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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014



There is a distinct difference between a love and a passion when it comes to doing something you enjoy.  If you love doing something, you do it as often as permitted, planning around your work schedule, family obligations etc., etc.  With regards to passions, well passions are something different.  Passions are a calling, something you must do, you are compelled to do; something you find a way to do, regardless.  I truly believe, unless it is destructive, that if you have a passion, you are blessed.  

Now, I am blessed with several passions, all of which, revolve around the back country.  I love to hunt, I love to fish, I love to hike, backpack, explore and do trail work, and I love to spend all the time I can in the back country.  I believe I am blessed because, among other things, I have a wife that not only shares many of these passions with me, she allows me to pursue them when she isn’t able to come along.  I am also blessed in that I am still able to pursue my passions.  I am fortunate to still have my health, and as I look around at my many friends, some of who are my age, I can’t help but be grateful for what I have.  Too many of them are gone, and more each year it seems, and the rest are simply unable or uninterested in the dreams I chase year in, and year out.

Once again, it is that time of year, that I live for.  There is a sudden crispness in the morning air.  Leaves are beginning to slowly fall from the cottonwoods even though they are still very green, and there is a different sort of breeze in the air that signals a coming change of the season.  It is nearly fall, and it’s my favorite time of the year.

When I was young, and still serving time in that penal institution many called school, I hated the fall.  Fall meant school, new clothes, and new shoes.  Fall meant studying; something I never seemed to have the attention span for, and fall meant doing anything other than what I would have rather been doing, and for me that meant doing anything other than being in school.  I detested school like a camel detests the Yukon.

Lately, I’ve been zipping around here like a moth on the Vegas Strip.  Events are about to get rapid and things are about to get busy.  It’s the time of year I live for and I’m so excited I’m afraid I’ll get the drizzles trying to get gear and supplies together for a series of back to back trips that will take me into late October.

Having just come off a four-day backpacking trip into the eastern Sierras with my niece; a trip we’d been planning for eight months or better.  We got to see some spectacular country with skies bluer than window cleaner.  It was new country for me, country dotted with more lakes than pimples on a prom date, and we got to fly fish until our arms fell off.  Even my dog, Mutt, came along and packed his own groceries on this one, and starting out at over 9,000 feet and ending up at 11,000 feet, it helped me to get in a little better shape for the upcoming bow season in Arizona.

I’ve had little over 48 hours and just enough time to load my quad and gear into a friends rig, and tonight we head off for 10 days to the Kaibab Plateau on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for the opener of the Archery Deer Season.  At 9500’ and almost daily thunderstorms as of late, and more in the forecast, it should be a fun trip, and hopefully a productive one.
Immediately after returning to Anza from bow hunting, I’ll have a couple of days to gather stock and gear together for a road trip up to Shasta for a week participating in a N.O.L.S. (National Outdoor Leadership School) Masters pack trip into the Trinity.  That one will be more of a working trip for me as the N.O.L.S. people will be testing us to see if we know our stuff for future Leave No Trace teachings.  We, (the Back Country Horsemen of California) will be taking over teaching of the Master’s Course for stock users next year, where people from all over the country come to learn LNT skills for stock use in the back country.

Not to be left out, my bride, feeling lonely as a leper, is screaming, “What about me?”  Well, we’ll be heading back into the Sierras somewhere for a late season pack trip with the mules, and some high country fishing.  The mules should be in fine shape by then, and upon returning home, the deer opener takes place here at home on the first weekend in October.

I should have my plate full this season as I have three grandsons to hunt with this year, and I’m really looking forward to spending time with them by repeatedly making them turn their phones off and paying attention to hunting.  I have a feeling they’ll keep me busier than a Queensland in a cow pen.  We’ll be traveling in on horseback to one of my deer camps where I already have the tent set up for friends and family for the September bow season.  Hopefully we can all fill our local tags because the last week of October brings up the grand finale; my annual pack trip into the Golden Trout Wilderness where, along with my stepson and a longtime friend, we will once again pack up all the mules and horses, and for eight days, venture far from the beaten path, cell phones, and other hunters, as we head up the Kern River to a spot we’ve been going to for some years now.

At any rate, I’m as excited as a puppy on new carpet, and can’t wait to get on the road tonight, and in parting, I hope you too have a passion and are blessed with the ability to pursue it!  
Mossy antlers and Godspeed!