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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Fall Turkey Hunting in West Virginia Mountains (Blog 464)

Saturday, I went fall turkey hunting in Monroe County, West Virginia. I know that the deer activity is intense right now, and I truly love to pursue deer. But my favorite kind of fall hunting is to go after turkeys. The emphasis on sign reading, figuring out what the birds are eating, hearing all the different fall calls that turkeys make, and deciding whether or not to attempt to bust a flock or call it in make this pastime so rich and fulfilling.

I encountered two different fall flocks Saturday and could not call them in. I also couldn't maneuver close enough to the gangs to scatter them. Nevertheless, it was a marvelous day spent in the West Virginia mountains.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Nature Wastes Nothing (Blog 463)

Last week while bow hunting in Botetourt County, Virginia, I decided to set up in a funnel where I had killed a doe five days before. Normally, I like to let a place "rest" for a week or more after killing a deer there. But the spot is so good, and so many deer go through there, that temptation won out against judgement.

While there, I watched individual black vultures, and small groups of this bird, visit over and over the exact spot where I had field dressed a deer earlier in the week. There was nothing at that spot except a  slight greasy slick (as I would describe it) yet the vultures thought it worthwhile to visit and even fight over. When the vultures weren't there, I saw a raven and several crows visit, too. Each creature was apparently trying to extract one little morsel of nourishment from my kill.

I passed on a small buck while hunting that day and should have killed a doe, but it eased by me when I wasn't looking. Two days later, I was back at the spot again and killed another doe there. Interestingly, I field dressed it in almost the same spot as the one I had arrowed earlier. I have no doubt that the vultures, ravens, and crows all found the remains.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Of Squirrels, Cats, and Deer Jaw Bones (Blog 462)

While bowhunting this past Saturday near my home in Botetourt County, Virginia, I heard and saw a very interesting thing. Around 5:00, I heard some gray squirrels give the alarm note, then seconds later a black cat with white paws paraded in front of me with a silvertail in its mouth. For the next half hour or so, various squirrels continued to give the alarm call.

About an hour later, the cat again passed by me -looking to be on the hunt once more. The squirrels in the woodlot again started chattering.

My son-in-law David Reynolds also had a squirrel story. He observed a gray squirrel walk by him with a deer jaw bone in its mouth. The bushytail proceeded to climb a tree and enter its nest, again still carrying the bone. Fascinating stuff.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Sam and Eli: Chess Masters (Blog 461)

Monday evening after school, I played chess with Sam and Eli for the first time. The two boys, ages seven and five, respectively, are learning the rudiments of the game. And, understandably, Sam has a better grasp so far.

No matter, Eli and I were able to defeat Sam in a classic match that surely will be talked about for years among chess aficionados. Sam seemed to take his defeat graciously, though Eli immediately wanted to high five with me, perhaps to let his older brother know that he had game in some sort of activity, too.

I eagerly await the rematch.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Eleventh Grade Stress Due Out Soon (Blog 460)

My ninth book and third Young Adult Fiction novel, Eleventh Grade Stress, is due out in a couple of weeks. I still find that hard to believe. I knew by the time I was an eleventh grader what my major goals were and they were as follows: a great wife, children, a house out in the country, rural land, a teaching career, and a writing career.

And, amazingly enough, I have been more than fortunate to gain all those things over the years. Everything all started with a great wife, Elaine, who has been my side for over 41 years of marriage. Sarah and Mark are awesome adults now, Elaine and I live out in the country on 38 acres of wooded land with a stream flowing through it, and I am nearing 2,500 magazine articles sold. At 67 years of age, I am still teaching high school English and still loving to go to school every day and work with young people.

One of the writing genres I was never interested in ever, and that includes my time as a high school student, was Young Adult Fiction. And now thanks to Secant Publishing and my editor Ron Sauder, I have a four-book series in the works for that genre. Again, I am amazed at that. I am also teaching the first two books, Ninth Grade Blues and Tenth Grade Angst, to my high school students. And from what I understand a half dozen or more teachers are using them in their classrooms.

If you should like to reserve a copy, e-mail me at

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Making Wild Grape Jelly ((Blog 459)

Yesterday after I arrived home from school, Elaine and I went to pick summer grapes on the rural Botetourt County, Virginia road where we live. Earlier, I had spotted summer grapes, the most common species of wild grape in Southwest Virginia, growing on a neighbor's land. I asked him if we could pick the grapes, and the gentleman said yes.

Today, our grandsons Sam and Eli will help us remove the grapes from the stems, then Elaine will begin the process of turning the fruit into jelly. We think summer grape jelly has a pleasant tartness, making it superior to store jelly. Sam and Eli's reward for their labor will be a jar of jelly to take home.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Dolgo Crabapples are Ripe (Blog 458)

The highlight of my dining week was Elaine fixing Dolgo Crabapple Cobbler several days ago. Folks have no idea how good crabapples can be in breads, pies, cobblers, cookies, and jelly. Our tree produced fairly well this year, but not in an epic way as it did two years ago. In 2017, the tree truly produced gallons of fruit.

I am going to pick again this weekend. This time my goal is for a pie. As is true with crabapple cobbler, crabapple pie tastes very similar to a sour cherry pie. It's even better with vanilla ice cream.