Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pennsyltucky foliage

We live on a right nice back road that is heavily wooded and doesn't see too much in the way of traffic. With the turnin' of the leaves in the last few weeks, the pilgrimage home from work has been rather pleasant. On a particularly nice day a few weeks ago, I jumped on the bike specifically to ride a half-mile up the road to take this picture. The lightin' ain't quite what I wanted, but I'll take what I could get.

I'm a day late and a dollar short on this post, as most of these purty leaves have long since been on the ground. There's still a few hangin' on for dear life though, so I'll enjoy it while I can.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bowhunter's Weekend '14

We were tryin' to figger out how long we've been gettin' together for Bowhunter's Weekend, and we think this may have been the tenth year. Go, us!

As always, it was a hellva good time amongst good friends. It's a good thing the food was excellent and the beer was cold, because the deer whooped our asses this year.

We had a handful of folks out on the river over goose decoys, and they came back with a pair of honkers. We also had a handful of turkey hunters out and about, but all they had to show was a collective three whiffs. The rest of us were bowhuntin', and while there was several close calls for most of us, and a pair of whiffs by the ol' man, the only deer to come back to camp was arrowed by the camp rookie. My girl's brother Josh and his girl Lauren made the trek north. On her first trip to camp, Lauren showed the rest of us up by bringin' back a fat button buck, her second archery deer.

Bowhunter's Weekend is prolly my second favorite weekend of the year, behind the Spring Gobbler opener. It would certainly not be so without such a great group of friends, and the ridiculous generosity and patience of our camp host, Ron.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I'm not dead

Just busy, and half the time, when I do get the urge to post, my ol' PC gives me a hard enough time that I just give up.

In the meantime, the 2014 Bowhunter's Weekend is upon us. I think damn near everyone took tomorrow off, as camp is packed already.

Stay tuned for pictures of deceased and delicious critters...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More ducks

When I was a kid, I cut my teeth on duck huntin'. Sometimes I get so busy chasin' deer and partakin' in the rest of life that I forget how much I really enjoy it.

After Tater and I got into the woodies on the creek last week, I decided I needed to get a little more duckin' in my system. When we jump-shot the pond after our creek hunt, there was more than a pile of 'em on there, so I shot Tater a message to see if he wanted to set up the pond on Friday. He was game, so plans were made.

We made it to the pond with plenty of dark left to get set up. We'd been screwin' around on the pond bank for almost five minutes, when all of the sudden there was a helluva commotion along the opposite bank. We stood in awe as a gaggle of geese lifted off of the pond, some flyin' right over us. The sneaky bastards hadn't made a sound until they took off.

Once we got back to our senses, we chucked the duck blocks out into place and got ourselves situated in the weeds along the pond bank. Within minutes, we had ducks lightin' on the water, but it was still plenty dark, so we stood motionless and watched.

Fifteen minutes later, we had over 30 ducks hangin' out on the water right in front of us, and I wasn't sure how much longer I could handle the poundin' in my chest. Shootin' light had arrived, so we decided it was time to turn the shotguns loose. A few embarassin' moments later, we had three ducks down. Not our best shootin'.

A few minutes later, a handful of teal buzzed into the outer edge of the decoys. Another barrage landed us only one more duck... definitely some questionable marksmanship.

To add insult to injury, we managed to lose track of two of the three ducks we'd initially knocked down. I ain't sure whether they made it to the edge of the pond and hid in the thick shit, or managed to lift off the water while we were shootin' at the teal. Regardless, I don't like losin' birds, and that situation was rather discouragin'. We picked apart the pond edge for a half-hour, to no avail.

After the teal, the mornin' turned slow, so eventually we wound up hangin' out in front of the cover, just shootin' the breeze and enjoyin' the mornin'. Sure enough, we got caught with our pants down by a pair of mallards. I was within grabbin' distance of my shotgun, so grab it I did. The hen committed, and I dropped her in the decoys, then caught up with the drake as he passed overhead. He required a few clean-up shots, but we eventually got the job done.

That was the extent of the excitement for the day, but it had already been a helluva day. We collected our stuff and got gone.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Turkey Call Auction

I've been wantin' to post this for a while, but it kept gettin' shuffled to the back burner. I'm finally gettin' caught up...

I may have mentioned my tendency to hang out on the forums on a regular basis. I find 'em to be a great source of information for just about anythin' huntin' related, and Pennsyltucky huntin' in particular. There's also tons of stories and pictures from successful (and not so successful) hunters in our state. There's also a lot of interaction within the membership, both online and in person. Overall, it's purty tight-knit for an online community.

Rick Harro, an HPA member and one of many great turkey call makers in our state, recently found out that one of his neighbor's daughters was battlin' leukemia. With the help of the HPA community, he put together an unusual fundraiser back in September to help out; a turkey call auction.

Anyone that knows me knows I have one helluva weakness for turkey calls, so I knew that I'd be goin', come hell or high water. It'd be a good chance to help out a local family, scratch my itch for turkey calls, and it would also be a good chance to meet some of the fine folks that I converse with on the forums.

I managed to connive Spanky into drivin', and Tater met us there. Let me tell ya, Rick did an awesome job of puttin' the whole thing together. Pennsylvania is home to many of the best callmakers in the country, as evidenced by the piles of awards that come back to PA from the call making contests at the annual NWTF convention. Rick managed to get donations from a staggerin' amount of 'em. Not only that, but he got donations of artwork, knives, firearms, gift baskets, and other huntin' related accessories. To sell it off, he snagged a celebrity auctioneer from Barrett Jackson. There were piles of food and drinks that were donated by local stores to cater to the couple hundred bidders in attendance.

Many of the call makers that donated were in attendance, so I more or less wandered around in a daze for the first hour or so, just in complete awe. When I finally managed to pry my jaw off the ground and utter a few words, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy most of them were to talk to. They all had a story to tell, and most had a few jokes up their sleeves as well. Most of the call makers and bidders were excellent turkey hunters as well, and they were willin' to offer up some sage advice. I wonder how many longbeards have been collectively tug over the years by the folks that were at that auction? It has to be a staggerin' number.

The auction itself was quite a show. I love to hear a good auctioneer, and it was plain to see how that fella came to work for the likes of Barrett Jackson. He was excellent at engagin' the audience and gettin' those extra few dollars from the stubborn bidders, and was quick to crack a joke here and there.

I bid on several call and a few pieces of artwork before I finally pulled the trigger and won a fine wingbone yelper made by Tony Ezolt of Kutztown, PA. I've been admirin' his wingbones for a long time, and I was ecstatic to finally have one of my own. Now I just have to learn to run the damn thing...

I won the lower call... a fine piece of artwork, for sure.

Tater bid for and won a beautiful runnin' pot call made by Austin Botts of Jim Thorpe, PA. He had to leave early, so I picked it up at the end of the auction. Let me tell ya, after runnin' that call a few times, it made it very, very hard to relinquish it back to Tater the other mornin'. That's one good soundin' call.

Of course, Miranda and her family were the guests of honor. One of the highlights of the day was call maker Andy Snair, of Rockhill, PA, presentin' Miranda with one of his beautiful custom wingbone yelpers. It was very emotional for the family, and purty movin' for the bidders. I think I must caught a piece of dirt in my eye about that time... started waterin' up a bit.

Rick's goal for the auction was to raise $5,000. After seein' the quality of calls and the number of bidders in attendance, it was no shock to me that the auction raised more than $11,000.

I had a helluva good time, and it was a great way to burn a September afternoon.

Hat tip to Tater for most of the above pictures, since I was too busy yappin' to take many pictures of my own.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Creek woodies

Last year, I got Tater to come up to the farm to hunt the creek for woodies, and we had a helluva good day. We decided we'd better try to do it again this year.

Thankfully, we were able to make it happen again on Tuesday mornin'. It wasn't quite as fast and furious as last year's hunt, but we managed to catch up to a few of 'em.

We also checked out a nearby pond before we left, and wound up with a teal to add to the mix. I screwed up and got up the pond bank before Tater, and the ducks flushed before he was in position. We shoulda had a few more, but that was my fault.

It was an awfully purty mornin' to boot, and the company was exceptional. Hopefully we can keep this at least an annual event.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Great Bike Trip - Day 7

My final day was likely the most adventurous, although not the good kinda adventure.

After a surprisingly restful night of sleep in the back of the pickup, I was awoken by the first of the mechanics rollin' in on his bike. We exchanged pleasantries, and I filled him in on the previous evenin's activities and shot the shit for a little while. The shop manager soon arrived with the keys, so I got the bike pushed around the back as the rest of the staff arrived and got the shop opened up. I'd shot a message to the service manager the evenin' before while I was waitin' for the tow truck, so he wasn't surprised to see me when he rolled in.

After gettin' the shop opened up, they got the bike and and went right to work. We decided to scratch the first tire, so a brand new tire and tube went on. The mechanic himself took the bike around the loop to make sure the wobble was gone and to make sure everythin' else was kosher, and by 10, I had a clean bill of health. I was prepared to pay for the second tire, as the staple the caused all the trouble in the first place sure wasn't the shop's fault. However, the service manager shocked me by tellin' me that they wanted to help me out, and there would be no charge for the second tire. To say I was shocked would have been an understatement. Not too many places would take care of an out-of-towner like that. To the fine folks at Jacksonville Powersports: Thanks for puttin' up with me. To have a staff like yours that was willin' to take care of me and my bike while away from home meant alot.

As I was on a first-name basis with half the shop at this point, I went through and said my goodbyes, crossed my fingers, and once again headed for the interstate.

One of the trip highlights happened just as I got back on the interstate. As I rode along, I noticed somethin' out of the corner of my eye. I looked to my left, and there, barely 40 feet off the ground, was an eagle flyin' along right beside me. That just about beat all I've ever seen.

Another feature of Florida is that they don't skimp on their bridges. This was another gem that I crossed shortly after I saw the eagle.

State aesthetics aside, I won't lie... I was really, really damn happy to make the Georgia line. With a little over 800 miles to go and on my last day, I fell into the I-95 groove and pushed hard for home. The weather got nice again, and I was feelin' purty good about the rest of my journey.

When I got a few hours from Fayetteville North Carolina, I texted my friend James, who I was supposed to stay with the night before. My arrival in his neck of the woods worked out with his schedule, and we were able to meet up a the local Cracker Barrel for a quick dinner.

When I went to start the bike after dinner, she barely cranked over. I was just about to panic, when all of the sudden the engine took and fired to life. I wasn't sure what the issue was, but the bike was runnin', so I kept headin' North.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, I started noticin' my neutral indicator light flickerin' on the dash. That purty much told me that my issue was a little bit more complicated than a deceased battery. Some sorta electrical gremlin had taken control; not a good thing with 400 more miles to go, and less than ten hours until I had to return to work.

A quick back story here... Most bikes have what's called a reserve tank. It's not really a reserve at all, but it's simply a petcock control that releases the fuel left in the lower section of the tank. For the last year or so, when my bike gets close to that level, it tends to just cut out. The aforementioned petcock is controlled by vacuum via the carburetor, and I guess the vacuum isn't quite strong enough. When it cuts out, I simply wait a minute or so, choke the bike and crank it 'till she fires back up, then find the nearest gas station. It's a hassle, but not to the extent that I've spent the money on fixin' it.

Fast forward to my current situation, and now that little tidbit was more than a hassle. With my battery bein' drained, I needed to be a little more prompt about stoppin' and toppin' off, so she didn't have her little hissy fit and leave me sit along the highway.

Well, sure enough, my dumbass pushed her just a bit too far, and there I sat with a dead bike along one of the most brutal interstates in the country, in the dark. I was less than enthused.

Once again, I called my insurance to line up a tow, but in the meantime, I started pushin'. The fuel station I had been plannin' on stoppin' at was about three miles up the road, so I figgered if the tow truck took as long as it did the night before, I'd make the station before the truck got to me.

I finally noticed that I was on a slight downhill... maybe just enough to be able to push-start it. I popped open the fuel door with the key, so I didn't have to turn the bike off at the gas station, and started rollin' her up to speed. Sure enough, I popped the clutch and she fired to life. My challenge now was to keep her runnin' the remainder of the trip home.

I made the fuel station and topped off, then called and cancelled the tow. Once again, I crossed my fingers and headed up the road.

I quickly realized that havin' the fuel door propped open, in addition to the up-draft caused by the windshield, was not a good combination. The fumes from the tank were blowin' directly in under my helmet, which made breathing a lot more interestin' than I wanted. If I turn up with cancer in a few years, now you know why.

Fumes aside, I was runnin' purty good until I hit Richmond, VA. A local tow truck pulled up beside me and started flashin' his lights. It took me a moment to realize what he was tryin' to tell me, but then I looked back and saw my taillight was out. To the gentleman from Hanover Towing that alerted me to this: If you happen to read this, thanks for lettin' me know. Not havin' a taillight on a bike, with Richmond, DC and Baltimore to get through, is damn near a death wish. It was a hard decision to make, but I decided to pull off at the next gas station, shut her down, and try to find the source of my wirin' woes.

Naturally, I wound up at the sketchiest damned gas station in Richmond, but I didn't really have a choice. I shut her down, and purty much tore her down right there. A half hour later, with no luck findin' anythin' obvious, I put her back together. I got out my flashlight, said a little prayer for some extra battery life, and duct taped the light to the tail light lens. It wasn't perfect, but it was damn sure better than nothin'.

Shortly thereafter, I discovered that damn near nobody in Richmond has a set of jumper cables in their cars. Givin' up on that option, I cussed and fussed for a half-hour tryin' to push start her on the flat lot, but to no avail. I finally pushed the bike up to road to another gas station, where I finally found an awesome chick that not only had a set of cables, but knew how to use the doggone things. We got the bike runnin' in short order, and off I went again.

Despite the finest efforts of several construction zones around DC that had a surprisin' amount of traffic at a stand-still in the middle of the night, I finally pulled into the driveway around 3am. To my surprise, I had a welcomin' committee waitin' awake for me. After the long road home, it sure was nice to give that girl a kiss again. I had just enough time to take a shower and cook breakfast before I headed to work for one of the longest 12-hour shifts I'd ever worked. I was flat out whooped.

In seven days, I'd traveled 4,756 miles, covered 14 states, burned around 120 gallons of fuel and only got nabbed for one ticket. I got to have a few brief visits with friends and family along the way, and the gremlins thankfully stayed at bay until after I'd accomplished my goals. Most importantly, I'd covered the distance without meetin' an untimely demise, saw some of the greatest things our country has to offer and got lots of quality thinkin' done. It was truly an awesome experience, and nothin' can beat the memories that will last a lifetime.

For the two of you that read all my ramblin's and checked out my pictures over the last few days, I thank you for followin' along.