Friday, February 21, 2020

Back In That Saddle...

Lets say I've been a bit busy lately

Between running a couple charity programs for Hurricane Dorian victims and Australian wildfire relief.....and a public land acquisition campaign on the Grande Ronde in SE Washington state, my writing  time has been a bit limited. 

Oh, there's been a few fishing and hunting trips mixed in here and there as well.

I've been doggedly writing this outpost for the better part of 12 years and it's been an amazing tool to connect me to some amazing people and organizations.  Honestly my life wouldn't be the same as it is now without the opportunities that it has brought my way. 

The guys an gals who continue to write on this platform know it's not the cool kid on the block anymore.  It's far easier to drop a post on the "gram" and be done with it.  I'm as guilty of that as anyone

Still I've had the feeling that I'm missing the depth of expression I can pursue here and with that, it's time to get back to it.  Looking back at old posts I can see the changes in my style that allow me to have the voice I'm looking for.   Without the hours I spent banging away on the keyboard over the years on this blog, I never would have gotten there.

And so with that, it's time to get back in the saddle.  May the first couple miles be rough, but we'll be back in shape in no time at all.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

#Dozenfordownunder is LIVE!

In the summer of 2003, fresh out of college I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to live in Australia for 3 months while extending my baseball career in the land down under.

What an experience it was, as I fell in love with the country, the people and just about everything about Australia.  The people were so giving, so helpful and accepting of this big, goofy and loud American boy on an extended international walkabout.  To this day I have close friends there and cant wait to go back someday.

With the knowledge that the Australian continent was under duress from unprecedented fires, it was time to step up and help raise funds to help those in need in my former host country.

Taking the template of the highly successful #dozenfordorian campaign that raised over $42,000 in little over a month for victims of hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas,   anglers and fly tiers have banded together to launch #DOZENFORDOWNUNDER.

With 2 days in the books, we're going to break $4000 raised and it's only going to go up from there.  Close to 60 contributors have reached out to pledge there fly creations, guided trips, artwork, photography and so much more.  I can only anticipate it's going to grow exponentially in the weeks to come.

The program is mostly Instagram based, and while there simply search the tag #dozenfordownunder and you'll find all the offerings available to bid on.

If you want to contribute, host your own mini auction on your instagram page, set a starting bid, and end date and away you go.

All funds will initially go to the Yellow Dog Community and Conservation Fund to start as we'll find the appropriate channels in Australia with input from trusted sources in the fishing community in country that can help the greater good as well as individuals who have had their lives effected and  work in the fishing/guiding industry.

Thanks so much in advance, I hope you can be a part of this amazing community experience!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

A Day of Firsts

Buddy, you're going to work like all the rest of us.

And so began a day of firsts.

First to wake up at 3pm

First to drive through a plowed frozen field, battle through 14 degree temps and brush in his first blind

It was the first time to open a waterfowl trailer, stare at 12 dozen goose decoys and say "whoa"

First to listen to the chatter of the guys as they discussed where the decoys need to go.   Put three over there,  4 over there and 2 to the left.

Drop into truck and warm up for 15 minutes, and then back at it buddy.

First time into the blind, listening to the cacophony of goose calls and the flapping of  the flags trying to draw the  birds in.  Hot apple cider, unlimited snacks and 3 layers of clothes got him through the morning.

First time listening to stories of old hunts, failures and successes.  The building of camaraderie and community.  And yes, you can swear once or twice....I wont tell mom.

The doors flung open and shots rang out as the first "taken em" of the day was called and the big birds dropped from the sky.

First time picking up a still live bird and screaming out, "what do I do dad, what do I do?"

Hold on buddy, hold on.

First to see it go so right, and then to see it go so awry.  You just cant compete with live birds in a field 300 yards away.

Limits are a special thing and today wouldn't be the first day to see that happen.

The first time picking it all up, being an asset to the operation.  12 dozen birds dont collect themselves.

Then as we drove away, I asked my son what he thought of his first goose hunt....

"It was awesome dad,  awesome"

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Wisdom of Chouinard

Well, I have a feeling that I am going to hang onto this book for a long, long time.

Recently I was given the opportunity to review the new Chouinard anthology of writing, teachings, musings and lessons from Patagonia Books, called "Some Stories, Lessons From the Edge of Business and Sport" and without too much hyperbole, it's amazing.

You get to sit sidecar to a life well lived and a business well run from a guy that often says he's the anti businessman.

When going through this book, it often seems that Chouinard has lead three full lives with the adventures that he's been a part of and places he's been...let alone be at the helm of the leading outdoor apparel company Patagonia.  It's apparent that some people function best in action, and I am willing to say that "YC" is one of those people

The articles and content from the pen of Chouinard span decades but the lessons are timeless.

Patagonia's stance on corporate responsibility and impact are central learning points in my life in business.  Their ability to put their real dollars where their mouth is is inspirational at the least,  especially for me in issues like Public Land Protection, Snake River Dam Removal and our world's consumptive culture.

This book isnt leaving my nightstand anytime soon.  Like McGuane's "The Longest Silence", and Mcmillen's "Dry Line Steelhead" it'll stay there as constant reference material and inspiration.

For the outdoors man or woman, put this book under the Christmas Tree.  It's the kind of gift that draws you in, opens your mind and allows you to dream a bit to places beyond and ideals that could change the world for good.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Happy Weight...

You can walk 7 miles with nothing to show for it.

The ground can be devoid of any of your quarry and you can easily question the choice of how to spend your free time.  Should have went fishing....

Then you notice the subtle change in your dogs motions.  Nose to the ground and twitchy, something is up as the pace picks quickens.

Like a rooster in the morning cackling away in the barnyard, the rooster rockets up and the gun and the dog does its job

Bird in hand.

But really, the satisfaction comes as the bird slips into your game vest and that familiar happy weight cozies in for the remainder of the hunt.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Pitfalls Of Asking For Permission...

Finding permission on new ground to hunt on is just pure math.

Knock on enough doors, and your bound to gain some access.   Public ground is amazing, but you  should thank your lucky stars when a landowner is allows you on their ground to hunt.

The other places seem to fall into about 3 categories.  Sometimes you're told no as they prefer to not let folks hunt on their land (insert here story of other yahoo's who've ruined it for you and other hunters forever after).  Next, you often cant find the owner or they're not hom.   Lastly ...I think landowners like to send you on wild goose chases because "they're not sure who owns that ground, why don't you go talk to the Johnson's over that hill to the west."

The Johnson family don't own that land.  They never do.  The first guy owns it....

Then sometimes you just have weird stuff go down on the farmer's doorstep.  Case in point, this past Sunday I had a few hours to go seek out some new pheasant spots near Spokane.   OnX can only tell you so much as you really need to see what the cover is like.  What food is near it?   Does it have water?  Is the cover thick enough?  Where are the hidey holes?    All the questions you need to answer to say that it's likely holding ground for wild ditch parrots.

Rolling along on some out of the way Palouse road,  I found what I was looking for.  Quarter mile later, two houses next to each other on a hill.  Target acquired.

With nobody home on the first door knock, I shifted to house number two.  It seems that these small cluster of homes s are typically all family.  Parents on one side,  son literally next door and so on.  Fingers crossed that I was rolling up the driveway to the parents house and hopefully with some sweet talking and thank yous' I'd be hunting that awesome new draw in no time at all!

I  noticed the "BEWARE OF DOG" yard sign but I blew it off as but a smokescreen to my goal.   The 35 lb white border collie came barreling towards me from the back of the yard barking it's head off.  and all I could say was "it's ok, it's ok"   For some reason,  that calmed the dog and myself down, ever so slightly.

Ring the doorbell and step back, smile and appear as non threatening as possible....

Shuffling and clanging at the door, but finally it opens......

As fast as I've ever seen a dog move it was on me, trying to bite the crap out of my leg.  I stepped back and it's teeth thankfully hit nothing but my boot (thanks Danner!)  At the same moment, the homeowner rained fire down on this disobedient dog with the set of hiking boots in his hand, striking it on the tail end causing the nasty mutt to retreat.

"Get to your car, didn't you see the beware of dog sign?"

"Ahhh, sorry sir...was just looking to be respectful and ask permission to hu...."

"Oh man, I don't own this ground, I'm just renting..."

"You should probably go ask the Johnsons....they're just over the hill"

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Angler Intent, Lies and Idaho Rules Buffoonery....

We were mid float when our cell phones blew up with what we knew was coming.

The mighty Clearwater River in Idaho was to close to steelhead fishing as of October 1st.    It was almost like fishing through a funeral or a wake.  I lost my ambition to really give it my all when Idaho actualized what we all really knew what was happening.....

The steelhead fishery on the Clearwater was and is in a world of hurt.

Then a curious bit of news came out of the closure.  The season for Chinook and Coho would remain open through October 13th.

All anglers on the float collectively rolled their eyes at this detail.  Does Idaho really give a care about the steelhead fishery, or was the closure just optics/political theatre and leaving the Coho fishery open to placate angler opportunity.

My friend Billy said what we were all thinking, alas in jest.

"Guess we'll just have to start "Coho" fishing"

Wink, wink....nod...

And then this happens.

Picture proof real angler intent, lies and Idaho DFG buffoonery.

First, if you have a stock of fish so imperiled that they feel the need to close it's season, then there's no reason that the Coho or Chinook fishery should have stayed open.  Period, end of story.  The short-sighted nature of that decision is without a doubt the craziest part of this whole story, aside of the fact that the closure centered on not having enough hatchery fish returning to make hatchery escapement.  Bi-catch of steelhead was and by the picture above is a certainty.

When another angler alerted me to this picture on Instagram, I really had to calm down before I reacted.  I thought long and hard about what was going on here.

First, what's the anglers intent...

Floating lines, spey rods and hairwings.   If you can bite through my sarcasm, seems like a totally traditional Clearwater Coho set up.

Second if you really believe they're going for Coho....then why post the picture of an accidental bi-catch for everyone to see?

Because it wasn't an accident to catch that fish.   What I really believe is that this angler, along with others I've heard of fishing for "coho" are just using the opening to continue thumbing their collective noses at the majority of the angling public who are following the rules.

And that pisses me off.

The state's wrong here.  Real anglers know it.

These anglers are really in the wrong here.  And deep down, I bet they know it themselves too.

It's a bad look, all around.