Friday, December 30, 2011

Weekly Catch Up 12.30

 The boys made out like bandits for Christmas.  Times have definitely changed.  They have more toys than I could have ever dreamed about.  It's easy to spoil them with toys when you want to play with the toys too.  I seem to get them everything I want.  It's bad when your son asks if he can help put together the lego's.  Leo told his Mom that he would not disappoint her if she let him help.  He finally got the point across that they are his and he should get to play with them too.

I made it out to hunt over Christmas and shot a quail.  There was a lot of hunting going on in my family.  Dad got a pheasant, my nephew got 3 rabbits, and my cousin shot a coyote.  The weather would have been more cooperative for a fishing trip.  The word in the woods is that Kirwin Lake, just South of where we were, is having a hot crappie bite.

With weather around 60 degrees during the day, it feels like I should be at the lake.  This weekend we are going to Mom and Dad's so I won't be fishing, maybe a little hunting before the year ends and my license expires.  I need to get my 2012 hunting/fishing license.  Then I can go after the first fish of the year.  Dad has taken me the last couple years.  This year I might be able to make it out before the lakes ice over.

We got our new Bass Pro Master Catalog in the mail yesterday.  I didn't get a chance to look at it before the kids took it.  Before long we will have to have 3 issues shipped to us at once so we can all look at it right away.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Review and 2012 Goals

The new year is coming quickly.  2011 was a good year.  I had a lot of great life realignments.  At the beginning of 2011 we decided to sell our house and move back from Ohio to Kansas to be close to family.  It was tough to leave Ohio with all of the friends I had made, especially the fishing kind.  There are no clubs and barely any lakes in the area we have moved.

Once I got back I started running.  It was good, I was loosing weight and becoming happier.  Then the time changed and it was dark by the time I got home.  I have been trying to wake up earlier to run but that has not been happening.  I had lost 25 pounds.  Since the time change I have gained 15 pounds back.  I eat way too much.

Several times this year I have tried to quit smoking.  I had a couple successful battles but couldn't do it on my own.  Around Thanksgiving I started taking Chantix and have done well while I have been on that.  There are a few times that I crave a cigarette but most of the time I am happy without.

Our new living situation has made me incredibly happy.  I really like my job and despite our lowering in pay our financial situation is a lot better.

With all that I have done in 2011, it will be hard to top in 2012.  I have been doing some thinking of what I would like to do in 2012.

1.  Start running again.  I would like to start tonight.  We have a track that is safe from dogs at night.  I can run there in the winter and run in the country once we get more daylight.  This is priority number 1.

2.  Make the regionals through the Okie BFL.  I had a blast fishing the BFL in 2010.  It will be even funner this coming year.

3.  Take a family vacation.  With the move this year we didn't take a big family vacation.  I would like to go to the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico.  I have never been there.

4.  Catch a fish in a new state.  More than one new state would be a bonus.  If I make a long trip this year my pen size travel pole will have to be in my bag.

5.  Run at least 2 5K's.  I would like to run a 5K outside of town then again in town next fall.

6.  Start preparations on a long hike.  I would like to take 2 weeks in 2013 to hike the Katie trail in Missouri, the Colorado trail or the Appalachian trail.  It would be nice to go as a family with my boys and my wife.  I need to get my wife excited about it somehow.

7.  Camp at least 5 times this year with the boys.  This should be a given and is a low number, but I have failed to do this so far.  I am making it a goal.  That way I can make sure I am being selfish and going camping.

These are not overly ambitious goals, they don't need to be after the year I have had.  I just need to settle down and enjoy life this year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Eve Pheasant/Quail Hunt

The sun is starting to shine through the window as I wake up.  We are upstairs in Christina’s parents house.  My eyes have not yet started to water when I grab my cell phone and dial Dad’s cell phone.  Mom answers with a sound of sleep still in her voice.  They were still asleep.  This would be rare at this time of morning, except we had been up late visiting the night before.

I asked if Dad wanted to go out hunting before lunch.  She handed him the phone.  He said he would be over after he got dressed and had a cup of coffee.

My eyes were starting to water so I put my contacts in.  I grabbed the older pair of jeans out of my suitcase and chose what I would wear carefully, as I usually get blood on my cloths when I go hunting.

Downstairs the rest of the household was starting to stir.  We had not seen them the night before since we got in so late.  I asked my brother in law if he would like to go hunting with Dad and I.  He did and so did one of my nephew’s and niece.  Another nephew had been out shooting rabbits in the tree break with the .22.  He wasn’t going to get to hold a gun in the field so he didn’t want to come along.

Dad arrived about a half hour after I called him.  It was chilly but not too cold.  You could see your breath and there was frost on the cars, but you could stay warm with a jacket and a pair of gloves.

We decided to start out in a draw next to the house.  While I was waiting on Dad to arrive 2 roosters had flown into the draw.  Everyone was saying that there are no pheasants this year due to the high amount of rainfall they had in Northern Kansas, besides seeing these two I believe them.  On top of that, Christina’s Dad said there was a covey of about 40 quail down there they had seen the evening before.

We walked a cornfield out and started to bring the draw back.  The draw looked perfect for an early morning hunt.  It was thick with Sunflowers and other weeds and had tall grass with a couple trees surrounded by cut cornfields.  I imagined being a pheasant flying overhead and seeing this perfect setup.

It had been a while since I had last hunted.  I knew it would be hard for me to aim on the first shot.  About halfway down the draw I found out how right I was.  We stepped into the covey of quail.  They dispersed fast making a distinctive beat with their wings letting us know they were quail.  I pulled up my shotgun and fired a shot.  Nothing fell.  That was not surprising since I did not bead in on a single bird.  I had tried firing into a group of them.  That might have worked if I had not been loaded with 4 shot for pheasant.

A little ways further into the draw, the dried vegetation was getting thicker.  We stopped to wait for the two in the middle of the thickest part.  As we stood there a couple quail jumped up right in front of us, then some more, right behind me.  This time I took careful aim at one and fired.  It fell.  I heard another gun shot but saw right away that my brother in law had missed.  After looking at the rest of the party to make sure they saw me I took off running to where the quail fell 40 feet away. 

Without a dog, I knew it would be tough to find.  I started walking in circles kicking the brush as I walked to see below it.  The quail was under the brush one time and took off running trying to find cover.  It quickly eluded me.  I continued to look while my brother in law came to help me.  After several minutes I was starting to think we might not be able to find this one.  About that time he says he has it.  He grabbed the quail and handed it to me. 

During this time we see one of the pheasants fly out of the draw into the cornfield on the other side of the road.

We hunt the rest of the draw without seeing anything else.  At the end we decide to cross the road and hunt the fence row between a corn and wheat field.  Halfway through the field I get the signal that we are going to start to turn and push the field out in another direction.  Right then a pheasant jumped out of the fence row.  Dad was quick on taking aim and dropped the pheasant.  It jumped right back up and started to fly.  Dad fired off a 2nd shot dropping the pheasant again.  He ran out to pick it up.  He ran right past where the bird had fallen.  The bird was running.  He caught up to it quickly.  That was one tough bird to take 2 shots from the 12 gauge and still be able to run. 

We hunted the rest of that field out and saw one more hen.  It was getting warm and since it was Christmas Eve we decided to stop the hunt and spend the rest of the day doing other family activities, like eating a lot of food. 

I cleaned the birds and once I got cleaned up, noticed I had indeed gotten blood on my jacket as well as my jeans.  It felt manly walking around the rest of the day with my bloodstained pant legs.

We had wild game with soup for Christmas Eve lunch.  Maybe this will be the start to a traditional family Christmas Eve hunt.  If not, we will always be able to look back on this one time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Weekly Catch Up

I’m ready to spend some time in the great outdoors.  I haven’t run, fished or hunted for a long time now. 

We had some nice weather last weekend.  Instead of doing one of those things I worked on changing our broom closet in the kitchen into a pantry.  That allowed me a little time outside. 

We have been getting quite a bit of rain here and even got our first snow yesterday.  Not as much as many other places.  Ours mostly came in the form of rain.  A couple hours from here was 12 inches of blowing snow creating 5 foot or higher snow drifts.  

There will be a small window of opportunity to go hunting when we are in Northern Kansas over Christmas.  Dad is going to bring the guns up so we can sneak out between lunch and supper on Christmas Eve.  Both of us want to hunt some pheasants.  He made it out last weekend for a couple hours hunting by himself and found a few birds in Southwest Kansas.  The birds were stacked up near a water source.  That makes since due to the severe drought they had this summer.  I assume if there are birds left around here they will be near a water source as well. 

The boys are heading out tonight to spend some time with Grandpa and Grandma.  We will meet with them up North. 

Another project I have been working on is getting my collection of old Field & Stream magazines and Outdoor Life Magazines into protective boards and bags.  My collection ranges from around 1937 through 1965.  I had found that full set of Field & Stream at an auction when I was a kid and begged Dad to bid on them for me.  He bid 2.00 a box and got all three large boxes they had.  The articles in the older Field & Stream magazines are great.  They tell the story of the trip and make you want to be there.  All of the pictures are hand painted including the covers.  One of my favorite things to look at are the old advertisements for items that you no longer hear about.

I have considered selling the magazines before.  They sell anywhere from 10.00 to 50.00 an issue.  At those prices I have around 5 to 10 thousand dollars worth of magazines.  They mean too much to me to let go.  I do have a smaller collection of older Outdoor Life Magazines that do not mean as much to me that I am considering listing online to sell.

Before I sell them I would like to think of something to do with the money so I don’t just spend it.  It would be a shame to sell the magazines and spend the money on useless junk.  I could use the money for a kayak, or to save for a down payment for a house or a business.  That would make it worth selling the Outdoor Life Magazine’s.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Flick Shaking for Finicky Bass

The first time I saw the flick shake in action I was an instant believer in how well it worked for catching hard to catch bass.  There are many ways to fish it but the most popular is to cast it out, let it sink on slack line then if you don't have a fish on the line reel it in again.  One of the reason's for its effectiveness is it allows you to downsize your presentation on heavily fished waters.  It gives the fish something new to look at.

I have made this my go to bait the last couple years and have refined the technique to help me catch more fish.  There are several presentations as well as ways to set up the rig.

There are several different jig head options and I have tried several of them.  I keep going back to a black 1/16 oz. crappie jig head since I generally downsize to a drop shot size worm when the bass aren't cooperating.  For the regular flick shake size worms I will use the BPS Flickin' Shimmy head in the 1/16 or 1/8 oz. size depending on the depth I am fishing.  When I am fishing with the crappie jig heads I have to remember to sweep my rod to the side to set the hook.  If I lift up I will generally miss the hook set.

There are several options for worms.  I don't stick with just the worms with the curved body's.  Any worm with a lot of squirm to them works well.  For the smallest presentation, roboworm straight tails work great.  The color makes a difference.  Natural colors work well but sometimes the odd colors will really get them.  Once I zone in on the presentation then I will switch colors to find one the bass prefer more.  Once you find a color, the bass will generally stay with that color for several days or weeks.  You may have to switch up your presentation depending on fishing conditions.

The rod and line for this presentation are critical.  The fish generally bite very lightly and you have to be able to feel that in order to catch them.  I use a medium light action graphite spinning rod paired with 8 or 10 pound flourocarbon.

There are four main presentations that I use and I will try all four each time out to see what is working best.  First, I cast, let the bait settle to the bottom then twitch the bait back to me shaking the rod, pulling an inch or two at a time.  When the jig head lurches off the bottom the worm bends and shakes as it moves forward.  Second, I will cast to a good spot and dead stick the bait.  During the fall, on a cold day, this presentation has worked well.  Third, I will cast and reel the bait back to the boat both fast and slow.  The tips of the the worm vibrate or shimmy as it is pulled through the water.  Fourth, I will jig the bait back to the boat.  I jerk the worm a foot or two off the bottom and let it settle back down to the bottom.

Once you start using this bait tinker with it to make it yours, run it weightless, put nail weights in the ends of the worm, there are numerous things you can do to make this work for you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Weekly Catch Up

It's crazy how things get so busy this time of year.  It seems like I was just getting ready for Thanksgiving, now I'm getting ready for Christmas, and then ice fishing.

We are getting our first real taste of cold weather now.  Still not freezing throughout the day.  I'm excited about ice fishing this year.  I won't get to do much since I live 4-5 hours from where I will have to go to ice fish.

How did I end up living so far from lakes? 

I will soon be registering for the FLW BFL Okie Division for next year.  I have just gotten a promotion at work so hopefully they will still let me take off Fridays for the tournaments.  My boss is a fisherman so I shouldn't have too much to worry about. 

My job has been surprisingly fun.  I was so burned out from working at the last place I worked that I didn't think I'd ever enjoy having a job again.  There was too much stress at the last place.  I also had to change my attitude about working. 

It's nice to be back in a small town with a lower cost of living.  Life is so much easier when your not scared you won't be able to make that next mortgage payment.  We have a deep freeze full of meat and cupboards full of food.  There is about 50 pounds of deer burger and steaks.  I had forgotten how much I love deer.

Thanksgiving was great this year.  All of Christina's family came to our house this year.  It was great celebrating a holiday and not having to drive 20 hours afterwards.

We have finally been getting rain lately.  The Medicine river is flowing again as are many of the streams in this area.  It was brutally dry this summer so any moisture is welcome.  We had our first light dusting of snow when we got up Monday morning.  The kids were really excited when they saw that.

I still haven't done any pheasant hunting.  The bird population is gone in Southern Kansas from the lack of moisture this year.  There were pheasants everywhere this spring.  I haven't seen one for months now.  Dad and I may sneak out for a couple hours around Christmas in Northern Kansas.  They had a lot of rain up there this year and are still reporting lots of birds.