Category Archives: Fishing Ramblings – My Fishing Blog

Random thoughts and musings about fishing

Bluebird Nests

I have two bluebird nests in my back yard, and two at the land I own. Bluebirds have been busy building nests in all four of them the past few weeks and I think the females will lay eggs soon. I have enjoyed watching the pairs of birds working back and forth constantly this spring.

It is amazing how bright blue the male bird is this time of year. It brightens up to attract a mate in early spring and will keep the deep blue color for a few weeks, gradually fading to a lighter color as the summer progresses.

I have also enjoyed watching the Canada geese on my two small ponds. I build nesting platforms from them, making a small raft for them to nest on. A female is hard on the nest, not leaving very much at all, on one of the ponds, a good sign she has started laying eggs. A pair on the other pond have not started laying eggs yet.

About a month ago nine geese moved onto the bigger pond. They would fight and honk at each other constantly, trying to establish dominance. Finally one pair ran the others off and claimed that pond as their own nesting site. One lone goose went to the upper pond and stayed there, and the other six left for parts unknown.

That single goose stayed around by itself for a few weeks and now it has gone. As soon as it left, a new pair moved in. I hope both pairs are able to raise some young this year.

Pay attention to the birds around you this spring. They are entertaining as well as educational.

Renew Your Fishing License

For years, Georgia fishing and hunting licenses expired on April 1 each year. Now, they expire on the day you bought them a year later if you buy an annual license. That confuses many folks and they forget to check and renew them on time, risking a fine.

April Fools Day always reminds me to check my license since I had to buy one by then for many years. I did this year, it expires in 2216. I got my lifetime Senior License a few years ago but forget that and check anyway. I just wish I could be fishing 197 years from now when it expires, and I would have to renew it.

I never minded paying for hunting and fishing licenses. The fees are used to improve those activities in a variety of ways, from hiring new game wardens to funding hatcheries that produce all our hybrids and most of our trout.

My only worry about the fees is that they will not be used as intended. As I understand the process, the license fees go into the general fund and then legislators have to approve it being spent at intended. It would be too easy for them to spend that money in other ways.

I would not be happy if they voted to use the money for something like highway improvement. Not only would that be double taxation, hunters and fishermen already pay the gas tax for that, it would go against the way the money was intended to be spent.

I feel the same way about outdoor recreation that has nothing to do with hunting and fishing. Funding a nature trail on public land is nice, but do not use money hunters and fishermen paid to improve their sports. Use money from a fee or pass for using the area if not hunting or fishing.

Hunters and fishermen fund our sports nationally, too. The Dingle-Johnson Act places a ten percent excise tax on all fishing equipment. You pay it when you buy hooks or reels, or anything else related. Hunters pay the Pitman-Robinson excise tax for the same reason.

Funds are collected by the federal government and most of it is sent back to the states as block grants. The amount each state gets is based on a formula that includes number of hunting and fishing licenses issued by that state. It also requires that the receiving state spend all their state hunting and fishing license fees on those activities.

States are required to spend this money on hunting and fishing, but all outdoorsmen benefit. Most state hunting areas are open to bird watchers, hikers and others that do not hunt but get to enjoy lands hunters and fishermen purchased and conserved.

Check you fishing and hunting license!

Why Do You Camp?

I have always loved camping. From “camping out” in lawn chairs and sleeping bags in our back yard a few feet from the house to trips to Clarks Hill with the family setting up a big Army Surplus tent, I enjoyed my time outside.

When I started bass fishing, I camped in tents at lakes the night before a tournament. Then I bought a cargo van in 1977 and fixed it up with a bed and used it. Two more vans took me to the lake many times, each one converted a little better for my needs, until last March.

My old back finally convinced me I wanted to be able to stand up to get dressed, so I got a slide in pickup camper. It takes a little more work loading and setting up at the lake, but it is a lot more comfortable once that is done.

Last weekend I camped in it at Lakepoint
State Park on Lake Eufaula for five nights for the Potato Creek Bassmasters tournament there. When making reservations, I went to their web page to make sure there was no tornado damage. It hit the airport about five miles from the campground, destroying hangers and planes, but did not damage the park.

Modern “campers” amaze me. On the website comments about the campground proved people do not want to camp to enjoy the outdoors. I am not sure why they even go. They could stay home and do the same thing they do in the campground.

The oddest comment was about alligators. There are big signs in the campground warning “Alligators Present, Swim at Own Risk” and there are usually several in the water late in the afternoon.

One person complained in their comment that there were alligators at the campground but the park ranger did nothing about them. I’m not sure what they were supposed to do, the lake is full of them and they are wild animals, moving wherever they want in their natural environment.

Another person complained there were puddles in the campground after it rained. Duh. I guess those folks wanted a nice huge paved area like a Walmart parking lot, sloped so the water runs to drains. Get rid of all the trees and dirt so nothing natural, like a puddle, is possible.

Over the weekend the sites filled, many with families with children. I think this past week was spring break there. All the kids brought their toys, riding scooters, playing basketball and having faces buried in electronic gadgets. The same thing the probably do at home.

One of the first things many of the folks did was put out their TV satellite antennae and set up their big screen Tv. If you are going to sit inside and watch TV, why pay for a campsite? I like being away from TV and all the other day to day distractions at home. It is nice to hear no news for several days for me.

At their age I would have been fishing every minute I could. That is one thing I loved about camping at the lake, all that water so close by and I just knew it was full of fish.

I still love camping, sitting by the picnic table first thing in the morning drinking coffee, then going fishing. After coming in, grilling and sitting outside is a big part of it, enjoying the peace and quiet of the great outdoors. But sometimes that is destroyed by all the noise of camper air conditioners, TVs blaring, and other non-natural sounds.

Stormy Weather

Thank goodness the guessed at stormy weather did not appear while we fished at Sinclair last Sunday. Just the thought of being on the lake in a lightning storm and memories of past experiences made me shiver. But I didn’t have to hide from them.

Two of my worst experiences were back in the 1970s. One June, Bobby Jean Pierce and I went to Bartletts Ferry several days before a tournament to practice. We camped at a marina near the dam but wanted to explore up the Chattahoochee River

Back then, the river channel was not marked, and dangerous big mud flats were unknown to most fishermen. We spent some time working our way up the river, learning how to run it. And we caught fish. They were unpressured since few bass fishermen went up there.

One muggy, cloudy afternoon we were fishing near the mouth of a small creek. It was very hot and still. Suddenly, without warning, lightning cracked nearby. We thought about running the 20 minutes back to camp, but we were afraid to try it in the wind and pouring rain that immediately started.

We eased into the creek that was about five feet deep and 30 feet wide and had overhanging trees. We thought the lightning would surely hit the trees, not us, back in there. I sat up front running the trolling motor, keeping the boat in one place since the wind tried to push us out of the creek.

After a half hour I noticed the boat was not moving. When I looked down, there was several inches of water in the bottom of the boat. The rain had filled it up so much the weight had pushed the big motor into the bottom, anchoring us.

Finally, about an hour later, the storm moved off.
We managed to pump the water out, crank up and get back to camp just before dark. That was a miserable 90 minutes, sitting in the boat hunched over and jumping every time the lighting cracked around us.

The second time I was at Jackson on an August Friday afternoon, getting ready for a tournament the next night. It was just me and my dog Merlin this time. After putting in at Kerseys in the middle of the afternoon, I had found some fish biting on a point up Tussahaw Creek, but I wanted more than one place to fish.

About an hour before dark I ran to the dam to fish a point right beside it. The afternoon had been hot and muggy with thick clouds, but no rain fell. I guess those conditions should have warned me.

A little before dark wind started howling over the dam and rain started coming down in the proverbial sheets, blowing over the dam like a waterfall in reverse. Within seconds lightning started. There was no flash then a pause before the thunder. There would be a flash – crack – boom all together, indicating the lighting was on top of me.

Back then there was no buoy line at the dam, so I eased the boat right against the concrete. It rose 20 feet over me and I thought the metal railing and walkway on top of the dam would protect me like a lightning rod.

I put the front of the boat on the rocks and got down in the driver’s seat, wanting to be as low as possible. Merlin had the same idea. She huddled under the console at my feet. I wanted to join her!

We sat like that over an hour, twitching every time the lightning popped. Finally, about an hour after dark, the storm moved off and we went back to the ramp and headed home. Another miserable night!

Sad News in the Fishing World

from Lowrance

Darrell J. Lowrance: 1938 – 2019

We are deeply saddened to share news of the passing of Darrell J. Lowrance, founder of the Lowrance brand.

Darrell served as President and CEO of Lowrance Electronics from 1964 to 2006, and was responsible for many breakthroughs in the industry.

In addition to inventing the first recreational sonar product for anglers, the Fish-Lo-K-Tor — known fondly as the “Little Green Box”, he led the development of the first graph recorder, the first integrated sonar/GPS unit, and many others. These innovations form the foundation of today’s Lowrance products and vision.

The first commercial depthfinder from Lowrance

As a leader in the fishing and marine community, Darrell was a member of the Board of Directors for AFTMA (American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association – later to become the American Sport fishing Association) from 1978-1986, and again in 1988. He was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2013.

“With his passing, the world has lost a great man and a true visionary,” said Leif Ottosson, Navico CEO. “Darrell’s passion for fishing, design, and his dedication to driving the marine electronics industry forward led to innovative ideas and products that have shaped the fishing experiences for millions of anglers globally during the past 60 years.”

In memory of Darrell’s work, many of the competitors at the Knoxville Bassmaster Classic last weekend wore commemorative blue ribbons during Sunday’s final weigh-in.

We mourn this loss and we offer our sincere condolences to Darrell’s wife, Kathleen, and to his family.

Team Lowrance

Bald Eagles

When you see a bald eagle soaring overhead, floating on the air like it is weightless, you can see why it is a symbol of our nation. The bald eagle is an impressive bird, looking strong and in charge of everything in its world. The dark brown body and stark white head contrast vividly against the sky that holds it.

I will never forget the first time I saw a bald eagle. I was fishing at Lake Oconee and followed it for about 15 minutes as it soared over Double Branches. Several other boats stopped and also idled along, watching it as it hunted for fish in the lake.

While I was growing up there were no bald eagles in the east Georgia area around McDuffie County. I spotted a few like the one at Oconee while fishing area lakes in the late 1980s and they have gotten more numerous since then.

During the 1970s there were no active bald eagle nests in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. They have made a gradual comeback since 1979 when the DNR started “hacking” or releasing young captive birds on the coastal islands of Georgia. They have spread to the extent that last year nests were found in 35 different counties in the state.

During the 2003/04 nesting season the DNR found a total of 84 occupied eagle territories across Georgia and there were 67 successful nests in them. Those nests produced a total of 104 young eagles. That is an increase of 4 successful nests and 7 more young eagles than the year before.

Bald eagles are some of our biggest birds, reaching a huge size. They can be 40 inches tall and have a wingspread of 7.5 feet. They probably mate for life and produce only one or two young each year.

Eagle nests are amazing. They are usually built in tall dead trees on or near the water and eagles will use them year after year. Some eagle nests are huge, getting up to 5 feet wide, 12 feet tall and weigh up to 1000 pounds. They are made out of sticks and really stand out in a tree out on the lake.

Although eagles will eat waterfowl and carrion, their main food is fish they catch out of lakes, rivers and the ocean. It is amazing to watch one soar high about the water and suddenly swoop down with talons outstretched, plucking a fish out of the surface of the water. It is surprising how big a fish the eagle can grab and fly away with, heading to a perch to eat it at its leisure.

The most eagles I have ever seen at one time as on a trip to Pamlico Sound on the coast of North Carolina. We went into a big swampy area off a river and there were a lot of dead trees standing in it. Almost every tree had a eagle nest in it. There were probably 20 nests with pairs of eagles flying around, catching fish and taking them to their young.

Ospreys are often mistaken for eagles. They live in the same areas, build similar nests and fish for food. Ospreys are smaller than eagles and are lighter in color. They breasts are speckle white and brown, unlike the dark brown breast of eagles. They are more common that eagles and you are more likely to see them on area lakes. If you are looking at a big bird from below it, and it has a light colored breast, it is an osprey, not an eagle.

Eagles face a new threat. Last year several dead eagles were found around Clark’s Hill lake and it was determined they died from Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy(AVM), a disease that attacks the nervous system of eagles and coots. Coots that are infected are sometimes eaten by eagles and they seem to get the disease from them. Not much is known about AVM and there is nothing that can be done about it at this time.

Eagles were sacred birds to Native Americans and there are a lot of myths and tall tales about eagles from our history. I hope their populations continue to grow and everyone has a chance to stand in awe as a bald eagle soars by.

Sitting On A Deer Stand Remembering

Sitting on a deer stand on Thanksgiving Day is always bittersweet for me. I enjoy all the usual things, watching squirrels and birds, checking out the trees as leaves fall, contemplating life and the anticipation of seeing a deer. If I happen to kill one for the freezer it is like the cherry on top of an ice cream Sunday. The whole thing is good without the cherry, but the cherry definitely adds something.

The bittersweet part is thinking about past Thanksgivings. As far back as I can remember Thanksgiving involved hunting. First with my daddy, following our dogs looking for quail. Later, after daddy got rid of our dogs and stopped hunting quail, one of my friends, A.T., and I would follow his pack of beagles looking for rabbits.

If I could not quail or rabbit hunt, I would take my Remington semiautomatic .22 rifle and wander the woods looking for tree rats. There were no deer to hunt back then.

After college I started teaching school and the four-day holiday meant fishing trips to Clarks Hill. I would fish in the morning then go into town to have a family dinner. Those fishing trips are great memories, too.

Those days are gone. I know I will never be able to hunt with my dad again, and days of looking for rabbits and squirrels are over. Also gone are the huge Thanksgiving meals with my extended family. Mama had five brothers and four of them and their families lived near us. Daddy had five sisters and two brothers and some of them lived close.

Thanksgiving always meant big family gatherings. I was too young to realize the importance of family, and I was always in a hurry to get the meals over, so we could go hunting or I could head back to the lake. I wish I could go back and just sit and talk with family long gone.

I still get to enjoy thanksgiving dinner with my wife, mother in law and brother in law and his wife. That is great, but it too reminds me of all the family I have lost over the years. Life goes on and we adapt to changes.

If you have family, enjoy every minute you have with them at gatherings, not just at holidays but at all times. But do work in a hunting or fishing trip to make those memories, too.

Outdoors Winter Wonderland

There is something starkly beautiful about the woods and lakes in winter. Bare trees are not nearly as pretty as they are in the fall with colorful leaves or in spring with bright fresh green leaves, but they do have an allure all their own.

Even the wind sounds different. Rather than the dry rustling of fall leaves or the swooshing sound of green leaves blowing in the wind, this time of year the bare branches make a mournful howling sound. At night it can be even more spooky.

The sky looks different, too. The moon and stars are bright and hard in the cold air rather than the fuzzy twinkling light shining through layers of warm, moist air. And bare trees mean you can see them even better.

On the lake, the water seems to either be a steel gray cold or orange mud cloud. Neither are inviting as the warm hues of summer. No one wants to jump in the water in winter, unless you have a desire to join the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. Instead of the enjoyable cooling splashing of summer it is a dangerous hypothermia inducing cold.

It is still fun to be outdoors this time of year. There is time to roam the fields and hedgerows to find quail and rabbits before seasons end. Tree rats stand out as they scurry around in bare branches and are easier to spot, but harder to stalk since they can see you easily, too.

Some folks like to walk deer trails and bedding areas looking for antler sheds. Bucks around here usually start shedding their antlers in early January and continue until March, so now is a good time to find them.

Whitetail bucks are amazing. They start growing their antlers in the spring and they grow until late summer. As they grow they are covered with a layer of soft, blood rich material called “velvet” that supplies the antlers with nutrition to grow. In the last summer this material starts to die and the bucks rub it off to polish their antlers. The antlers stay hard and strong, firmly attached to the deer’s head, until the end of breeding season. They then fall off and the buck starts the cycle again in a few months.

You must be quick to find shed antlers. Squirrels and mice love to eat them for the nutrients they contain, so if you do not find then within a few days of being shed you are likely to find gnawed remains or nothing at all.

Fishing in the winter can be great, especially for big bass. Crappie feed well, too. You can catch large numbers of crappie suspended over deep water when you find a school of them, and bass also school up in deep water where you can catch a lot of them in a small area.

Big bass often roam the shallows looking for a meal. If you fish shallow water you may not get many bites but you may hook the biggest fish of your life. I caught my first eight pound bass in a January tournament at Jackson lake in the 1970s and a few years later caught my second one weighing over eight pounds, again in a January tournament there. My biggest bass every, a nine pound, seven ounce largemouth, came in a February tournament at Jackson.

All three of those fish were caught when the water was very cold, and in all three cases that one bite was the only one I got all day. Fishing eight hours or more for one bite is tiring and frustrating, especially since you may not get even one bite and that one bite could be a smaller fish, but it can be very rewarding if you stick with it.

Many folks catch and clean bass and crappie in the winter and are surprised the eggs look like they are ready to be laid. Fish go through annual cycles, too, and those cycles are based more on length of day than anything else, but water temperature does play a part.

Since fish are cold blooded their body functions slow way down. That is why they don’t eat much in cold water. So, their eggs need to start developing in the fall and slowly maturing over the winter. That is why fall fishing is so good, the fish are feeding up for the coming winter so their bodies can survive, and the females can develop eggs.

By the time the water is warm enough for spawning the eggs must be ready. Since water warms quickly to spawning temperatures, the eggs cannot grow that fast so they must be almost mature. That is why in the winter you may gut a crappie and it be full of eggs that look like they are ready to be laid. They are, they just need a few days of warm water to finish the final process.

Cycles of nature are amazing. We have developed the ability to change our environment and do not rely on natural cycles like wildlife and fish. In winter, we can build a fire or produce heat in many other ways. In the heat of summer, we have developed methods to keep our homes comfortable. Wild animals must adapt to the weather, they cannot adept their habitat to make themselves comfortable.

Get out and enjoy the outdoors in winter. Just be happy that you can go back inside your warm house when you want to, unlike the animals and fish you have been hunting or catching.

Too Much Loss Of What I Consider Paradise

“You don’t know what you got till it’s gone, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” That is the refrain from a song that was popular when I was in college. In my 68 years, I have seen way too much loss of what I consider paradise.

Last summer I drove around Dearing, Georgia where I grew up. Much of it remained the same but it broke my heart to see places where the change was drastic. The worst was my old home place.

The beautiful split-level brick house my parents built in 1962 has a chain link fence in front of it, spoiling its look. Some of the pecan trees, including the one where I built my tree houses, had been cut down.

Worse was the field where I spent many happy hours building forts and roasting birds in a big rock pile. Those rocks had been pushed away to expand the field and are no longer available for a kid to enjoy. And the drain where I killed a snipe had been cleared of trees and ditched, removing the swampy area.

Dearing Branch on either side of our old farm has been dammed, making pretty ponds but covering the valleys where I hunted and played. I was happy to see the huge oak tree on the hillside where I sat and hunted squirrels was still there overlooking one of the ponds, but all around it were open fields.

Some of the old houses where my friends lived had been torn down and replaced with newer ones. Others were remodeled to the point of hardly being recognizable. Worse were the ones that were once the pride of families were so run-down none of folks that I once knew would want to live in them.

Dearing Elementary School, where daddy was principal and I attended first through eighth grades, had been closed and changed to a RESA. The lunch room where I loved the food, especially the vegetable soup, was a work shop with boarded up windows and stuff piled outside.

The front area looked much the same. The big pines, including the one where I kissed my first girlfriend when in the first grade, was there. But the old ball diamond beside it was now just a pretty lawn. The pine thicket where I almost lost an eye during a pinecone fight looked different without the Jungle Jim and seesaws.

The drive from Dearing to Thomson then to Raysville Boat Club, something I did hundreds of times, was also filled with changes. Many of the fields where cows and horses once grazed were filled with houses. Some were very pretty, others reminded me of another song “And they’re all made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.” The lack of trees around them made them look worse.

In Thomson, the old theater where I watched “Godzilla” on a Saturday afternoon and got nightmares for weeks when in elementary school and spent many Friday nights slyly trying to ease my arm around may date, was still open.

But a few doors down, the pool hall where I slipped to some afternoons, skipping last period band, was a shop of some kind. No kids would learn to play pool and vastly increase their cuss word vocabulary there any longer.

The boat club we joined in 1966 has undergone a lot of changes, too. It hurts to look at the small group of big pines near the water where our camper sat a few feet from the water that are still there. But a ruling by the Corps of Engineers meant removing any structures near the water.

I will ever sit on the small porch beside the camper and shoot a deer across the cove. Or just sit drinking coffee and watching the world. Memories of that camper are great but gone. Like the time the lake was three feet high and we pulled our ski boat within a few feet of the deck one afternoon, only to awake the next morning to find the lake at normal level and the boat sitting high and dry. That will never happen again.

One of my favorite memories is the Christmas Holidays when I spent at the lake the week from Christmas Day until New Years Day when I had to go back to work. For five days in a row I didn’t see another person. It was just me and my dog. I ate when hungry, slept when sleepy and fished the rest of the time. The lake is way too crowded now for that to ever happen again.

All the campers had to be moved further from the lake, and many new ones have been added. The area in front of the club house has campers side by side and the sign there says “Corner of Confusion’” a very appropriate name. And the road into the boat club is no longer wild, with may new campers lining it from the gate to my mobile home.

Much of the lake has changed, too. There are not many houses on the water due to Corps rules, but there are more docks. Many of the old stumps and brush piles where I could count on catching a bass have rotted away. But one cedar top I sank on an old road bed in the 1970s is still there and still produces fish.

I still love going there but the changes are sad. There is a sense of loss, maybe for my long-gone youth, but also for my dog Merlin, my constant companion from 1974 until 1988 when she had to be put down. And staying there by myself is depressing, remembering the times with my parents. There are just too many ghosts.

Change is often good, but some of it is also sad. But making memories like I have are invaluable. Don’t get so busy you miss making them.

Robins, Blue Jays, Crows and Snipe, Oh My

Robins have been all over my yard for the last few weeks. It must be spring.

In my youth I never understood how robins could be a harbinger of spring. My text books in elementary school as well as many stories I read talked about how robins showed spring had arrived. Here in middle Georgia, big flocks showed up in December and stayed until the spring.

After doing some research on robins and what they eat, it made sense. Robins eat earthworms, bugs and fruit. It is impossible for them to get to worms when the top of the ground is frozen, and bugs and fruit get very scarce. They must migrate south as the ground freezes.

Although they may arrive up north as spring arrives and the ground thaws, they arrive here in the fall and winter, seeking soft ground. Just like in my youth, robins are all us around right now.

I liked robins when young. They are pretty, but more important to me back then they were easy to stalk, get in range with my BB gun, and hit them. They were so easy that I seldom shot one unless I wanted to eat it.

On outings with my friends in the woods or when alone, we would often get hungry. It was easy to shoot and clean something, often birds that are protected now, and roast them on a fire. Robins had the same flavor of doves, but were tough and dry from our cooking method

Since I grew up on a farm and was taught to use everything for food we could, we even cooked the hearts, livers and gizzards on a flat rock heated in the fire. When frying them, mama used giblets from doves and quail for gravy. For some reason our dry, crunchy flat-rock giblets didn’t taste quite the same, but I liked the taste.

A bird I did not like was a blue jay. They ate our pecans and I hated their raucous cry. My parents paid me a bounty of five cents for each one I could kill. That kept me in .22 bullets to use on them.

We sometimes ate them, too, but they were much harder to kill on demand. They did taste about like robins, possibly because we usually did not have any water to wash the carcass or our hands after cleaning them, so there was a lot of blood.

They were wary, possible from me hunting them around the farm year-round. The easiest way to kill them was to sit still under one of our pecan trees so we seldom got one on our outings to eat.

I also shot as many crows as possible, but they were much harder to kill. I have read crows are one of the smartest birds in the wild, and they are difficult for a kid to get close enough to for a kill. I got 25 cents for every one of them I could kill.

We never ate a crow, probably because it was so rare to get one, and almost impossible to kill one on demand. And we knew they ate road kill, which was a turn-off even though we happily ate pork after slopping hogs. We might have tried them if we had lucked into one when hungry in the woods. I hear they taste good and will try them if I can kill one. I

A bird I saw occasionally in the swampy area between two of our fields was not as easy to get close to or to hit as robins. Sometimes when walking through the wet area in the fall and winter, a bird would take off with a loud whirr of wings, dart and dodge through the trees and be gone.

If I had my .410 with me, I would shoot at it if I could get my gun up in time, but never hit one. When a teenage I did kill one with a luck y shot. I had the 12 gauge with me and made a lucky shot.

The brown bird with lighter markings had a very long bill and long legs. I managed to find it in my encyclopedia. This was long before computers and Google. It was a snipe.

I had heard of going snipe hunting all my life, but that hunt involved night time, a sack and being left in the woods. I was surprised to find there really was such a bird as a snipe.

Later I saw a picture of a woodcock in one of my outdoor magazines and a little more research showed the two species are closely related. After realizing I was seeing a snipe fly, and finding they were related to woodcock, the nickname “timberdoodle” made a lot more sense. I also realized why hunters were so proud when they hit either.

I was used to shooting doves and quail, both of which pretty much fly in a straight line. With doves you usually see them coming in time to get ready. A dog on point on quail does the same. And woodcock hunters use dogs, too. But with snipe on our farm, no matter how careful I was to be ready, it was always a surprise to flush one.

Its been more than 50 years since I killed and ate a song bird, so the animal rights fanatics can calm down. I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out. I would not shoot one now, I obey the laws and they are pretty, but I was kid in a different world than we have now.