Saturday, April 25, 2015

Lovely WV

I went to one of my favorite easy dog walking spots today (4/25/15). I hadn't been to this location since early November. Unfortunately, others have apparently been there. I can tell by the sign they left; can you?

Nice, isn't it? All of these photos are from a maybe 15 yard circle and that isn't all of it.Everyone wants to see the pretty pictures.
(c) 2015 High Virginia Outdoors

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Early Season Butterflies

West Virginia White
It was nice to see a small variety of butterflies today. I took the dogs for a walk and didn't bother with carrying the camera; because of the wind. I saw several Eastern Commas, a lone West Virginia White and several of what was most likely Spring Azures.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


I was gone from our area for several years and I couldn’t wait to get back. I dreamed every day of returning to the hardwood forests and the land of trout streams. I would have never come back if I would have known what was going to happen to this region over the next few years. But, that is a different story. I got settled in, joined a local hunting lease and landed a night job so that I would still be able to hit the woods and streams. The first winter I was here they started clear cutting on the lease. I never bothered to go look at it until one hot summer day when there was nothing better to do.
August 19, 1999: Yep, I even wrote it down! My turkey dog Bonnie Blue and I rode up on the lease to look at the new clear-cut. We were riding up the hollow and the first thing I noticed was the way the deer were acting. They were really spooky; which was odd for that time of the year. Nervous would probably be the proper description. I came into the lower end of the clear-cut. The main road went straight through and there was a house sized boulder on the left side of the road. A second road split from the main road about fifty yards from the edge of the clear-cut. This road went between the house sized boulder and a smaller normal sized big rock. It was 2:20pm on s bright sunny day and 80 yards away, sitting on top of the big rock was a full-fledged mountain lion; plain as day in the wide open. Yep, there it was.
The cougar jumped off the rock; 3 feet of tail trailing behind and ran downhill through the very sparse vegetation. We watched it cross the creek and head up the other side of the mountain. My dogs’ hair was standing straight up on her back as we walked towards the rock. We were about thirty feet from the rock and there was fresh scat in the middle of the road. The cat had made a futile attempt to cover it up in the rocky soil. There were claw marks all the way around in a circle. Each claw mark was the size of my ring finger. Definitely not something you would want to get clawed by. No wonder the deer were freaked out on that day.
I have always been one to form my own opinions based on my experiences. I know what I have seen and I still have a pretty good memory. I believe that if you go through life believing that there is no possible way that you might suddenly become face to face with a panther in the eastern mountains; that is entirely up to you. I personally do not care where it was born, either. I see things here every day that wasn’t born here. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. I was talking to someone about the subject just a couple of days ago. He said he’s been running these mountains for 30 years and has never seen or thought he had seen any cougar sign. I asked him if he had ever seen a Nelson’s Sparrow; he got the point.

(c) 2015 High Virginia Outdoors ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This is my article for the April 2015 Issue of Two-Lane Livin

Monday, April 6, 2015

First Trip

I finally made myself go this morning. I knew the waters would be high and swift; so I went to the most un-swift place I know of. I headed to my all-time favorite spot on the Right Fork of Middle Fork. Things were going fine on the way there. A couple of grouse were in the road and I was able to get a nice photo of a Common Merganser pair. Alas. I got to the place I intended to fish; I've fished there since the 70's. Well, guess what. It is in the active process of being made into a major clear-cut.

I headed back downstream to a section of log jams that are always good. There was just too much water. i couldn't get in to the location. If you stayed in the water more than about ten minutes, your legs went numb and you had a hard time walking. Not a good situation. Therefore I had to go to Plan C. I finally found a place where I could stand which was about 2 square feet in size. From that spot I had to cast straight downstream (never good) so you can already tell how difficult it would be to actually hook a fish. I did manage to catch 3, lose 3 and miss 2 from that one spot. I did catch another one further downstream. All and all it wasn't a bad 2 hours. But, it should have been better. Definitely much better than the first 3 times out last year. I do believe that it was the first time I have ever been there in the spring when I did not hear a single turkey gobbling. I guess it is a challenge to find a tree big enough to roost in. I did hear 2 different grouse drumming, they were the first I've heard this year.

(c)2015 High Virginia Outdoors Photo (c) High Virginia Images ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Whitmer Wal-Mart

Gandy Creek (4/2/15)
I did my obligatory drive up Gandy this morning. It was a fairly nice ride until I crossed Lower Two Springs; then it all changed. There was a vehicle in every single wide spot; three if they would almost fit. What a scene it was; unbelievable. It was around 10 am when I got there and they had apparently just stocked. I didn't look; because as I stated earlier, there was nowhere left to park. I only drove as far as Bee Run trail, I didn't need to see anymore. I just rode up the side road there and took the dogs for a walk in the woods.

We returned to the truck at about 12:30 and the mob had partially dissipated by then. We drove downstream and parked at the first free parking spot that we could find. We only messed around the water for about fifteen minutes; at times we could actually see the water; between dust clouds. One would probably be wise to bring along a respirator if they were planning to stay very long. There seemed to be a perpetual cloud of dust caused by the traffic flying up and down the road.

There was a time when I loved to fish this stream; but that was long ago. I used to hit it pretty hard; 2 or 3 evenings a week, from the time I was done with turkey hunting until the stream was pretty much dried up for the summer. I can remember days when the Grannom Caddis hatch was so thick that you had to scrape them off your arms. The river would magically come alive; trout boiled everywhere. I do believe the last time I fished Gandy Creek was probably June of 1985. From what I saw today; I believe I can hold off another thirty years.

I find it hard to believe that anyone could enjoy participating in that mess. To top it off; I never saw one person with a fish!!

(c) 2015 High Virginia Outdoors Photo (c) 2015 High Virginia Images ALL RIGHTS RESERVED