I am worried about Monday morning.  The opening day of the West Virginia firearms deer season is on Monday and I'll probably oversleep.  Last night, I went to sleep at 10:30 and was wide awake at 12:45.  I messed around and renamed photo files, until I got bored with that.

Might as well go and try to find that elusive Thanksgiving gobbler.  So I take a shower and it is still 2 hours too early to head out.  Not a thing on TV.  There is a Craftman Truck race repeat, but of course I watched the end of that race, before I went to bed.  I already know what happened.  Goober head won and nobody cares anyway.  I'm not in the mood to walk around in Wal-Mart and watch the early morning dopers try to steal something.  Turn the computer back on, of course nothing is happening.  Why aren't you people on Facebook at 4 am?

Just as well head to the mountain; maybe I can get a nap in before daylight.  So I am backing into a grassy area on the side of the road and I am suddenly looking straight up at my front tires.  after somehow managing to get out of the truck: not an easy uphill battle.  I just shake my head and go on turkey hunting.  At about 7, I happen to walk underneath a trio of gobblers and I can see them sail for about a mile and go across the river.  Mess around and look for some deer sign for awhile.  Head the 1.5 miles back to the stranded truck and call a wrecker.  Fifty dollars later, it is noon and I'm back home.. Wonder how tonight will be?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Getting Started-Fly Fishing


The question that I have been asked most during the previous year has been: What do I need, to start fly fishing? First, let me stress that needs and wants are two very different things. Fly fishing is one of those things that can be as simplistic or complicated as you desire. It is up to you and your budget, as to which path you decide to follow. You actually only need five things: Rod, Reel, Line, Leader and Fly.

Fly rods come in various lengths and weights. The weight (0-12) denotes the size of line that works best with the particular rod. Rod length varies between five and fourteen feet. The most popular lengths are 8-9 feet. In our area, these lengths are a fine choice. Rod action is the next consideration. The action is the amount of flex, from the butt to the tip of the rod. The terminology is usually slow to extra-fast. Choose a moderate or moderate-fast action in a six-weight rod and you will be happy. One other notable consideration is that rods come in sections with choices from two-piece up to six piece travel rods. Two piece rods are usually the least expensive. I cannot fit a two-piece nine foot rod behind my truck seat. Eight foot rods in the two-piece configuration work fine.

The fly reel is honestly, the least important item in your setup. It holds and stores the line. For the majority of our needs, the most basic reel will do just fine. We do not need fancy drag systems for the foot long fish we will be catching. Truthfully, you could feed your line out of your pants pocket and while being inconvenient, you would probably do just fine. Fly lines are available in a wide variety of designs. Buy a weight-forward floating line for your first set-up. Make sure it is the proper weight for your rod. Remember, we are discussing need, not want. Sinking tips, intermediates and other special purpose lines will fall into the want category at a later time.

The leader is the connection between your fly line and fly. They taper down from a large diameter butt section to a fine tippet section. The most popular designs are knotted together with various diameters and lengths of monofilament line and are formulated to make the fly turn over properly. Tapered knotless leaders are also available and are a good choice if weeds or floating debris is encountered. I have been using furled or braided leaders for the last few years. I really like this style. They are four to five feet long; the ones that I use have a small (micro) metal ring for attaching tippet material. This makes a versatile system that works really well.

Now, the fun stuff: Flies. The selection is mind boggling, where do we start? There are basically four types of flies: Dry, Wet, Streamer and Nymph. Dry flies float, the others are used subsurface. Dry fly fishing is the most well known method and is both rewarding and productive, when aquatic insects are hatching. I am rarely able to fish during this primetime. I fish wooly buggers upstream or Clouser minnows downstream probably 90 percent of the time. This two fly system has worked well for me.

Technical fishing without the technicality. Enjoy.

This article first appeared in my column Through the Seasons at Two Lane Livin.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thirty Years Ago

I have read several mast reports and hunting predictions about the upcoming deer firearms season.  They all come down to one thing:  Food.  Most point toward white oak acorns, as the plentiful food source for 2010.  This is great if you live somewhere in WV that still has some white oaks; standing.

I used to have one of the nicest stands of white oak in the country; just up the road.  That was thirty years ago.  It was an area which was always full of game.  Now it is a clear-cut wasteland, not fit for anything.  It will be that way till after I am dead.
It used to be nice to go out around home and be able to hunt.  The most memorable Thanksgiving Day to me was one which the meat on the table; all came from the hill that could be seen from the picture window.  There was venison, oven baked squirrel and wild turkey.  The picture window view is now an impenetrable blackberry wasteland.

The view to the north , is of the newest wind farm project.  Really attractive.  So, the next time you journey to your favorite woodlands; you should be grateful that they are still there.  If you are not careful, your cherished places could become another wasteland; just like NW Randolph County.  Always remember that what once was; can become a used to be, very quickly.

Friday, November 12, 2010

T/C Encore-Sighted In

I disassembled my T/C Encore, tightened and checked everything out.  These are the first 4 shots, after reassembly. This is the actual target at 100 yards and this was shot off of the truck hood. Nothing fancy.

I am quite pleased with this accuracy from a light-weight hunting rifle. This is a 7mm-08 Remington standard contour factory barrel and the gun wears a Burris 3x9 scope.

I have found that this particular barrel tends to open up its' groups after 3 shots.  For my intended use, one shot is all that is needed.  The ammo used was Federal Fusion 140 grain and Federal Premium 140 grain Barnes TSX.  They shoot the same in this gun.  One thing of note for T/C Encores is to make sure that the stock screw and forearm screws are tight.  You can spend allot of money for a good deer hunting rifle.  Ammo prices are outrageous, but the quality of available options has improved significantly in recent years.  Nowadays, I spend most of my money on fuel.  One shot is all that I need.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Getting Ready

I'm starting to think about the upcoming deer firearms season now.  I believe that I will go out tomorrow and make sure my muzzleloader and Encore are hitting where they are supposed to.   I had some scope issues last year and had to put a new Burris 3x9 on my 7mm-08 T/C Encore, at the last minute.  I should be all right, this year.

I was smart in 2010, I bought my ammo, powder,primers and bullets in August.  That gives me one less thing to worry about; with 2 weeks left before opening day.  I have to find a new hunting area for the 2010 season.  My normal area relies on beech production and very little is present.  From what I have seen, the deer didn't do very well last winter in that particular area.  I was over there last week, for several hours and saw a grand total of 2 deer and little sign of anymore.  I get a bad feeling when I walk through the woods and no birds or chipmunks are present.

I'm looking at an area which has really good oak mast this year.  I've never deer hunted in the area before, but it looks promising.  I intend to spend some time in the area, during the next 2 weeks.  Hopefully it will be time well spent.  This may be the first year that I have hunted primarily in Randolph County; since the early eighties.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sinker Ban Sunk

For Immediate Release

Mary Jane Williamson, Communications Director, 703-519-9691, x227

Sportfishing Industry Applauds EPA’s Decision to Reject Lead Ban Petition

America’s anglers triumph over unwarranted petition to ban lead in fishing tackle

Alexandria, VA – November 4, 2010 – The sportfishing community commends the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for its decision to reject a sweeping petition to ban lead in all fishing tackle. The petition, which was submitted on August 3, 2010, by the Center for Biological Diversity and four other groups, requested that EPA ban all lead in all fishing tackle on all U.S. waters. The petition also included a request to ban the use of lead ammunition in the hunting and shooting sports. That part was denied on August 27 because EPA does not have the legal authority to regulate ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Opposition from anglers was strong; over 43,000 anglers sent comments requesting dismissal of the petition to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson through™.

In dismissing the petition, EPA indicated that the “petitioners have not demonstrated that the requested rule is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, as required by the TSCA.” EPA also cited state-specific actions and the increasing education and outreach activities being undertaken, stating that those actions “…call into question whether a national ban on lead in fishing gear would be the least burdensome, adequately protective approach to address the concern, as called for under TSCA.”

“The sportfishing community applauds EPA’s decision,” said American Sportfishing Association (ASA) Vice President Gordon Robertson. “It represents a solid review of the biological facts, as well as the economic and social impacts that would have resulted from such a sweeping federal action. It is a common sense decision.”

Robertson further said, “Increases in the cost of recreational fishing would stop many anglers from enjoying the sport. The resultant decrease in fishing license sales and the federal manufacturers’ excise tax on fishing tackle, which represent the two most important funding sources for fisheries conservation, would be a large setback for fish and wildlife managers and this country’s natural resources.”

“The sportfishing industry is very proud of the fact that America’s anglers were united on this important issue and played a pivotal role in EPA’s decision to reject this unwarranted petition,” noted Robertson. “KeepAmericaFishing™ provides anglers an opportunity to present a strong, coherent voice so that they can express their concerns to decision makers. EPA’s dismissal is without a doubt in direct response to the facts we presented which were soundly supported by our collective comments and input.”

The sportfishing community’s objection to the ban was based on:

The data does not support a federal ban on lead sinkers used for fishing. In general, bird populations, including loons and other waterfowl species, are subject to many more substantial threats such as habitat loss through shoreline development. Any lead restrictions on fishing tackle need to be based on sound science that supports the appropriate action for a particular water body or species.

A federal ban of the use of lead in fishing tackle will have a significant negative impact on recreational anglers and fisheries resources, but a negligible impact on waterfowl populations.

Depending on the alternative metal and current prevailing raw material costs, non-lead fishing tackle products can cost from ten to twenty times more than lead products. Non-lead products may not be as available and most do not perform as well. Mandatory transitioning to non-lead fishing tackle would require significant and costly changes from both the industry and anglers.

America’s 60 million anglers generate over $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy, creating employment for over one million people.

This is not the first time that such a ban has been requested. In 1992 EPA received a similar petition to ban lead fishing tackle and in 1995 the Agency abandoned the proposed rule because there was no threat to bird populations and the economic impact was determined to be significant. In September 2010, legislation was introduced to both chambers of Congress to prevent an overarching federal ban on lead in recreational fishing tackle (S. 3850 and H.R. 6284).

“Even with this decision, ASA will continue to work with legislators and EPA to ensure that future considerations of lead fishing tackle bans are made in response to sound science, not unwarranted petitions,” concluded Robertson. “Aside from the many anglers that spoke up, many organizations and members of Congress deserve thanks for decisively voicing their opinion to EPA.”

To learn more about this issue and to support the voice of the American angler, please visit


The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association, committed to looking out for the interests of the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry a unified voice speaking out when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. We invest in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic and conservation values of sportfishing in America. ASA also represents the interests of America’s 60 million anglers who generate over $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for over one million people.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Indigo Bunting in Winter Plumage

Indigo Bunting 1-16-09
We often encounter interesting things; when we least expect it.  Nobody expects to find a male Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea), in the middle of January.  Definitely, not in the mountains of West Virginia.

I was walking through my yard, filling up the bird feeders, the sun was high and bright.  I walked by a blue junco; several times.  It took a little while to realize that the bright sun or my eyes were not causing a color illusion.

I rushed into the house to get my brand new Nikon D60; which had never even been outside before.  I quickly took several photos, with whatever settings were on the camera at the time.  You have to understand that I never even had the battery in the new camera; before this moment.  I had yet to do anything except try to read the owners manual.

Here is the result of the first digital photo; that I have ever taken.  A once in a lifetime capture of a  male Indigo Bunting; in winter plumage.  The northernmost wintering grounds for this species is southern Florida.
This photo was taken on January 16, 2009, at Norton in Randolph County, West Virginia.

Be observant and be prepared, you never know what opportunities may arise.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Politicians are like 2 dead flies in a bucket of water.  You swirl the bucket, dump it and one comes out.  The other one sticks to the side.  Get out and vote for the lesser of 2 evils; if you can figure out who that may be.

Wildflower of the Month/November-Witch- Hazel

Witch- Hazel
The Witch- Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a common shrub of our region.  It can be found throughout our region at all elevations. Dry soils, wet areas and everything in between; this is not a finicky plant.
The bark and leaves are astringent; the extract, also referred to as witch hazel, is used medicinally. Extracts from its bark and leaves are used in aftershave lotions and lotions for treating bruises and insect bites. Witch-hazel helps to shrink and contract blood vessels back to normal size, hence its use as the active ingredient in many hemorrhoid medications. It is also a common treatment for postnatal tearing of the perineum. The seeds contain a quantity of oil and are edible. It is also used in treating acne.

This late fall flowering shrub often goes unnoticed; until the leaves are gone.  But, makes its presence known as the yellow flowers stand out on our barren landscapes.  I have seen some ornamental varieties; with flowers of oranges and reds.  They could be something interesting in a winter themed landscape; mixed with some of the various winterberries.

During the month of November; take a drive down your favorite country road.  You will soon realize, just how common this late autumn bloomer is.