"Fly fishing is my passion, hunting is my weakness, and mules are a perplexing addiction."

Sunday, February 26, 2012



Sorry I haven't put anything out recently, but things have been a bit busy around here lately. It's that special time of the year when my savings account dwindles smaller than a hummingbird's purse from forking out large sums of hard-earned money to certain government agencies, and unless you're Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or Congress, it's about as hard as herding cats to come up with enough money to satisfy these folks, especially coming on the heels of Christmas. That's right, you guessed it; I'm referring to the western states Fish and Game agencies and big game drawing deadlines for hunting tags.


Lucky for me, this year's draws are putting me in a pretty good position to pull a couple of highly coveted tags. Coupled with my yearly New Mexico mule deer hunt, in addition to our annual pack trip into the Golden Trout for backcountry mulies, I have a good chance of drawing an X-9A tag out of Bishop, California, in the eastern Sierras, and a bow tag for Arizona's famed Kaibab, on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Lucky for me because with diesel prices skyrocketing higher than Kate Upton's hemline, I'll feel all warm and fuzzy knowing I'm sending some oil executive's kid to Harvard in a new Mercedes equipped with leather upholstery and heated seats.


At any rate, this year I also had scheduled one of my bucket list items to finally check off. That would be a rim, to rim, to rim hike of the Grand Canyon. Now I do a lot of the things I do alone. I prefer to hunt alone. I also enjoy fishing, packing, and doing trail work in the back country by myself. And with the exception of my mule, Zane Grey, who talks entirely too much, I also enjoy the solitude of riding my doodle-donkeys in the backcountry alone.


While my wife, Cathy, isn't all that thrilled with my being in the backcountry alone, most of the time she doesn't pester me about it too much. After all, it was at her insistence that I now have to carry a SPOT emergency satellite locator and a GPS unit whenever I go out alone to remote areas. I don't have the heart to tell her I'm not terribly proficient with the GPS and if I ever figure out how to turn the darned thing on I'll probably get the hang of it, but I suppose she takes comfort in knowing at least I'll have it and the SPOT with me when they find the body.


I should mention that when I first shared the idea with my bride about me hiking the Grand Canyon from one rim to the other, and back, and following her spontaneous outburst of chortling horselaughs, I sensed a bit of resistance on her part. That would have been when she said, "Oh Firth, you crack me up; absolutely not, Buster!"


Cathy and I had a serious discussion about my insistence upon this trip and how much it meant to me. Emotional, to say the least, it involved tears, hugs, outbursts and even pleas of rational. After these failed, I tried holding my breath, lying on the floor kicking and screaming, as well as putting a wastebasket over my head and threatening to wear it from now on whenever we went out to dinner.


Finally, my sweetheart gave in to my demands, but with a concession; Jason, my stepson, would have to accompany me, or no deal! I agreed to her demand, and while there was more screaming, breath-holding, tears, and lying on the floor, kicking in fits, that was from Jason. I was happier than a heifer with a new fence post because I was going to the Grand Canyon.


As it turns out, I may not have gotten my permit application into Park administrators soon enough for our planned trip at the end of April, but should my permit be denied, rest assured I have a backup plan. Suffice it to say, it involves tears, holding my breath, lying on the floor, kicking and screaming, and a waste basket!