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Winter Wonderland !!

The beginning of Winter is just a few days away and I’m excited about the outdoor opportunities it offers. The Moon is waning at the moment as we move toward the beginning of Winter this Sunday, the 21st. After a beautiful Fall I welcome the changing weather. With the leaves off the trees, it’s a great time to explore your favorite patch of woods. Animal sign is easy to interpret, as their trails and runs are very visible this time of year. It’s truly a great opportunity to learn about your woodland neighbors.

Much of the East coast experienced a poor crop of Acorns this year. I could hardly find any in my woods and I’m sure our local squirrel and deer population have been affected by the lack of food. I read recently that some scientists fear the shortage may affect squirrel and deer populations as a result. Indeed, I have noticed that the population of squirrels on my property seems to be less now than last year, and I’ve seen a few that were uncommonly small. Since acorn production runs in cycles though, it’s not that uncommon to have lean year after a year of abundance. Perhaps next year will balance things out. We did however experience a good year for Black Walnut and Hickory nuts. Both are absolutely delicious, though it is a bit tedious to extract the nutmeats. I find it well worth my effort .

Numerous species of migrating birds have been… Read the rest of this entry »

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Fall is by far my favorite time of year in North Carolina. The changing of the season and beautiful foliage is always inspiring. One of my absolute favorite things to do this time of year is to go tracking. Exploring the woods and wild fields throughout this area is fun…and, with most of the leaves off the trees it’s easy to see the lay of the land.

The Splender of Fall

The Splender of Fall

Animal trails and sign are much more visible now and become a major point of interest for me. I can spend hours interpreting their tracks and trails and never get bored. All the animals have such an intimate knowledge of their environment and seem to move through it so effortlessly. I’m always fascinated by what I discover on my hiking and nature excursions. Perhaps most importantly, I’m reminded that I need to explore more often…don’t we all?

“My experiences in nature always seem to ground me and smooth out any stress that I may have accumulated during the week”…

All of us love to spend time in the woods and hiking is a favorite weekend activity for many of us. This area has many hiking opportunities. The Palmetto Trail is close by and F.E.N.C.E has numerous trails to explore. Let’s face it – we all need to get outside more, and not just for the exercise. I believe that being in nature is important and helps promote a healthy… Read the rest of this entry »

Not very long ago there were people living close to the Earth, honoring, celebrating and respecting life through prayer and beautiful ceremonies. These people understood nature’s many gifts. All their food, clothing, medicine, tools and materials for their homes came from their immediate surroundings. Understanding the natural world was critical for their health and survival. The Earth was Sacred to them. Who were these people? Our ancestors…that’s right, All our ancestors knew how to live off the land…or perhaps, to live With the land would be more accurate. They had strong physical, spiritual and emotional ties to Nature. There was no air pollution, no water pollution, no litter, and there were no garbage dumps. They lived in balance with the land.

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting

By contrast, in our high-tech fast-paced world today, it’s easy to see how we are gradually distancing ourselves from the natural world. Nature, for the most part, is viewed merely a commodity to be used and used up anyway we see fit.  And, most of our experiences with Nature today come in the form of outdoor recreation. Many of us spend that time racing around the woods and waters on various machines “doing Mach 3 with our hair on fire!” Sadly, going on a Nature walk or fishing on a quiet riverbank somewhere is considered boring to most people. Whatever form of outdoor activities you prefer, one thing’s for certain… Read the rest of this entry »

In a previous article, I suggested that slowing down while hiking or exploring would allow you to see more wildlife and enhance your experience on your outdoor adventures. I received a few emails from some folks who loved the idea, but have a hard time getting around. Hiking just isn’t an option for them.

Room with a view

Room with a view

Here’s a great idea, not just for folks that aren’t as mobile but literally for all of us. I call it a “sit spot”, (or “secret place” when I teach it to children). The good news is you usually don’t have to travel far. Here’s the concept. Find a slightly out of the way place on your property, or perhaps at a nearby park and simply sit down, relax and just observe. You can even bring a chair if you’d like, though I prefer to sit on the ground. I know, I know…this sounds a lot like a previous article, but a “sit spot” is different. Indulge me for a moment. This is one of the Healthiest and FUN things you can do.  This is a place you should visit several times a week, if possible. This practice will allow you to get to know one area intimately instead of roaming all over. Most of us think we know our property pretty well, but this exercise might just change your mind. If you have the discipline to do this for an entire year, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll……
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When people think of trout fishing in Western NC., rivers like the Davidson, Mills and Tuckasegee

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout

Rivers come to mind. The Pacolet River isn’t even a remote thought for most. The state of North Carolina regularly stocks the Pacolet from the Falls to the Hwy 108 Bridge in Lynn. Rainbows and brown trout present anglers with ample opportunities.

I’d fished the Pac a few times, in the past with, some success, but after hearing that fish are regularly released at Harmon Field, I decided to give that stretch a try. As I grabbed my gear that familiar smirk came across my face. It happens every time I go. I’m instantly reconnected to the child within, remembering the excitement of catching my first fish as a young lad. As I approached the river I could hear the squeals of young children splashing in a shallow pool, near the cabin area. I decided to start at the footbridge and work my way up. A deep hole, next to a concrete block, with fast water provided the perfect starting point.

Many people think the best way to catch trout is with a fly rod…not so! I’ve caught hundreds of trout with my ultralight spinning outfit and, when casting in tight quarters, actually prefer it to my flyrod. More of us have spinning outfits than flyrods anyway. The biggest mistake that most people make… Read the rest of this entry »

coyote12

Eastern Coyote (Canis latrans)

Last Sunday evening I awoke to an increasingly familiar sound…the howls of several coyotes echoed through the neighboring woods, piercing the cool night air. I can tell you from experience that waking, from a sound sleep, to the raucous chorus of coyotes can be a bit startling, but I absolutely LOVE IT! In fact, I sleep with the windows open, most of the year, just so I don’t miss such happenings.

I rent a quaint house, here in Tryon, NC, nestled in a sizable patch of woods. The lower portion of the property contains a small creek, which I love to explore. My creek has minnows, aquatic insects and a few crayfish. Clearly, the creek is the heartbeat of these woods. Deer, turkey, raccoons, hawks, owls, and a multitude of woodland creatures frequent this area…but they are not alone. The coyote keeps a watchful eye on all that happens here. Always observing, calculating and patiently waiting for an opportunity. Make no mistake…this is one savvy wild dog. Perhaps no other wild animal can live in such close proximity to man, and yet be so completely unseen.

This past Winter I had an encounter with the local coyote pack I will never forget… Read the rest of this entry »

DID YOU KNOW?

Autumn Olive (elaegnus umbellata) berries contain up to 17 times more lycopene than tomatoes? Lycopene has powerful antioxidant properties. These wild berries make an excellent jelly and are available right now!!

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