Wrestling With Lions

Last December a conservation officer for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources www.fw.ky.gov answered a call about a reported mountain lion. What followed sparked an avalanche of public outrage.

Read my take on it in the March issue of Kentucky Monthly. http://www.kentuckymonthly.com/explore/field-notes/mountain-lion-kentucky/.


Wildlife for Watching

The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation area www.landbetweenthelakes.us is a 170,000-acre slice of federal property that separates Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley and spills across the Kentucky-Tennessee border. It’s heavily wooded and mostly undeveloped (a few campgrounds; no commercial facilities). Residents include deer, turkey, squirrels, rabbits, a few quail, seasonable waterfowl and more. Hunting seasons do not exactly follow state regulations but there are plenty of hunting opportunities for most game species, although the elk and bison are off limits. IMG_8458

LBL has been home to a resident American bison herd for decades. A few years ago elk were added. The elk and bison now share a 700-acre fenced patch of land (the Elk and Bison Prairie) that has been replanted in native grasses. Access is by a one-way auto loop. It’s become one of LBL’s most popular attractions.


I drove through the prairie Monday afternoon. It’s usually a $5 per car fee but there was no charge in celebration of MLK Day.

The afternoon was sunny and in the 50s. Elk were out and so were the bison, both of which were apparently  undisturbed by the steady stream of traffic.

The Elk and Bison Prairie is a nice exhibit and well worth a visit. Now, if they’d just take down the fence.

What’s in a Name?

The New Year is off to a good start. I’ve not yet caught the first fish of 2015 but have readied tackle in preparation for doing so. Soon, hopefully.IMG_2808

I’m not really a New Year resolution kind of guy but I would like to accomplish a few things this year: Catch a steelhead. Visit the headwaters of the Missouri River. Spend a few extra days prowling in the squirrel woods. Try ice fishing. Camp above the treeline. Blog regularly. Make daily Bible reading a reality instead of a good intention.

This blog also has a new name. Base Camp & Beyond. What’s in a name? Check back often. We’ll find out.

Thanks, and make this year your best.



Political Angling

I happen to live in a slice of the country where we get local TV political ads from four states. It has not been easy viewing. The Illinoisans seem to be the hardest knuckled bunch but none are people I’d care to share a duck blind with. IMG_1182

In my home state of Kentucky we have a creel full of local, state and national races. The big one, of course, is for U. S. Senate, where Candidate R apparently thinks President Obama is his opponent and Candidate D can’t seem to do much more than talk about the past evils, failings and shortcomings of Candidate R.

I, for one, would like to have heard some fresh ideas, or at least some general thoughts on how any of the candidates, but especially Kentucky senate Candidate D and Candidate R, plan to deal with any of the long list of challenges facing the country: the economy, environment, ISIS, health care, immigration, crime, minimum wage, education, crumbling bridges and highways, poverty, Ebola . . . as everyone knows, it’s a long list.

The political ads have ranged from befuddled to ridiculous. I can only assume they hit the same lowest common denominator across the country. The price tag: $4 billion.

Please vote Tuesday, even if you have to hold your nose to do so.

A Comment and an Observation

My wife is out-of-town for the weekend so after finishing work I went to the market to pickup a few food supplies, returned home and dumped the stuff on the kitchen counter.IMG_2712

Were I to have any real interest in such things I would be appalled at this high calorie, nutritionally bankrupt pile of mostly junk food. (It wasn’t a total junk food run. I did purchase coffee.) After considering the coming gastronomical overload a couple of mildly disturbing thoughts come to mind: Were I forced to live alone I would soon balloon to 300 pounds and my reasonable life expectancy would plummet to months, weeks . . . possibly days.

For reasons impossible to explain because there in no explanation . . . I also bought a football.

# # #

During the trip home, as if I didn’t have enough heart disease-inducing food piled in the seat and spilling into the floorboard, I swung through a fast food joint to pickup a little something to quell a sudden onset of the munchies. A lady with a child in tow walked across the parking lot and sat at an outside table. She removed an unopened pack of cigarettes from a pocket and began pounding the pack against her palm of her open hand. This was done several times. She then turned the pack over and beat the other end against the palm of her hand, as if punishing the smokes before they punished her. I’m not a cigarette smoker but is such pounding common? It seemed like an odd thing to do. I would have assumed cigarettes would come ready to smoke.

Now, what to fix for supper . . .

Stocking Day

It was stocking day on a small stream I occasionally fish. I usually avoid stocking day but I was in the neighborhood and stopped by. IMG_2499

I arrived around mid afternoon and the stocking truck had come and gone, leaving behind – according to the state game agency website – “1,000, 9 to 11 inch rainbow trout.”

I knew this because seven cars had crowded the small parking area and a couple more had squeezed onto a gravel bar flanking the small stream.

The highway bridge serves as the stocking site. On stocking day this is where you’ll find the fish and the fishermen. The trout that survive the stocking day angling onslaught eventually disperse and a couple of miles of the spring-fed creek, which winds through the heart of largemouth bass country, holds trout year round and is a surprisingly good fishery.

IMG_2501I walked toward the bridge. The creek became dark with trout, which were crowded into the deeper water that pools against the far bank. A guy dressed in tan shorts and a golf shirt, fly vest, wide-brimmed hat and oversized net was casting a chunk of shrimp into the pod of trout. He hooked three and landed one, adding it to the four he had clipped onto a metal stringer. Three other fishermen stood shoulder to shoulder. An older man was sitting on a step stool he’s positioned under the bridge. Two guys were on the downstream side of the stocking site but all were within casting distance of each other.

I walked back to the parking area. Two more cars had arrived. A red Jeep pulled in and parked beside me.

“Do any good?” the driver asked.

“Not fishing today.”

“They dump some fish?”

“I think so.”