Oct 21, 2012

Thanks Mom

I've been enjoying this hunting season. It has been years since I had last been hunting. Living in big cities without a car is not conducive to getting out in the woods and chasing critters. But this season I have already been out four times. When I began gathering my gear for this season I became aware of one item I did not have; a game bag. Growing up, my father carried a game bag that once belonged to my grandfather. My grandmother had made it for my grandfather to carry sandwiches and coffee to work in. It doubled as a bag for pheasants and rabbits; and believe me when I tell you, it has seen its fair share of them. I wanted a bag identical to my father's. With that in mind, there was only one source that I knew could provide it; my mom.

I haven't posted much about my mother on this blog, though she is known as quite the quilter; quite the seamstress. She is also quite the pickler, bargain hunter, baker, and loving parent amongst other things good. The mother of nine children, some a bit more surly than others (ahem), she has a sixth sense for ways to save a nickle. She regularly clips coupons and as children, we were her army of sales receipts and Universal Product Code (UPC) scavengers. We were always on the look-out, and often returned home with receipts found in grocery store parking lots or plucked from garbage cans, as well as UPCs torn from packages of our friends' lunch snacks. She'd mail in her assembled proof of purchase and in a couple weeks would receive a unique, yet free item. One which vividly sticks out in my mind was the duffel bag she received brandished with the name Colgate across both sides. I was embarrassed to use it, but she assured me that Colgate was a fantastic college with a great basketball team. Well done mom! Her uncanny knack for coupon clipping, is only surpassed by her sewing and quilting prowess. She is a perfectionist with a needle and thread and is gifted with the artist's skill of coordinating colors and patterns in complex and intricate arrays. I don't know how many elaborate, hand made quilts she has created over the years; I don't even know if she could recall the number exactly. She has made quilts for friends, siblings and myself. One of which, she created for me with a few yards of bicycle print fabric I found at a bike swap. That's worthy of a blog post all of it's own. Needless to say, when I asked her if she could make a game bag for me, she was delighted. Using approximately the same dimensions as the bag my father caries; she created the bag shown in the pictures here. I love it. Take a look at those seems; the detail is flawless. I'll be carrying shells, water and hopefully a few critters in it this season.

Thanks Mom.

Oct 7, 2012

Swaying & playing

On the way home from work on Friday, I stopped by a construction site to play on some rocks. I really love disconnecting my sway bar (Skyjacker discos). Lots of fun!

New Blogger interface - thumbs down

If you're a blogger like me, and you use Blogger to publish your personal jibberish on the world wide web, then you may be upset about Blogger's new interface. Yes, Blogger has warned us for the past year or so, that a new version was coming and they even offered the switch-over numerous times before it became mandatory. 

The new interface is handy for formatting text and linking within your blog posts but where it falls short is in it's picture embedding. If you rarely post images, you may not care. But if you're a photographer or really like adding pictures to your posts, you may find picture formatting options limited, and a real pain in the ass in general. 

I've been editing the html of my posts for the last few years. Blogger never allowed me to lay out my images the way I wanted to and so I had to go in and edit the code myself. Blogger's new interface claims to make picture layouts even easier, but I find it a whole lot more difficult. So, I decided to share with you, some very basic code which will allow anyone with even the slightest bit of coding know-how, to lay out their images the way they want.

Simply click here to download the code needed to layout your images as shown below. Open the file using Wordpad, Microsoft Word, or any text reader.  Then simply copy & paste the code into the html view of your blog post.  Depending on the width of your blog (the blog content width of my blog is 800 pixels wide) you may need to resize your images smaller etc.  Just keep the height & width of your images proportionate.  Hope this helps!

Oct 6, 2012

Grouse hunting - Frederick Watershed

I hiked about 7 miles today through some pretty rugged country and unfortunately, didn't flush a single grouse. I left my house at 5:45 and headed west out to the Frederick Watershed. The Watershed is one of Maryland's Cooperative Wilderness Management Areas, open to the public to hunt in, and a hotspot for mountainbiking. I spent a lot of time freeriding this area back in 2003 & 2004. When I pulled in at 7:00, dawn was breaking and I was the only one in the parking lot. I headed down a familiar trail and then ducked into the woods to parallel it for a while. There was plenty of cover and I had my thumb on the safety waiting for that explosive burst, grouse are notorious for. I was thinking to myself, any minute now a pair of grouse are going to burst into flight... but no dice.

The weather forecast had called for rain, and by 9:30, the morning sun had been obscured by some ominous cloud cover but alas it never did rain. My stomach was growling and I wished I had tried to eat something before I left, but I never have an appetite early in the morning. I was feeling pretty knackered from the rocky terrain and constant ups and downs.  (The Watershed is quite hilly, just take a look at the topo map!) After another hour of seeing only the occasional grey squirrel, I decided to pack it up and head in to town for breakfast at a great diner I know. On the way back to the Jeep I found a neat deer skull with a six point rack! 

After a couple of eggs, bacon and toast I felt refreshed and drove to another area of the park, one that  I was not familiar with. The topographical map showed flat terrain in a little area and then a long spine which descended over two miles. This time the brush was thicker; more dense. It was rough going, but I thought for sure I'd flush a few birds. Again; no luck! The terrain was getting more and more rocky. Soon I found myself stepping from boulder to boulder. Then I saw small caves. I thought, awesome let's check out these caves! But when I got to them, a very uneasy feeling came over me. Frederick is known for it's black bears. Here I was, right on top of these caves, and surrounded by very dense brush. My scent was blowing downwind to the caves. I decided to hightail it out of there. I carried my gun in one hand, by the barrel-break and made steady progress away from there. I stopped only once to avoid walking smack-dab into an enormous orange and yellow spider. I nearly shot the thing; yikes!  It was about the size of a fifty cent piece. Turns out, this spider is a Marbled Orb Weaver and is completely harmless to humans - Gave me the heebie jeebies though; I'll tell you that.

Though I'm tired and my hips are sore (My hips always get sore when I hike) I had a great time in the woods. I got to carry the new Fox Sterlingworth 12 gauge my father gifted to me and it felt great in my hands. I couldn't leave without firing it, so I set up a couple couple of old Pepsi bottles I found in the brush.  After shattering the bottles I broke the gun open, pulled the spent shells and lifted them to my nose.  That smell brings back some great memories! I'm looking forward to going back, but hopefully, I'll see some birds next time.

Oct 3, 2012

I've got an itchy trigger finger

I'm really anxious to get out and hunt this season.  I've spent the last few weeks, preparing slowly.  I picked up a good pair of rubber, insulated packs for tromping through marshland and scored a great, Winchester, blaze-orange vest just the other day.  My mother is even in on the action; making me a hand-made game bag to carry like the one my father still carries today.  I haven't been hunting in a long time; 15 years actually.  I believe the last time I was hunting, was with my father back in 1997.  We used to hunt in a gorgeous little area known as Deerfield Ravine in upstate New York; abundant with rabbits, partridge and old glass bottles.  All of which, though perhaps mostly the latter, we'd bring home with us.  This Saturday I'll be hunting at Cunningham Falls State Park in Thurmont, Maryland.  Saturday marks the opening day of partridge season here in Maryland and I'll be taking my new (new to me - made in 1917) Fox Sterlingworth double-barrel shotgun.  It's a really fine 12 gauge that my father gave to me.  The bag limit is two per day.  We'll see how many 12 gauge holes I put in the sky on Saturday...