In the spring, when trout fishing and turkey hunting occupy many of my days,
I sometimes find myself mentally listing all of the flies I will tie when I sit
down at the bench during the long, cold nights of January, February and
Elk hair caddis, blue-wing olive, Hendrickson's, both light and dark,
parachute in sizes 16, 18 and 20, and, of course, a
variety of bead-head nymphs. They will be beautiful things. These creatures of
hair and feather, the product of my own fingers, will so precisely imitate the
real insect that the most finicky trout in the Whitewater will not be able to
resist them. But in truth I know that come spring, I will once again rely on
the generosity of friends who tie to pull me through the year.
The freezer out in the garage is home to who-knows-how-many turkey fans,
beards and scaley legs with long and some not-so-long spurs. I save them
because each spring I plan to mount them on plaques when winter comes. I've
been turkey hunting for a long time now and so far I have managed to display
In Winter: Time For Rod Building?
Fishing for walleye, sauger, crappie, bluegill, smallmouth bass and muskie, is
my summertime thing. When you fish for that many different species, you have to
own a lot of rods and reels. Any fisherman will tell you that you really can't
fish walleye with a rod designed for pitching Spooks to smallmouth bass. And
even in the world of walleye fishing alone, it takes a minimum of six rods to
cover all of the different tactics and conditions. I mean a rod, which might be
ideal for slip-bobber fishing cannot really be pressed into duty for bouncing
heavy jigs in 40 feet of water.
Or a rod which is so light and sensitive that all a walleye has to do is get
close to that leech and you can feel him breathing on it, is a magic wand when
it comes to live-bait rigging, but you can hardly expect the same rod to serve
as a trolling rod for pulling cranks across sprawling flats.
I'm really hoping that my wife Nancy reads this -- maybe then she will
understand why it was necessary for us to take 27 rods on a week's fishing
vacation Up North. But I digress. My real point here is that ever since my good
friend Dave Daniels built a rod for me as a gift, I have made plans to build a
rod or two during those long, cold winter evenings. I don't need another rod
you understand, but there is something special about fishing with a rod which
has been built by hand, or better yet by the hands of a friend, or your own.
It's been 15 winters since Davey built that rod for me and so far, it is the
only custom rod I own.
In Winter: Time For Cresting Arrows?
In the fall I hunt. I pretty much hunt everything, but I spend more time
sitting in a treestand with a bow laying across my lap than I do engaged in any
other activity. Bowhunting deer leaves a lot of time for thinking and
daydreaming and planning. One of my plans each fall is to spend some time when
winter comes cresting my arrows. I have always liked the looks of a crested
arrow, but more importantly, that white cresting has got to make it a little
easier to follow the arrow in flight, especially in the growing gloom of dusk
or the first blush of dawn. So far, I have yet to shoot my first crested arrow.
When my father died, my mother gave me his shotgun. It is a 12-gauge
Winchester Model 12. Some say the Model 12 was the finest pump gun ever built.
I agree. I happen to do much of my hunting with a 20-gauge Model 12 which I got
from the Old Scutter a long time ago. Traded him a brand-new-in-the-box
Browning automatic for that little pump and I've never been sorry. But each
season I make it a point to do some hunting with Pa's old gun. Each season I
notice that the wood could sure use re-finishing. Each season I make plans to
make that one of my winter projects. Pa's been gone 24 years now. Maybe next
Good intentions. That's what I've got. In the spring, summer and fall, it
always seems to me that there will be time in the winter to do all of those
things. But then winter comes and I find myself just as busy as I was in the
spring, the summer and the fall. I hunt deer somewhere until the end of January
each year. When I'm not hunting deer, I like to call coyotes or pull off a long
stalk on a snoozing red. I'm also fond of squirrel hunting during the winter
time because I don't find time to hunt them much in September and October. And
if I can lose myself in a bramble patch with a favorite .22 rifle and a few
cottontails on a sunny, but cold, winter afternoon, I'm one happy camper. Sometimes,
when we want fresh fish to eat, I'll call my buddy Rick Enright who
always seems to know where we can catch a mess of crappies or bluegill and we
will go punch a few holes in the ice.
So you see, it's not really that I'm lazy. It's just that I am way too busy
doing things outside, to spend the time inside to get all of those things done.
And you know what? I like it that way!
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Gary Clancy writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. Gary has hunted whitetail deer in 20 different states and provinces. He has harvested many record-book animals, and presented hunting seminars from Tennessee to Wisconsin. Gary also has authored or co-authored six hunting books, four on whitetail hunting.