Thursday, December 18, 2014

Reading is Fun

I was not much of a reader when in school. To me, reading was just a waste of time, especially when I could be learning something by studying science and math, or creating simple programs on the computer. For those younger than myself, those computer programs were a big deal back then, as the computer was still in its infancy with a decent computer having a whopping 64k of memory. The laptop I am typing from now has over 1 terabyte of storage memory and 4 gigabytes of operating memory.
Back to the subject at hand. A good way to describe my passion for reading was pure hate. I had a major test on the book A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court for instance. I thought it would interest me, but it didn’t. So, in order to pass the test I read every other chapter. If I had a book that had Cliff’s Notes (again, for the younger readers out there, this was our example of a wiki page on what a book was about), I would read the synopsis only. I could not even read the chapter by chapter breakdown.
My reading habits changed in college, and I actually went through a very prolific reading stage. Those habits continued to this day. I particularly enjoy older books, those about religion and prophecy, and stories about the outdoors. Amongst my favorite reads are books by Jon Krakauer such as Into Thin Air and Into the Wild, Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, and personal accounts from former President Teddy Roosevelt on his many expeditions across America and Africa.
I was recently offered a complimentary hard cover copy of Dark Timber published by L’ivoire Press. First of all, beginning in March of 2015, L’ivoire Press will be running a subscription based service of four books per year. They are limited to 950 hard copy books each, hand numbered, and offer according to their tag line, The Greatest of Hunting Stories.
Based on Dark Timber, I believe in what they say. Dark Timber is a compilation of three stories selected after much thought and debate, to symbolize what the longer anthologies of the regular subscription base would be like. Remember my selection of Roosevelt? Well, Teddy is included with his account of “A Shot at a Bull Elk.”
Dark Timber focuses on elk hunting, and the premiere story of the three is the “Saga of the One-Eyed Bull” told in a rich and vivid recounting by Walt Prothero. Prothero exquisitely portrays both his passion for the hunt, and his compassion of the animal in his quest for the one-eyed bull he had encountered for four years. The ending handles the emotion of the kill in a way in which one feels when told their long loved pet would be better off put down than to suffer its remaining days.
These stories promise to offer more than tips and techniques of hunting. L’ivoire Press promises to bring the subscriber along on adventures that show why we hunt in the first place. I look forward to reading their future published works.
You can download an electronic copy of Dark Timber at as well as subscribe to their quarterly editions. I know they would not only make a great Christmas gift for the outdoorsman, they will very likely become a family hand-me-down to share with generations into the future.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Respect is one of many words that describes someone’s positive character traits. Respect represents admiration of someone or something. When there is lack of respect, it often shines like an aerodrome beacon for all to recognize.
For instance, earlier this year while fishing from the kayak at the coast, there were several boats as well as myself fishing along a train trestle. We were all evenly spaced providing plenty of distance between each other. One boat even moved up to a bridge piling, tying to the concrete beam and attempting to fish for sheepshead. While the boat did come close to where I was located, we acknowledged each other and knew we would not be interfering with each other’s fishing.
The current flowing under the bridge and trestle was rather strong as the tide was coming in. My anchor held tight in the open channel as my fishing focused away from the anchor rope.
In the distance, I noticed a large center console heading down the channel. I thought it was rather strange, as this channel is not a throughway, as not only is it narrow but also has several huge concrete power poles several feet in diameter positioned right in the middle.
As the boat passed the first anchored fishing boat down the channel I could tell this was not going to go well. The wake was high, and the boat passed within a few feet of the other.
Still, it kept coming down the channel. As it came closer, I spotted several trolling rigs set out to the sides. For sure this was not happening here.
As it passed between me and the other nearby boat, water breached my kayak easily and tossed the boat fishing for sheepshead into the piling it was tied to. My greatest worry was whether their trolling rigs would catch onto my anchor rope and proceed to snatch the kayak over. I grabbed the anchor rope and tugged and pulled as quickly as I could to prevent the potential catastrophe.
While this was a clear lack of respect for each of us fishing this channel, it also became dangerous.
Then there was the time a couple of years ago on the last day of deer season. As I walked into the clearing of the field to get to my stand, I noticed bright orange ahead in a tripod stand at a point in the woods. My dad and son were not hunting, and our gate had been locked. Yet there were two hunters sitting in our tripod.
I laid the bow and arrows down in the path and approached them. Well before getting there, they climbed down and started walking towards me as well. I knew I was unarmed. I knew they had rifles. This was not a time for me to offer threats, but instead I just asked did they know where they were. They said they thought they were on a nearby landowner’s farm. I corrected them and pointed them towards the farm they mentioned. While they had an excuse, I still doubted their sincerity considering the way they exited the stand and approached me as if they had been caught.
While that case can be argued, tree stands built onto private land cannot. I have seen it on our land, with access from a major highway. I have seen it where stands were built on other properties several feet into the woods in order to conceal the effort. I have seen cameras put up and bait put out. I have seen No Trespassing signs removed and trash left. I have even seen deer carcasses with just the back straps cut out left for the landowner to clean up.
For all the ethical, respectful hunter and angler out there, it only takes the few less than respectful people to tarnish the image.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Have you ever been to a place and think to yourself, “I must be crazy, but if by chance I am not, then everyone else most certainly is”? Comic-con would certainly put you in that mindset.

To explain a bit of our sub-culture that you may not have experience with, Comic-con is short for comic convention. San Diego would be the Mecca of the conventions, where many Hollywood stars attend to promote sci-fi, fantasy, and comic based movies and television shows.

I attended my first Comic-con recently, although it was one of the ‘satellite’ conventions with a little less fan-fare and support from the big companies. I began to appreciate comics and superheroes at a young age just like many people do. My Saturday mornings consisted of Superfriends, Scooby Doo, and even Hong Kong Phooey. It is what kids did on Saturdays.

With the release of the Marvel movies, my kids have become fans as well. One of the few television shows I watch is based on one of my favorite superheroes, the Flash. My youngest, Cooper, will climb into my recliner with me and watch and talk during the hour it is showcased on the flat screen.

While watching all the people at the Comic-con, many cosplaying, in other words dressing up as their favorite characters, I felt like I was at a Halloween party in mid-November.

But, I realized it may not have been all that weird, especially for the younger once attending. While I occasionally donned a bath towel flapping off my back being held by a safety pin around my neck when I was little, I also dressed and played as other heroes.

For instance I had a brown coat with tassels hanging from the pockets, a coon skin hat, and a lever action bb gun. While this image may not strike a bit of resemblance with kids of today, most of you in your late 30’s and older will easily picture Davy Crockett.

The King of the Wild Frontier had the image and lore to inspire motion pictures and television shows to carry on his legacy for many generations. While being a state leader and politician as well as a hero who died fighting at the Alamo, he was a frontiersman, hunter, and trapper that knew the ways of the outdoors. While today’s movies try to develop our comic hero’s characters and traits, Crockett has a real backstory.

Daniel Boone was yet another hero immortalized from legend thanks to Disney expanding on his life and times. While the legend of Boone even spread to Europe during the 1800’s, our knowledge of both true and embellished events in his life are known mainly by the tales our generations have been able to see.

Another outdoorsman who played a huge part in expanding the frontier of a young United States, Boone readily acknowledged much of the lore was simply to make him bigger than what he was. He was humble, a man of few words, and claimed to be a simple man. That is saying a lot about someone who was said to have ‘grinned a bear to death’ while in the Appalachians. Let’s see Superman do that.

I’ve often wished a major movie studio would once again take on sharing stories of people like these so our kids, and their kids, could learn and admire them.

Of course, I always wished for a Lone Ranger movie to hit the silver screen for the same reasons, and yet we got Johnny Depp in a crow hat instead.