Thursday, December 14, 2017

Had a busy day today.

First I had to shovel the driveway after our 2-3 inch snowfall. (The rule is less than an inch and it can fend for itself. Two to four inches get hand shoveled. Five to seven inches get the snow thrower treatment. Eight or more and I bring Mr. Kubota-san into the act.)

Actually had to do the drive in two stages as Terry and I had to take Shadow to the vet's around 10 AM. She's been acting strange for about two weeks: lethargic, not cleaning herself, diarrhea, and a few other things out of the ordinary. The doc checked her out, took some blood samples, and then held her overnight to check urine, stool and other things.

Once the driveway was done, I hooked up the utility trailer and we headed off to retrieve the Pro-hauler from the Yamaha dealer. Turns out it needed to have the carburetor rebuilt (damn 10% ethanol!) and a new battery. I'll have to make sure to use it more frequently so as to keep that gas burned and battery charged!

Back home, I got the ATV off the trailer, unhitched the trailer from the Tundra and then hitched the ATV to the trailer and moved the trailer off the driveway and into the yard. Then the ATV was garaged to be used later this weekend...maybe.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Hunting Season, Part 2-----Success!

As mentioned, I slept in on Wednesday with the intent of doing some work around the yard with the slash left by the crew cleaning the powerline right-of-way. I was going to use the ATV BUT those plans changed when the darn thing wouldn't start. All I got was a click, click, click--like a buzz from a bunch of angry bees--from the solenoid. The starter didn't even try to turn over. I went to call the Glider City Powersports in Elmira, NY that I've used for repairs on the Yamaha ProHauler before BUT they are closed on Wednesdays. I plugged the battery charger up to the ATV just in case it was just a low charge, BUT the charger gave me an error message saying there was a short in one of the cells and it couldn't be charged.

So, I spent a couple of hours using the chainsaw close to the house and cleaned up one pile of debris and produced a small stack of firewood. Then I got the tractor out to haul the utility trailer out from under the deck so I could load the ATV for delivery to the repair shop--when I could eventually call them. Then I had to reinflate one of the tractor's tires--one that has a history of a slow leak. AND run down to the store to get a new connector for the trailer's wiring which was frayed right near the connector.


Thursday I managed to contact Glider City and hauled the ATV over for them to do their thing. They will contact me when it's ready. This was the first opportunity to use the new Tundra to trailer anything. Like its predecessor, it did just fine. The trailer tracked perfectly and I had no difficulties.


Friday I slept in once again and went to work on a second slash pile near the house. And once again, I managed to clean that heap up and harvest a small amount of firewood.


Saturday--being the first day I could shoot does as well as bucks--I got up early and went out to the woods. I was just hoping to see something with fur as Monday and Tuesday were less than productive. I was at my stand by 6:30 and waited for daylight. Unlike Monday and Tuesday, there was no breeze so the dried leaves on the beech trees weren't rattling all that much. That allowed me to use my ears as well as my eyes.

Shortly after 7 AM I heard something to my right and spotted a deer stepping out from some hemlocks. A buck! BUT I could only see fork horns and to be legal a buck must have at least three on one side. So I watched as it walked down the hill. (And, no matter how hard I tried, I still couldn't make out a third tine on either side!) A the base of the hill, the buck spooked and jumped once or twice back then trotted across the cove to the spruce trees. Then I saw a second deer--sex unknown--follow. All I can figure is that the cooler air sinking down the hillside carried my scent(?) down to the small buck and that's what spooked him. Hey! At least I got to see some deer!

About an hour later, I heard a snap of a twig behind me on the powerline. A turned around and saw two doe, with tails up, bounding across the powerline into the woods on the far side--where they stopped and looked back at me. I raised my rifle and saw through the scope that I had a clear shot, albeit nearly head on, between two trees just a foot or two apart. Flick off the safety. Breath. Squeeze. And the fun part is over. She dropped where she stood. The second doe jumped twice and stopped. And I quickly calculated how much work I really want to do this morning--and let her go.

I collected my gear and walked toward the downed doe. The tail flicked once and I chambered another round--just in case. By the time I got to her, she was dead. The shot had entered and exited the base of her neck damaging the spine and taking out the arteries. As I started filling out the tag, the second doe stuck came back into view and stood for a few seconds--broadside--30 yards away. I still let her go.

Field dressed (messily) and then dragged her down the hill. Gravity is your friend! I hung the deer behind the house and then cleaned, sliced and packaged the heart and liver.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hunting Season

Pennsylvania's rifle deer season opened on Monday and like tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) I was up and out early Monday morning and sitting on the hill by 6:30 AM. It was a cool--not cold--morning with a bit of an overcast and a steady breezy out of the northwest.

I heard the first shot around 7 AM only about 500 yards away. The second shot was about three times further at about 7:20 AM. (Actually, that second shot was really two.) Those were the only shots fired all day within a mile of the spot where I was sitting. Things were quiet all through the middle of the day with only a few shots fired (a l-o-n-g way away) after 3:30 PM

Me? I didn't see any deer nor even a squirrel. I eventually left when the sun went behind the ridge and the shadows grew too deep to make out the trail at the bottom of the hill. You can't shoot what you can't see.

Tuesday was a near repeat. Two shots--neither by me--early in the morning and then nothing all day. I grew tired of seeing nothing from my seat so between 10:30 and 12 I chose to take a stroll through the woods. I didn't see any deer there either.

I'll be sleeping in on Wednesday. Then I'll be working around the yard and the section of powerline right of way. The crew left some usable wood there. Several pieces that can be used for firewood.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Oh, my! Five weeks? Really?

Well, I did it again. Failed to post for just over a month even when there's plenty to tell you about.

First: Terry did get her new Rav4 and drove it out to St. Louis for a SAGA event and then down to Lake of the Ozarks to visit with her sister (and do some fishing!). Now that she's home, she's got all kinds of local meetings for EGA. Most are of the sit-and-stitch variety but a few are either picnics or luncheons or classes--some of which she teaches beading to the ladies.

Second: I finally managed to nab the last kitten, Collar, and get it to the Animal Care Sanctuary to get "fixed." Turns out Collar is a female--just like the other two kittens. What are the odds?! Three kittens in the litter and they are all female. Getting all of them, and their mother, spayed probably helped keep the cat population limited next spring! I mean, Mom, a.k.a. Coffee, was just one year old when I took her in to the vets in June(?). If all four had litters next spring, it could have gotten very, very crowded around here.

Third: We harvested more than enough peppers and tomatoes from our garden this year. Way more than we expected to get from two pepper plants (one bell and one banana) or four tomato plants (2 cherries and two Early Girl). In fact, we are sick of eating tomatoes! We've canned enough tomato sauce to get us through the winter and spring even if we eat Italian twice a week. And there are numerous bags of peppers in the freezer.

 Fourth: My 8-year old Dell laptop gave up the ghost this week after I dropped it. It was acting a little wonky before hand but this damaged the hard drive beyond repair--or, at least, that's what the tech folks said on Friday. I went and bought a new Dell Inspiron17 7000 Series even as I dropped the old laptop off for diagnostics. Now comes all the fun of installing software on the new machine. The tech folks were able to save my pics, documents and a couple of other folders from the damaged drive and have said they will load them on the new one for me.

Fifth: My daughter has been forced to move from her apartment of the last four years when two of her roommates (a married couple) decided they wanted out and wanted to do so by breaking the lease. Luckily, Jess was able to find another rooming situation a short distance away. It's not close enough to walk to Disney but she will be able to drive to work without too much of the LA-Anaheim traffic.

Sixth: Rick, Sandy and the kids, Chelsea and Justin, traveled down to Anaheim and Disneyland to visit with Jessica. It was the first time the little ones got to see their Aunt Jess--and all the Disney folks. I understand they had a good time.

Seventh: My granddaughter, Chelsea, started preschool this week. I must say, she's a lot older than her years!

I guess that's about all the news fro now.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Cat Tales

Almost forgot to bring you up to date on my cat adventures.

Tigger wasn't nearly as "wily" as I perceived and walked right into the live trap on Saturday night and got transferred to a carry case. Fuzzball (now named "Tribble")  got scooped up first thing Sunday morning and also got put into a carry case. Both spent the balance of Sunday in the basement getting a few strokes and a couple of tablespoons of food.

I had no luck getting near Collar after the scratching incident earlier. That cat wanted no part of being picked up again and stayed just out of arms reach while feasting on the canned food I put out for Coffee and Collar.

Monday morning, to the great dismay of momma Coffee, I put two squeeling kittens in the back seat of the Tundra and headed off to the clinic in East Smithfield. There they got dropped off for surgery, rabies shots, and leukemia testing. (I also delivered three 36-can boxes of cat food.)

Tuesday I went to pick them up. (And drop off two more boxes of canned cat food.) That's when I discovered that both Tribble and Tigger were females and leukemia free. Tigger does test slightly positive for heart worm, but they told me it was untreatable and not of great concern in outdoor cats.

I brought them home and fed them another tablespoon of cat food in their carry cases before returning them to the "wild" of my yard. (Terry wouldn't let me keep Tribble inside. Yet.)

Seems we dodged a bullet by getting two females (three if you count Coffee) fixed. I don't want to think about how many litters of kittens we could have had around here next spring!

Still trying to gain the confidence of Collar so I can get that one over to the clinic, but I'm not having much success. There's a 50-50 chance that Collar is also a she.

New Car Coming--Sooner than Expected!

So. Last week I drove the Jeep Compass to take Terry up to Corning Hospital to get her knee scoped. Along Route 15 I noticed some vibration in the front end at 65-70 mph and told Terry she should get it checked out before she drives to St. Louis next month.

Yesterday she dropped it off at the Jeep dealer in Mansfield and they called back saying it needed new front brakes, new tires ("the belts inside were broken"), an alignment, a new tie rod, new struts, and a couple of other things. Total would be around $3000. This is a car they had in the shop last spring because one of the front brakes was making a squeeling sound. Now, I'm not a mechanic, but the Compass doesn't get a lot of miles put on it during the summer. It basically sits on the side of the house. It's one "big" trip was to the Carolinas and back. (On second thought, maybe we should stop going to Columbia, SC. Every time we do something needs an alignment.)

Anyway, we had been thinking of replacing the 2009 Compass and had already started to do some research. We had narrowed our choices down somewhat but had hoped to wait until spring or fall 2018. I told the Jeep people not to do any work and Terry and I drove over to Williams Toyota to see what they had available. Our targets there were the Sienna and the Rav4. They needed to have either 4-wheel or all-wheel drive because, hey!, we live in hilly snow country.

Well, Terry thought the Sienna too huge for her needs (the third row seating was just a little too much), but liked the size of the Rav4. The only model with all-wheel drive (AWD) on the lot was a base model in a pretty plumb color which we did take for a short test drive. Terry liked it, but I wanted a few more bells and whistles than the base model offered. They did have an XLE with AWD in Barcelona Red (same as the my Tundra) over on the Elmira lot, however. We could get either $2500 cash back or 0% financing on the Rav4.

So, we go back on Saturday to look at the XLE and--probably--sign some papers.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Life at the Aerie

Not a whole lot happening at the Aerie this week.

Sure, Terry and I went to Point Pleasant Beach, NJ last weekend for her high school class' 50th reunion and had a great time with a bunch of people from St. Mary's High School of whom I knew just three. But the bar was open almost all night so there's that. And the weather was gorgeous so we got to walk on the beach and boardwalk both Friday and Saturday. Waves were marvelous!

Then on Sunday we stopped at cousin Nancy's to meet up with lots of folks from Terry's side of the family to look at a bunch of old photographs. The goal was to ID as many people as possible. As I didn't know many of them (or plead the fifth), I sat on the side and watched while recovering from the high school reunion. (See above. re: "open bar".)

I was keeping an careful eye on Irma as she tore through western Florida. I've relatives in Key LArgo and up the coast at Weeki Wachi. They all suffered minimal damage to their property and the folks in Key Largo were sane enough to have evacuated to areas around Orlando where they hunkered down. (And then went to Disney World immediately after since they couldn't get home.)

Tuesday, Terry did a pre-op assessment over in Wellsboro and on Thursday she had her left knee scoped to remove debris and remove/repair a partially torn meniscus that has been troubling her since, well, the early '70s. She hurt it when we were going to climb Mt. Washington back then and reinjured it the next year when we went to climb Wildcat Ridge across the highway from Mt. Washington. Doctors back then pronounced it "hyperextended" and gave her some Tylenol, a pair of crutches, and sent her home. No MRI or anything. The current doc (who replaced both my knees in '13) said she also has arthritis and bone-on-bone contact on part of that knee may need a partial knee replacement if this surgery doesn't help.

Terry came home the same day (Thursday) and has been hobbling around the house with the occasional help of a cane. I'll be driving her down the hill to church on Sunday but she should be good to go on her own Monday or Tuesday.

I've been knocking around the house doing some chores like cleaning out gutters and weeding the fallow garden beds in preparation for winter. I've also been mentally marking the trees I want to fell this winter for next year's firewood. (I'm still waiting for the power company to come through and do their right-of-way maintenance that they said they were going to do this summer. That might provide some additional wood.)

I've also been plotting exactly how I'm to catch/nab/trap three 5-month old kittens to take them to the vets on Monday morning. I've been working on gaining their confidence so I can suddenly snatch them in an act of betrayal. One will be easy. (That's the one I played hide-and-seek with in the basement for 12 hours about a month ago.) A second is a possibility. (I've managed to actually pet that one a time or two. Granted it was only a quick stroke or two and very , very brief, but I think I can snatch that one.) They third.... Well, that's why they make have-a-heart traps. Tigger is a wily, wary one. My plans may be foiled, however, if they successfully bring down their own meals as they did last evening. A young, dumb bunny became an overnight snack that meant they really didn't need my can(s) of cat food.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

White-faced Hornet

I mentioned in a previous post how much I hate Yellow Jackets. Those wasps are just a pain in the a$$...and anywhere else they may sting you. Plus the rotters are usually found nesting at ground level where you might easily stumble upon them.

I had one nest of Yellow Jackets removed for me by (I assume) a bear. I also removed one from between the awnings of the trailer. So imagine my dismay/surprise to find a huge nest built on the antenna of the trailer.

I initially thought it was another Yellow Jacket structure but realized it was too large and so were the critters flying about it. I watched for days from the deck and finally got a good look at a few as they flew paste me. They weren't Yellow Jackets. They were White-faced Hornets!
White-faced Hornet

I thought to wait until things got below freezing before I tackled them, but grew impatient. I opted to hit them with two cans of Spectricide--the stuff with a 27-foot range--when I had a calm evening. That happened on Friday evening. I took a position a safe distance away and hit 'em hard! I soaked the one side of the nest with spray after the sun set.
I stood on the right side of the truck and was able to reach the center of the trailer roof. (The white piece to the left of the air conditioner.)

This morning, the deck of the house had a couple of dead hornets laying about and the roof of the trailer had even more. I watched for an hour or more and saw no hornets flying in or out of the nest. Hooking up a nozzle to the garden hose that would allow me to reach with a narrow, powerful stream of water, I spent half an hour spraying the nest. Damn thing is tough! It's still holding on to the antenna post. I managed to take half of the nest out and exposed larvae inside. The entire time I saw only two hornets fly into the area. They didn't stay.
Hitting the nest with a stream of water exposed the interior but didn't knock the entire thing off the antenna.

Exposed larvae of the White-faced Hornets.

I'll hit the exposed nest with more spray later this evening. Then I may be able to use a ladder to get closer and on a different angle to attempt to knock the rest of the nest to the ground.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Saturday Birding and Celebrating

Yesterday (August 19, 2017) marked Theresa and my 45th Wedding Anniversary. As it so happens, she was in North Carolina for an EGA Seminar and I was home with the cats. (Sometimes things get reversed and I'm out fishing but occasionally, we are both in the same place.)

I decided to celebrate with some birding. (Okay, so it was the Tiadaghton Audubon Society's annual picnic. Still counts.)
Oldest Audubon Society in PA!
Before the picnic, I stopped at a couple of spots to do some birding. Things were less than active and I only spotted a few species at each of the stops. I did have a frustrating time with a passel of small birds flitting about in the leaves of one tree by the Ive's Run boat launch. They would never stay still long enough to bee identified, let alone photographed. I did hear some Black-capped Chickadees in the crowd, but there was more than that.

Anyway, I did manage to get some critters to pose for me.
Red-tailed Hawk at the Tioga-Hammond Connector overlook.

Northern Flicker at the Tioga-Hammond Connector overlook.

Pair of Ospreys on the pole along road up to the Tioga-Hammond Connector overlook.

Eastern Phoebe on the Railroad Grade Trail, Ive's Run.

Muskrat in pond along the Railroad Grade Trail, Ive's Run

Painted Turtle in pond along the Railroad Grade Trail, Ive's Run

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Visit to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

I haven't visited Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in a number of years and since we sold the property up in the Adirondacks, I haven't even driven past it in over two years. Yesterday that changed.

With three other members of the Tiadaghton Audubon Society, I ventured north early Wednesday morning to view and photograph birds at Montezuma. Fresh from all the excitement created by the visitation of a rare White-winged Tern in our own back yard, this would be a much more relaxing outing. Robin and Sean, Gary and I would spend over five hours walking and driving around the refuge's main pools, the Seneca Canal and surrounding areas. We'd run into a couple of folks who had made their way to the WW Tern sighting, too.

When the day was done, I had over 200 photos to go through (many duplicates with just slight changes in camera settings) and over 35 species on my check list. My list of species doesn't do justice to the sheer numbers of individual birds we saw. There had to be hundreds of herons, egrets and coots for example. And migration hasn't even begun! Nothing spectacular pops up on the list, but we all had a very nice day spent with good company doing somethings we all love doing.

First the list:
Montezuma NWR--Wildlife Drive, Seneca, New York, US
Aug 16, 2017 8:15 AM - 1:45 PM
Protocol: Traveling
6.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Walked the trail around the visitors' center then drove the road through the refuge and ended over on East Road past May's Pond.
37 species

Canada Goose
Trumpeter Swan
Wood Duck
American Black Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Bald Eagle
Common Gallinule
American Coot
Semipalmated Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs 
Ring-billed Gull 
Caspian Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Kingbird
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow Warbler
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
American Goldfinch

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Now the photos--well, some of them anyway:

Osprey (There were many, many young osprey as well as juvenile Bald Eagles about. Never did see and adult Eagle, however.)

Green Heron. We saw many of these come flying into the channels and reeds Only a couple allowed us a peek at them.

American Coot. There were rafts and rafts of coots foraging on the algae in the ponds and/or just paddling about..

Pied-billed Grebe. Dozens of both adult and immature grebes were fishing in the ponds.

Common Gallinule.  There were many of these in the narrow channels between reeds. And a surprising number of little black, puffball/lollipop babies were also present.

Wood Duck. Many hens were seen. This one played coy behind some reeds.

Trumpeter Swan. A dozen or so trumpeters were spotted in different spots. This one was snoozing in a shallow pond and woke up only long enough to show its black bill and to do a little stretching.

Greater Yellowlegs. Scores of shorebirds were to be seen. Few could be IDed without debate. LOL!

Lesser Yellowlegs. I think.
Common Egret. Hundreds were to be seen hunkered down in the pond next to the NYS Thruway and at the end of East Road. HUNDREDS

Great Blue Heron. Again, hundreds were present virtually everywhere, but especially at the end of East Road.

American Bittern. How Sean spotted this guy is a mystery.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Surprise! Suprise! Surprise!

Lots of interesting stuff happening around here this week.

First was a surprise visit from a Eurasian species of bird: a White-winged Tern. Seldom seen in North America this little guy showed up in a small lake over near Wellsboro on Thursday morning. It was identified by members of the Tiadaghton Audubon Society and was confirmed by some folks from Cornell. It helped that the person, Rich Hanlon, reporting it to Cornell had pictures--and is the minister of the Wellsboro Methodist Church. The two folks with him are among the top birders in Tioga County according to eBird.

As one might expect from the appearance of such a rarity, folks are flocking in from all over to get a glimpse of this super cooperative bird. This morning there was one guy who had flown from Texas to Philadelphia and rented a car to drive out here just to see the bird. There have been folks from Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey and New York (Long Island and West Point area so they weren't just hopping over the state line). Even folks from PA drove from Pittsburgh and Philly area just to add this bird to their life lists. TV news crews and the local newspaper showed up and did  interviews with Rich Hanlon and some of the birders.

I've been over to look at the birds and to meet and talk to some of the visitors  a couple of times--Friday afternoon and again this morning. I might go back tomorrow morning to see if it's still here. Rich Hanlon will, of course, be occupied elsewhere. ;-)

White-winged Tern at Nessmuk Lake, 2017_08_11
My second surprise was finding another yellow jackets' nest. Remember the nest I said was under the cover to the septic tank? I thought I might have to wait until we had some cold weather to take care of that nest, but when I got back from Quebec, I found something--probably a bear--had shoved the cover aside enough to reach in and rip out the wasps' nest. The paper from the nest was torn apart and there was precious little left. I watched the area just in case and saw only one or two bees flying around. Nothing special--or threatening. Today I went out to cut the grass and even pushed the cover back into place without raising any wasps.

HOWEVER, as I was cutting the grass I happened to glance up at the awning of our travel trailer. A small stain on the white of the one awning drew my attention and that's when I saw it--and them.

The damn wasps have built a paper nest between the two awnings not far from the door of the trailer. It's above the white awning for the kitchen bump out and below the black awning that would create a shaded patio.
Wasp nest between the awnings

One of the b*st*rds exiting the nest.

*Sigh* I guess I'll have to get out there with some spray after dark when every bee should be home. I'll soak it good with Spectricide from a safe distance and hope for the best. Then, when the spray has worked overnight, I'll hit it again. THEN I'll knock that bad boy down using the garden hose.


Third: While cutting the lawn, I noticed the sky was darkening a bit but thought little of it--until I ran out of gas when I was about 5/6ths done (just the area behind the house to do--maybe 10' x 40'). That's when I heard the rumble of thunder off in the distance. There wasn't much of a breeze and I could barely make out any movement in the clouds overhead, still, I figured, I had better hurry up and finish! And so I refueled the mower and proceeded to double-time my efforts.

Just as I finished and was putting the mower into the shed, the first drops fell. They were soon followed by more and more and even more. As I sat and watched on the covered porch, the sky opened up and torrents of rain fell straight down while thunder pealed about two mile away. (See the lightening flash. Count "one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two...." If you get to one-thousand-five and then hear the thunder, the storm is about one mile away.)

This lasted just about 30 minutes and then, suddenly, it stopped as if someone had turned off the faucet. And the sun came out. I'm sure someone, somewhere got to see a beautiful rainbow. Unfortunately, it wasn't me. Too many trees--and a mountain--in the way.


Four: Terry has gone south for the week. She'll be attending an EGA Seminar down in Ashville, North Carolina, right after she goes and visits her cousin in Columbia, South Carolina. So it's just me and the cats (four indoors and four outdoors) for the week.


That is all. Enjoy the rest of the weekend and don't forget to look skyward tonight for the Perseid Meteor Shower. It's supposed to be a good one and the moon won't rise until after 11 PM.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Getting Lost--and what to do about it

Having done my fair share of hiking, both in groups and solo, and having witnessed several search and rescues while living in the Adirondacks (the victims were 0-4 and never very far from safety), and having been "confused" a time or two myself,  I have to say that this article on Surviving in the Outdoors: An Emergency Guide, is an excellent how-to. The trick with all these types of articles is to practice what they're preaching BEFORE you actually need to do it for real. (Of course, if you do practice them ahead of time--when you're perfectly safe and capable of getting home--then you're more likely to always be perfectly safe and able to get home!)

Hunting season is coming up and there will be guys roaming the back country hoping for a shot at that wall hanger that's hanging out where others seldom go. If you or some one you know will be in that crowd, make sure they 1) read the above linked article, 2) are like a Boy Scout-- always prepared, 3) have a recent map of the area they will be entering, 4) have a good compass, and 5) know how to use the last two items!

Stay safe.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

A Week in Quebec

I went fishing last week with my buddy--and Terry's cousin--Joe. We had booked a week of fishing for Northern Pike and Walleye with Caesar's North Camps. We've been fishing with them on an annual basis since our youngest boys were 10 years old--some 24 years ago. The camp we chose this time was one we hadn't been to before, Lac Nancy, named after Oliver's wife. The lake was reputed to have some very fine walleye and pike with the latter going up to the 50" mark.

Well, to make a long story short, we didn't find that 50" pike but we did find some of the largest walleye we've run into. While we have found one or two individual walleye that were bigger than the 6.5 pound, 28" one that I caught, the size of the "average" walleye we caught on this trip as far greater than that we've found elsewhere. I'd say half of the fish we caught we would have had to throw back because they were over the 18.5" slot limit. Only about 10% would have gone back because they were too short, less than 14". Everything else--and we caught 165 walleye--was in the slot an could have been take to fill our limit. We chose--and Oliver ruled--that we could only retain what we could eat and that, for us, was one pike and two walleye.

We arrived early on Friday after driving 610 miles from the Aerie to the village of Clova and flying another 30 minutes north to Nancy's Lake. After unpacking our gear and rigging our lines we were on the water and out exploring this new--to us--body of water. We covered the entire shore line of the roughly 2x1 kilometer lake and found there were few weed beds that looked like our normal pike haunts so we opted to concentrate on walleye. After lunch we found a spot that, while unremarkable in that it was 100 meters from the shoreline and out in the open water, produced a couple of nice walleye and even a pike. Joe marked that spot with a bouy so we could find it again. Good thing he did, too. We fished that spot almost exclusively over the week and caught all but one walleye and one pike within 5o meters of that bouy! In fact, on Saturday, we caught 70 walleye and three pike in that area.
Cabin at Nancy's Lake

View from the cabin of Nancy's Lake

Our meals for two nights: one pike and two walleye.

The one Northern Pike we killed. About 30 inches in length.
We spent the majority of our time fishing 3/8 oz. jigs with various and sundry colors of 4" plastic split tails. The fish seemed to like the black and the orange/yellow colors but we caught some on just about every color in our tackle boxes. Jigging meant we fished without any wire leader so important to catching the toothy pike but we still managed to get seven nice sized pike (30+ inches) to the boat. We did lose a couple larger pike early in the battle when they got the jigs too far into their mouths and they easily snapped our 6 and 8 pound test lines.

We kept the one pike because Joe wanted to see if he could filet it so as to eliminate the Y-bones. He got most of them.

The weather was pretty cooperative in that we had 60-70 degrees every day and 50-60 degrees at night. Two separate storms kept us off the lake after dinner Sunday and Tuesday evenings. One produced a lot of thunder but no lightening, the other produced lots of lightening and plenty of accompanying thunder. Both storms produce 2-3 hours of torrential rain. The Tuesday storm also kept us off the water after lunch as the pre-storm winds produced rollers of 1.5-2 feet and even lots of whitecaps on the lake. The only other rain we got was on the final Friday as we awaited the plane to fly us out. That storm blocked out the horizon with the rain being so heavy. We couldn't even see the island some 750 meters away. This rain also delayed our flight by almost three hours as the Cessna could not fly.

Rich with a 6-1/2 pound walleye that measured 28" in length.

Joe with a nice walleye that easily would have been over the slot limit of 18-1/2 inches.

Another big walleye.

And yet another huge walleye.

Joe with the largest Northern Pike we managed to boat. I'm guessing it went around 35 inches.

We did, eventually, get back to Clova and the truck at 2 PM for our 13 hour drive home. We managed to get back to the Aerie around 2:45 AM despite the heavy rain we ran into south of Ottawa and all the way down through Elmira. I hate driving in the rain at night.

Division of labor:
  • I did most of the driving northward but we split the long ride home about 50-50. We also split fuel costs.
  • I piloted the boat the entire week.
  • Joe, who purchased and packed the groceries, did all the cooking. (He had it easy this week as he only had to clean three fish.)
  • I did all the washing up after meals.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

I hate yellow jackets!

Have I ever told you how much I hate yellow jackets? Probably. I tell every one of my brush with death in the form of winged stingers.

See, when I was a little tyke, about four or five, and we still lived on Kenwood Avenue in Hawthorn, New Jersey, I stepped on a honey bee. I remember we had a lot of white clover in the lawn and the honey bees just love that stuff. It must have been the second time I got stung by a bee because I had an allergic reaction. I’m told that the first time usually doesn’t elicit such a reaction. Your body just says, “Damn! That hurt! Don’t do it again or I’ll kill you!” Well, my body tried to kill me this time. I started having trouble breathing and Mom called the doctor. (This was before 911. The doc dropped whatever he was doing and rushed to our house where he got the full story from Mom, said something like, “Uh-huh,” and gave me a shot to counter my reaction. I’m told that if he had been 10-15 minutes late, I might have died from anaphylactic shock.

Time passed. We moved to Oakland, New Jersey and I continued to be something of what would be called today a “free range” kid. One day, when I was 10 or 11, while I and a couple of friends were walking home from somewhere—maybe the ball fields—we stopped to throw some rocks against an old wooden fence at a place that once was an academy. That fence made a glorious “THUD!” that echoed off the hillside every time a rock hit it and we were having a grand old time. Little did we realize there was a bees nest hon the other side of that fence. And they were not happy with our activity. They came swarming out and attacked. I was the only one stung. Home was just a short distance up the hill on Yawpo Avenue and I made my way there post haste.

This time, Mom, hauled me off to the doctor’s office pronto and, as the allergic reaction began to set in, the doctor administered the necessary shot. He then discussed the relatively new procedure available to desensitize people like me to the venom bees and wasps deliver with each sting. That procedure required a series of ever strengthening injections of bee venom over the course of three years. And so I became a bee venom pin cushion. The shots produced a reaction something like a mosquito bite: a little itching and a little bump. Even as the shots potency increased, my reaction remained about the same. Which was good. After three years the doc said I was no longer allergic to bees and I could ditch the medic alert bracelet I had been wearing.

Time passed some more. I got married and Terry and I were living in Dover, New Jersey. Jessica was born and I was working on my Master’s thesis. This required some field work during which I was in the woods along the median and verge of I-78 just east of the junction with I-287. One warm summer’s day I was out trapping mice in this area when I stepped on a yellow jacket nest. I dropped my gear and hurried out of the woods toward my car. This was the first time I had been stung since those allergy shots and I was a little worried that they might not actually work.

As I stepped out of the woods, I saw a state trooper’s car parked behind my vehicle. I approached the officer, told him what had just happened and asked if he would mind sitting with me for a bit to see if I would have a reaction—and if I did, to get me to the hospital just a couple miles away ASAP. He agreed and we sat in his car chatting a bit while he did paperwork. When nothing seemed to have happened after 15-20 minutes I thanked him and said I seemed to be okay. He went on his way and I got in my car to head north on I-287.

Just to be safe, I got off in Morristown and stopped at a co-worker and friend’s house--a home Terry and I would later purchase—located just off the exit ramp to I-287 and only a quarter mile or so from Morristown Memorial Hospital. Ellen Rosenbaum was home, listened to my tale and made some ice tea. We sat and talked for half an hour or more and when I didn’t show signs of dying, Ellie sent me packing.

I’ve since been stung by wasps and hornets and, while they hurt like the blazes, I’ve had no allergic reaction.  I was so impressed with the results of these desensitization shots, I went to an allergist to find out if he could do anything for my hay fever and reactions to other insect bites. After using my arms and back as a place to do scratch tests to determine what my allergies were (I’ve a booklet somewhere that lists dozens of things I’m supposed to be allergic to—including coffee and chocolate. Really?), we agreed on six targets for desensitization. Same deal as before: start with injections of the allergy causing crud and work our way through ever stronger solutions over three years. I got three shots in each arm on every visit. Never had a reaction to the shots beyond a slight bump and mild itch. After three years, my eyes didn’t water and itch every spring and a mosquito didn’t create a mountain on my bare skin when it bit. Neither do deer flies or black flies. I’m a happy camper!

I became desensitized to poison ivy all on my own. I credit total immersion for that one. That day I fell into a patch while fishing the Ramapo River at the NY –NJ border, with no shirt on caused me to break out from head to belly button. Caused quite the rush on calamine lotion, too.

I’ve since waged war against yellow jackets when and where I find them. I’ve wiped out a ground nest in the Adirondacks and another here at the Aerie. (The Adirondacks one was more fun as the only materials at hand was some 50:1 mixed gas-oil I used in the chainsaw. Whoosh!) And there was one in the Aerie’s eave that I got with a foaming spray.

Now, I told you all this so I could bring up what happened today as I was mowing the lawn after a three week hiatus. Three weeks because of the heat and the sporadic heavy rains. This morning was cool and overcast. The latter meant there was no dew on the ground so I figured I’d get out there and mow. Some of the plantain flower heads were a foot high and you could see the occasional honey bee or bumble bee causing them to bend and sway as they gathered pollen and nectar. I fired up the mower and set to work. As I was cutting around the septic tank cover (a small roofed structure I built a few years ago) I reached down to pull a Queen Anne’s lace from the ground. That’s when they hit me. Swarming out from the roof of the tank cover came the yellow jackets. The RAF didn’t respond to the Luftwaffe with as much energy or determination. As soon as I realized what was happening, I backed off, left the lawn mower and walked swiftly away. Not fast enough. One got me on the left wrist just above my watch band and another got under the bandana I was wearing and stung the top of my right ear. Damn they hurt! I was happy those were the only two that succeeded in getting to me. Even now some five hours later, my wrist is still swollen and I’ve a cauliflower ear. I took one of the Spectracide cans that sprays up to 25 feet and hosed the area from which they emerged. Some were still flying about so I didn’t want to get too close. I’ll go back tonight when they’re inside and spray again. Hopefully I can get to wherever the nest actually is. I do NOT want to have to lift that cover to get to them. No siree!

I did manage to get the lawn finished but you can be sure I kept a wary eye on that corner of the yard while I was working nearby.