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Her First One

There was a certain air of anticipation that morning as our guide, Captain Charles King, plied the waters beneath us for signs of schooling striped bass. We came to Santee Cooper Country to immerse ourselves in the sportsman's paradise, and explore all the area had to offer. As our boat cut across beautiful Lake Moultrie, the sun was breaking the eastern horizon with a warm, red glow, casting a soft, picturesque light on one of the most beautiful lakes in the South.

The South Carolina Outdoor Press Association (SCOPe) and members of the Georgia Outdoor Writers (GOA) had converged on the Santee Cooper lakes, as they held their annual fall conference at Black's Camp. As part of the group of  writers and photographers that were on the lake that particular morning. My wife, Melissa and I, along with Georgia outdoor writer, Polly Dean, were matched with an experienced guide, a man whose business is to know these waters and the popular game fish that thrive in great numbers there. Ch…
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Elderberry Syrup as a Remedy for Cold and Flu

(Originally published in the Backwoodsman, July/August 2018)
In the U.S., the flu season usually runs from October to May, normally peaking sometime in February. Outside of taking an annual flu shot and costly over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, most remedies for the symptoms are, at best, minimally effective.
There is a home remedy, however, proven to work time and time again.


Black elderberries (Sambucus nigra) have long been used in Europe and North America as a medicinal plant, useful for ailments ranging from a diuretic and laxative to a diaphoretic (promotes sweating). Elderberries contain antioxidants and flavonoids, as well as vitamin A, B, and C. The antiviral compounds in elderberries can be effective fighting not only the common cold, but both influenza A and B.

Flu treatment

Research has proven that the compounds found in the black elderberry can lessen the symptoms of the flu virus, and shorten the duration of the sickness. In a double- blind study, it was found that 93% of thos…

Beaver Dam

My craft drifts on the waterlike a birch leaf, downstreamwith the slowed current.This swamp was once a mere trickle, rushing waterthat undercut high banks.As high as I could reach from the creek bed, wasthe leaf litter and tree roots.Now the water is over thebanks, and standing kneedeep, fifty yards each way.As I drift on, the causeof this flooding, the beaverdam, comes into view.Perhaps the largest I haveever seen in these parts, hundred yards or more across.From base of the slopeon either side of the bottomland, this dam stretches.The architects worked tirelessly,spring, summer and fall,to build this great structure.And every time the soundof running water is heard, the call of duty is answered.A builder comes forthfrom the depths of its lair,and repairs the breach.Weaving in more saplingsand packing sticks and mudin the holes, the dam holds.I survey this engineering feat

What's In Your Pocket?

There's always that sinking feeling you get when you end up in an adverse situation, only to realize you are unprepared, not having critical tools you need to perform the task at hand. You may be at work, stuck in traffic on the interstate, or even in the middle of an apocalypse, when you discover that you are SCREWED, that you went against everything you were taught in the Scouts, or on those survival reality shows on TV. You vow to God, yourself, and Bear Grylls that next time you won't be so careless. That you'll never leave home without it again. 
Next time, you tell yourself, you will be able to cut that length of rope needed to repel down the waterfall, use a flashlight to signal the rescue chopper once you have located a group of lost children in the gorge, or open that beer that you thought had the twist-off cap.
There seems to be a trend in preparedness going on right now referred to as Everyday Carry, or EDC. This simply means that the participants in this subcultu…

The Opinel Knife

This is a departure from the regular content on this blog, but when I find something of quality, I want to pass it along to you.
Quality craftsmanship and affordability are what I look for in outdoor gear. I found out a long time ago that you get what you pay for. While this may be true, there are reasonably priced products out there, if you know where to look. That's how I discovered the Opinel knife.

I was looking for a knife that was durable, hard working, and that looked nice. Also, it would be great if it was easy on the wallet. I purchased my Opinel No. 8 at Mast General Store for $15. The simple beauty of this knife caught my eye, and the fact that is was a traditional working man's knife made in France for over one hundred years, convinced me to make the purchase.

In 1890, Joseph Opinel began making his wooden-handled folding knives in Savoie, France, selling them to farmers, herdsmen, and paysans-vignerons ( peasant winemakers). Soon, the knife became popular with railro…

Morning Camp

This morning I christen my Coleman stove with bacon grease at first light. The songbirds of the Smokies begin their first chorus against the white noise of frying meat. I let the first couple of pieces get maybe too done in my grandma's black iron frying pan, but that's how I like it. I turn down the fire and the rest of the thick- cut bacon comes out perfect. I save some of the grease in the bottom of the pan for eggs.
I break six eggs in a large paper cup and stir in some half and half from the cooler. I mix them well into a creamy light yellow and pour them into the dark grease in the frying pan. As the eggs cook, they take on some of the dark color from the black pan and burned bacon pieces, but they turn out well.
Bringing water to boil on the other eye, I throw in a heaping handful of good ground coffee into the French press. I pour in the water and press the plunger down, watching the dark liquid swirl into a creamy head. The first sip from my cup has the aroma and flavo…

Dad's Fish

My dad caught the biggest rainbow trout of his life, and he was so excited that he threw his fishing rod down and clamored up the riverbank and put the fish in the trunk and said, Come on, let's go.
I said, What about your rod? and he said, I won't be needing that anymore. After catching a fish like this, what's the point?
We drove into town and turned on a side street, then pulled up in front of a sign that read, Taxidermy. My dad told the man inside that he wanted the fish mounted no matter how much it cost, and the man grinned and said, Give me two weeks.
Dad was a wreck for the two long weeks of waiting. As the estimated time drew closer, he didn't eat nor sleep, he just paced the floor, waiting for the telephone to ring, with a voice on the other end saying, Come pick up your fish. Finally, that call came, and when it did, my dad ran out the door and dove in his old car, and liked to have lost it as he tore out of our yard on two wheels.
When he returned home, not a …