The outdoors has special meaning to me. I caught my first fish at age 4 and shot my first duck at age 9. Nearly four decades later I still get excited when I get to spend any time outdoors. A lot has changed during that time but the anticipation and experiences are still similar and just as exciting. It’s a great place to be....Read More
These days I enjoy many different types of hunting. I’m an avid, some might say rabid, waterfowler. I love to bowhunt and have traveled the country doing so for various big game species, although I’m fairly content with Kansas whitetails and turkeys now. And when it’s not hunting season I’m usually fishing. I love to fish for walleye, crappie and channel catfish. I’m at home on the front of my boat on a big reservoir or wading a small Flint Hills stream. It’s all good.
Throw in a recent bout with the trapping bug and decades of camping with family and friends and it’s obvious I have an addiction for the outdoors.
Many of my most memorable outdoor experiences in recent years have centered on those with my children. My 18-year-old daughter and twin 12-year-old boys have been a major part of my outings. Watching their eyes light up as they realize the wonders of Mother Nature and her bounty likely has even more meaning than my own personal satisfaction. Spending quality time with them outdoors carries significant and substantial meaning, no matter what we’re doing.
In this Blog I’ll attempt to relay some of the enjoyment and satisfaction I get from being outdoors. Topics covered will be broad in scope and run the gamut. It’s all fair game. If you can sit at your computer and read a particular entry and it stirs you to try it, or helps make your experience more enjoyable, I will be pleased. And if it does nothing more than make you smile or laugh that too, will please me. The outdoors is truly a great place to be!
Thursday, February 16, 2012
I've tagged along with a couple friends who trapped and couldn't believe how much work it was to set and check a trap line. I was also impressed with the attention to detail and how precise sets had to be and like selling a house trapping was all about location, location, location. Trappers are probably more in tune with their environment than any other outdoorsmen.
But this year the weather cooperated nicely for trapping expeditions and we made it out a half-dozen times. I never set more than 20 traps, mostly targeting raccoons, in one location and usually left them for four or five days. One spot that was extremely productive I trapped for 10 days straight.
This season was incredibly successful, both in time spent outdoors and furbearers trapped. I ended up with 46 raccoons, 16 possums, 11 skunks, 8 beavers, two muskrats, two bobcats and a coyote. The rats and cats were our first-ever. Diversity was enjoyable this year and I had one check with four raccoons, two possums, a skunk, a coyote and a 53 pound beaver.
Five of the eight beavers I trapped were nuisance animals trapped for landowner friends. Three of them came from a pond where they dug bank dens and compromised the integrity of a large watershed dam. When the mid-winter rains came the dam failed and nearly drained the pond as a result of beaver damage.
I ended up making $914 off the sale of my furs. I probably spent a couple hundred bucks on gas and if I added up all the time and work I probably made about .50 cents an hour. It's not really about the money, but rather the outdoor experience and a remote connection to the way things used to be.
The season ended yesterday and I'm already looking forward to next fall.
Monday, February 13, 2012
We met and headed out about 3:30 p.m. A 20 mph brisk north wind dropped the real 30 degree temperature even more, but not enough to keep the wheat field from being a muddy mess. We put out a couple dozen full-bodies and some Canada goose shell decoys and huddled into a make-shift blind of cedar boughs.
But the highlight of the day might have occurred without a shot even being fired. We thought most of the action was over so we decided to put our guns away and pick up a little before sunset. As guns were stowed Craig hollered, "Look at that!"
I looked at my watch and it was 6:03 p.m. We all looked at each other wondering exactly what time legal shooting time was over (I later looked and it was 6:02 p.m.) Despite never having seen a neck collared bird in the decoys we all decided it wouldn't be the cowboy way to shoot him after he landed anyway. We all hoped we'd meet again.
They hunted the rest of the weekend without seeing the neck-collared honker and the season ended Sunday. It's all good and hopefully he survives until next fall. Who knows, maybe he'll show up again and one of us will be ready. I hope so.
Monday, February 6, 2012
One day happened last week. The forecast was for light winds and 60 degrees....something you just don't get much of this time of year. So several friends and I made plans to take a couple boats and head to the lake. As I topped the dam early that morning the lake was ice covered except for the edges. Initially concerned I saw the ice was just skim and I soon found the ramp to be open.
I launched ahead of my buddies in the other boat and made my way to the main lake. I dropped a couple rods tipped with jigs down and within 30 seconds had the first crappie flopping at the surface. I thought to myself this might be a magical day. We had 9 or 10 in the livewell before my buddies arrived.
But the big winner for the day was the weather. I don't know that the wind ever blew more than 5 mph. The sun finally popped out for good late morning and fishing in just a sweatshirt was perfectly comfortable. We said time and time again we couldn't believe how nice the weather was and we were blessed.
I'll take more just like it any time ol' Mother Nature wants to throw us a bone. Maybe she's trying to make up for 50-some days over 100 degrees last summer. If that's the case she owes us a few more. Bring it.