Wednesday, December 09, 2015

New Book Update

My first book, "A Compilation of Muskie Fishing Stories from the Mountain State" is now in the printing process line-up and should be in Amazon, Barnes and Noble and sometime between mid and late January 2016.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Appalachia Humor from Loyal Jones and Billy Edd Wheeler

Some excerpts from "Laughter in Appalachia - a Festival of Southern Mountain Humor" by Loyal Jones and Billy Edd Wheeler

What a Baptist is
   In Appalachia, somebody said, everybody is a Baptist, underneath it all.
  A Methodist is a Baptist who's afraid of water; a Presbyterian is a Baptist who went to college; an Episcopalian is a Baptist whose deals all worked out; a Unitarian is a Baptist who can't count; and a Catholic is a Baptist convert upon whom the full import of Calvinism has just dawned.

 A Conversation on Religion
  A missionary came into the mountains to see how many people he could save for the Lord and from a way of life that he had read about in local color novels. He spied an old man sitting on his front porch enjoying the afternoon sun. He went up in the man's yard and without so much as a howdy said, "Brother, are you lost?"
   "Why, no," the man said. "I've been living here forty years."
   "I mean, have you found Jesus?"
   "Now, I didn't realize he was lost. The Bible says he's in heaven until he comes again."
   "What I mean is, are you a member of the Christian band?"
   "No, but there's a Bill Christian who lives about five miles over the ridge."
   "My question is, are you ready for the Judgement Day?"
   "When is it?"
   "It may be next week or it may be next year. We just don't know."
   "Well, when you find out, you let me know. The wife may want to go both days."

  The country preacher awoke one morning to find a dead mule on the highway in front of his home.
  He called the county health department and said, "This is Reverend Jones. There's a dead mule on the road in front of my house and I'd appreciate having it removed as promptly as possible."
  The young clerk who answered the call thought he would have a little fun. "Uh, Reverend Jones," he said, "I always thought you preachers took care of the dead yourselves."
  The preacher caught on to the kidding in the young man's tone, but he didn't let on.  His reply was serious.
  "We do, yes.  But in the case of jackasses we like to speak to the next of kin first."

Charitable Contribution
  An agent from the IRS called a preacher and said, "One of your church members, Sam Harris, put down on his income tax return that he had given $300 to the church. Is that true?"
  The preacher thought for a minute and replied, "If he didn't, he will."

Thursday, August 13, 2015

How's your day?

Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don't try to convince me that
There's something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Even if
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don't last.
And it's not true that
It's all in the mind and heart
True happiness can be obtained
Only if one's surroundings are good
It's not true that good exists
I'm sure you can agree that
The reality
My attitude
It's all beyond my control
And you'll never in a million years hear me say that
Today was a good day

Now read from bottom to top.
~ Anonymous? An unknown author?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Magnum Man

 Has technology really advanced us?

    Deer hunting season. That time of year when fishermen take a needed break from being dumber than fish to become dumber than deer. Most every state in the union has a deer season and most outdoor types participate. I was one, and the 1975 pre-season gave me a hair-raising education.
    The blast roared up the hollow and back, a different sound that echoed from the hills before re-mixing as ominous thunder. It didn't contain the typical, short lived BOOM of a high powered rifle, and the patrons inside Libby's Luncheonette must have agreed as they filed outside to look. The shooter lay on the ground at the front of his truck, hands at his face as he writhed in pain.
    He was a hulk of a man, pushing fifty and balding slightly. His hat lay several feet away exposing a thin spot near the crown of his head.  He had huge hands that sprouted even larger fingers as they appeared to wrap completely around his head. Almost Neanderthal, I had thought to myself. Never mind that his short stature wouldn't allow him to see very well over the steering wheel of his three-quarter ton Dodge pick-up. I wondered more how he ever got one of those massive fingers inside the trigger guard of his large caliber rifle without accidentally setting it off.
    He pulled his hands away to expose a face that had been weathered by years of exposure to the elements. His left cheek sagged more than his right from the huge wads of tobacco that usually soaked there. He wasn't muscular or fat, just bulky. There was no neck that I could tell as being a neck. His head sat directly on his thickly bulging shoulders and his shirt strained against his thick biceps and forearms.  He wore bib overalls and leather boots to mid-shin. Definitely Neanderthal from all appearances.
    It was two weeks before bucks only season when even the truest of fishermen exchanged rod for gun and drifted over to Libby's to sight them in. It was a simple gun range, backstopped against a steep, grassy hillside behind the restaurant. Most shooters came to show off their newly purchased weapons and to enjoy the smell of fresh smoked, sugar-cured ham while using the trunks, hoods, doors or whatever else jutted out from their vehicles as gun rests. The annual target shoot and open display of weaponry in this small, mountain community was confidently entrusted to its residents. They understood the consequences of misuse, well, most of the consequences.
    The injured shooter was an exception. An avid hunter who for years always filled his limit, he rarely bragged and never disclosed to anyone his hunting method or area. As long as I could remember, he had always successfully used an old .300 Savage lever action rifle with open sights. However, the 1975 season was going to be different for him.
    Fed up with the inescapable advancement of gun technology, Magnum Man had shed his pre-historic club and purchased a rifle the likes of which was going to leave its mark of technological history upon ballistics science and the already deeply pocked and pitted hillside behind the luncheonette. It didn't take long for a crowd of admirers to gather around his truck when he laid the new gun case on the hood. This new rifle not only upgraded his status quo, it literally took the entire community to a new level of mindless avarice.
    "Now, boys," he confidently aired, "let me introduce you to the latest and greatest in hunting rifles." He unzipped the leather rifle case in short, strip-tease actions causing the crowd to move in closer. Eventually he exposed the most erogenous features of a perfectly crafted Weatherby .375 H & H magnum complete with Monte Carlo stock and a 3 x 9 variable wide-field scope. We all nearly fainted from the lack of oxygen as everyone inhaled simultaneously in an expression of climatic exhilaration.
    "Blow out the black of a bulls-eye at 150 yards," he stated to no one in particular, gently fondling the weapon with those huge hands. A stream of tobacco juice erupted from his face toward the ground as he ran a rugged hand along the curvaceous length of stock and barrel. He reached into one of the many pockets of his overalls and retrieved 5 rounds of ammunition for that hand-held howitzer. The shells were the same size as his fingers. I suddenly became aware of my near vicinity and sought sanctuary on the planet Mars.
    One hundred fifty yards out, against the scarred ground of a hillside, stood a set of five targets. From the graveled parking lot where the shooters stood, the targets were pitched at approximately a 15-degree declination, purposely so in the name of safety.
    This short, burly, tobacco-packed man took a solid stance over the hood of his truck and brought the glistening beauty up, placing its smooth, solid stock against his right cheek. The three-inch diameter scope appeared to be micro-moments away from swallowing him head first. Homo erectus, I envisioned, peering over the edge of his cave ledge on tiptoes, poised to smite a wooly mammoth. I looked back at the scope.
    They are wonderful luxuries in providing shooters with less than eagle-eye vision the opportunity to place a distant target at the end of their nose for better viewing. However, they have a major optic flaw in that near and peripheral vision is totally obstructed as one peers through it.
    It took a few seconds for everyone to absorb the concussion from the blast as it roared back upon us from its rambling trip down the hollow. The rifle bounced gracefully from the hood of the truck in slow motion and hit the ground on one end before slowly toppling over to stillness. Magnum Man was jerked violently backwards and onto his shoulders. I noticed more leaves than usual floating to the ground from the trees around us that fall day. The echo was deafening. It's yield thunderous. Then silence.
    People began to stir. Someone rushed in to attend to Magnum Man. Another quickly gathered his hat and gun. I returned from Mars. He sat up and began shaking his head. He looked at his hands. They were crimson covered and a stream of blood trickled down the right side of his face. Tobacco juice flowed down his left cheek.
    The scope had cut him deeply over and under his right eye in its failed attempt to gorge itself. He finally stood up under swaggering legs and gazed around as if to get his bearings. He staggered back to the hood of his truck to lean there, convincing me to remain dumber than fish.
    It began in whispers, then finger pointing. The bullet from that magnum rifle never arrived at its intended target. The combination of a 15-degree declination, his simian stature, and a failure of the scope to see what the muzzle of the rifle saw two feet away led to the blow-out of a bright red truck fender instead of bulls-eye black.
     The subject of that event and his magnum rifle was never discussed in his presence after that day. Some say an archeological dig centuries from now could possibly turn up the remains of a rusty, motorized vehicle with a big bore hunting device stuck deep into its right front fender.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

The Old Man and the River

Something or someone was pushing
     him in my way for a reason.

   The girthy muskellunge shook its massive head violently from side to side at the surface then dived under the boat. The line began slipping gradually from the reel as the fish turned and made a lunging run toward a mid-river logjam. Thumbing the reel spool only put more pressure on the line before it finally parted.
    My heart had been going ninety miles an hour and nearly burst from the instantaneous relaxation. I stared at the logjam in disbelief, hoping the great fish would roll up from the tiring battle. If ever there was a fish to fret over, it was this one. They're called The King for a reason. Then a noise upstream drew my attention.
    It was him. Silently they had approached the scene in another boat and watched the battle to its bitter end. He was with a young man, and they both had witnessed most of the fight. 
    "Nice fish," he stated sympathetically. "At least you know where there's a big ‘un now."
    I remember thinking, "Just who is this old geezer and why does he care that I just lost the biggest muskellunge I'll ever hook in my life?"
    "Thanks," I ungraciously mumbled. 
    The old man nodded then told me any other fisherman would have gone ahead and taken a cheap shot at the struggling fish with their gaff hook while it was at the boat. 
    "God, if he only knew the half of it," I softly grumbled through gritted teeth. I did have my gaff hook in hand, high above my head when the big fish was thrashing at boat side, but I held off using it for fear of severing the line should I miss. I never considered wounding the fish and having it break off only to lose it because of my thoughtlessness.
    "At the least, she escaped with only an injured ego," he stated, attempting to console me further.
    He was right. Hammering that fish with the gaff hook at the boat, as I had intended, wouldn't have been the smart thing to do. I had elected not to, thinking I could land the fish in a fair fight. There would be another time, I hoped, and I or some other angler would be more deserving because of it. I felt a little better about the loss. I now know where The King lives. Then they were gone, back up the river.
    The following weekend I was back in the middle of that same eddy, looking for The King, expecting to find its corpse. Halfway through the eddy I saw the old man, standing on the bank behind his house, casting. I made small talk with him as I fished from my boat. A congenial old cuss, I thought, but something didn't feel right. Here I was in a spacious and comfortable fishing boat that would hold two people, with luxuries not usually afforded in an old wooden flat-bottomed Jon-boat the likes of his.
    Something pushed me to ask him to fish with me for the rest of the day, and he welcomed the opportunity. When we had gone about fifty yards, he blurted out, "Gonna have to git me one of these padded chairs, ya know." I pictured him sitting in a padded seat in his old wooden riverboat. "It'll work," I told him, "it'll work."
    He was a retired coal miner with a severe case of emphysema, and his continued smoking didn't help it any. His condition wasn't too bad when we first met, using his portable oxygen bottle now and then and only when he got excited or hot. I kept a cooler on board with several bottles of iced-down water in it.
    Delbert was a likable sort, cheerful and always seeing the positive side to almost everything. I'd been looking for balance in my young life, and he certainly provided a lot of that. We went fishless that day, and it wasn't as painful as it would have been without him along. I thought I might just enjoy this sociable old codger after all as our relationship started to grow. 
    Over the weeks and months, I discovered his respect for this river we fished as we lazily drifted on its slow current. When he talked, I listened as he told me who was who in each home we came to along the highway side of the river.  He knew them all and, over time, shared them with me, introducing them to me when they were out tending their gardens or doing yard work. I was fully enjoying his company more than the fishing...

Find out what happens when the book comes out!

Friday, August 07, 2015

The Secret Lure

Fool me once, shame on you; get a picture of it, shame on me.

   The perfect fly cast. Fly casters throughout the world seek it. My response was a broad smile as the streamer settled unerringly on an inconspicuous ribbon of moving water that wrapped around a concrete slab the size of a small car. One corner of the eight-inch thick concrete stuck out of the water near an undercut hillside as though a giant hand had wedged it there. The bulk of the slab had buried in the channel of the creek coming to rest against the bank.
   Instinctively I hunkered down in anticipation of a strike. Raising the rod tip slightly kept my lure in the current and drifting toward its intended target; a deep washout at the downstream end of the slab created from the current that hugged its hardpan shoreline. My quarry lay in that watery hideaway, and I had miscalculated its response.
   The cave dweller, a big smallmouth, caught me off-guard as it charged out from under the upstream end of its hideout and inhaled my offering...

Find out what happens when the book comes out!