Wild Turkey Zombie

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So I found a wild turkey zombie on Jordan Lake yesterday.

I was out on Jordan Lake in a kayak yesterday and after a while I noticed a wild turkey feeding on insects in the sand nearby.  So I started filming.

As I approached, I noted first a respectable beard on the bird. It looked to be a 10″ beard.  Then, it became odd that he let me approach so easily. Now, if you know anything about wild turkeys you’ll know they are very, wary animals with extremely good eyesight.

I’ve never gotten so close to a turkey in my life and it almost ran into me a few times, especially when it flew almost straight into me near the end of the video. You won’t believe what this bird does. I’ve seen wildlife doing some strange things over the last few years, but this takes the cake.

I only have a few theories as to why this bird acted the way it did. 1. It was the feed! The bird might have just been unwilling to leave prime browse – doubtful. 2. His lady was nearby; it is spring – also doubtful. 3. He’d been run out of gameland by hunters scouting for the opener on April 1st. – possible, but Jordan is permit only for turkey and the woods have been pretty vacant since deer season – also doubtful 4. ZOMBIE TURKEYS!!!!!!

Seriously though, check out this crazy encounter with this wild turkey.

 

Early Spring Freshwater Fishing Report 2017

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I decided to put together an early freshwater fishing report.

This fishing report will be a mix of what I’ve done over the last few weeks, as well as links to active fisheries and other reports I find useful. I hope it’s helpful and inspires you to get out fishing soon.

We had our first spring back in late January and the patterns were about what I would have expected to work in mid to late March. On area lakes like Gaston, Kerr and others, fish like striped bass, largemouth bass and crappie were scattered in small schools and starting to feed heavily in fairly shallow water. I was even starting to catch them trolling reaction lures like crankbaits and small hairless spoons.

But now, over the last few weeks, everything has changed. The fish that were feeding in ten to twenty feet of water throughout the day are now staging in water over thirty feet deep and negative. You can find success on calm days jigging spoons on lakes like Jordan, Harris and Falls. But it seems to be a time-specific thing, almost like summer where the bites only really come early and late…go figure. There are reports of bass hitting the banks as well. But as you can see from the dates the news isn’t great.

So I opted to try a few rivers over the last couple of weeks. I first tried the Haw, but the fishing was very slow, so I backed out of the shallows and found white bass, catfish and crappie by jigging in water around twenty feet deep. I did keep a few though…

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Then, I hit the Eno and the fishing was slow there as well, though I did have one double. I only caught seven white bass and one crappie, but again a few healthy specimens joined me for a hot oil bath. These fish, as you can see from the pics below, were hitting tiny in-line spinners and they would only hit the brown feathers that day. I spoke with other anglers who were having decent success with green grubs slow trolled along the bottom for crappie.

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Now, it’s almost time for me to start on the striped bass run, but with the chilly and windy weather of late, I haven’t been out much. I did get to the Cape Fear one day last week and caught one striper (feature photo) and several carp off corn. The fish were lethargic though and I released all of them.

Here is the link to the shocking surveys as of March 9th from the NCWRC. They focus on the Cape Fear, Roanoke, Neuse and Tar rivers. Shad are still showing up in decent numbers but the stripers are slow. The 2017 season on the Roanoke has started and you can find regs for all four rivers the fish run up on the linked site as well. This is a great resource, especially this time of year as you plan your river trips.

So get out there and be safe, the fishing should start to improve as we get out of this crazy week of weather. Who knows, next week it might be summer out there. Look for the trends and fish them!

I Got to Create a Medicine Wheel

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So I was asked by a client to create this medicine wheel.

I’d heard of different North American Indian tribes use of the constructs before, but I’d never researched the stone circles in detail.

A medicine wheel is a stone circle believed to have astronomical, medicinal, religious, calendrical and even territorial significance. The meanings the creations had differed depending upon which indigenous peoples built them.

The plains nations peoples were widely known for creating and using the structures. And they were built in many different sizes and for different reasons.

I was able to source stone for the project on site, as these particular clients live in a rocky county with plenty of granite lying around. And the center piece is a one-of-a-kind piece of metal artwork created by a Persian artist my clients knew personally. And interestingly enough, the metal really screws with a compass, or at least it does now that it has been placed in the center of this medicine wheel. Freaky…. And additionally, I hadn’t tried to construct the wheel on the four directions; I was just trying to get a basic idea down and make sure she liked the sizes of the stones. But when she came out, she loved it and asked about the directions. I used the compass, before the metal thing screwed with it, and the north, south, east and west directions aligned perfectly on the appropriate lines.

This client is a healer, and will replace many of the stones with different crystals with different energies as time passes. Her property is a retreat and I’ve been honored to once again help the couple utilize space on their property for such a cool project.

More Winter Stripers

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Winter Stripers fight hard and are a great excuse to get out and brave the cold.

So I got out for only my second trip of the year yesterday and the bite was really hot again. I found striped bass in 15′ – 18′ feeding heavily. I went out in the kayak and targeted structure with jigs and spoons.

Needles to say, the sonar was very important yesterday as it was a bluebird, high-pressure day. All my fish were caught just off points and yesterday they were crushing the lures. I didn’t go out in the morning, it was in the 20’s and there was a north wind forecast. But I saw that the wind was supposed to switch over to an easterly around lunchtime so I couldn’t resist the trip.

I went one other time this year and found fish in the same depths, but on a totally different type of structure. That particular day the fish were barely hitting the lures, and every time I fought one to the surface it only had a single hook in it’s mouth. I hadn’t taken a net and lost several really nice ones trying to get the fish grippers in their mouths. I’d grown tired of dealing with a net in the yak, fighting with getting lures out of snags and had really gotten comfortable using the grippers, but that’s no good when they aren’t crushing the lures. And thrusting your hand into the mouth of a thrashing striper with treble hooks exposed is not something anyone with any experience with this species will do more than once.

So I brought a net yesterday and didn’t lose a single fish. Lesson learned.

I landed 7 stripers over 20″, and the best fish was a thick 25″ specimen that probably weighed between 6 and 7 pounds. It had broken lines on both sides and had gorgeous colors. I didn’t target or catch any other species, but there were some smaller fish I didn’t take pics of.

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As you can tell by the surface of the water it was fairly calm, which is the ideal condition for wintertime fishing. Whether you are using live bait and fishing vertical or using artificials; like jigs and spoons, windless days are the best. This allows you to stay on top of good marks, trees and contours around points pretty easily.

The color of the lure didn’t matter yesterday, but they did want small baits (standard for winter, go small!!). And presentation had to be perfect. If I hadn’t had the sonar on all day I wouldn’t have caught a single fish. They were really holding tight to structure and dead on the bottom. The marks were like bumps on the bottom of the lake, but they were there.

Here are the rest of the pics.

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Winter Stripers

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The water was glassy and I had winter stripers on my mind.

I got to the last day of January and realized I hadn’t been on the water yet in 2017. So I took the second half of the day off and decided to go after fish I knew would be fat and full of fight.

And I wanted to grill some fresh fish.

It was a mid-60’s day with no wind and it had been warm for a few days. Definitely a no-brainer to go kayak fishing.

I started fishing around 3:00 and it wasn’t long before I had my first fish of the year; it fought hard but turned out to be a foul-hooked white catfish; probably three pounds or so. I didn’t take a pic and thought, uh oh.

After jigging a spoon a short time later another fish was on. (feature photo) The fish was barely hooked, but I managed to swing it into the kayak without losing tension. It was just over 20″, and a perfect eating fish. So he went into the cooler. I fished a little while longer without another bite and decided to move around a bit.

After watching the sonar a while, I came over what looked to be a school of crappie. The vertical column of fish, I thought was unmistakable. I back-pedaled to stay right on top of the marks and dropped the spoon. It was struck hard instantly, but the fish broke off after a few seconds. I dropped back down and jigged again awhile without another bite. The fish had been feeding all day I could tell. They were lethargic, but it was mid-afternoon. I figured it would pick back up towards sunset.

After trying a couple other spots and marking very little, I again came over good lines on my unit. I dropped the lure and it was smacked on the drop again. This time the fish held though, and I fought it for close to two or three minutes before it was boat side. I hadn’t brought a net, I rarely do anymore (I prefer the fish grippers) but today, with fish again hitting only one of two treble hooks, I missed it. I lost a nice 24+” class fish within a foot of my arm.

It happens, but I was shaking.

I dropped right back down though and after a few moments I was on again. After another decent fight I had another winter striper at the side of the yak. I swung it in as it looked short, and once measured it was just shy of a keeper at 19″.

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I snapped a pic a tossed this one back in and dropped back down. Again, a fish hit the lure on the drop, but after another lengthy fight, and sighting another 24″ class fish barely hooked, I lost tension at the boat missing with the lip-grippers. It was then I decided to go back to bringing a net. You just don’t reach your hand into a striped bass’s mouth with treble hooks in play. And winter stripers are so full of piss and vinegar they fight as hard in the boat as they do on the line.

I was again shaking but dropped back down regardless. And after another few jigs of the spoon I had another strike.

I knew I had another nice striper on. I fought it just like I had all the others and soon had it too at the side of the kayak. It was a good one and just like the rest, only one of the hooks on one treble hook held it to my line.

But this time the lip-grippers found their mark and I pulled the second keeper in. It was 24″ and close to six pounds after weighing it later.

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Not long after I put that one on ice a stiff south wind hit the lake and vertical fishing was out. I paddled back towards the launch and snapped a close-to-sunset pic before heading out and cleaning fish.

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Christmas Dinner Story

I wrote this a few years ago on Christmas morning.

It literally woke me up and was written on my phone using notes and later posted it on Facebook. I hadn’t saved it. I was glad to be reminded and certainly have it now.

Christmas Dinner Story

Funny how time can slip away, your three steps closer to the dawn

Big sun draws nearer to the horizon,

Old planks stripped of all their paint – and falling off the barn

A young boy awakens on Christmas morning, and finds just enough waiting to yell

Tin can holds nothing but lint, and dust, and an ancient fire’s embers

And the old man remembers well

But as the years go by, and the old oak grows towards the sky – Autumn leaves have fallen again

Sunsets go, and sunrises welcome new beginnings

The old man sighs and says, “Northwest winds pushed waves across the open ocean,”

A young boy smiles at him

 

I’ve found my home here, among the splintered wood, with that beautiful grain

I’ve found a new place to lay my bones; I’ve found where I will lay

 

A bitter smell brings back that longing, empty nostalgia,

You see that old dog hunting again

A promise to meet each other, in that great big open meadow, will be kept unto the end

And when the smiles, laughter and smells seem to remedy,

Suddenly the tears are falling

The mantle in that old home place, is aged and warm with memories

You’d love to hear the stories it could tell

Generations of loved ones and family traditions, in this place you’d remember well

The fat crocking ham put away for a Christmas dinner story,

A hidden jug of shine, in the cellar, beneath the boards there,

An old wily whitetail hangin in the barn

But that’s another story to tell

 

I’ve found my home here, among the splintered wood, with that beautiful grain

More Cedar Scrimshaws…

I’ve had a few commissions and gifts to make recently. The cedar scrimshaws are still selling well, and I have more commissions ready to start for 2017!

First I had a client that wanted a dolphin. I’d never done one but I enjoyed the process.

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Then a few gifts for family members.

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The Magnolias were popular…

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And a few more star sign pieces…

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As usual the lines are all engraved after being drawn (except for the dolphin). But all the lines including artwork, script and signature are. I used water colors, pastels, color pencils and ink on these.

Some are harder to let go than others, whether gifts or commissions.

Love em!