Ground fog gathers in the low spots. Dew glistens and their feet leave trails. I adjust the focus on my binoculars and watch closely.
I know where they came into the field. What I want to know is where they will leave. I don't know why I bother, I have been hunting this same place for 15 years. I'm not going to change anything now.
For two weeks I counted my shotgun shells and made sure my 20-gauge, Winchester, single shot was clean. My game bag had the pockets neatly filled with shells-#7 shot. I did not sleep well.
The moon was so full, looked so close, I thought I could hit it with an arrow.
Maybe before I die, I'll try. Could be, it just looked close because I am at 10,650 feet on the side of a mountain. There is just a touch of frost.
I adjust the pack and slide the bow sling over my head. There is just a touch of frost and the aspens have started to turn.
It is not as it once was. Times have changed and I, reluctantly, have changed with them. Glasses help tired eyes, ladder stands replace fixed position or climbing stands and the requirement of being prepared to hunt with the bow is a totally different deal.
It has been a quite a while since I caught a limit of smallmouth bass out of Percy Priest. It use to be common. Back when the limit was 10 and there was no size limit, it was pretty easy. I did not keep a limit this year; you would have a heck of a limit with five smallmouth over 18-inches.
Night birds, especially aquatic night birds, make strange sounds-like a kid puking. The small waves, as they break over the gravel/rocky shore, sounds like the incessant giggles of a gaggle of school girls. The croak of tree frog is reminiscent of a baby breaking wind. The plop-plop of my Jitterbug in four feet of dark water, 30-yards from the boat and just short of the bank, tells me the cast did not hit the bank. That is a good sound. All is well.
At sunrise, fog lays low on the water. It is too dangerous to run far, especially with the proliferation of kayaks. The little boats are so low profile, in fog or low light, it is easy to run up on one before you see it.
When I was a kid, they use to rib me and say I had a water mark on legs. It may have been partially true. I spent so much time wading the sloughs and bayous around Pineville, Louisiana, I probably did have a water mark. When I was not in the bateau, I was wading. I caught a lot of fish and only got snake bit once. I felt that was probably enough. I never have learned to really enjoy it.
Well, it finally happened. Yesterday, Tuesday, June 30 I became 71-years old.
That adds up to a heap of yesterdays. What a great life I have had and with God's will and a little luck, I'll be able to tout up a few more.
But think about it. I should never have lived this long, given the life I have had.
Bundled up like an Eskimo on May 1, a drought that turned into a wet winter, then a few days of spring, return to rain then, a drought and heat wave to kill. No wonder the fish were confused.
It was a spring of crazy weather. It isn't just me, either. Several anglers commented on just how nuts this spring and the spring on into summer, fishing has been.
Two sunny side up, sausage, toast and plenty of hot coffee. It is just past five in the A of M and I meet the Judge (ret.) David Earl Durham, at the Waffle House. I wonder, just how many May mornings have I started that way?
For many years, it has been the usual meeting place for my fishing partners and me on days we headed for Center Hill. When I was not staying up there, I still fished as many as four days a week and the WH is where we met.
It was early, just past six and the bush was alive.
Many yards to my left, I could hear a moose splashing in the shallows of a small lake. Two ravens were arguing about something.
A Canada jay was busy ignoring everything. Insects hummed and the fisher, raiding my pastry pile, suddenly decided he badly needed to be somewhere else.
Just enough sun to make you happy. Blue bird weather with one drawback. The wind is gusting to 18-mph. That is just a tad too much to get the Grey Ghost out on the big pond. You would be constantly fighting the wind, trying to keep the boat in position. But sitting around the house is not an option. To do so would court with the possibility of doing something stupid and quite likely, breaking something. You might even go off the deep end and mow the yard.
What to do-what to do?
We were catching Oscars, me and Russ Jackson. We were on some canal down in Florida and they were nailing the half a night crawler we were fishing under a cork.
They fought like demons and ran a pound or more. Fantastic eating, too.
So this guy from Mt. Juliet says to me, "Have you heard about all the Tilapia they are catching at the steam plant? A friend of mine at work caught 75 in a half-day, last week."
Turkey season is winding down.
Maybe you are tagged out on turkeys. Maybe you are tired of not seeing turkeys. Maybe the bass have shut you out. Maybe the crappie have lockjaw. Maybe you are just bored.
You need a change.
Years ago, Tom T. Hall owned it, before the Scott's bought it and turned it into the Watertown Animal Sanctuary. The cabin where he wrote a lot of his songs still stands.
Now, deer, turkeys and horses roam the fields. It is a sanctuary for old and abused horses, sort of a retirement community just outside Watertown. I was there to try and shoot a turkey.
The turtles, maybe the most I have seen in one place, seemed to have about the same plan for the day that I did.
The water lapped lightly against their log and it lapped lightly against my boat. Both the turtles and I seemed calm and oblivious to everything except the warm sun.
Years ago, when I first started fishing Old Hickory, several times I heard it called the Dr. Pepper Lake.
The soft drink company had a slogan that implied it was good at 10-2 & 4, three times a day. That was when the "Old Timers" said Old Hickory was best for bass and crappie, 10-2 & 4.
If it were daylight, he would have been near the horizon.
That is how far away the coyote wailed. I shivered slightly in the pre-dawn cold and hunkered against the water oak in the fence row at my back.
Clear skies, bright sun and a light breeze. Finally, a day for fishing without being semi-miserable. So we went, Judge (ret.) Dave Durham and your "humble" outdoor writer. Yes we did. We launched my Grey Goose at the Hermitage Yacht Club ramp and away we went.
March can be one hot month for catching fish, especially smallmouth.
It can be a great month on Center Hill, Percy Priest and Old Hickory. IF...
Carroll Whitener would be out looking for gobblers these cold, quiet mornings. Carroll's season on earth ended a few months ago. He will hunt better places this year.
I started bowhunting with a Fred Bear recurve bow and six aluminum arrows. I practiced all summer, shooting at hay bales in the backyard. Just 45-minutes into the opening morning of archery season, I shot and killed an 80-pound doe. She was the first deer at which I ever flung an arrow.
I hunted throughout the rest of archery season, missed several deer and wounded one which I did not recover. I was not what you may call completely happy with my equipment though there was nothing wrong with it.
Late February and March can be spotty when it comes to catching crappie in Middle Tennessee. So many factors are involved in the fish moving up and congregating in a pre-spawn pattern. But they can be caught.
The weather is a huge factor. We need a few warm, sunny day to bring the water temperature up and melt the ice off the boat ramps
Remember when the boat ramp at Misty Cove was a going concern? It's at the end of Ramsey Road . . . or whatever that road is now called.
You know, just past where Chuck Keel's mother had the old trailer house. Not only was the ramp in good shape, Hank Bentley had a dock and even a sorta restaurant there. He bought it from J.R. Ramsey long time ago. Great place for breakfast.
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