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Showing posts from February, 2017

Watching The Smoke Rise

There came a point where all of the things that I was once passionate about didn't matter anymore. My mind was filled with negative thoughts, and I could not bring myself to be happy. I didn't want to fish , because all the quiet time gave my mind the freedom to ruminate on things, and I would sink even deeper into despair. I no longer wanted to hunt because, truthfully, I didn't know if I could trust myself in the woods with a loaded gun. I hated myself, and everything about me.My dear wife took the weight of my infirmity on her shoulders. She kept me from completely giving up when I really wanted to. At her request, I finally sought help, and within a few weeks, I started to feel some better. Although I was making progress, I was still hesitant to do things that had brought me so much pleasure before. The strangest feeling of fear and dread would come over me when I would think about my life and what was waiting for me up around the next bend. I know all of this sounds c…

On Teaching A Boy To Fish

Once upon a time, I became the father of a healthy and happy baby boy. I watched him grow, and saw that same curiosity in him that I had as a boy. This pleased me. He wanted to know about everything that crawled of flew or swam. He was cut from the same slab of bedrock that I was.When I felt the boy was mature enough, I told his mother that it was due time I teach him the ways of a fisherman. She gave in, and I made preparation for this rite-of-passage, as old as man himself.To commemorate this occasion, I purchased the best equipment I could afford, which turned out to be a Spiderman rod and reel combo, complete with tackle box and that little thingy that comes tied to the end of the line, so that one can scare all of the fish away on the first cast. The boy was a quick learner, and within a few tries, had managed to break a glass figurine on the entertainment center, and made a perfect cast into the blades of turning ceiling fan. I was quite impressed with the durability of the rod …

Home Waters: South Tyger River

As you read the entries in this blog, you will notice that a recurring theme in my writing is water-- particularly rivers. I have fished for trout in the most pristine waters of the Blue Ridge, and fished for striped bass and largemouth in some of the best known impoundments in the southeast. I have paddled the black water swamps and fished tidal creeks along the coast. But no matter where I go, no matter what body of water I find myself on, in my subconscious mind, I'm somewhere in the South Tyger watershed.  The namesake of this blog, Wildcat Creek, flows into it. It was on these waters that I found my place in the outdoors. A river is often used as a metaphor for life, and I understand why. It is hard for me to be in or around moving water and not wax poetic. In fact, I have written poems about rivers, and when I dream, it is often about rivers. I had a man tell me one time that if for some reason he can't get out on the river and paddle his kayak, he'll just sit on the…

Hemlock Cathedral

The morning fog was lifting in the mountains and the sunlight had began to filter through the trees. I turned off the asphalt highway onto the gravel road. The only other vehicle in the parking area was an old International Scout, so I took a few minutes to check it out as I slung my pack over my shoulders and grabbed my hiking staff, and then started walking.I walked for a few minutes, and up ahead, I saw an old man and a dog. The man was sitting on a big rock, and his dog was just standing there beside him. The old man looked to be in his seventies, he had a wild grey beard and a floppy hat and glasses as thick as Coke bottles. His shirt was unbuttoned to his navel, and had white chest hair and a gold rope chain hanging out."Beautiful day, ain't it?" he said."Yessir.""Looks like you're headed to the top," gesturing at my pack."Guess so," I said, "You too?""Nah, this is enough for me. But I can't think of a holier pla…

That Night on the Ridge

As I fought my way through the thick brush down in the creek bottom, I could hear Al, my Walker coonhound, treeing hard up on top of the ridge. I found a good place to cross the creek, and began my climb up the steep hillside to get to where he was. I had to grab onto saplings to help myself up in places. Losing traction and falling backwards down the long slope would be deadly, so it was important to stay low to the ground and hold on when possible.My dog had treed in an ancient white oak, so big it would've taken three grown men to reach around the trunk. When I finally got to him, he was still dead after it, taking runs at the tree, biting anything hanging down, shaking the massive vines that ran down the trunk. He knew the coon was up there, and he was doing anything he could think of to get it to come down. Pieces of shredded bark incircled the base of the tree and Al had blood and slobber all over his mouth.I got back from the tree with my Wheat light and shined every limb, …

A Matter of the Heart

As my son and I were ascending the steep and rutted trail leading up to Chestnut Ridge one particularly raw December morning, I felt my heart muscle quivering in my chest, and I became sick at my stomach. I thought I was about to pass out. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but what I was experiencing was actually an episode of a-fib ( atrial fibrillation), something that I wouldn't be diagnosed with until two years later, lying flat on my back in a hospital bed, scared out of my mind.
Chase and I were headed to a spot that I had found while roaming around up there the week before. I thought it would be the perfect place to take him deer hunting, and I'd be able to keep my eyes on him at all times.
When I stopped in my tracks and placed my hand on my chest, he asked me what was wrong. I didn't dare tell him. I figured that the last thing I needed was for my twelve year- old son to start freaking out on me up there in the mountains.
I was joking with my wife the night b…

Welcome to Wildcat Creek Journal

This is a blog about life in the outdoors of Upcountry South Carolina.
Come along with me as I fish a cold mountain stream for trout, or hike into the rugged back-country and set up camp, far away from the lights of town. We'll find a good spot in the woods and get ourselves into position to call up a gobbler, or raise our bows to take a shot at a whitetail deer. Or, we could just take a seat around the campfire and talk for a while.
My goal here is not to give technical advice on things, or endorse any product. Simply put, my goal is to entertain you. I want to make you laugh, make you cry, maybe teach you a little something along the way, but most of all, I want to tell you a story.