Sunday, April 15, 2012


The stars are bright, the air is cold. You stand on a ridge; awaiting daylight. There is silence on the mountain; your mind wanders. Is this frost, or just real cold dew? Stillness, a shiver; a shooting star lights up the sky. In the distance, a barred owl breaks the quiet; who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all. Another one answers from the hollow below. The woods begin to awaken; songbirds tweet and twitter all around. Thinking you heard a distant gobble; you turn to the west, nothing. Geese arise from a distant pond, honking noisily. You think that this racket should make a turkey gobble; as the geese fly over. Silence from the turkeys.
The first flock of crows sounds off and there it is, a gobble; from the hollow below. How far is he? You wait. He gobbles twice more and you now have his roost site pinpointed. You head down the ridgeline, as quickly and quietly as possible. He hasn’t gobbled in a while; you stop and wait. What seems like an eternity in reality is about 5 minutes and he sounds off once more. You think that he is about three hundred yards further down, roosted in a little cove. You find your favorite diaphragm call and place it in your mouth; to loosen it up. The head net and gloves are next; as you travel on.
The woods are getting lighter by the minute and you have closed the distance by half, all is good. Then it happens; deer, those dreaded deer. Four explode from a spicebush thicket; blowing and snorting. They head right through the little cove that the gobbler has roosted in. Dejected, you trudge on and set up on a little flat above the cove. Silence and more silence. You make a few soft tree calls; nothing. The sun has risen, you wait. One minute seems like an hour. Then, you think that you may have just heard a turkey fly down from its roost. You think; but you’re not sure. You make a short fly-down cackle and wait. Nothing. You patiently sit and whatever you are sitting on; seems to be getting bigger and more uncomfortable by the minute. A shrew is determined to go up your leg. You grow impatient and try a series of yelps. Wait ten minutes and do it again. Eight o’clock nears; the gobbler has not announced his presence.
Your legs are asleep and your butt is numb. You think; one more try and I’ll go. You do a loud series of cuts and a gobbler sounds off from the next ridge over. He gobbles again and is headed down the ridge. You need to go down the hollow and get in front of him. Hastily, just gather up all of your junk. You stand and take three steps and there he is the one you’ve been waiting for all morning. He has just ventured out of his little cove and come up on the flat. He takes one step and sails down the mountain. Gone.
What happened; you may ask. Nothing, this is a normal scenario played out morning after morning in the spring turkey woods. You need to remember that the turkeys are just being turkeys; they go about their normal routines and are in no hurry to do so. They sure aren’t bothered by deer. We are the impatient humans. Be patient and be successful.

This article first appeared in Two-Lane Livin

(c) 2011 by High Virginia Outdoors  Photo by High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hello Hendricksons !!

I had a few minutes to check out one of my new favorite spots on Horseshoe Run this afternoon (4-2-12).  I was still about 30 yards from stream side, trying to keep 2 beagles going in the same direction; when I noticed there was a hatch in progress. A good hatch, too.  Flies were thick above the stream and I was expecting to find some type of caddis.  After I finally got the dogs tethered and under control; I was able to get closer to the water. Much to my surprise, it was a Hendrickson hatch!

The Hendrickson (Ephemerella subvaria) is the earliest of our major mayfly hatches. This was the most intense hatch that I have ever witnessed of this species.  During the normal Spring season in our area these mayflies hatch in mid-April, among the snowflakes. I usually see a few on Glady Fork during April. It was around 2:15 when I arrived and I stayed until about 2:50. The activity never slowed and it was heavy enough that you had to be careful of one flying into your mouth. I did have  to carefully control the involuntary mosquito swat that you have when something is crawling on your arm. There were also a few Quill Gordons (Epeorus pleuralis) in the mix. This did not appear to be the first day of the hatch; I saw a few clear-winged spinners.

I was not prepared to fish this occurrence, I didn’t have enough time to spare.  I did see a couple of trout actively feeding in the pool.  Flies that are often used to fish this hatch include the Light Hendrickson, Dark Hendrickson, Red Quill and Rusty Spinner.  You can bet that I will be over there the first opportunity that I have to get away for a couple of hours this week. It will sure be nice fishing dry flies for rising trout in West Virginia during the month of April. I can’t wait !

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors    Photos by High Virginia Images (c) 2012 All Rights Reserved

First Morels

I picked my first morels of the season today. They emerged in my yard on March 24; the asparagus popped up on the same day. I will have enough of both for a meal this evening. I'm letting the asparagus grow a little more today; before tonight's' frost. Someone actually took three of my morels which were visible from the road; yesterday. That was a first for me.

It is now time to scour the hillsides in search of the elusive fungi. Most searches result in more exercise than mushrooms, but that is a good thing. I don't know about you, but I tend to find the most morels in association with ash trees. Good Luck !!

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors Photo by High Virginia Images (c) 2012 All Rights Reserved