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Friday, January 21, 2011

Minus Six...

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This evening unable to stand being pent up in the house any longer I put on my heaviest jacket, gloves, and the big floppy Elmer Fudd hat with the big furry plaps that cocer your ears and headed for the river. It was about an hour till dark and already in the single digits headed for a below zero night. You know how the Weather Channel gives the temps for all the little towns surrounding the city? Well tonight we were the cold spot, it would be minus six when I went to bed later that night. Looking out my second story window you can see the little weather station perched atop a building across the street so that reading always hits home. It sure was beautiful down by the river thoogh. And still, nothing moved except for the open water flowing by. I did find that several deer had moved thru the river bottom last night but no small critters, no squirrels or even rabbits. Along the bike path a fox had traveled though I imagine he had a hard time finding dinner in the midst of last night's snowstorm. No big adventure tonight an hour slipping through the empty river bottom was enough before thoughts of the fire at home turned me around.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The plastic grub...

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I river fish sixty or seventy days a year most years and you won't ever catch me on the water without a three inch plastic grub. If I'm wading and not carrying alot of tackle I might only have a couple colors but one will be smoke metalflake. It just looks so much like a generic minnow in the water with just the right amount of flash and I have caught so many fish with it over the years that I just have alot of confidence in throwing it. I'm also pretty big on the various orangish brown combinations out there because I feel like they look alot like many of the darters and sculpins in the river and bounced along the bottom make an okay crawfish imitation. Seventy five percent of the time I fish a grub on an eighth ounce plain roundball jighead but I will go up and down in weight. If I find fish feeding in a run but not on the bottom (white bass alot, sometimes smallies) I'll go to a lighter weight to let the grub swim down the run on a tightline rather than hug the bottom.
I also think sauger, in comtrast to most other fish, actually like a bit of resistance when they hit and If I'm catching more sauger than bass I'll fish a quarter ounce jighead. Ill also go heavier in swifter deep water like say below a lowhead dam. I think you allmost have to work at fishing a grub wrong, just chucking it out and reeling it in will produce some fish tho most time I try to swim it slowly just off the bottom or let it sweep thru a run on a tightline, again just off the bottom. In slower water like a hole or around a bridge abutment Ill sometimes tightline the grub to the bottom and bring it back in a series of lifts or slow sweeps. This is also a good way to pick up a nice channelcat or two also. Some of the nicest channels Ive caught have been on grubs. It certainly wakes you up to be smallmouth fishing and tighten up on a ten pound catfish! Thats one of the grubs main strengths, in a river like the Little Miami you might catch any of seven or eight different species of fish on one on any given trip.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Barns and Bridges...

I kind of took the scenic route on the way to my muzzleloading hunt for whitetails this weekend. Taking a winding path thru snowy Highland and Adams counties. While pulled over to take a photo of one old barn I noticed the only tracks in the snow besides my four wheeled drive were those of an Amish buggy...It took me a momment to figure out what they were...
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The weather was down in the teens heading for a low of two later that night. That along with the roaring wind made for a long day on the treestand. But right at dark I did manage to harvest a deer. Hunting alone in this kind of weather in the middle of nowhere made me stop and think just a bit longer on each step of setting up and climbing with the treestand. With serious consequences should something happen and I hurt myself, I tried to concentrate on just being safe and didn't even bring the camera along, though several times when walking the snowcovered woods I wished I had.
Field dressing the deer made my bare hands sting and after rubbing them clean in the snow, gloves never felt so good....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Making a primitive bow...

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When making my handmade bow I really didn't expect the first couple tries to turn out so I used Oak, probably not the best bow wood but I had a woods full. After it was all said and done though I was really pleased with the way it shot. And after a hundred or so shots the limbs only follow the string less than an inch.
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After roughing out the bow with a friends band saw I glued a narrow strip back on for the riser section. This seemed easier to me than leaving a bunch of wood on for the riser and then rasping it away.
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After roughing in out I then began to taper the limbs with a rasp. This takes forever by the way. The back of the bow needs to be a single growth ring its entire length to keep a splinter from raising and/or the bow breaking. After the limbs began to bend I took a 2x4 and cut a notch in one end and drove wood screws in till only about a quarter inch below the heads showed an inch apart down the length of the board.
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This allowed me to bend the bow an inch at a time and step back and see how it bent. I took forever to do this over several evenings, maybe I was being overly carefull but I knew this was the most important step. When the bow was bending real well I backed the bow with sinew.
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Sinew is the dried tendons that conect muscle to bone. I used dried deer sinew. After the sinew is dried you can pull it apart into tough stringy fibers. I glued the sinew on with hide glue I made with a piece of deer hide. To make glue you put I piece of hide in water and boil it. And boil it and boil it, I think it took around ten hours for mine to turn into glue. You know its done when the water becomes a thin golden liquid kind of like watery maple syrup. After the sinew was applied I let it dry for a week then finished tillering out the bow. Once this was done I put a little bit of sinew down the belly (the side facing the shooter) of the bow and put a sinew ring around the bow every few inches to try to guard against breakage. I then let the bow cure for a couple weeks before I shot it.
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I also made a sinew string for the bow besides the dacron string I've been using. I'll probably practice with the dacron string to save wear and tear on the sinew string since it took like six hours to make the sinew string by twisting strands of sinew soaked in hide glue together into three sperate strings then wrapping these three into one string.
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The quiver I made of a piece of goat hide I got at a garage sale. The wood arrow is poplar and is fletched with feathers I found on walks glued on with hide glue and sinew wrapped.
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The broadhead is patterned after trade points that were cut out of old barrel bands and sold to the Indians in the early 1800's. I cut mine out with a hacksaw and shaped with a file just like it would have been back then. It shoots an inch lower than my aluminum arrows and field points but does fly straight. I'm going to try the whole works out on a whitetail next fall.
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