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Mid-spawn Crappie

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Slow night ending with a respectable 9 keepers (3 of which over 13″)

Friday night crappie

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“Duck Dynasty” Premieres Wednesday, March 21

A&E Network introduces the Robertsons, a Louisiana bayou family living the American dream as they operate a thriving business while staying true to their family values and lifestyle.

Ask anyone in Louisiana and they’ll tell you that the bayou state’s favorite first family doesn’t live in the governor’s mansion but in the backwoods, where the Robertsons’ rags-to-riches story is still unfolding. A homegrown mom-and-pop operation, Duck Commander has become a sporting empire by fabricating top-of-the-line duck calls and decoys out of salvaged swamp wood.

This newly minted multimillionaire family is kept in line by business-savvy Willie, who runs Duck Commander with the help of his brother Jase, their respective wives Korie and Missy, patriarch and founder of the company, Phil, and uncle Si. Together they run a booming business that employs half their neighborhood, but at the end of the day, you can find the whole family around matriarch Miss Kay’s dinner table.

Series Premiere Wednesday, March 21 | 10/9C

Series Premiere Wednesday, March 21 | 10/9C

Series Premiere Wednesday, March 21 | 10/9C

Mid-summer Checkup

Despite this being one of the busiest summers that I can ever remember, the opportunity to get out and fish has been surprisingly good. Having the kayak has proven a lifesaver (or rather a season saver). More importantly, having a buddy willing to go whenever in his kayak has made the summer. We’ve been balancing a heavy work schedule with grilling, chilling and fishing on the weekends for a few weeks now. The extreme summer heat has hampered efforts a little, but it’s been more of a “what time of day” than whether-or-not-we’ll-go situation. I haven’t been adding much to the t-shirt store this summer either, but a few designs have made their way onto the store. Continue reading »

Ring in the Summer

 

Work has so consumed me in the last several months that the ol’ HFG has suffered pretty badly. I’ve been able to get out on the water some, both in the kayak and under power, just haven’t been snapping many shots and writing about it all. I need to do a little better, I know. In keeping with annual traditions, we scooted down to Logan Martin Lake in Alabama (home) and took part in the weekend-long food and beer-fest that we call Memorial Day weekend. It was as advertised and a very much needed break from the office. Continue reading »

Sportsman’s Warehouse Online

Sportsman’s Warehouse Announces Launch of Online Store

(MIDVALE, UT, October 18, 2010) Sportsman’s Warehouse has officially launched its online store: Sportsmanswarehouse.com. The site offers customers the opportunity to enjoy Sportsman’s Warehouse wide selection of brand name product, excellent customer service and competitive pricing no matter where they live. The vast majority of products available at all Sportsman’s Warehouse brick-and-mortar stores will be available online. Continue reading »

My Crazy Charity

I think about it all of the time. Even when I was a kid I dreamed about having a boat and going on an adventure. I’ve had some adventures over the years in little aluminum boats, since then. I even have my grandfathers little v-hull powered by the monstrous 6hp 1967 Evinrude. It’ll run about 11mph with a modest load and is nostalgic to fish out of, if not particularly safe. I’ve made some great memories over the last decade with friends in their boats, especially during duck season.

 

Partially because of the career I’ve chosen, and partially due to plain ol’ reality, I’ve never been able to get my own full blown rig. I’ve always said you’d know I was “there” when you saw me trailering my own fancy swamp boat to the river. Last year a custom boat builder and friend in Louisiana called me up with an offer. He had one last boat of a particular type I loved, and he wanted me to have first crack at it at a pretty good savings over full retail. My wife told me to go for it.

I knew then that I’d be facing the real issue when it came time to buy a motor. It’s the boat of my dreams and I had no intention of putting a tired old used outboard on the back of it. It’s been a year of paying for the boat and I thought I’d be ready to buy the motor by now. It hasn’t happened and honestly, I don’t see it happening any time soon. The reality of life and bills just puts it out of my reach. It’s been a tough decision, but I had to call it off recently.

Believe me, I want it, but the reality of being so close to catching up old bills and the cost of living is just too much. I could go to the bank, but I couldn’t sleep at night taking on debt on top of debt for as selfish a reason as that. If we started having kids before I got it all paid for, I’d be screwed. At the end of the day, it’s a luxury and I can’t afford it.

I’ve been walking, paddling and bumming rides for so many years, I can’t even imagine fishing or hunting from my own rig. It just can’t happen anytime soon for me. I decided not to sell my beloved boat, but also not to spend more money I don’t have trying to force the motor issue. It’s the right play.

The upside is that I love the outdoors and this blog is proof. I decided this weekend to add a “Donation” button to the site. Of course the site is non-profit and always will be. I have some google ads installed and apparel for sale to try to help with the expenses of the site, but they don’t even come close to covering. HFG isn’t about making money, but it occurred to me while fishing that maybe I could add the “Donation” tab to help raise some money for a motor. I realize that amount of money won’t fall from the heavens overnight, but maybe a few bucks here and there could add up. I already know I’m not getting a motor on my own, so why not? If nothing else, it’ll be a good birthday and Christmas deposit for my motor fund!

Who knows, maybe enough HFG fans, friends and family out there can throw in a few bucks here and there and make my dream come true. If not, at least we can scratch up enough money to pay the site’s annual fees in the meantime. I’ve got nothing to lose! If you’re feeling generous at all, please donate, any amount at all. I set the default to just $5, but you can change it to more or less easily. Whether or not you donate, thanks for being a fan of HuntFishGrill.com.

Jason

Fall Hookup

I’m the first one to say, you can’t catch anything from the couch. You can’t shoot a pintail, an 8 pointer or a limit of quail from the couch, either. You have to get out in the field to even have a chance. That philosophy also goes for the more humorous encounters in nature. You just don’t experience these things without getting outside.

Let’s pick up at about 7pm on an October Friday night. The wife was cleaning house for a family get together over the weekend and reports of smallmouth below the dam from the night before were echoing in my head. I had it on my mind, and had wrangled a hall pass to go see about those smallies.

 

When I arrived at the dam a few text messages confirmed where I needed to be and my buddy requested that I keep an eye out for his fancy pliers he’d forgotten the night before. A quick walk down the rip-rap found the lost pliers and the casting started. I caught a spunky little rockfish and nothing else as the sun dipped below the horizon.

The light was fading when I started casting harder to get my timing down for the nearing darkness. I try to setup my aim points and casting rhythm before it gets too dark to see, so I can continue to be effective in low light. I slung a monster cast as far as I could. I noticed the line was strangely limp at the end of the cast.

Usually the flowing tailrace waters are quite noticeable on the larger 1/2 ounce lures I was throwing, but this cast seemed to be floating. Mostly because it was. My attention focused forward to a screaming great blue heron way out at the end of my cast. The poor guy had glided by at the precise moment my lure came sailing across his path. In the failing light I never saw it.

I saw it pretty well with 50 yards of line paid out and a giant bird flailing and screaming bloody murder at the end of it. Several thoughts crossed my mind in those few seconds. Not the least of which was the unbreakable 20lb Suffix braid I had on the reel. I pondered the outcome as the drag sang and the bird squawked and flapped to nearly 100 yards away.

Abruptly he collapsed and fell to the rushing water and continued to flap and squawk while he drifted downstream. I let the 7 foot rod and heavy line keep me in the game while I sorted my thoughts. The $8 lure was important, but I wanted to get the bird freed up if possible. I held his drift at 100 yards away as slowly he flapped towards shore. Eventually I guided him to the water’s edge and started rock hopping my way down to find the God-only-knows-what scenario.

I honestly didn’t have a clue what I was going to have to do, but I made my way down there with a purpose (in the dark mind you). Thankfully I already had my headlamp on and picked up my buddy’s found pliers while fighting the still screaming bird. The heron started to get rowdy as I got within 20 feet and fear of breaking my rod started setting in. I reeled and climbed to within 10 feet as the bird crouched right at water’s edge. The awful terrain wasn’t helping.

As I reeled down to 6  feet the stark reality of what I had on my hands kicked in. I now had the most dangerous bird I could find wrapped in unbreakable fishing line within striking distance and convinced that I was going to kill him. Nevermind the new treble hooks hiding somewhere in the mix. You could laugh it off but the beloved crocodile hunter was killed by a seemingly harmless critter in a less stressful situation that this one. I’ve seen these birds spear through 2lb fish with ease a thousand times, and I wasn’t interested in seeing him poke a hole in my calf or worse if he aimed higher.

I switched to holding the line wrapped around my hand and laid the rod down (thinking this was a good idea) only to find out the bird decided it was do-or-die time. Only real problem was now there but three feet of superline separating me from sword-bird and he was no longer trying to go away from me, but instead was lunging at me with bad intentions.

If you think these birds are pretty feathered creatures, you should see all that plumage standing straight up like a cockatoo when they’re enraged. With a great blue heron tethered to one hand, I quickly unbuttoned my shirt with the other and slung off my Columbia fishing shirt as though i knew what I was doing. I tossed the shirt on his head only to see his beak pop out the other side somehow more aggravated than before. He really started lashing out, this time sporting a nice shirt to go with his vertical plumage.

I let out a few feet of line and he started flapping to get away as I snatched up the shirt. Now I had an airborne sword-yielding bird on the end of 5 feet of line wrapped painfully around my hand. I got him onto the ground and made two more failing attempts to veil the angry fella before a fourth attempt landed perfectly over his head as I moved in close in contempt of any beak injuries I might endure. He was taking a swipe at me when the shirt landed, so I saw his beak clearly pointed through the shirt.

I quickly grabbed the beak, and the game changed. He finally stopped the God-awful wailing routine he’d kept up the entire time, and I moved in tight to do the deed. I saw the the lure had wrapped about four thousand times above his knee. the treble hooks collecting the line many times over. It’d never have come off without assistance. With a great blue heron beak in one hand, I went for the found pliers with the other, only to find they wouldn’t help at all. I laid them on a rock and went for my pocket knife. A little two handed bird-wrangling and knife play quickly cut the lure free. I double checked that the line was free and the rod and lure were independently cleared of the bird, grabbed the tail of the shirt and made the big reveal.

Ol’ razor lips stood up, shook his head, flapped his wings a few times and gave me the stink eye. He hopped a few rocks away and stood there before flying away. I took my rod and lure back to my spot and sat down to get a drink and laugh it all off, only to realize I’d left the found pliers somewhere in the dark amongst the rip-rap below the dam a hundred yards away.

I went back with a flashlight and found the pliers before retying the lure and fishing the rest of the night. I didn’t end up catching anything (else) that night. The water wasn’t running strong and it wasn’t in the cards that day. Once thing is for sure, though. That wouldn’t have happened sitting on the couch.

Rodent Invasion

Obviously you know this cracks me up, being rodents and all. My buddy and his dad met his brother at his house in Utah. His brother was in Iraq for an extended period and they arrived to find a full on invasion of the house in progress. The waged war that followed yielded 21 mice killed in myriad ways.

Warranty State

I don’t know how I ever got here. Perhaps it was because my beloved grandfather would only buy Craftsman tools (at least the major ones). I look around or even listen to myself describe things I’ve bought and one theme is consistent throughout, warranty. It could be dumb luck from wanting the better things, but I know better. It’s not a side effect, but the very reason I buy the things I do.

 

My buddies and I subscribe to the “Axe Book” way of thinking. Buy something of quality, and our impact on the earth is minimized. Think about how many $20 coolers Walmart sells every single day. What if you spent five times the money and never had to buy one again, barring unusual circumstances? Yeah, that’s it in a nutshell. Spend a little more sometimes to get the right product, durable and trustworthy, and send a little less fuel to the disposable kingdom-works of American consumerism. The real irony is that the “better choices” are the very products that usually come with a no fuss warranty. Make no mistake, I look for just that in a quality product. I want to buy what I need once and forget about it, but if it does break, I don’t want to fumble around looking for registration or to see if the company even still exists.

This logic has finally started paying for itself after years of buying things “my way”. I look around and most of the things I have and use are things I bought years ago and only bought once. Recently I’ve noticed an increase in warranty work, and I love it! I lost the thumb-stud on my pocket knife, they mailed me a replacement with no more than an e-mail exchange (SOG). One of my pocket pistols started acting up after cleaning, total factory reconditioning for the price of one-way overnight mailing(Kel-Tec). I sent in an 8 year-old Parka with a handwritten letter and got a replacement in three weeks(Columbia). After 7 years of dutiful service, my sunglasses finally snapped on a 20 degree duck hunt, replaced for a third of the original price (Costa Del Mar). The list goes on and on.

I even have a queue started. I’m waiting patiently for my second pair of Filson socks to wear out so I can get both pair replaced. I smoked one of my Terralux flashlight products and they’re waiting on me to send it back to be replaced under warranty. I can go on, but you see the point is clear(at least to me). I don’t have tons of money to buy toys, but when I do make a purchase, I intend it to be my last. So far it’s proving to be the right play. I take very seriously my gear and the dollars I work for to buy it all. I even agonize for months over pennies to be spent on just the right investment for my needs. Obviously there’s satisfaction when an investment fits the bill, proves efficient and durable and ultimately is backed by the manufacturer if failure occurs. If I gave you advice, you’d probably look at me sideways, but consider what the “Axe Book
taught us the next time you buy something.

The Axe Book from Gränsfors Bruks