Category: Something Else

New Look

Figured it was time for a little change of scenery just for a new look. I originally had a revamp slated for May 1, 2018 to mark the one year anniversary of the website but just got too carried away with all of the other stuff.

So, as August can be a slow outdoor month for me and my family as back to school approaches, it seemed like the timing for the re-design was a winner.

Beyond color scheme, I have updated the scrolling banner so that it now contains a series of images from May 1, 2017 through April 30, 2018 to celebrate some outdoor fun within the first 365 days of the website launch.

Of course, every pic in the new banner has an accompanying tale, most of which have been told along the way. As far as the old banner, all of those tales were related in a series of posts back in February with the 28 stories in 28 days.

The “About” page has also been updated to reflect some current numbers along with a new batch of photos.

The general layout remains the same beyond some font alterations as I have passed on adding a couple new features for the time being, maybe at the two-year anniversary next May.

Got a boatload of items as always in terms of projects for posts, often boils down to a matter of time to get them put together. I’ve long considered my backlog of “brilliant ideas” to be my insurance policy against Writer’s Block and Cabin Fever.

Actually have a real life firsthand fishing report coming up tomorrow. Truly my favorite sort of post as it means I really got to go fishing. Doesn’t always mean I was catching but I’ve come to appreciate that such is not the sole means of evaluating a day on the water.

Thanks to those who tune in to these rambles, hope you will continue to do so, and talk to you later. Troy

Thoughts at 51

We’ve had a parade of birthdays this July here on the website with three of the kids and the way it shakes out, we save the oldest for last.

Happy Birthday to me.

Got a year under my belt with this 50-year old thing so ready to take on “51” with a traditional offering that dates back to “Thoughts at 44” that I submitted at a former blogging gig on July 23, 2011.

As always, I try to stay on the outdoor path with my postings but sometimes gotta stretch it a bit in passing along whatever comes to mind.

And that brings us to my first thought on the number 51 as it is indeed the integer that would represent “one card shy of a full deck.”

And away we go…

Area 51 – Not sure what to make of this locale of conjecture but will admit to being guilty of fishing an area that we called “The Forbidden Zone” on a few occasions. I actually have a Friday Flashback post coming next month with more details concerning the 1988 catch pictured below.

Baseball 51 – Willie “E.T.” McGee famously sported this number back in the 80s and 90s, most notably for the archrivals of this Cubs fan. Did you know that McGee hit for the cycle on June 23, 1984 in a classic Cubs-Cards matchup that is known as “The Sandberg Game” as Ryne Sandberg wound up stealing the show?

Fishing 51 – The pic below represents Bass #51 (tie) on my personal list of all-time best bass. April 21, 1999 from Lake Bracken during a day when I caught a pair in the four-pound class. This one tipped the scale at 4-0 while Top Bass for the day was a 4-10.

Football 51 – While I took a liking to the Dallas Cowboys, I did grow up in a Chicago Bears household and Dick Butkus was the man on some less than impressive squads. The guy was an absolute animal on the field and definitely worth an internet search for some highlights. A great deal of which would now get him fined or suspended and several which would probably get him arrested. A different era on the gridiron.

(Note: this 1973 Topps Butkus card is just flat out cool, landscape and action at its finest, not looking good for somebody in the backfield)

Image 51 – What is fish picture number 51 on your phone? Send it my way if you wish, could be another supplemental birthday spinoff post or perhaps a recurring series. What? Some of you don’t have more than 50 fish pictures on your device? Okay, pull them from the cloud instead.  Mine comes from April 21, 2018 and features my brother, Brent, with a solid Knox County, IL strip mine bass.

Numerical 51 – As 51 = 3 X 17, I will conclude this post with a trio of fishing pics that break my existence up into three seventeen year periods.

2018 – 51 years old (rounded up as this was shot last month) on the Knox County, IL strip mines

2001 – 34 years old and fishing the creek in Henderson County, IL

1984 – actually on my 17th birthday at Lake Bracken in Knox County, IL

Okay, enough for now. Belated Top 5 Update headed your way tomorrow. Talk to you later. Troy


MLB Fishing All Stars – Battery

The lineup needs a trio to share mound duty and a reliable, tough receiver who is willing to don gear referred to as “the tools of ignorance” as he takes his spot behind the plate. Well, you’ve come to the right place for that MLB Fishing All-Star battery.

Right Handed Pitcher – Dock Ellis

MLB Notes: A quality pitcher, most notably with the Pirates, Ellis had his share of demons as his interesting bio includes trying to hit every batter in the Reds lineup (got the first three, walked the fourth and pulled after a pair of pitches at Johnny Bench’s head), getting maced at the ballpark and alleging that he was under the influence of LSD when he pitched a no-hitter on June 12, 1970. How about those 60s and 70s, folks? No mention of how many one-hitters for Ellis though…
Fishing Notes: Indeed his given name is “Dock” so he qualifies for the squad. Shady cover on the lake often littered with a brushpile or two can be winners. Used to get run off of one at Lake Bracken by a homeowner back in the day. Don’t recall it being especially productive, just fished it more for the adrenaline rush and potential debate. Much younger in those days.
Topps Notes: I, for one, dig those old drab colored, perhaps even ugly, uniforms as that’s a part of my childhood. Back in the days when uniforms were, well, rather uniform and not particularly flashy, simply the work wear of my heroes. But what’s up with the glove on Dock’s throwing hand in the 75 card (on right above)?

Left Handed Pitcher – Steve Trout

MLB Notes: Southpaw pitchers can just be a different sort and Steve “Rainbow” Trout fit the bill but I suppose that’s to be expected when folks called your major league pitching father “Dizzy.” His contribution to the 1984 Cubs club that was so close to the elusive World Series appearance solidified the hurler as an endeared member of those who wore the Cubbie blue.
Fishing Notes: Never caught one, but a no-brainer for our squad, with the added allure of his species specific nickname. Maybe have to do another one of these pieces someday as there’s a darn good namesake tearing up the American League these days.
Topps Notes: Trout took the mound for both clubs in The Windy City with his stint on the South Side in the midst of some interesting uniform styles.  He was a couple years late for the odd Chisox shorts experiment of 1976 but was on the roster for another strange bit of baseball history, Disco Demolition Night on July 12, 1979 (Google that one sometime as well as Cleveland’s Ten Cent Beer Night).

Relief Pitcher – Lindy McDaniel

MLB Notes: McDaniel was one of those guys at the end of a lengthy career just as I was getting into all things baseball. As such, I didn’t appreciate him and the likes of Claude Osteen, Vada Pinson, Rico Carty and others being more in tune with the stars of the day. Kind of fun to look back at the achievements of those who were old-timers over 40 years ago.
Fishing Notes: In terms of legendary lures, the Lindy Rig certainly deserves consideration for the All-Star list. The setup that took the walleye world by storm in the late 60s is still a mainstay among anglers to this day.
Topps Notes: The 1971 card on left above is an outstanding game shot with McDaniel poised on the mound, getting the sign in advance of the delivery with old Yankee Stadium full of fans looming in the background. Flat out cool.  The 1974 (on right above) and 1976 sets also featured a supplemental series documenting noteworthy late season trades.  

C – Milt May

MLB Notes: May was a reliable backstop for a number of clubs and a World Series winner with the 1971 Pirates. I also learned while researching this post that May has the distinction of driving in run number 1,000,000 in MLB history via a 3-run homer on May 4, 1975 that plated Bob Watson with the milestone run.
Fishing Notes: Every once in a while I get to put my biology degree to work and today is one of those days. In order to produce new fish, roe (fish eggs) are fertilized with milt and give you fry (that was one of our coaches, remember).
Topps Notes: Gotta dig the catcher pose as the bookends of the cards above (1973 on left and 1978 on right). Elected not to go for the squatting sweep by including the 1975 batting pose in the middle which was nearly the same as found on May’s 1976 card.

With these fellas toeing the rubber and their counterpart behind the dish, I have completed my MLB Fishing All Star squad. I certainly had a good time and no doubt left many players off of the roster. In fact, I just turned up a few more when poring over some of the handful of pre-1970s cards in the collection including the 1953 card pictured below in my sort of MLB Fishing All Star parting shot.

MLB Fisheries Biology 101.

Talk to you later. Troy

MLB Fishing All Stars – OF & DH

Back at it with the three guys who roam the outfield and one guy who doesn’t even have to play the field. In regard to that last “position”, I’m still not a fan of the Designated Hitter, an American League job title since 1973. And these days it also creeps into the National League thanks to inter-league play. Not a fan of that either.

Okay, enough of the old school, old fan rant on how baseball goes about its business these days. On to a quartet that predate regular season inter-league matchups and three of these fellas even made their debuts before the DH.

LF – Ralph Garr

MLB Notes: The interesting combination of free swinging contact hitter and good speed not only made Garr entertaining at the plate but also won him a National League batting title in 1974 (.353 average) and a runner-up finish in 1971 (.343).
Fishing Notes: Just as some baseball purists look down their noses at those free swingers, Garr’s piscatorial namesake is generally derided and shown little respect. I for one, admire the gar as it is a survivor that was around long before we were and I suspect will have the last laugh long after we’re gone.
Topps Cards Notes: I don’t know the scoop but the Garr Braves cards above come from 1974 and 1975 (left to right) and are the exact same photo. A strange quirk considering it wasn’t like Garr was some obscure, mediocre, part-time, platoon player. Nope, he was coming off an NL batting title and All-Star game appearance. Just weird…

CF – Johnny Grubb

MLB Notes: Grubb is one of those ballplayers who must have just had that something extra as he deserves a shout out for a 16-year career that didn’t really feature any sort of attention getting numbers. But kudos to anyone who played at that level for any amount of time and Grubb also gets a thumbs up for a 1974 All-Star Game appearance as a Padre and a 1984 World Series ring as a Tiger.
Fishing Notes: Just like the ball player, the lure simply gets it done. I don’t know about anybody else but I suspect that I am not alone in cutting my fishing teeth on this category of lure. Takes me back to the 80s with Gapen Fishies, Beetle Spins, puddle jumpers, Mister Twister curly tails…
Topps Cards Notes: Now this is a fun bit of baseball and baseball card history. For 1974, Topps ran with a print of cards designated Washington Nat’l League as the San Diego Padres were slated to move to the nation’s capital and did not yet have a new team name. But, the relocation fell through, the team remained the Padres, remained in San Diego and packs containing printed Washington Nat’l League cards hit the market. This confused seven-year old collector wound up with a few, one of which is the Grubb card above.

RF – Bombo Rivera

MLB Notes: Easily the shortest term of service among the members of our squad with a total of 335 MLB games played between 1975-1982 with 213 of them during the 1978-1979 seasons. A cool name that just sticks with you and one of those you can hear in your head over an imaginary PA system.
Fishing Notes: Looked it up and found that the surname “Rivera” derives from the Spanish word for “riverbank.” A classic locale for anglers and one that my family needs to visit as we are only minutes from the banks of one of the world’s mightiest rivers.
Topps Cards Notes:
There’s something about opening a pack of baseball cards and finding a fellow named Bombo staring back at you, kind of sticks. Also fascinating looking back and wondering how Topps decided on who to include among the 660 card 1977 set. In the case of Rivera’s lone Expos card above, it was a rookie with 185 at bats during the 1976 sea

DH – Kurt BevAcQUA

MLB Notes: So, how’s this, as Bevacqua outdoes Grubb above with a 15-year career with some really head scratching numbers making you wonder? And even weirder is a pair 1984 World Series homers that Bevacqua hit for the Padres as they fell to Grubb’s Tigers. Those dingers from a guy who had 24 career homers since 1971 prior to his World Series performance and only three seasons where he hit more than two longballs all year (career high 6 in 1978).
Fishing Notes: Okay, maybe a stretch on this one and already caught some ribbing on my Bill RIGney manager selection but I’m having a good time entertaining myself and taking a trip back in time. Plus, how could I pass up a shot at including the iconic 1976 Topps card featuring BevAcQUA and described below.
Topps Cards Notes: Did you know that Bevacqua won the Joe Garagiola Bazooka Bubble Gum Bubble Blowing Championship as pictured on the 1976 Topps card above? Actually, did you know such an event ever occurred? As for the 1977 Mariners card, the airbrushing leaves much to be desired, Topps could’ve used some help from Hugh Hefner’s crew as I seem to recall some fine work back in the day. And oh, by the way, Bevacqua never made an appearance with the 1977 expansion Seattle Mariner club.

This one took some work on a few different levels to convey all that potentially useless information. But a labor of love that is right up my alley on a few different levels as well. Hope you’ve still got it in you to tune in for the battery which is headed your way next. Talk to you later. Troy


MLB Fishing All Stars – Infield

Back to some baseball, slightly disguised as some fishing, as we go around the horn for our All-Star infield.

1B – Rod Carew

MLB Notes: Just such a cool contact hitter as seven batting titles convey, including the exciting pursuit of .400 in 1977, winding up at .388. And how about 7 steals of home in 1970 and 17 for his career? Oh yeah, Rookie of the Year (1967) and AL MVP (1977), just a flat out exciting ballplayer.
Fishing Notes: I had a chance to hear and speak with fishing legend, Hank Parker, this winter and his observation was that the usage of the terms “rod” or “pole” depended on the region of the country. Guess I’m in the middle, so I use both and both are included on the squad (see Dick Pole, Pitching Coach).
Topps Card Notes: The card samples above show that Carew was All-Star caliber at two positions as his career was split roughly down the middle beginning at second base and finishing at first (also with the California Angels).

2B – Roy Smalley

MLB Notes: Kinda weird but I’ve long recalled watching Smalley hit a grand slam against the White Sox back in the 70s when televised games were more of a rare treat.  Fast forward 40 years and with a little help from something called a search engine, I’m pretty certain that this blast truly did occur at Old Comiskey Park on June 25, 1978.
Fishing Notes: While I am much more familiar and a bigger fan of the bass with the bigger mouth, I just couldn’t pass this one up, made me feel clever.
Topps Card Notes: Much more renowned as a shortstop, Smalley did at least appear in 58 of his over 1600 games as a second sacker (had to make a concession for my shortstop, you’ll understand as you read on).

3B – Brooks Robinson

MLB Notes: A perennial Gold Glover and All-Star, Robinson’s glove work was most notably on display during the Baltimore Orioles 1970 World Series victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Fishing Notes: While I am a fan of what is called creek (rhymes with stick) fishing, some of the more sophisticated persuasion perhaps would do their casting in a stream or brook.
Topps Card Notes: No need to choose which team to represent for Robinson’s career when selecting the cards above. A 23-year career, all with one team, not going to happen anymore both in terms of longevity or loyalty.

SS – Ernie Banks

MLB Notes: “Mr. Cub” was a member of the 500 home run club back in the days when it was quite exclusive and featured some heavy hitters like Ruth, Aaron, Williams and Foxx. As a lifelong Cub, he also holds the record for most games played without a playoff appearance at 2,528.
Fishing Notes: Banks represents a shout out to those who take their lumps and catch their fish with boots on the ground rather than boats on the water.
Topps Card Notes: The bookends on the sample cards above come from 1975 and celebrated 25 years of Topps cards with a flashback of the league MVPs from 1951-1974. Banks is among those who went back to back (1958-59) and he did so on a pair of sub .500 clubs.

One final note regarding “Mr. Cub” before I sign off. You could very well be reading the Ernie Banks Jackson Outdoors blog as my Dad is a pretty big Cubs and Banks fan. Similarly, I tossed out the possibility of naming one of our kids Henry Aaron Jackson but I didn’t get the nod either. All good though, just like our All-Star crew. The guys who roam the outfield are up next and even though I am still not a fan of the 1973 institution known as the Designated Hitter, I did employ the roster spot to work in another fishing name. Hope you’ll stop by again. Talk to you later. Troy

MLB Fishing All Stars – Coaches

Kicking off my MLB Fishing All-Star roster are the fellas who call the shots from the bench, the coaching boxes and the bullpen.

Manager – Bill RIGney

MLB notes: Rigney spent 18 seasons at the helm of three different clubs, the Giants, Angels and Twins. His most successful season and only playoff appearance occurred in 1970 as he guided the Twins to a West Division title. However, his club was swept in the A.L. Championship by the Orioles who would go on to win the World Series title.
Fishing Notes: Would have been cool if Rigney hailed from Texas, Carolina or Alabama as those various rigs are legendary bass fooling setups. But alas, the late Rigney called California “home.”
Topps Card Notes: Left to tight these cards are 1970 through 1972. I always thought these guys looked old when flipping through cards as a kid and doing the math on the 1970 card puts Rigney at 52 years of age. Nowadays I look at these cards and think, “No way do I look that old” but a lot can happen in a year for some guy a couple weeks away from turning 51.

Bench Coach: Jim Frey

MLB notes: For us Cubs fans, Frey is remembered as the guy who had his club one win away from that elusive World Series appearance back in 1984. But not meant to be and still hard to take. In fact, I could have included a fellow by the name of Steve GARvey on my squad but no way after he darn near singlehandedly brought the Padres back from the brink. Yes, I do hold a grudge.
Fishing Notes: For those not familiar, Frey rhymes with sky, hence the term for newly hatched fish or what you do with them when they get grown up.
Topps Card Notes: The Royals team card comes from 1980 when Frey lead the Kansas City club to the World Series where they would fall to the Philadelphia Phillies in six games.

First Base Coach – Sandy Alomar

MLB notes: As a player, Alomar put together a 15-year career with half a dozen clubs where his defensive skills easily out shadowed his performance at the plate. He would later go on to coach with several teams including the Cubs from 2000-2002.
Fishing Notes: Some places you’ll get run off for fishing near the beach but there’s something about those sandy areas that are a winner. I also used to do pretty decent on a spot at an old fishing hole, Lake Bracken, that was known as Sandy Point.
Topps Card Notes: The middle card above is from 1973, one of the early 70s sets that featured a lot of really cool action shots such as this one as opposed to some of the cheesy, staged spring training poses.

Third Base Coach – Danny Ozark

MLB notes: Ozark was at the helm of some darn good Phillies teams during his tenure with the club from 1973 through 1979. His three N.L. Championship appearances all ended in defeat, once at the hands of the formidable Big Red Machine and twice to the solid Dodgers clubs of the 70s.
Fishing Notes: Once upon a time, back in 1988, I fished the famed Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and honestly found myself rather intimidated by the vast expanse. I eked out a handful of mid-summer fish and while a cool achievement, nothing to write home about.
Topps Card Notes: Tons of info on the back of these cards to keep a kid or a grownup busy and find something new. Looking at the 40-year-old cards I just discovered a fish species related note, Ozark was born in Buffalo.

Pitching Coach – Dick Pole

MLB notes: Not much to report on the statistical front but worth noting that Pole was an original member of the Seattle Mariners when MLB expanded in 1977. For Cubs fans, you may recall that he served as pitching coach from 1988 through 1991 when he assisted a young hurler by the name of Greg Maddux.
Fishing Notes: Every angler knows that you can never have too many poles and with a name like this fellow, well, too hard to pass up. Oh yeah, he was born in Trout Creek, Michigan for an added bonus.
Topps Card Notes: Lots of memories looking back through these cards and the 1977 Mariner card of Pole still makes me cringe a bit. Airbrushing was implemented for the players picked up by Seattle and Toronto in the expansion draft and just not a good look.

Roster part one is in the books and hopefully not too lengthy to keep your attention. But cut me some slack here as I am combining a couple favorite topics, both prone to rambling. Good thing I didn’t find a way to work in some tunes, huh? More to come next week after a special Monday post and a Top 5 Update pushed back until Tuesday. Talk to you later. Troy

MLB Fishing All-Star Team Intro

Okay, let’s goof off a bit.

As Major League Baseball poises to announce the 2018 All-Star roster tomorrow in advance of the July 17 All-Star Game, I’ve got a project of my own to introduce.

Interspersed with the regular, weekly hijinks here on the website, I’m going with a baseball All-Star team of my own. In this case, it’s my retro, fishing related MLB All-Star squad. Which means that the players must not only possess a fishing related name but also must appear among my baseball card collection in order to be included. Thus we’ve got a team of greats, pretty goods and still infinitely better than the rest of us ball players who graced the diamond somewhere between 1970 and the early 1980s.

Studs and cool cards but these fellas miss out on my All-Star squad, even that A’s hurler (cool nickname but not real name)

As a result of this criteria, we’ve got no Warren Spahn or Johnny Sain as they were before my time (note: see what I’m up to here Spahn = spawn, Sain = seine, perhaps it’s better if I don’t explain). On the other end of the spectrum, there’s no Mike Trout or Matt CARPenter as such ball players appear way beyond my card collecting days.

Nope, legends but don’t make the cut.

If you’re still here, you may ask, why would I do such a project?

Reason One is when you have your own blog there’s nobody to tell you what you can and can’t do. The flipside, however, is that there is also no one paying you to not write stuff like this and stick to the outdoor straight and narrow.

Reason Two is even better and goes back to the days when I first caught the baseball bug. As a kid in the 70s, the MLB All Star Game was a summertime highlight featuring names like Aaron, Rose, Yount, Rice, Bench, Schmidt, Brock, Ryan, Seaver, Stargell, Brett, Campy, Reggie, Yaz, Catfish…the heroes of my youth (and none of whom make this squad).

Talk about favorites, oh man, these guys are keepers but just don’t qualify and must be released.

The “old days” are always a fun place to revisit and when I get the itch to bring baseball into an outdoor blog, well, I make the stretch (see the “Pops” Stargell card above, loved those landscape cards in some early 70s Topps sets).

Gonna have to milk this one out though as a little too lengthy of a ramble to include in just one post, thus the 10 day head start leading the real All-Star game. The reveal begins tomorrow with a look at the coaching staff. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – May 8, 2003

Never got into the hunting aspect of the outdoors for whatever reason. But that don’t mean that I ain’t got some stories. And no better way to share one than “Friday Flashback” as we head back fifteen years ago this week. Below are excerpts from a piece called “Talking Turkey” that I submitted to family and friends on 5/11/2003 detailing a turkey hunt on 5/8/2003.

“I know basically nothing about turkey hunting, so the following tale is based on talking with the man who bagged his first bird in under an hour, Dad. It sounds easy, but from speaking with others who pursue this bird, things don’t always work out so favorably. However, in speaking with Dad and running around outdoors with him a few times over the last, say, twenty-five years, his success was no mistake.

Many times a hunter or fisherman will speak of having “good luck.” In my mind, you make your own “good luck” through four steps: education, dedication, experience and execution. Here’s how these steps led to me getting up at 7:00 a.m. last Thursday to see who in the heck had just left a message at that time of the morning. To my surprise it was Dad wanting to come by and show off his prize. I wasn’t so surprised that he got one; it’s just that Dad’s not a big fan of the telephone or answering machine (must be hereditary as I have the same affliction).

Anyway, here’s the story.

Since Dad recently retired, he figured he’d give turkey hunting a stab. He applied for his permit and prepared for the season. Fortunately, he has a couple turkey hunter contacts to answer his questions and provide knowledgeable advice. Dad is also a fan of outdoor television programs and may have even read a bit on the subject. There was no doubt that he was an educated hunter.

Dad purchased a turkey call and an owl call in plenty of time to practice prior to the season. He then headed to the timber he chose to hunt in order to hone his skills and scout the area for a prime spot to plant his lawn chair (as I mentioned before, I know little about turkey hunting, but I thought the stores sold fancy, expensive seats to accommodate hunter’s rear ends). Dad also purchased a pair of decoys to plant at his site and plenty of shells for his gun. He also made sure to have Mom pick up some camo cloth in order to disguise the white handles of his lawn chair. He was fully stocked with camo to make him invisible in the woods and selected just the right spot near where a cornfield ends and timber begins to get a turkey in his sights. There was no doubt that he was a dedicated hunter.


Beard came in at 9″

Things get kind of weird here.

I’m not a hunter so I can’t relate, but I’ll do the best I can. I asked Dad while we were fishing at Gladstone Lake on Wednesday (the day before the season opened) if he had patterned his gun in order to make an accurate shot when the opportunity arose. He told me that he’d shot the gun for so many years that he was entirely comfortable with its range and accuracy. Kind of like being one with his firearm, and I believed him. He would later mention being “a part of the woods” (I think was how he described it); talking about how the Native Americans must have felt when they expressed feelings of being “one with nature.” Between this feeling and his camo, he became invisible. He said that Uncle Dick, Brent and others could relate to this and mentioned times when he hunted with Uncle Dick and Brent when they disappeared also. He knew right where they were, but, until they moved, they were unseen. Cool stuff that I’m sure other hunters could support, and I believe it from the way Dad told the story. There was no doubt that he was an experienced hunter.

The above three steps culminate with putting a bird in your sights, and that’s what happened early Thursday morning.

Spurs measured 1.16″ on this bird

Here’s the rest of the story.

Dad arrived at his chosen spot around 5:30 a.m. to discover that someone had stolen his lawn chair. Undeterred, he found a suitable log and proceeded to hang up his camo cloth to block out his silhouette and then loaded his gun. Next step was to place his decoys. As he pounded in his hen decoy he heard gobbling. He quickly placed his second decoy, a jake, and headed for his log. Barely five minutes into his first turkey hunt, a tom appeared to his left about 150 yards out. Dad gave four clucks on his call, imitating a hen, and the tom stared right in his direction. More mysterious stuff here as Dad slowly dropped his eyes, because “if you’re not looking at the turkey it won’t see you” (not an exact quote but the basic concept). The tom then walked away and disappeared into the timber. Following instructions learned from his advisors, Dad did not call again in order to get the bird to return. The theory here is that the bird knows where the call came from and will return if his mating instinct sees fit.

Ten minutes later, a hen appeared out of the timber and headed towards the decoys. The tom was not far behind and headed in the same direction. Shortly, the hen ducked into some weeds near the edge of the cornfield and disappeared. The tom began to strut, fan his tail and flap his wings in an effort to impress his potential mate. Dad simply sat tight and watched. When the hen spurned the tom’s display, the tom set his sight on Dad’s decoys. As the tom approached, Dad had his gun poised and ready for the bird to walk into a window where he could take a shot. The tom came into his sights at just under twenty-five yards and it was time to make a decision. A few more yards and the branches of a hedge tree would eliminate the possibility for a shot. The range was acceptable; the bird in his sights and with only his eyes exposed over the camo cloth, Dad decided it was time to squeeze off a shot. Dad’s aim was true as the shot found its mark. Dad made his way to his first turkey and looked at his watch, which read 6:19 a.m. Forty-nine minutes into his season, he had his bird.

Dad told me that he just had to laugh at how things all fell into place so quickly as some hunter’s fail to get a shot for an entire season or an entire year or miss the shot when they get their opportunity.”

Weight on the bird was right about 20 pounds

And so goes another Friday Flashback, once again I am glad that I took to documenting these adventures even if some of those old ones got a little longwinded. Talk to you later. Troy

Happy Birthday Blog

So, one year ago today, I kicked off a new chapter in this whole outdoor writing thing I’ve had going since April 30, 2002. This new venture was my own blog and after 365 days, I’m giving myself a pat on the back.

Happy Birthday to!

With 240 postings, over 1,200 pictures, three dozen video clips, tangents, tunes and the Top 5 it’s been an exciting ride. For better or worse, here’s a brief jaunt down Memory Lane from year one.


From my first bass featured on the blog (5/1/17) to bass #475 (4/26/18)


From A-rig to Zara Spook

From breakfast burritos to taco in a bowl


From Bigfoot to Yeti


From a Cardenal to a Hawk


From Flashbacks to fishing’s future


From an old, small shortstop to an old 3rd baseman with a big largemouth 


 From lure smorgasbords to post fishing trip grub smorgasbords


From buzzbaits to Buzz Capra


From walks to swims


From The Top 5 to The Top 10


From wacky worms to wacky co-anglers


From “the one that got away” to one that didn’t

And according to the original tease on the banner, the site was to offer up…







Fun and…


Some Foolishness.


Mission accomplished and enthused about whatever hijinks lie in store for year two. Thanks to those who took a look, hope you will continue to stop by and don’t forget to tell all your friends about the most prolific outdoor blog on the web (I just made that up, by the way).  Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – Fungus 2003

With the brief morel mushroom season about to go full bore here in West Central Illinois, today’s Friday Flashback takes us back to some finds from 15 years ago.

I shot this pic of an April 2003  find from Adams County, IL on Easter weekend by some of Julie’s cousins.

Early May 2003, not to be outdone by the Adams County crew I found these at Lake Bracken in Knox County, IL..  Was actually fishing and hopped ashore to use the “facilities” where I spotted these miniature fungi. 

I will never be mistaken for a stellar morel hunter as my forays into the woods over the years rarely resemble what adept fungus hunters would qualify as a good haul. And that’s just fine as I really don’t gauge my success through weight or numbers. I realize that I am lacking in whatever that magical ability (or location) is for covering a picnic table or filling a truck bed. Heck, I can’t even fill the grocery sized mesh bags that I carry with me through the timber. And don’t spread this around, but sometimes it’s so bad that I don’t even have a reason to take the bag out of my pocket.

Nope, for this guy it’s enjoyable just to go for a walk in the fresh air. The thing is, these days I need to invest my outdoor time wisely and I’d have to say that a tackle bag takes precedence over an onion bag.

Number wise, this is actually a pretty good find for me, from early May 2003 on some Knox County, IL strip mine ground.  Found these with my former brother-in-law and the large, bent one is about as big as I have ever seen in the wild.  Obviously this haul pales in comparison to those who know how to get it done but it is what it is.

Early May 2003, if these were bass, would they qualify as “lunkers”?

Good luck to anybody out there with or without the knack for finding these rewards of a springtime treasure hunt. Feel free to drop me a line or some pictures if you want to boast a little. And don’t worry about giving up too many secrets, nobody reads this stuff anyway. But that sure won’t stop me from writing. Talk to you later. Troy