A few weeks ago, a touch on the subject of mountain men generated much interest. I alluded to the 1972 Robert Redford movie, "Jeremiah Johnson," and mentioned that the movie was based on the novel "Mountain Man" by Vardis Fisher. In an effort to learn more about mountain men, I read the book, thanks to our local Wagner Library, which they tracked down from the shelves of the University of South Dakota Library. This book taught me more about hunting and wilderness food preparation than any volume I've ever read and I also learned much about the Indian.
Believe me, the South Dakota threshold to adventure is just a few steps away. After church on a recent Sunday morning, I climbed into my trusty Dodge Dakota and headed for Mitchell. Once in Mitchell, it took five minutes to transfer my gear to my friend Gordy's truck, and then we were on our way to Dry Lake No. 2 just north of Willow Lake, a trip less than two hours long.
For you, I, and the thousands of hunters who recently applied for South Dakota elk hunting tags, we will soon learn whether or not we were successful. My partner, Doug, and I have 14 preference points for Black Hills tags. We would hunt the Custer area if we are successful in the current draw.
The day would be overcast. There was just enough light on the eastern horizon to guide me, and it looked good — mild temperatures and nary a trace of wind. I headed south out of the hay yard and worked my way up the gradual incline. My destination was a bowl like impression, a miniature amphitheater, that was hollowed into the modest rim I climbed.
If you're an angler who uses artificial lures, you have your favorites. If a group of us sat down together in hopes of compiling a list, we would not doubt mutually agree on some. There would also be some picks that were favorites of yours or mine alone. Today, we'll look at mine. Drop me a line, and I'll give yours some recognition in a future column. That will be to the benefit of all readers ... perhaps moreso than my picks.
A large group of interested people have worked tirelessly at hammering out an updated South Dakota Deer Management Plan. Our state Game, Fish, & Parks Department has made it available for all of us to read at their website, and they have invited us to make comments/suggestions to them by Friday at DeerPlan@state.sd.us .
I can't speak for Lakes Oahe, Sharpe, and Lewis & Clark because I don't fish them enough, but I can say that walleye numbers are down on our own Lake Francis Case. Do we accept the situation and settle for the current status quo, or do we do something about improving the situation? If something is done, I want to see it come from South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks with input from us, and not the floor of our capitol in Pierre.
I've been asked how my spring turkey hunting is going and I'll make a sorry confession. After getting a gobbler or two that rivaled an old inner tube for toughness, Betsy said no more gobblers, and I don't blame her. She once hosted a big family dinner that featured an inedible turkey. I went to jake (young tom) hunting in the spring, and now I'm down to fall hen hunting. Yes, the antics of a spring gobbler are as entertaining as it gets, but I've moved on.
With the 2016-2017 winter behind us, I thought we'd take a look at how wildlife fared, both at home and around the country. I could be a bit premature. It was 1984 or 1985, but we had an April 12 blizzard that began with light snow on Sunday evening. I jokingly told the kids that we wouldn't have school the next day. By the time a final count was taken, South Dakota lost 84,000 head of livestock.
In 44 years of column writing, I don't recall that I've ever touched on alligators. Today, that's about to change.