Tag Archives: Arizona Wanderings

GOING DUTCH – THE BACKCOUNTRY JOURNAL

Ben Smith from Arizona Wanderings recently launched an online literary venture that’s dedicated to the outdoorsman and committed to excellence in writing– The Backcountry Journal. Since it’s inception, the site has already featured stories from Andy Wayment (contributor to Upland Equations), Erin Block (Mysteries Internal) and Ben as well. I’m pleased to say that I’m now included on that list.

When you have a minute, head over to The Backcountry Journal and check out my contribution – GOING DUTCH.

I bought a train ticket and boarded at Den Haag Centrum at 6:21 a.m. for a twenty-two minute ride to Rotterdam, catching a subway at Rotterdam Centrum bound for Spijkenisse. In my journal I scratched notes in hopes of capturing small knots I could untangle in poems at some later point…

Walking out of the train station doors at Spijkenisse, I spotted Harry leaning on his matchbox-sized red Opel in the short-term parking area across the street. Given the fact that I was the only passenger in the tiny, rural terminal, arriving or departing, there was no scanning the crowd to figure out who each other might be. My gear bag and rod tube might have been a giveaway as well. He met me half way with a handshake. The rainbows, they should be hungry today.

Read on…

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Filed under Fatherhood and venison jerkey, On the water, The road

TRACKING DAD’S DEER

I had just walked back from my stand to the truck to meet the kids. Dressed in sweatshirts, jeans, muck boots and still sporting bed-head, they were ready to get into the woods and help track my deer.

Cam: Dad! You got a buck?

Jonah: Where is he?

Cam: Man, I can’t wait to see him. Is he big?

Bird: How many points, dad?

Three kids, my pack, bow and towing a trailer, I drove the golf cart toward to northwest corner of the course behind the 15th tee. Two days rain had given way to a thin, overcast mid-morning sky, as we made our soggy way between pines and locust trees, steering clear of greens, fairways and bunkers. As we passed a couple pairs of golfers and one foursome, the kids waved, drawing smiles and waves in return.

My in-laws own a public golf course with a good patch of hunting woods behind it. On morning hunts, I walk the dark quarter-mile from the clubhouse where I park my truck to the back corner where I drop into the woods and pick my way to my tree stand. I’m usually settled in and having my first cup of thermos coffee by 5:30, listening blindly to the ink woods around me.

The walk in always takes me back to my first few seasons as a bow hunter. After dad and I would part ways from the tailgate with a good luck and shoot straight, it would take me forever to walk the forty yards to my stand in the dark. The inability to make out my path forward, and the nagging thought that some sort of dangerous, nocturnal, Upstate-NY animal had to be right in front of me was paralyzing. First light would’ve just barely arrived and I’d still be 15 yards from my tree. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to unwind that overactive imagination in the years since.

Dad and I have talked about how the sound of the woods changes as shooting-light creeps in. We’re always surprised at how the light itself arrives imperceptibly, until we blink a few times and suddenly the shades of gray have picked up more contrast. Trees start to stand apart from the thorn-brush, swale and each other. Everything has gathered faint color.

This is when the sound changes. With sight, our inadequate human hearing shifts its intent from the close sounds of potential danger to the comfortable universe of sunrise. The constant re-balancing of our survival-instinct. Of course, while our survival-instinct and the deeper biological/anthropological importance of our senses are cool things to ponder, my dad and I also agree that the dark before the dawn is also a great time to catch a few more Z’s.

As we headed into the woods, the kids knew that being quiet is part of the deal. I brought the boys with me and my dad to track a doe of mine last year— my daughter electing to pass on the festivities. It was their first time following a blood trail and like young hound-dogs after a scent, their 7 and 5 year old enthusiasm would not be contained. This year was different. All three walked with me, talking in hushed voices, trying their best to pick quiet steps, keeping their eyes peeled for more deer, shush-ing each other every now and again.

I pointed out my stand. Awesome. We crossed the creek below my tree and picked our way to the rotted blow-down, 21 yards away, where the buck last stood before I let go of my arrow. I pointed out the first drops of blood and the direction that I had watched the buck bolt and all three immediately went into sleuth-mode.

While I kept an eye out for the deer, they strung together the path of blood drops like one of their dot-to-dot coloring book puzzles. Not long into the search, Bird found the arrow. When we got to the swampy, tall swale (not wanting my half-pint help blindly leading the charge into the thick stuff) they filed in behind me. Four steps in I spotted him and the high-fives and hollering commenced.

After the kids were satisfied with the feel of his hair, hooves, antlers and where the arrow went in and came out, I rolled up my sleeves for the work at hand. They pointed out the liver, intestines and pinched their noses at the stomach-full of grass and corn which smelled like dairy farm silage. I showed them the heart and where the arrow passed through both lungs. Cam offered his approval. Yea, he’s not going far without those, right dad? Shades of conversations I’d had– still have– with my dad in the field.

Back at the truck, I poured another cup of coffee and stood, quietly appreciating the beauty and good fortune of the morning–Bird, Cam and Jonah proudly recounting the details of tracking dad’s deer to each other, their cousins, grandparents, my friend Grant and any golfers who happened to be near.

There’s not much in this world that’s better for my soul than that.

Posing with the buck

 

Photo credit: Grant Taylor

–This is my submission for the Sportsman Channel Writing Contest for Hunters hosted by the Outdoor Blogger Network.

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Filed under Fatherhood and venison jerkey, In the woods

FOR THOSE FOLLOWING ALONG AT HOME

Two years have now officially passed since my first blog post.

It’s been a great ride so far, and I consider myself fortunate to have the modest audience I do. I’m also fortunate to have met–in real life–a couple dozen people I’ve connected with through the blog and social media circles, including other writers, photographers, industry players and good folks who just love to fish and hunt.

I don’t have any sort of giveaway to commemorate the occasion. What I do have is a list of other outdoor writers that I read and admire greatly. While this doesn’t cover every blog or writer I read, these are the ones I drop in on most frequently.

40 Rivers to Freedom – Alex Cerveniak just recently moved back to his native Michigan from central NY and has taken his writing with him. I’ve enjoyed his stream and field reports, opinion pieces and photography for a while now, but he’s found a really strong stride since returning home.

Fishing Jones – There are people who say they travel everywhere with a fly rod, and then there’s Pete McDonald who catches bass out of an airport pond before he heads for security check-in. He’s got a knack for packing a lot into a short post and also just published a beautiful book of essays and photography with Tosh Brown.

Mouthful of Feathers – I can’t help but wish I lived out west with a bird dog and a few bird-hunting comrades when I read the shorts that these six guys write. The stories are unflinching and well crafted. The imagery is as big as the country they turn their dogs loose on.

Fat Guy Fly Fishing – The trio of Alex Landeen, Aaron Dennett and Kyle Deneen dish up healthy portions of snarky opinion, fat bass pics and epic reports from events like Carp Slam and Wrinkleneck 22. You’re just going to have to see for yourself.

LO FI FLY – Probably my favorite recent find. The Unicorn Wrangler fishes with good buds in Canadian big fish locales and posts solid pics, video and write-ups. Plus he dredges up some ill (yea, I said ill) old-skool (and new-skool) lo-fi photos and videos that have nothing to do with fishing or the outdoors, and has singlehandedly made cussing a formal element of creative writing. Dig it.

Mysteries Internal – Erin Block is translating solitude and a life lived simply into a beautiful, ongoing conversation between herself and the world around her. Her stories and anecdotes about fishing and life move with an ease and poesy that remind me of why I was so drawn to writing in the first place: it forces you to slow down and pay attention.

Arizona Wanderings – Ben Smith spends a lot of time outdoors, and not just in Arizona. He fly fishes small Arizona and Adirondack mountain streams and big Alaskan and PacNW rivers. He hunts javelina and mule deer with a recurve. He hunts birds. He ties a mean hopper pattern. And he puts up great reports from his wandering.

fishbeer – Reading Matt Dunn’s blog is like skiing a new mountain in the dark. One moment you’ll be bombing along, adrenaline wide open and hollering, and the next you’ll be flat on your back spitting out bark and your fronts. His mind works in ways I wish mine would, and his writing is in lock-step.

Hunt Ducks, Hook Fish – Pete Thrubis is another dude that spends a lot of time outdoors, and has been known to park his truck with duck/bass boat in-tow in the parking lot at work. His no-frills, Michigan blue-collar voice tells a great story regardless of season, quarry or success. And his appreciation for that time outdoors always carries some good perspective.

The Fiberglass Manifesto – I know this one might go without saying, but I’m saying it. While TFM is a site that explores the Glass Lifestyle, Cameron has established a mainstream daily resource for new gear reviews, industry news, and promoting the sport of fly fishing as a whole. While I may not tune-in to every custom rod build report, I do look forward to fishing some glass in the near future.

Bonefish on the Brain – I’m not sure how he does it, but Bjorn Stromsness drops a post every day about his beloved bonefish or places to fish for his beloved bonefish or small island shacks he dreams of inhabiting so he could chase his beloved bonefish full-time. I’m just about convinced that I need to find some salt soon.

The Outdooress – Rebecca Garlock has been a tad busy, what with starting the Outdoor Blogger Network, running around the Oregon countryside for salmon and chasing browns on River X with yours truly. Thankfully, I have her word that she’s about to play some serious catch-up on her stable of stories. I’m looking forward to some more humor and big fish pics.

 

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Filed under In the woods, On the water