• Matt Smythe

WEEKEND SORTIES

Updated: Jul 10

The school bus comes every weekday morning at twelve after eight. It stops out front of the house, pausing traffic in both directions for about sixty seconds before roaring off with the kids and their perpetual bed-head.


Between this daily morning routine, our debilitating spring weather and the fact that I’ve actually had work on my desk since I changed my professional status to “Freelance Writer,” all the time I anticipated being able to enjoy in the woods or on the water has been held to short Saturday/Sunday strikes. While these outings are still better than a sharp stick in the eye, when school lets out this June, the kid’s excitement about summer vacation will pale in comparison to my Alice Cooper-driven cries of seasonal freedom and warm-weather anarchy.


In the mean-time, taking advantage of what time I’m offered, I managed two sorties this past weekend–fishing for browns Saturday afternoon and hunting turkey Sunday morning.


In the process of developing a member-getting and involvement-motivating campaign for a local chapter of Trout Unlimited, Grant, Dean and I were on a mission to fish dries for native browns in a permission only stretch on the Oatka so Grant could get some more quality images. We had been out a few weeks earlier on a different stretch for the same purpose in significantly colder weather, but with far better water levels. On this particular afternoon however, the river wasn’t blown out, but the chocolate milk running high between the banks had the fish waiting for a far more favorable stream report. We should be so smart.


In the end, the sun did come out just long enough for Grant to get some solid shots of Dean and I doing our damnedest to rouse browns from their cover. And we did get to sit on the bank awhile without a single obligation weighing on our time, except the welcome invitation to a tuna-noodle casserole dinner from Dean’s wife.


By four fifty-five the next morning I was set up in a Primos Predator pop-up blind with two turkey decoys in the field out front, a Thermos full of coffee, a couple breakfast bars and a pheasant squawking to three other roosters from the dark about 40 yards away. A steady, light rain took up with the northwest wind around 6 and I sat, dry and smoking my pipe, while the strutting-tom decoy waggled and turned slowly on its stake.


By 7 I managed to get a few gobbles from adjacent fields in response to my calls, but their commitments stayed distant. Over the next hour the pheasant, a rooster and hen pair, picked their way across the field, continuing their call/response with the other three pairs; a drake and mallard cut across the front of the blind on a silent, hard-line approach to light on the dead-still pond behind me; a pair of geese honked their way from the sky to touch-down in the next field out from mine; and a pretty doe appeared from the thick brush and browsed her way to within 30 yards of the blind. She spotted the decoys, stomped and flagged a few times, took a couple casual bounds and wandered off.


As I made my way back to the truck in the rain with my backpack, decoy bag, shotgun and the bag-packed pop-up blind, I could feel the last two days in my back and shoulders–and I was thankful for it.


Mission accomplished.

Recent Posts

See All

FIVE WEIGHT

Not here. You fuckers cannot follow me here. His dad looked over his shoulder from the tailgate at Charlie, standing in the tall grass looking over the river, hands tucked into the top of his waders,

FIRST LIGHT

At first light I returned to where we had last seen blood. A sparkling sheen of frost on the fields, thin ice on standing water, and my breath hanging lazily in the air made the stillness feel full an

THE RANGE OF OUR UNIVERSE

Aleida shot her first deer, a healthy 2 year old four-pointer, during archery season last year. It was her first trip into the woods as a hunter. We had made our way to the buddy stand in the dark, fo

  • Black Instagram Icon

@fishingpoet

  • LinkedIn Social Icon

mattsmythe

© 2017 By Matt Smythe