Monday, January 27, 2014

Today's weather

January 27, 2014
10:10 pm
Air temp   -24 F.
Windchill   -43 F.

 No outdoor grilling for a while and the wrens are about four months distant.  At the current moment in time, one cannot help but ask one's self if one is nuts for living here. Perhaps. One will ask one's self the same question again next week at this time, unless one has gone truly insane by then. In which case, one will have one's answer.  Yikes!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

T-19 days and counting

Less than three weeks remain now until the trip to the Olympic Peninsula becomes reality.
No words here to describe the anticipation.
  for the change of scene
    for the green water
      for the rainforest giants
        for the silver fish
          the boys in the band
             and to drift the gaudy flies in a liquid river.

Monday, January 20, 2014

On the ice again

Sunday was a short break in the weather. Twenty seven degrees and a bit of low pressure spurred the ice fishing lust. Crappies and sunfish for the table and perhaps some hoarding if the gods allowed. Two holes were drilled. One at 13 feet and one at 17 feet. Prime numbers.

A little 1/16 oz. jig and a micro power grub should work. No bites after fifteen minutes. Brother Fife receives a call on the cellular. He is relaxing at home, revealing in the fact that there is no snow removal required this day. The Piscator could use some JuJu. His spirit higher than last we spoke, Fife conjures some stink and gives me  gridiron play off stats. Broncos ahead. Down goes the bobber and communication is terminated as a long fight ensues on four pound test for thirty inches of pike. Food procured. Mighty nice.

Two minutes later and another pike has taken the panfish bait. This one a beast. Seven minutes of back and forth on a miniature spinning outfit. A serious green gator shows its snout beneath the hole. A fleeting view of a skull that looks as wide as the eight inch hole. Down again it runs away from the ice and the annoying pressure from above. At twelve minutes into the contest, the fish is near the underside of the ice. And as its head touches............. unpinned.

The Piscator looked at his dogs and commented "Well shit, Henn - better call Fife back and thank him for the Juju!"

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Steelhead Lust Rising

                                                        Toward the west..................

Friday, January 10, 2014


The dawn brings three positive degrees
climbing briskly upward
Relief from the rigors of the polar vortex
that tried body and soul so fiercely
Comes now the moist Pacific air
With a breath of remembered softness
Covering all with hoar

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2013 Rewind #2

I had not used trail cameras before the year just past.  The original and primary intention for getting a trail camera was to try identifying the trespassers with whom I played a frustrating game of cat and mouse during most of January. I never got a readable shot of their license plates, although I had their truck pegged in short order. An exact ID was never confirmed, but once those boys figured out that Big Brother was watching, the game ended rather quickly.  No confrontation, no tense words, no Sheriff. Problem solved. Good usage of the trail cam.

The secondary intention was to see what might lurk around the Digs. Seeing tracks and scat of our woodland neighbors for all these years, with the occasional fleeting glimpse is great, but Capture Cam Portraits are too cool!
 Zippy the mystery thing - quite few of these fox, coon perhaps?
 Canis, lupis - the real deal!
 Looks like a lynx - too tall for bobcat.
The buck I did not shoot.

The cameras have been down since winter arrived, but now that the Polar Vortex has wobbled back north, I'll  be looking for critters again. Who knows what's out there....................

Bigfoot ? And his dog ?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

It's not easy

The webpage indicated that the temperature was minus 32 degrees this morning when I rolled out of bed to greet another dark winter morning. Walking the dogs down the forest trails as an eye opener wasn't even a consideration. "Out you go boys, do your thing, and for the love of Mike don't decide to take a hike!"  They were at the back door looking for their breakfast in about two minutes. Sucking down my morning coffee, I wondered just how in the hell any living thing might make it through this punishing weather that we have been experiencing. It is brutal out there.

A few years back, there was a ruffed grouse that lived within 200 feet of our house for the entire winter. We watched its comings and goings daily.  I decided fairly soon that I did not want to come back as a ruffed grouse, if the opportunity to dance again on this planet ever becomes reality. What a drag.

That particular winter was one of the open variety that we experienced in the early two thousands - dry, relatively warm, only a couple stints of below zero weather and little snow - not enough for a grouse to roost in.  It was also a year when the ornamental crab apple tree outside the office window was loaded to the max with red fruit. That tree was a feast for several critters for most of the winter, including the grouse. So here's what it was like to live that grousely life:

Rise about a half hour after first light and fly 50 feet from mature white spruce roost into apple tree. Consume whole, frozen crab apples (perhaps a dozen) and sit around for about ten minutes while either your guts freeze or the apples thaw. Fly down from apple tree and walk about 50-100 feet in the opposite direction from the roost tree. Take a shit. Fly back to roost tree and the exact branch that you just vacated a few minutes before. Puff out feathers until you resemble a perfect sphere with a beaked knob on top and then zone out into some gallinaceous Om for the remainder of the day. Repeat the process at about a half hour before the daylight fades to black and then again sit as a monk throughout the long, dark winter night.
That was the routine for three and a half months!
Then in mid March, poof it was gone - off to honor its newly raging reproductive hormones.

This afternoon just before sunset the mercury had climbed to minus nine degrees, so off I went with the dogs for the evening walkabout down the packed trails that cover the fourteen inches of snow that lie on the floor of the woods. Only a few minutes into the old familiar trek, the Youngster started to cast about like he was onto a bird, and sure enough, up went a little grouse. It blew out of the snow right in his face, corkscrewing slowly skyward like some confused giant hummingbird, before it getting its bearings and rocketing over my head to zoom away. The two other dogs immediately got into the act and within a few seconds another bird, this one a giant, blew out of its snow roost and zipped off in the opposite direction. After a few good "atta boys", I was again thinking about the existence of a grouse in winter.

Snow roost or tree roost?  Either way it seems pretty harsh.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Rewind #1

I used to eat a lot of Rock Bass when I first left the City and moved upnorth for real. Considered low on the list of desirable aquatic table fare, I really didn't care- if it weren't for the rockies, I would truly have been a starving artist at times, during those olden days. They were always willing to bite when nothing else would, so they provided a lot of free protein. Now, some thirty years on, I still have a soft spot for catching a few of these thick golden panfish each year. They don't go in the frying pan anymore however, rather they bring back memories of  much less cluttered days that at once seems like both a lifetime ago and yesterday's passing breeze. I still fish for them at least once a year, deliberately looking for the elusive state record - 2.0 lbs and/or 13.5 inches.They continue to live in the old places that I used to find them because......well.....  nobody eats them.

So looking back on the year past, what wild things went down the old fellow's gullet ?

Fish:                                        Berries:
Crappie                                    Strawberry
Bluegill                                     Juneberry (service berry or Saskatoon)
Northern Pike                           Raspberry
Walleye                                    Thimbleberry
Brown Trout                              Blueberry
Brook Trout                              Blackberry
Lake Trout
Coho Salmon                           Nuts:
Sockeye Salmon                       Black Walnut
Ruffed Grouse                            Big Game:
Mallard                                      Whitetail Deer
Ringneck Duck                           Elk

Fungi:                                        Greens:
Puffball                                       Fiddleheads
Gem Studded Puffball                 Sting Nettles
Chicken of the Woods                 Ramps
King Bolete
Chanterelle                                Grains:
Oyster Mushroom                      Wild Rice
Wine cap

Pretty fair variety there, but the list looks a little skinny in the bird and big game departments, and there are definitely more fungi and greens to forage for in the coming year. Perhaps a few rabbits, some squirrels. Pheasants, definitely. Turkey? Snipe, Sharptails? How about a buffalo....................... Hello 2014