A Little Joy

A Little Joy

If you go back to my posts of February 9th, February 20th, and February 21st, you will see where I thought I had figured out where the moose had spent the late winter, which left me optimistic that—with enough effort and a little luck—I might find a shed. The conditions could not have been better this winter for shed hunting. Minimal snow makes for better visibility to see antlers protruding the snows surface and makes for easier walking. The down side is that these conditions also are optimal for ticks. A friend sent a photo of a calf carcass the she and her husband found while shed hunting. Even though there was little meat left on the bones, the hide still had many ticks on it. The calf survival rate is less than 25% these last few years.

Setting those depressing things aside, Debbie and I took our granddaughters out on a shed expedition without any expectations that our luck would be any different than the last few such outings. The girls were enjoying themselves, each in their own little world of wonderment about the woods. The oldest had been on a few of these expeditions before, so she was not getting her grandfather’s full attention and the lessons in what she looking at. Her younger sister however was in full learning mode, as grandfather showed her moose and deer rubs and droppings and how to tell how old they were and which sex did what. She was really into it, and she very practically pointed out to me that the droppings were nothing more than fertilizer and restoring nutrition to the forest. I was impressed.

Finally, we decided to split up into two teams. The youngest would continue her schooling with Grampy. It wasn’t long after we split up when my team ended up at Stand #3, which my granddaughter insisted on climbing. She was pleased with her accomplishment of reaching the top and made sure I took her picture. While she was making her way down the last few steps, I focused on a white pine that a bull had almost completely stripped during the mid-winter.

Moose Rub

Moose Rub

I was convinced that the bull had spent much of the time that he might be shedding his antlers in this area. As I mentioned in earlier postings, there was a ton of sign here back then, but nothing fresh now. I walked towards the white pine in order to point out to my granddaughter what had happened here some time ago. It was my intention to take a picture of her standing next to it to show how massive the destruction of the tree was. As I approached the tree, about three feet to my left, I noticed the ground and the leaves had been disturbed. I looked to investigate and determined it was the work of rodents, probably done under the snow. Suddenly something white caught my eye, and as I focused on it, I realized that it was a chewed tip of an antler. Suddenly, there, in seemingly full view, was a large antler!

Moose Antler

Moose Antler

I yelled for my student, who came running like she had done something wrong or I had hurt myself. There was a wall of young pines, spruces, and balsams between us that she just burst through.

“What?” she screamed. Just then, I held up the antler, and at that moment I would have killed for the camera. The look on her face was, as they say, absolutely priceless. Her mouth was opened so wide as she yelled “Wow!”

The Moose Shed with a Yard Stick

The Moose Shed with a Yard Stick

Having her there at that moment made it ten times more special than if I had been there by myself. That’s a serious understatement.

As you all know by now, I love being in the woods, and I spend much of that time alone. When I can show someone else the wonder that exists there, especially someone I love, it is the greatest joy of my life.

WLAGS

 

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An Hour to Remember and Remember

An Hour to Remember and Remember

In the middle of an emotional week, I took a couple of hours to get my head and heart straight by wetting a line.

Earlier in the week, I said farewell to an old friend and associate after he succumbed to Parkinson’s disease.

The next morning I got a call from a friend that a mutual friend of over 40 years had lost his 35 year-old, 6’5”, strapping son to a sudden heart attack. I have that ceremony to attend on Saturday just outside Boston.

All this after losing four friends over the winter that were very much a part of my life and in particular my outdoor life, dating back to the late fifties. I then found out that one of my two remaining friends from that time is now burdened with Alzheimer’s.

With all this, I needed a little “me time” so I hopped in the truck and headed for a couple of local lakes. I really wasn’t very intent on catching fish, but a fish or two might lift my spirits.

Things started off slowly, but the arsenal of lures that I keep for just such an occasion was not fully vetted yet. I keep a box with single, barbless-hooked lures, one each of virtually all of my favorites, for days when I want to travel light and ensure that no trout will be injured.

After the first dozen or so lures failed, I put one of my top, if not my top favorite on, an EGB spoon from Sweden.

I Put My Top Favorite Lure On

I Put My Top Favorite Lure On

BOOM! First cast a beautiful rainbow grabbed it and vaulted 3 feet into the air. He shook the lure, but I was thrilled just to see him. That brightened my day, and it would get much brighter.

In the next hour, I caught a dozen or so, and I lost another half dozen as they shook themselves free.

While I was in the middle of all this, standing in my waders on this beautiful lake all by myself, it reminded me of the closing scene of “A River Runs Through It”. If you’ve seen it or read the book, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Norman is standing in the river in his waders, now an old man, reflecting on all the people that shared his life and passions.

That’s what I was doing. I thought of every significant person that I had shared a lake or river with over my life time. Almost all of them now passed.

My dad of course was one of many, but the most significant was my friend Bob. I was holding his favorite rod and reel in my hand. Each year I try to start out the season by catching the first fish of the year (by “fish” I mean “trout,” as all other fish take a backseat to their beauty and mystique) on his rod.

I swear to you, with God as my witness, that in that moment I was literally talking out loud to Bobby. I said “You know I still miss you,” and I no more than uttered the last syllable, when a large rainbow all but pulled the rod out of my hand. I hooked him briefly, and then he leaped almost head high to me and shook the spoon. My take on all that was that Bobby was letting me know he was there with me.

19-Inch Rainbow Trout

19-Inch Rainbow Trout

I ended the day, few hours that it was, with a nice 19” trout. After which I turned and headed home leaving a bunch of hungry fish for some other lucky man who might need his spirits lifted.

WLAGS