Remember the weather on Labor Day Monday? Temperatures reached 90 by midafternoon. Tuesday morning was flat out cold by comparison. Prior to that cold Tuesday morning, I had invited a pair of Mitchell buddies and their boat to fish that day with me for catfish beneath the dam at Pickstown. On the way to the river I talked of catching 30 cats and predicted the taking of some that would go 8 pounds or more. In the back of my mind, I thought about cold fronts and what they do to fishing. We had a fine time, but in spite of solunar table predictions, we caught nary a fish.
As usual, Betsy was messing with her iPhone when she broke the silence: "I have a question for you. What's the most dangerous thing a hunter on foreign soil faces?" Fortunately for me, I had just read a gripping article in my latest hunting magazine. "I'll take a wild guess and say it has to do with a pulmonary embolism that resulted from cramped leg room on the trip over." I think I amazed Betsy with my correct answer. The story I had read went like this ...
The following list of the world's 10 greatest bird hunts with No. 1 being the greatest of all was proposed a while back by an outdoor TV program. While the list is reasonably well done, I would omit No. 9, as it is contained in Nos. 7 and 8 and substitute a North Country ptarmigan hunt.
"To err is human....." As you know, Alexander Pope completed his above quote with the words, "To forgive divine." Like everything else, the world of hunters and fishermen is not without its errs. Some of these errs can be laughed at as time passes, and some end in tragedy. I've had more than my share.
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 .