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P R E M IE R

ISSUE

a week in the

BUGABOOS SOUNDS so not OMINOUS to the UNWASHED masses

with BEN MATTHEWS

in this issue:

mountain bike antelope hunt waist deep in the cascades MONTANA pheasant hunt on the brink california condors YOGA for fly anglers making our way to SCOTLAND anticipation: STEELHEAD

DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 DISPLAY UNTIL MARCH 4th.


experience counts for everything

T&T Advisor Camille Egdorf McCormick divides her time between Montana and Alaska when not hosting trips around the globe. Guiding since she was a teenager, Camille’s experience and insight helps us to approach rod design with a unique perspective. Her knowledge, expertise, and understanding are passed to our craftsmen, who strive for perfection and uncompromising performance in every rod we make. To us, Camille and her fellow professionals are our unsung heroes. We salute you. 2

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introducing the new award winning zone series, 3 through 10 weight, uncompromising quality. legendary performance.

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letter from the

EDITOR

Friend, It’s my pleasure to introduce you to your newest outdoor companion, Strung Magazine. Like you, Strung has an unyielding passion for things untamed and a penchant for ambitious wandering—with a decidedly modern perspective. From wild, scenic rivers to rime-choked summits, Strung takes you there with a realism found nowhere else. With the help of legendary guides, photographers, writers and preservationists, we offer a side of the story lost in the milieu of 9-to-5 jobs and clockwork responsibility. Armchair adventurers and dyedin-the-wool vagabonds can appreciate the variety of content just the same; we address the outdoor world through the lenses of fly fishing, hunting, mountain sports, yoga, resource preservation, and consumables, all the while taking the high road and never looking back. Join us and see what the view is like from our Life at the Treeline. Cheers,

Tyler Justice Allen Editor-in-Chief Strung Magazine

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NAUTI LUS ® XL MAX

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Editor-in-Chief: Tyler Justice Allen Managing Editors: ARTHUR LUX George V. Roberts Creative Director: Michael Rea Thomas Creative Consultant: Shawn Abernathy Digital Media Design: Michael Duckworth Publisher: Dr. Joseph Ballarini Publishing Consultant: Dr. Samir Husni Contributors & Contributing Editors: Alan Corbett Joe Dahut Mark Hieronymus Dec Hogan Dr. Lauren Justice Brian Ohlen Kelli Prescott George V. Roberts Andrew Robinson Greg Thomas Artists & Photographers: Darcy Bacha Stewart Collingswood Johnny Defeo Hailey Holden Ben Matthews Haruki ’Harookz’ Noguchi Colin Raich Andrew Robinson Lori Taylor-Roberts John ’Verm’ Sherman Will Stauner Greg Thomas Cover, page 4 and this page photos: Ben Matthews Strung Magazine is a quarterly outdoor lifestyle publication focused on fly fishing, hunting, adventure sports, and wildland stewardship. Strung Magazine 2300 Alton Road Miami Beach, FL 33140 Subscription inquiries: (855) 799-3791 or visit www.STRUNGMAG.com Advertising inquiries: (855) 799-3791 or Advertising@STRUNGMAG.com Editorial inquiries: Editor@STRUNGMAG.COM © 2019 Strung Magazine. All rights reserved.

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Decompression by Mark Hieronymus Fishing - On the Line To the initiated, chasing the fish of a lifetime often follows four distinct mental phases: anticipation, disappointment, expectation, and tranquility.

Cascadian Dreams by Will Stauner Mountain Sports - Slush Fun(d) From rain-soaked old-growth forests to the often rotten rock found above, the mountains stretching from Canada to Mexico are a force to behold.

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Yoga for Fly Anglers by Dr. Lauren Justice, illustrated by Hailey Holden Yoga - First Breath It doesn’t matter how or why you fish - yoga can help improve your focus and keep you on the water longer.

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BIG SKY UPLANDS by Greg Thomas Hunting - Long Draw Sharing the fleeting moments we have with our partners in the field staves off disappointment, no matter the outcome of a hunt.

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Brutish Columbia by Haruki ’Harookz’ Noguchi Mountain Biking - The Crank Brooding forests and killer singletrack, velcro dirt and nightmare drops. Riders beware: This is Brutish Columbia.

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RESILIENCY by Darcy Bacha Fishing - On the Line Oregon’s Deschutes River is famous for both its trout and its beauty, and Mack’s Canyon is the epicenter. Wildfire be damned - the canyon survives.

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The Unsung Hero by Ben Matthews Climbing - The Run Out Harrowing experiences spawn great stories, but what about those trips where the stars seem to align? Those flawless days are the unsung heros of life in British Columbia’s Bugaboos.

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Sagebrush and Handlebars: A Desert Bike Hunt by Brian Ohlen Hunting - Long Draw Stalking pronghorn antelope in the American West offers a hunt unparalleled elsewhere. Relying on the power of your own two legs keeps everyone honest and breathless.

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Scotland by George Roberts Location/Travel - Be Here Now Whether you come for the trout, the whisky, or the fog, Scotland has something for everyone. Pack your Spey rod; tweed is optional.


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Purple and Bronze Spey by Dec Hogan Fishing - On the Line Tying traditional Spey-style patterns is a rite of passage for anyone who chooses to chase anadromous fish with a Spey or switch rod.

Braised Venison Shanks by Kelli Prescott Food - Rations Kelli Prescott’s recipe for braised shanks is the best recipe for enjoying the Fall’s harvest we’ve tried in years.

Four Winter Warmers by Andrew Robinson Beer/Spirits - Drink/Drank/Drunk This time of year, a cocktail is the perfect way to round out a day after exploring the backcountry.

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The Plight of the Condor by John ‘Verm’ Sherman Conservation - The Last Drop The California Condor was once extinct in the wild. Thanks to the herculean efforts of a small group, they are back in the wild, but not without significant danger to their future.

The Tendencies of Brook Trout by Joe Dahut Fishing - On the Line “Go where the dirt roads converge with the cold, skinny streams. Go where the fish have eyes bigger than their stomachs, and wear candy colors spots. To find brook trout, you must venture into the wild.”

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Department of the Interior by Johnny Defeo Conservation - The Last Drop The freedom provided by public lands and waterways helps artist Johnny Defeo get through his day.

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High and Mighty by Alan Corbett Hunting - The Long Draw “We were predator and prey, two threads woven together in an ancient tapestry. A successful hunt is a sober affair; an animal loses its life so my family can eat.”

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STEELHEAD PERSEVERANCE:

DECOMPRESSION with Mark HIERONYMUS writer

Anticipation – the act of looking forward; visualization of a future event or state.

The seat belt ding on the plane elicits an almost Pavlovian reaction from me every time I hear it in this particular airport. The mental fiRe lit over the course of a long, cold winter has become an infeRno, and the slow foReplay of trip prep, the handling of the rods and flies like icons and fetishes, has done nothing but fan the flames. Now that all obstacles have been overcome and I am about to hit the ground running, I have to fight down the overwhelming and staRtlingly involuntaRy urge to salivate.

Opening day, and not a minute too soon. On the blurry 4am ride up to the hop-in hole, the built-up stress and anxiety only add to the queasiness of a hung-over mind and body. As I wind the throttle up, I feel the break and reset in the mental process of the Game. The visualization placebo that has been silently looping in my brain, running on last year’s collective memories and photographs,

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is about to be replaced by the new, real sensations of the crunch of gravel underfoot, the scream of gulls overhead, and the vicious yank of this year’s first fish. Disappointment – failure to fulfill the expectations or wishes of; to frustrate. Why does losing a big fish sting so

much? The wailing, the gnashing of teeth, the despair and anguish over these brief connections and sudden departures, all for a fish you were going to release anyway. As the spray and smoke clear I replay the brief dance in my mind, searching for the fatal flaw in my technique, the disturbance in the Force that leads to this dreaded outcome. I know they are just fish, and fish are supposed to be


a bonus, but I’ve come too far too many times to keep believing that. The Game starts to numb a fella after a few days. The initial flurry of excitement after the opening bell has settled down and the transition to punch-drunk shamble isn’t quite complete, but it is on the way. The routine is settled into: out of the boat, top of the run, cast, swing, step, repeat. The metronome ticks away in waltz time, 3 steps and a cast written on the sheet music of the river and played on the line as it arcs though the water. Every now and then the rhythm is broken by a tug or a small fish, but for the most part the anesthetic fog rolls in and the runs and days start to blur. Expectation – the degree of probability that something will occur; an awaiting. When it happens, it happens quickly, and there isn’t time for anticipation or expectations of outcome. The die is cast at the first surge of line off the

reel, at which point critical application of technique and theory is thrown out the window – the hook finds purchase, or it does not. I get lucky, the hook holds and a new dance has begun. Time slows, focus narrows, and all is lost but the thin, crook’d finger of the rod pointing a fluorescent line into the flow, indicating the ever-changing location of my dance partner. Several nerve-fraying runs, many unexpected changes of direction later, and there is a wash of relief as the fish enters the net. Tranquility – the state of being free from agitation of mind or spirit; free from turmoil. This, I realized, is why I come up here to be angered and humiliated by these magnificent fish. The intense feeling you get when holding one of these dinosaurs is worth all the anxiety and disappointment, the soul-searching and self-loathing that accompany every missed opportunity, every blown shot. This is the fuel that lights

the fire in winter. This is the making of the memory that fans the flame all spring. This feeling is the blaze that draws me back again, year after year, to have my fishing self-esteem repeatedly crushed just to get the odd chance to hold one of these awesome creatures again. With the release of the fish comes a release of tension, an awkward display of emotion usually reserved for different times, different settings, and different people. I sit because I can’t stand, and I stare because there isn’t anything left to focus on. After a while, I get up and start the Game all over again. &

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The Pacific NoRthwest’s Cascade Range conjures images of fo g - s H RO u ded f O R E s t s, deep winter snow, and crumbling basalt for those lucKy enough to have visited there. Firs and redcedars stand sentinel against near-constant rainfall while glacial rivers chaRge toward the Pacific Ocean in this ever-changing corneR of the West. It is not a place for the faint of heart or those shy of the rain. 12

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a l p in e

p hoto

f e a tu r e :

CASCADIAN DREAMS with WILL STAUNER photographer

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StRetching from southern British Columbia to California’s Mount Shasta, the Cascades form a significant portion of the American Cordillera — the backbone of North, Central, and South America. To high-altitude adventurers, the rock is often rotten and offers little in the way of secure protection, unlike the strong granitic rock that comprises much of the Rocky Mountains farther east. Rotten rock or not, alpine climbing in the Cascades offers an incomparable experience for climbers of all skill levels, ranging from non-technical routes meandering up Mount Hood’s south side to remote, exposed multiday climbs on lesser known northern peaks. It’s a wonderful place to get lost, provided you packed a GPS, avalanche transceiver, and extra batteries.

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Skiers and snowboarders relish the deep power that arrives with the winter’s cold fronts. Monster storms often block roads until the spring thaw, sometimes surprising plow operators with cars long since abandoned. In 1999, Washington’s Mount Baker was hit with 1,140 inches of snowfall — a standing American record and testament to how hairy winters can get.

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TYLER ROEMER

Sometimes to save a river, you have to buy it. Western Rivers Conservancy buys and protects land along the West’s greatest rivers. We do it for the sake of fish, for the benefit of wildlife and to improve access to our most treasured waters and the wildlands around them. Most of all, we do it for the river. We count on support from people like you, those who know the value of clean, cold water, healthy rivers and public access. Contribute today at westernrivers.org.

30 YEARS

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Riders from around the world flock to the Cascades, eager to experience some of the longest ski seasons in North America and the year-round beauty that comes with so much rain and snow. You won’t find $115 lift tickets or valet parking, but that’s exactly why people come. The Cascades’ blue collar towns and resorts are the drip coffee to Vail’s nonfat vanilla latte, the diner burger to Whistler’s filet mignon. Those who live here wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Y O G A - F I R S T B R E AT H

YOGA for FLY ANGLERS words by LAUREN JUSTICE, PhD., RYT-500 illustrations by HailEy Holden

Whether you’re finding your center in the water or on the mat, taking a few moments to practice breathing and concentration can help you feel more connected to your surroundings. As anglers know, good concentration is essential to nailing that cast and landing your fly right where you want it. See for yourself how yoga can be more than a way to ease low back pain and improve balance. Before you hit the water, try these angler-oriented poses to further hone in on your skill and the patience it requires.

Brief Practice (20 minutes): Diaphragmatic Breath (Belly Breathing): Rather than a movement practice that incorporates breathing, think of this mindfulness exercise as a breathing practice that integrates movement. Before you go into shapes, start by practicing how to breathe deep into your belly or diaphragm.

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Most of us tend to breathe a shallow breath into our chests, but this type of breath can kick us into fight-orflight mode or even cause the brain to become distracted. For a more efficient use of air, better balance, and improved mental focus, try breathing through your nostrils down into your belly.

When you exhale through your nostrils, gently draw your belly back in (think about your belly button moving toward your spine). Practice for 1 to 3 minutes to help you maintain this breath as you move through different poses.


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WRISTand WARM UP

Wrist Warm Up: Press 1 hand out directly in front of you (palm face out), like you’re directing traffic. Use your other hand to gently pull your fingers back, then fold your lifted hand down in the opposite direction. Take a few breaths while stretching each hand and finish by rolling your wrists to lubricate the wrist joint and improve your control for your next cast.

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Hands and Knees Balance: Beginning in table top pose (where your hands and knees are on the floor, knees beneath the hips, hands beneath the shoulders), start by engaging your core muscles and flattening your back as you exhale. On your inhale, try extending one leg directly behind you (toes pointed down to the ground for dorsal flexion). If your balance feels stable, you may also extend your opposite arm (left arm in conjunction with right leg for example), with your pinky finger pointed down. As you exhale, release and then repeat on the other side. Repeat each side 2 to 3 times. Everybody who wades slippery streams knows what it’s liketo go for an unplanned swim. Improve your balance with this pose to reduce the risk of wet waders and drowned cellphones.

Thread-the-Needle: From table top pose, take a deep breath in and lift your left arm. As you exhale, thread your left arm underneath and behind your right arm so that you can place your head and left shoulder down on to the floor (use a pillow if your head does not reach the floor). Stay for a few breaths and then unwind from the shape on an exhale. Repeat on the other side. This shoulder stretch helps loosen up for both Spey and single-hand overhead casting.


HANDS Tand KNEES P BALANCE

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WARRIOR WIDE

II

Warrior II: From standing (AKA mountain pose), with an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet about 3 1/2 to 4 ft apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor. Once lifted, reach your arms actively out to the sides, with palms down. Turn your right foot slightly to the right and your left foot out to the left 90 degrees. Place your left heel in line with your right heel (almost like you are forming a “T” with your feet). Keep your legs strong and engaged by turning your left thigh outward so that the center of your knee is in line with your left middle toe. Exhale and bend your left knee over the left ankle, so that your shin is perpendicular to the floor. If possible, bring your left thigh parallel to the floor. Stretch your arms away from the space between the shoulder blades, parallel to the floor. Don’t lean the torso over the left thigh: Keep the

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sides of the torso equally long and the shoulders directly over the pelvis. Keep your low back long and your core engaged. Turn the head to the left and look out over the fingers (this will help improve focus and balance as you keep your gaze in one spot). Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left. Great for improved focus and stretching the legs for those long days of walking and wading.

LEGGE FORW FOLD

Wide Legged Forward Fold (with or without a chair): Stand with feet parallel and press your feet into your mat (as if to create deep footprints) and let this grounding action coordinate with a straightening of your legs as well as a lengthening of your spine. Gently hug the leg muscles toward the bones so that your lower body feels strong. Readjust your legs until you seem to be even and balanced. Place your hands on your hips or rest them on the chair while placing your head on a yoga block or something of similar size (like a small shoebox). Take a few long breaths, holding for one minute or more, and focus on prolonging your exhale. The back and hamstrings do a lot of heavy lifting while fishing - give them a little love.


E E G D I ED R B E WARD S O P Bridge Pose: Coming back to the floor with your back down on your mat, walk your feet in so your knees are bent (moving the feet as far back as is comfortable). Press your feet firmly down into the ground to help you lift your hips as high as you can. Tuck each shoulder under and keep the back of your neck still and long. Place a yoga block (it needs to be load-bearing) on your lower back to turn this shape into a resting pose or hold your hips up for 3 to 5 breaths. To come out of the pose, tuck your tailbone to lengthen your back and slowly roll your back onto the mat.

Final Meditation: No matter which poses you choose, always leave a few moments at the end of your practice to rest and clear your mind, starting to visualize yourself back on the water.

Lauren Justice, PhD, RYT-500 is a yoga therapist and psychologist based out of Hood River, Oregon. Hailey Holden is a Portlandbased artist with a penchant for

For those us who are ingrained in our habits of breathing through our mouths and into our chests, this can take practice, but the payoff is immediate. Over time and with practice, you will be able to take longer breaths and stand with better posture naturally, offering even more benefits while off the mat. A long, slow exhale timed with your cast may help you have steadier feet, maybe even helping you become more in tune with that endless drive for perfect fish.

translating her daily experiences into pencil and watercolor.

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mont a n a

p h e a s a nt :

B I G SKY UP L A N D S with GREG THOMAS writer

Hunting upland birds without a dog almost isn’t hunting. But in 1996, some sort of weird weather mix in Montana allowed every Hungarian partridge and sharptail grouse to breeze into fall.

When I went into the field in September these birds seemed to be hiding behind every blade of grass. When major early snow hit the region, a predecessor to what became one of Montana’s biggest snow years on record, these birds didn’t even have the grass to hide behind—instead, they took to the haystacks and burrow pits and did their best to blend in. It didn’t work. Huns and sharptails aren’t chameleons. The Huns’ orange heads, gray chests and shoulders, and their brownish backs stood as silhouettes on a blank, white canvass. All hunters had to do was cruise the backroads in a four-wheel-drive, stop

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at every haystack, get out of the rig and walk towards the birds until they took wing. I believe the limit on Huns was eight birds per hunter with a possession limit of 24. In addition, you could take four sharptails per day with a possession limit of 16. The problem wasn’t finding birds; the problem was cleaning stacks of those Huns and sharptails, plus any pheasants and waterfowl you and a friend might luck into, when you got home from the trip.

noses to locate birds. One time they took care of the cleaning for me. On that occasion I’d left the dogs in back of the truck, under the canopy, with a cooler containing five huns. I jump shot a few more birds out of a burrow pit near a highway and returned to deposit those birds with the others. When I opened the cooler lid there wasn’t a bird to be seen. I asked a hunting partner, “Did you do something with those Huns?” He replied, “No. Why?”

I actually had Labrador retrievers at the time, Moose and Shadow, and I often took them into the field that year, even though I didn’t need their

I answered, “Because they’re not here.” And they weren’t—not a feather,


nor a foot, not even a head or beak. Moose and Shadow glanced back and forth nervously, but they had nothing to worry about—an hour later we’d already filled the cooler with replacements. That fall I hunted east of Livingston and north of Big Timber, where the plains fall off the Crazy Mountains and run, through arid sage and antelope country, almost undisturbed, all the way to the North Dakota line. Later, I started hunting birds along Montana’s “Hi Line,” an unofficial name that describes a swath of rolling hills, coulees, wheat fields and creek

beds that roughly follow Highway 2 and stretch for more than 400 miles from the Rocky Mountain Front near Cut Bank, all the way to Plentywood, which rests just south of Saskatchewan and west of North Dakota. It’s stark country, loaded with gamebirds, and an avid hunter could spend every season here and not make a dent in seeing it all. It’s hard country, and could be a lonely if you spent enough time here alone; it’s hammered by winds and snow during winter, and scorched by sun during summer. But during fall, with Montana’s mountain ranges looming in the distance, antelope bucks fighting through the

rut, pheasants exploding from the grass, and the first lines of waterfowl returning south, it’s as good as any place to be. These days I mostly hunt along the Front, in the foothills of high mountains that range from Helena to the Canadian border. This is fantastic game country, offering pheasant, Huns and sharptail, along with whitetail deer and some massive mule deer bucks. There are plenty of elk here, too.

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The area also is home to some of the highest grizzly bear densities in Montana, and the specific area I prowl provides annual theatrics for gamebird hunters. When you walk into thick cover here you do so carefully, with a fingertip next to the safety. When you see grizzly tracks in fresh snow, covering pheasant tracks that you and

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your dog are following, it’s time to get out. I love the line in The Outlaw Josey Wales, when a bounty hunter says to the gunfighter, “A guy’s got to make a living,” as if defending his intention to kill Wales on the spot. Wales steps out of the shadows, exposes his sidearms, and confidently responds, “Dying ain’t much of a living, boy.”

Well, I like hunting pheasants as much as anyone, and I treasure them on the plate, especially doused in olive oil and seasonings and fried in butter, but dying over a pheasant isn’t much of a living either, I often remind myself. The griz factor plays a role in my opportunities to hunt a swath of private land that offers tremendous


creek bottom habitat surrounded by massive wheatfields and miles of CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) lands. In my mind, it’s some of the best game country in Montana and I hunt it with two partners, one man in his mid-seventies and another who’s pushing 90. They’re from a different era, get away with speaking in a language that

would get most of us fired these days, and they aren’t afraid to live each day like it could be their last. One of them often says, “I’ve got to do it now because I’m in the eighth inning.” The other calls me “an invasive specie,” referring to my Seattle, Washington roots, and scads

of other “invasives” moving into his formerly empty Montana, most notably from Washington and California. They are two of the proudest and successful men I’ve ever met, they are overly gracious to me, and the five or six days I spend with them each year are some of the most treasured and meaningful moments in my life.

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Each morning we eat at the same little cafe where every waitress knows them well and teases them incessantly; we return for lunch and their traditional milkshakes before they take their naps or watch their college football games; then we head out in the field until dark; later, when we hit one of the two dinner options in town they go full caloric intake, opting for chicken-fried steaks with gravy, and mashed potatoes—with loads of butter and more gravy—that they mop up with slabs of Texas toast. They wash it all down with regional IPAs. I always say, “When in Rome,” and then get on the scale at home and realize that hiking 10 miles a day wasn’t enough.

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If you’ve hunted at all, you know that every pheasant doesn’t fall out of the sky stone-cold dead, nor does every deer fall on impact. Pheasants often run when they hit the ground and a lung-shot deer can cover a hundred yards or more before falling. And that’s happened several times while hunting with these men, meaning some of the pheasants and several of the whitetail bucks they’ve shot have made it into the creek bottom brush before dying . . . and you can guess who’s nominated to retrieve them.

Once, just before dark, one of the men shot a big whitetail buck that ran into that brush. I got out of the truck, walked to the edge of the river bottom, turned around and told them, “I’m not going in there.” By morning all that remained was one antler and the deer’s tail. Two matted areas in the grass told where the grizzlies slept off their hangovers.


Another time, I followed a blood trail into deep brush, with one of the men just behind me. When we found the deer he pulled out a knife, preparing to field-dress the buck. I looked around, estimated our visibility in all directions at eight feet and said, “Don’t you think we should drag it out of here first?” He folded the blade, tucked it in his pocket and said, “I knew there was a reason we invite you back.” Both of these men own dogs, one being a scrap-fed Labrador that waddles around for its owner and rarely hunts for anyone else; the other man owns a pure-bred German shorthair that is a hunting machine. This shorthair is invaluable in Montana where a dog’s nose and its ability to cover a lot of ground dramatically increases a hunter’s chances of finding and shooting birds. And it’s just plain poetry to watch a lanky dog covering swaths of ground before locking up on point. That’s bird hunting. The truth is, I wouldn’t hunt birds very often if I couldn’t hunt behind that shorthair, and I wouldn’t even have a place to hunt if it weren’t for these older men calling each fall and asking, “When will you be up?”

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I’ve known one of these men since kindergarten. I’ve known the other for nearly 20 years. Both treat me as if I’m family. Losing either of these men won’t be fun. I’ve gone through job hirings, job losses, magazine deaths, a marriage, the addition of kids, a divorce, and the lives and deaths of two Labradors . . . plus all the other things that make midlife a challenge, and still managed to accept their invitation each year. I make the trip with all the accoutrements, meaning a shotgun and boxes of shells, a rifle and spotting scope, and always a cooler full of fine food and drink. We talk about life and living, hunting and fishing, and we chat about the World Series and college football games. I’ve never been disappointed while on the fall hunting grounds with these men. Both of these men think I should remarry so that I’m not alone when I’m their ages. But whenever a prospect approaches and I strike up the conversation, they point at me and say, “Don’t bother with him, he’s too busy and content running a trapline.” The waitresses blush; I shake my head; and the men just nod in satisfaction, as if saying, Yep, we got the young buck again. I don’t mind. In fact, being the brunt of the jokes, being the designated deer-dragger, and helping these men get their roosters and bucks each year, is pure magic. The day it ends starts a whole new life. &

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Mac k ’ s C a n y o n F ire :

Resiliency photos by Darcy Bacha

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he summer of 2018 set several solemn records. Largest fire in California history. Thirdworst fire season in British Columbia history. At the time of print, the summer was projected to be the deadliest season for North American wildland firefighters in history. Wildfires are terrible for so many reasons: lives lost, livelihoods destroyed, homes razed. But fire also brings the chance for a fresh start and offers insight into the resiliency of nature. Weeks after fires sweep through an area, new sprouts appear. Species previously unseen rise from the newly-fertile land. Animals begin to return and people start to put their lives back together as best they can.

The Substation Fire swept through Central Oregon over a handful of days this past July. Nearly 80,000 acres were burned — an area larger than the city of Portland — and one person lost their life. Two weeks later, shadows of life reemerging could be seen again in Mack’s Canyon, one of the most treasured sections of wild steelhead water in the American West. This is a story of rebirth and strength. A story of the will to survive. &

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HERO The Unsung

a week in the Bugaboos with Ben Matthews

In the adventure world, there are three types of fun. ’Type 1 Fun:’ It’s fun while you’re doing the activity and it’s fun to think about afterwards. ’Type 2 Fun:’ It’s hard and painful while you’re doing the activity and you tell yourself you’ll never do something like this again, but you probably will do something like that again. And then there’s ’Type 3 Fun:’ It’s basically hell while you’re doing the activity and it makes you cringe when you think about it again.

Starting the ascent of the Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col under a hazy, smoky sunrise.

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Alec Dehaven topping out the couloir on the way to the West Ridge of Pigeon Spire.

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here are a lot of amazing stories born out Fun Types 2 and 3 where something goes wrong, someone gets hurt, or some kind of terrible misfortune happens. But what about Type 1 Fun? Why can’t we just have fun, let the weather cooperate with us, and all live to tell the tale another day? That’s the adventure dream in a nutshell. I’d say that the day where everything actually goes according to plan is the unsung hero. On our trip to British Columbia’s Bugaboos, that is exactly what happened. This little section of mountains is home to some of the most world-renowned climbing on the planet. Generations of climbers have flocked to the Bugs since Conrad Kain set some of the first routes in the early 1900s. Since then, climbing greats like Fred Beckey and Yvon Chouinard have established many different routes on the huge granite walls and spires in the region. We arrived on a bluebird morning, packed our gear, and headed up the short, steep trail to our rocky home for the next week. We spent the next seven days climbing the immaculate walls, jumping into partially frozen lakes,

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and simply basking in the landscape surrounding us. I have never been anywhere so big that it made you feel so small. During our time in the hills, the weather cooperated with us to an incredible degree; for this part of the country, that is a rare occurrence. In the seven days that we were up there, it only rained once and that happened to be the one night that we decided to treat ourselves and stay in the Conrad Kain hut for the night. It’s like the weather knew we were going to be safe from its wrath that night. At the end of our week, everyone was still in good spirits. Sure, we had a few more scrapes and bruises and a handful of new holes in our clothes, but we were stoked. We had just spent an entire week climbing in an alpine wonderland with zero hiccups to our plan. Everyone climbed safely, we summited all of our objectives, and we dodged any bad weather that could have come our way. The unsung hero came through for us. It was Type 1 Fun all the way. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. &

The West Ridge of Pigeon Spire is one of the most exposed routes in the Bugaboos.

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The Bugaboos are the definition of alpine.

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After a quick plunge, find a nice sunny rock to warm back up on. Trust me.

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On rest days, we did anything to keep our minds occupied.

When we felt we needed a shower, we just jumped right in...and got right back out as quickly as possible.

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The Conrad Kain Hut. The only night we stayed here was the only night in stormed. It was definitely a welcomed treat.

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Courtney Blake leading up “The Ears Between.” A very exposed and somewhat tricky route for the grade (5.7), especially if you get off route…

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To access many of the climbs in the early season, you have to start by climbing the Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col.

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Thomas Gaston following up “McTech Arete” as a cold front moves in. This was one of the last routes we sent before heading back into civilization.

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de s ert b i k e h u n t:

sagebrush & handlebaRs with brian ohlen writer

Some say that hunting and bikes are an odd combination. Others go a step further by saying the two are incompatible. All too often, we pit ourselves against each other. Hunters versus hikers. Horses versus bikes. In the past, it seems like it was more common for people to stay within their silos. Bike riders stuck to bikes, and hunters and fishers did their thing. It was Wranglers versus Patagonia.

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Now, though, people are interminof a hunter. It is refreshing to see such gling. The lines defining an outdoor a diversity of people getting excited recreationist are becoming blurred. about bringing home caribou, moose, I see climbers picking up a hunting salmon, blueberries and halibut rifles and mountain bikers packing to feed their families throughout Tenkara rods. It’s even more noticethe year. able up here in Alaska. Procuring meat and subsistence harvest of game, This realization is a good thing. You fish and berries is a huge part up life don’t need to define yourself as solely in the 49th state, and it most certainly as a hunter or skier. We are all out isn’t relegated to the classic definition there for similar reasons, enjoying


many of the same resources. We rely on the public land and water that bless this country. The land would be better off if we all stood behind it as one large voice rather than a few competing murmurs. The threats to our public land are great, and we need a consistent message supporting it. I find great joy in combining what would previously be considered strange combinations of outdoor pursuits. This normally involves some form of bicycle used to access a desired hunting or fishing spot. Some of my favorite memories include bicycling into remote, steelhead runs and toting my grandfather’s World War II era .30-06 on elk and antelope bike supported hunts. Most of the time I come home empty handed, but that still means a bike ride back to the truck, and that beats walking in my book any day. Occasionally, there is something to bring home, and the loud report of a gunshot announces the start of a race.

The high, hot Wyoming sun beat down as I cranked to keep the pedals moving. A glance down confirmed I was already in my lowest gear. Worse yet, both water bottles were empty. Nothing left to do but toughen up and keep pedaling. This was not a typical mountain bike race. There were no other competitors, spectators or route markers, just sagebrush, juniper and two-track roads reaching towards the horizon. It wasn’t a race against the next faster rider, rather a race against the heat. I pedaled my mountain bike over the crest of a hill and stopped to glass the vast expanse in front of me. Through my binoculars, I spotted a herd of antelope a few miles distant. I studied the lay of the land looking for any cover that would allow me to approach unseen. A small rise in the landscape covered by large sagebrush looked like a good spot to sit and survey the situation. I covered the distance quickly and easily on my bike. I often consider myself a poor hunter because my lack of patience when it comes to sitting

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and waiting for animals. I told myself to sit and watch for a while. The wind was blowing in my face, a perfect situation. Maybe the herd would move my direction. And then, in typical fashion, I became inpatient and decided to make a move on the herd. From my vantage point, I could just make out the start of a small arroyo to my left and continued on in the general direction of the pronghorn. It was one of those steep sided,

abrupt drainages that rarely sees water, but when it does, great amounts rush down its course. The antelope were still a mile away, but I knew that if they saw my figure on the horizon, my chances were over. A mix of belly crawling and stooped over scrambling brought me to head of the arroyo. Here, it was no more than a low spot in the terrain that funneled sheets of water off the slope. Within 100 yards though, a true gully had formed, at first a foot or two deep, but deepen-

ing as it moved downhill. Before long, the walls of the small canyon were twice as tall as me, and provided a perfect path towards the animals. As I walked, I startled a small owl and it made a silent escape out of its burrow in the side of the walls. I wasn’t the only one who used the arroyo to remain hidden. The next challenge was judging how far I’d traveled in comparison to the antelope. The walls were so steep and

Moments like these, where time stands still, and clarity of purpose resounds, are what most of us are searching for when we step up into the mountains. Whether it’s skis or wading boots on our feet, we are united by a love of the landscape and those fleeting moments that can still give you the chills years down the road.

high, there was no way to see above Then, a tell-tale nose snort from the rim to judge my general position. behind me. Turning around, my I simply walked until I reckoned the heart skipped a beat as I saw a herd distance covered was close to where of twenty-five antelope no more than I last spotted the group. At this point, seventy yards away. While walking the walls had diminished and could the arroyo, I had judged the distance be scaled with nimble feet. I found a perfectly, but either the animals place to scurry up and poked my head crossed the drainage, or it curved above the rim. Nothing to be seen but enough that they were never on the sage, prickly pear, and juniper-lined side of the arroyo I had expected buttes in the distance. Had something them to be. I dropped back into the come along and scared the herd away? gully, scrambled across to the other

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side and inched my way up the slope until I could get a view of the animals. A large buck stood broadside to me, but had animals both in front and behind it, obscuring a safe shot. They knew I was there but hadn’t bolted yet. Finally, a few of the animals moved slightly and I had a clear shot. With a squeeze of the trigger, the buck collapsed, and the real work began.


Every responsible hunter knows the importance of cooling down freshly harvested game. Not given the chance to cool, game meat quickly spoils. Behind me on the bike, 60 pounds of still warm antelope meat hung in panniers attached to a rear cargo rack. It was a beautiful October day, but the heat was threatening. To bring home a year’s worth of steaks, burger and roasts in anything but perfect condition would be a severe dishonor to the life I just took and defeat my purpose altogether. From a distance, my appearance may have been confusing to the casual observer. Imagine a mountain bike loaded with two panniers on either side of the rear rack. All four buck antelope quarters along with a bag of tenderloins, backstraps and other loose meat fit neatly in the two bike bags. The butt of my rifle fit snugly into a modified water bottle cage. The barrel was strapped to the padded head tube of my mountain bike. Though heavy, the whole system worked splendidly for the rolling two track roads I was riding. Moments like these, where time stands still, and clarity of purpose resounds, are what most of us are searching for when we step up into the mountains. Whether it’s skis or wading boots on our feet, we are united by a love of the landscape and those fleeting moments that can still give you the chills years down the road. &

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b e h ere n ow:

tRAvel & trout fishing in the scottish boRDeRs with george roberts contributing editor

At some point you REALIZE that ALL YOU HAVE is time.

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“That was a good fish,” Stewart said. “Try and take a cast from the bank.”

a drag-free float, and actually hook a fish…well that was just crazy.

I looked to the other side of the river, to the smooth water shaded by overhanging trees, where the trout were cutting the surface intermittently to take mayflies that were gliding along in the foam lines. Was he joking…? That had to be 90 feet. To cast a fly that far with a 5-weight is a tall order for anyone. But to attempt to deliver a size-14 dry fly attached to a long length of 3-pound tippet, in an upstream wind that’s coming into your rod arm, and expect to drop it in the choice feeding lane, and manage

I told him I needed to get closer.

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At some point you realize that all you have is time; this was underscored for us by the recent death of a friend at age 53 (he had grown up in England, but had never been to Scotland). That may have explained the overkill: Between May of 2017 and June of 2018, Lori and I spent 35 days in Scotland, including Hogmanay in Edinburgh, their New Year’s Eve celebration.

This was our third trip to Scotland in a year. Lori and I had been together 16 years, 11 of them married, and we’d never taken a real vacation together. I’d woken up one day and realized that we’d tag-teamed our way through 10 years of school—a second “George, wouldn’t you love to Spey bachelor’s degree for me, a master’s cast on the River Spey...?” Lori had for her, then a master’s for me folasked, dreamily, during one of her lowed by a post-master’s certification planning sessions. That’s my wife—to for her. We’d be paying student loans the manor born. If I could just get her with our social security checks. interested in fishing we’d each have a


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quiver of high-end sticks—updated yearly—we’d be dripping with Simms and Patagonia, and our excursions would make social media fishing porn look like Harlequin Romance.

apprentice ghillie, tying improved clinch knots for well-heeled dilettantes. Lori would tend sheep. It was pleasant to think about.

In most cases, traveling to Scotland “If I’m going to fish in Scotland,” I from the United States requires said, “I’m going to fish for something multiple flights or multiple modes I actually have a chance of catching.” of transportation. We left Boston at 9:30 pm, flying just over six hours Lori found the guide—or rather, the to get into London around 8:30 am ghillie—Stewart Collingswood (altheir time (3:30 am our time). From bagamefishing.com). Ordinarily I’m there we navigated the London tube more careful about whom I fish system to get to King’s Cross St. with than to leave arrange- Pancras, where we boarded a Virgin ments to my wife. But Atlantic train to Edinburgh. A fourthis was a vacation— and-a-half-hour train ride through not really a fishing the English countryside would have trip—so I wasn’t been pleasant enough, had it not been going to quibplagued by sleep deprivation. By the ble. Lori does time we got to our room at the Old her homework: Town Chambers (from about £240 Stewart came per night, depending on the season; highly recomlateralcity.com), we’d been awake for mend. If I could nearly 30 hours. Even after a twospend a day in Scothour coma nap, it was all we could land casting over fish on moving water, I’d be happy. It was all set. We’d leave Edinburgh just after Hogmanay, on January 2nd, and I’d fish the River Tweed for grayling with Stewart Collingswood on the 3rd. Stewart Collingswood. When Lori said his name I pictured a gentleman in his 70s, Shetland blazer with leather patches at the elbows. Knitted necktie and Wellington boots. He’d be sporting a woolen flat cap, and perhaps he’d smoke a pipe. At the end of the fishing day we’d all have a dram in front of a log fire at the local pub, and Stewart would adopt us. Lori and I would chuck the jobs in healthcare and move to Scotland. I’d be Stewart’s

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do to make our dinner reservation at the Innis & Gunn Beer Kitchen (main dishes from £9.95; innisandgunn. com/bars/edinburgh). That first night we slept 11 hours. Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of cities, but if you have to spend a few days in one, you could do worse than Edinburgh. What began as a fort in the 7th century, the “Athens of the North” is today the hub of Scottish tourism. Getting a room off the aptly named Royal Mile, which stretches from Edinburgh Castle (edinburghcastle.scot) to Holyrood Palace (the Queen’s digs when she’s in town; royalcollection.org.uk/visit/ palace-of-holyroodhouse), puts you within walking distance of a lifetime’s worth of eating, drinking, and shopping-’til-you-puke. Cashmere, knitwear, kilts (the genuine article as well as the Alibaba knockoffs), whisky shops, gift shops, cigar shops, fudge...


I can take about two hours of this before I’m ready for a drink. Fortunately, wherever you are in Edinburgh you need only to step off the street to plunk yourself down at a bar. The Jinglin’ Geordie (22 Fleshmarket Close) became one of our favorites— the namesake bar of George Heriot (1563-1624), loanshark to Scottish royalty. I recommend you try a pint of the Deuchars IPA. Produced by one of Scotland’s large brewers, Deuchars (pronounced Jookers by the locals) is served on cask. Cask ales differ from keg beers in that they undergo a secondary fermentation in the dispensing container—that is, the cask. The carbonation is natural, and no extraneous gas is used to dispense the beer. The ale is gravity-fed, drawn over a bed of live yeast at cellar temperature (50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit) using a hand pump called a beer engine. The resulting pour has a creamy head and mouthfeel unobtainable using forced carbonation. If you’ve never had it before, an easy way to tell if the beer is on cask is to look at the dispensing nozzle. A beer engine has a swan neck—as opposed to a spigot for keg beer. The neck reaches to the bottom of a pint glass, and the pint is pulled over four or more pumps with the handle—as opposed to the single trip of the lever needed for forced carbonation. If you’re used to American hop grenades, you’ll find the character of Deuchars greatly subdued. Don’t let that dissuade you, as this is an excellent example of the British style of IPA. Another Edinburgh watering hole we liked very much, a short cab ride from the Royal Mile, was the Sheep

Heid Inn (main dishes from £9.95; thesheepheidedinburgh.co.uk), one of Scotland’s oldest pubs, reputedly in business since the mid 1300s. Here I strongly recommend you make dinner reservations; the night we were there we almost didn’t get seated. Hogmanay was about what I had expected. Lori seemed disappointed. (I’m still not clear on how my wife, who doesn’t really drink, determined that the world’s largest drunken street party was on her bucket list.) “What did you think it would be?” I asked. “I thought we’d be arm-in-arm with a bunch of Scots, singing ‘Auld Lang Syne.’” “Really…?” The small village of Walkerburn, in the Upper Tweed Valley, lies an hour south of Edinburgh on the A72. Much of Scotland’s beauty gets overshadowed by the reputation of the Highlands, but the Scottish Borders has its own unique charm that rivals any in the country, with enough history, sights, and activities to easily take up an entire vacation. Built in the mid 1800s near the banks of the River Tweed, Elibank House (from £55 per night; elibankhouse. co.uk) was for many generations the family estate of the Murrays, Earls of Elibank, from whom novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott was descended. It’s now run as a bed and breakfast by Adam and Eleanor Beatty, along with Adam’s mother, Rosemary. Stewart had it listed on his website as simply “Tweed Fishing Lodge,” and he described

it to me over the phone as “an excellent value.” Those were two great understatements. To describe Elibank as a fishing lodge doesn’t begin to do it justice. As for it being an excellent value, not only was it the leastexpensive place we stayed throughout our three trips, but it was also our favorite. (We like it so much, in fact, I’m hesitant to write about it lest I ruin the place for us.) Situated on 214 acres, half of which are woodland, Elibank House offers more than 1.5 miles of private single-bank fishing—that is, the opposite bank is owned by someone else—which includes eight named pools divided into two beats. Stewart had emailed me photos of two nice grayling he had caught the day after Christmas. Unfortunately, in the

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intervening week, rain and snowmelt had raised the water to its banks. I donned waders but never waded: One step into the river would have put me neck-deep. I Czech-nymphed that water from what seemed like dawn to dusk—but my first grayling wasn’t to be. At the end of the day, Stewart paid me the high compliment of calling me “a low-maintenance client,” and, because of the poor conditions, he invited me back in May to try my hand at dry fly fishing for brown trout. A third Scotland trip was an easy sell to Lori.

Elibank around 11:30. After a short nap in our room, the Woodcock, Lori and I decided to enjoy the rest of the day on the estate. Adam lent me a pair of his waders, and while he took Lori in his buggy up to look at the castle ruins that reside on the property, I took a walk down to the river.

Thomas & Thomas had lent me a rod for the trip, a 9-foot, four-piece Avantt 6-weight, which travelled without a tube in my rolling suitcase. I had spooled a Valentine model number 83 single-action reel (acquired drunk-shopping on eBay) with a 235-grain Wulff Ambush fly line. We finally got the travel right. Norwe- This was the ideal outfit, I imagined, gian Air flies direct out of Providence, to swing streamers and wet flies on a Rhode Island. This put us in EdinScottish river. burgh at about 9:30 am. The Norwegian flight is no-frills, but what you’ll I didn’t know what minnows might save in travel time is worth it, and be available to Scottish brown trout, makes a long weekend in Scotland a but wherever wild trout are found, so real possibility.We rented a car at the are their young. I had tied a handful airport—or what passed for a car—a of the Little Brown Trout, Samuel lemon-yellow Toyota Aygo, about the Slaymaker’s classic pattern, on a Daiisize of a vegetable cart—and made chi XPoint streamer hook. I substitutthe hour’s drive south, arriving at ed various colors of Arctic fox for the

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bucktail, squirrel, and pheasant the original called for. Arctic fox has a lot of inherent action in the water and is tough as nails. I stepped into the water at the Bridge Pool, where the trestle for the Peebles Railway once crossed—defunct since the early 1960s. I barely recognized anything, the water was so far below its banks than it had been the last time I was here. When you see Scotland’s rivers it becomes clear why Spey casting was invented. The banks are often high, making aerial back casts precarious at best. The bank now was above my head and less than 10 feet behind me, the river flowing left to right. The snake roll, an oval acceleration of the rod tip that simultaneously repositions the anchor and forms the D loop, was just what the situation called for. Spey casting with a single-handed rod is not only eminently practical—it will open up water for you that was previously unfishable— it’s efficient, elegant, and beautiful


to watch. But the main reason to learn to Spey cast is that it’s good for your soul. Fishing streamers, the simplest form of the game is to cast across and slightly downstream, letting the fly swing in an arc until it’s directly below you—“on the dangle” as the locals say. With each subsequent cast you’ll strip off a few more inches of line. Once you get the entire head section outside the rod tip, then you can shoot line to make your longest casts. The short, compact head of the Ambush (only 18 feet) allows you to form a D loop in a very tight space, and the thinner running line shoots effortlessly to 60 feet. Unless there’s a special circumstance—for instance, you want to work the area in front of a boulder on the opposite bank and wading closer isn’t an option— there’s no need to deliver a streamer any farther than 50 or 60 feet. With a 50-foot cast you can cover a lot of water. Once you’ve reached your fixed distance, work through the pool by taking a step downstream every cast

or two. This allows you to cover the water methodically, waving your fly past the nose of every fish in the pool. Keep your rod tip pointed at your line, following it across the river on the swing, giving it an occasional twitch for interest. Hold the rod tip a couple of feet above the water to give some cushion to the strike. Don’t worry that you won’t feel it; there are no subtle takes in streamer fishing: The trout means to kill. At this point the picture was complete: Me standing in the River Tweed with a fly rod in my hand on a beautiful afternoon in late May. The pull on the line was simply a bonus. What made it even nicer was that as it happened, Lori appeared on the bank, back from her trip to the ruins of Elibank Castle. Ordinarily Lori pays little attention to my fishing, but she knew this fish was special: my first fish in Scotland and self-guided at that. The fish, a wild brown trout, was small enough that I had to put it on

the reel. I didn’t want to risk losing it by fumbling with my phone for a photo. I grabbed the leader and followed it down, picked the fish up by the hook for Lori to see, then turned the bend upward to release it. Only then did I reach for my phone. “Skunk is off,” I texted Stewart. In the Elibank House dining room, Eleanor hands you a breakfast menu containing several selections, including the full Scottish “fry up,” which includes sliced sausage, black (blood) pudding, back bacon, tatie scones, and baked beans. At the prospect of having to climb down and up the banks of the Tweed all day, I went with a lighter choice: smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Stewart met us for breakfast, along with photographer Colin Raich (capnfishy.co.uk). Stewart was a far cry from the wool-clad gentleman in his 70s I had initially pictured. He was my age, mid 50s, and fit enough to chase around a two-year-old son.

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He drove a kickass Land Rover, his fishing equipment was the latest and the best from Orvis, and for our time on the water he had commissioned none other than Scottish fly tying phenom Davie McPhail to produce a boxful of his Olive CDC Duns in various shades (I didn’t think anyone actually fished with Davie McPhail’s flies). When we got to the fishing hut, where we set up our equipment and changed into waders, Stewart poured us each a dram of whisky, for luck. This was almost over the top: I’m much more accustomed to the dirtbag trips than the royal treatment. Flooding was the problem in January, and now we were faced with the opposite: Stewart had never seen the water as low as it was today, he said; the fish would be particularly spooky. As we walked upstream along the grassy bank, Stewart pointed out the areas we had worked in January. If you’re like me, you enjoy walking

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a river alone, on your own schedule, for several minutes as trout came up fishing as you please rather than as through the deeper shaded water on someone else dictates, learning where the opposite bank to take them. the fish hold in a particular stretch, figuring out problems on your own— Stewart acknowledged a rise he or not figuring them out. Most of the thought belonged to a good fish and fishing I’ve done in my life I’ve done suggested I take a cast from the bank. alone. However, nothing compares to the experience of the local expert “It’s not going to happen,” I told him. to get you up to speed quickly in a “I need to get closer.” new fishery. With a guide of Stewart’s caliber you can learn in a day what He pointed out a river rock and may take you several seasons to learn cautioned me not to wade any farther on your own, regardless of how good out than that, lest I scatter them all. an angler you are. This is where having a good guide makes all the difference in a challengStewart knows where the fish are ing fishery. On my own, not knowing on Elibank’s length of the Tweed as I the area, sloppy and lazy from years imagine he knows where the fish are of casting to hatchery-reared browns, on whatever water he frequents. We I would’ve tried to get much closer. stopped at a stretch he refers to as Jurassic Park (his clients have hooked I had the tool for the job, Stewart’s fish in here approaching 6 pounds). Helios 3 in 5-weight, but still the Numerous mayflies were coming cast was no cakewalk—65 feet, off—I still have trouble naming conservatively—farther than them by pattern—and we watched I’d ever had to cast a dry fly to a


trout, and with an upstream wind blowing into my rod arm. Hooking a fish rarely happens the way it does in the magazines—with a single, inspired cast—and it didn’t happen that way for me. It took more than one cast—I forget how many— three, maybe four or five—for the fly to land where it needed to be to ride down in the tiny bubbles of foam and pass over where the rise had occurred. But eventually the large snout broke the surface and went down, and by my raising the rod we were connected. “Brilliant!” Stewart cried.

and suddenly the weight I felt was solid, unmovable. “He’s got me hung on a rock,” I told Stewart. As I said, unlucky.

the line. The tippet had broken just below the final leader knot. That’s where it must’ve rubbed. “That was a nice fish,” Stewart said. “Maybe three-and-a-half pounds.”

“See if you can lift the line over it.” Slowly I raised the rod, and when I saw the side of the fish drop back farther I knew I had freed the line. We were still connected, but after that it was only a matter of time. Afterwards, I thought about what I should have done—gotten below him so he’d have to fight both me and the current. But I didn’t. I was thinking about the photo, and I applied a bit more pressure to bring him to net.

Fishing for photos, for articles, has always been the kiss of death for me I’m just unlucky like that - so I usually shy The rod straightened and the line away from it. But as long as I happened went slack. to be here, with a trophy fish at the other end, might as well see it through... I spat an expletive—but only one. To be a game, the fish has to be able to The fish dropped back in the current, win. And this time it did. I reeled in

“Then that would be the largest trout I’ve ever hooked on a dry fly.” “Colin thinks he got a shot of him on the surface.” “Well, that’s something.” “Are you alright?” Stewart asked. “I’m fine. You’ll apologize to Davie McPhail for me for losing his fly…?” I poured myself a second glass of pinot noir while Stewart prepared a stream-side lunch and Colin was telling me, at length, about the research that had been conducted regarding why some Scottish brown

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trout migrated to sea while others didn’t. Before we broke, I did manage to hook and land two trout on dry flies—but nothing comparable in size to that first fish. If you stick with this game for any length of time you’ll learn that your most memorable fish, the ones you revisit most often in your thoughts, won’t necessarily be the ones you landed. And if you’re going to fish with guides to any extent, you’ll learn that finding one you get along with is probably as important as the fishing itself. Stewart was a rarity among guides in that when I told him what I was interested in, he actually listened to me. Too often I’ve been put in the position of having to make the guide happy. Once, off Cape Cod, a guide handed me a tarpon rod whose reel was spooled with lead-core line. “Don’t

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even try to cast this,” he warned. “Just strip it back into the rip.” What I wanted to do was … forget what I wanted to do. The guys I was fishing with had arranged the charter, and to avoid a scene I did as I was told. That I hooked and landed a 40-inch striped bass this way felt like an insult. Casting dry flies to spooky wild trout on a challenging stretch of water with the prospect of hooking maybe one or two in a morning would not be everyone’s cup of tea. If it’s not yours—and if your casting skills are only marginal, I can tell you definitely that it wouldn’t be yours—you might be happier on a private loch catching large stocked rainbows, where a bent rod is the order of the day. Or if you’d rather try for pike, Stewart is ready to accommodate with plans B through Z. Here’s a guide whose

website unapologetically offers trout and salmon holidays near Outlander film locations (you can’t make this up). So, for example, if your wife wanted to visit Linlithgow Palace— Wentworth Prison in the book and TV series—where poor Jamie suffers torture at the hands of the loathsome Black Jack Randall, you could kill two birds by fishing the trout loch that the palace overlooks. You might find this comical, as do I, but there’s nothing comical about Stewart’s skills. He is, without question, the finest caster of any guide I’ve fished with. He would be as comfortable guiding for Charles, Prince of Wales, as he would be guiding Charlie from Houston, Texas.


Stewart had been a professional photographer at one time, and also had run a software company, or something like that. In the mid 2000s he had walked off into the wilderness to do some soul-searching; he asked himself what his passions were, and what it was he wanted to do with the rest of his life. So began Alba Game Fishing. Beyond that, I don’t know a lot about him. We didn’t talk a lot about ourselves, and much of what we understood about each other we understood tacitly. We each had begun fly fishing in childhood, before we knew what a lifestyle was. Before we knew that standing in a river casting a fly was mindful exercise. Back when the game was played primarily by older gentlemen who also hunted birds in the fall. Somewhere along the way he’d gotten some mentoring: Nobody casts that well by chance; you don’t learn it in a vacuum. Nor do I know how Stewart came by his culinary skills. The shore lunch he prepared for us, Moroccan lamb over rice, was as fine a meal as you would get in most of the restaurants in Edinburgh. By the time we got back to the water, the bug activity, along with the surface feeding, had subsided. Stewart rigged a leader with three wet flies: two North Country Spiders (Davie McPhail versions) and a point fly of my own dressing, Sawyer’s Killer Bug tied on a Daiichi jig hook. Such a rig allows you to fish the entire water column.

The trout season extends from April first to September 30th. According to Stewart, fishing peaks mid April to mid May, when big browns, normally invisible, appear to gorge themselves on the prolific Olive and March Brown hatches. By mid June the fishing gets trickier, and the larger trout become focused on minnows: trout and salmon fry and parr as well as sticklebacks. Stewart showed me one of his stickleback patterns, the wing topped with peacock swords. The Alexandra, the classic Scottish wet fly first dressed in the 1860s, is a good general stickleback imitation, he noted. Good grayling can be caught year-round, with the fishing peaking in autumn and winter. Trout season closes when it does to make way for the fall salmon run. For the remainder of the afternoon the fishing was better than the catching. I managed to get a couple of fish to pull at a Spider, but didn’t manage to hook either. We wrapped up our day just before five—what normally passes for beer thirty in my world. As the Scottish Highlands overshadow the Borders, Scotland’s single malt whiskies overshadow its ales. But make no mistake, Scotland is in the midst of a craft beer revolution, with each region boasting a number of small breweries. The website visitscotland.com features a Craft Beer Map of the country, which, at this writing, lists 90 microbreweries. Not too shabby for an area the size of South Carolina. A short drive from Elibank House you can visit Campbell’s Brewery (campbells-brewery.com) in Peebles, as well as the Broughton Brewery

(broughtonales.co.uk) in the small village of the same name (brewer of the locally popular Old Jock Scotch Ale). However, the hidden gem of Scotland’s microbreweries is the Traquair House Brewery (traquair.co.uk) in Innerleithen, which spearheaded the country’s craft beer movement two decades before there was a term for it. Originally a hunting lodge for Scottish royalty, the Traquair House is Scotland’s oldest inhabited home. The original tower was built in the early 1100s, with the remainder of the house being completed before 1700. The Traquair House has hosted 27 Scottish (and English) kings and queens. For over 500 years the house has been occupied by the Stuart family, descendants of the royal line of Stuarts, and today receives visitors from all over the world. Here you can see such pieces of antiquity as Mary Queen of Scots’ bed as well as the silk coverlet she helped to embroider. The cellar brewery, located beneath the chapel, dates from the 1700s and originally functioned as a domestic brewery to serve the family and guests of the estate. The brewery fell into disuse in the 1800s but was not dismantled. It was discovered by Peter Maxwell Stuart, 20th Laird of Traquair, in the mid 1960s when he was cleaning centuries-old family junk out of the cellar. Much of the equipment was in pristine condition. As an experiment, Mr. Maxwell Stuart restored the brewery to functional status and began producing ale. Even today, the wort is boiled in the original copper (purchased in 1738) and then fermented in unlined oak vessels (Traquair House is the only remaining UK brewer to use them).

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Mr. Maxwell Stuart brewed his original offering, Traquair House Ale, from an 18th century recipe for strong ale. It was first served in the Traquair House tea room, but as accolades accumulated and its fame grew, he stepped up production to supply local pubs and shops. In the mid 1980s Traquair House began exporting very small quantities of its ale to the US. Mr. Maxwell Stuart died in 1990, and management of the brewery passed to his daughter, Catherine Maxwell Stuart, 21st Lady of Traquair. Since then, Traquair House Brewery has added several ales to its roster, including Traquair Jacobite Ale, a slightly stronger version of the

original (8 percent alcohol by volume) brewed with coriander, which adds a spicy character to the caramel sweetness. Although Ms. Maxwell Stuart expanded the brewery in the mid 1990s, total production today falls short of 1,000 US barrels per year. (Compare this with the Boston Beer Company, brewer of all things Sam Adams, which in 2016 produced 4 million barrels of its proprietary products.) Our favorite place to enjoy these malt-forward aristocrats was across the street at the Traquair Arms Hotel (main dishes from £9.95; traquairarmshotel.co.uk). The small pub

has a friendly atmosphere. Dogs are welcome—Lori made fast friends with canine regulars Jack and Rory— there’s a good selection of beers other than those produced by the Traquair House, and a small coal fireplace in the corner gets lighted during the colder months. Scotland is not renowned for its fivestar dining and frankly, much of that is lost on me anyway. Whenever Lori and I sat down to what purported to be a culinary experience—and throughout our three trips, we did this a number of times—we were frequently underwhelmed, not to mention much lighter in the purse. The

HOLD the FROU-FROU.

kitchen of the Traquair Arms Hotel serves mainly Scottish pub fare— dishes such as steak and Traquair ale pie and fish and chips—hold the frou-frou. You get generous portions of good, hearty food at very reasonable prices. In our opinion, you’ll find no better Scottish dining experience than in a pub such as this. One of the things we particularly enjoyed about the Scottish Borders is that it has not yet been overrun with tourists. As an American you stand out, and the locals are quick to ask, in a friendly manner, what brought you

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here. Travel to the Isle of Skye, in the Highlands, on the other hand, and you’ll think it’s undergone some sort of American occupation. Also, genuine Scots can be in short supply: In one lodge where we stayed on Skye we met not a single Scottish employee. As far as we could tell, the entire staff was from outside the country, most filling temporary positions for the season. The manager was from Australia, the chef was from Brazil, our waitress was from Texas, and so on. Not that it wasn’t nice—it just wasn’t what we were looking for. One western resort town where we

spent the night seemed to be staffed entirely by Polish emigrants. From what we’ve seen of the Borders, it’s run entirely by Scottish locals. Other places where we enjoyed eating outside Walkerburn include the Crown Hotel (www.crownhotelpeebles.co.uk)—best nachos we had anywhere in the country—and also the County Hotel (main dishes from £6.49; 35 High Street, Peebles), which is one of the Belhaven Pubs. Although it doesn’t have a proper kitchen, we recommend you stop at


the Bridge Inn (Port Brae, Peebles) for a pint before or after dinner. Also known as the Trust, this traditional pub, which welcomes dogs but prohibits children—that alone is reason enough to visit—won the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Scotland and Northern Ireland Pub of the Year competition for 2017. I had a pint— or maybe two—of the Pale Armadillo Session IPA (3.8 percent alcohol by volume), brewed by the Tempest Brewing Company (tempestbrewing.com), whose recipes are heavily influenced by the North American brewing scene. Should you wish to return to the Tweed after dinner to catch the evening rise, it’s very doable, as at this time of year in Scotland it stays light until nearly 11:30 pm. If the amount of mayflies flitting about the parking lot were any indication, the river was sure to be worth a try. However, after a full day on the water with Stewart, I just didn’t have it in me. Fishing may be what brought us to Elibank House, but it’s not the only

reason to stay there. In fact, of all the guests booked there during our stay, I was the only one fishing and had the river to myself. Beyond fishing, Elibank House makes the ideal base of operations for a visit to the Borders or southern Scotland in general. Whatever your interest in the outdoors, you’ll find it in the Borders. If you’re a mountain biker, Peebles and the surrounding area is considered a mecca, boasting the Glentress and Innerleithen Trails. You can rent a mountain bike at Alpine Bikes Glentress (tweedvalleybikehire.com). If you’re a road biker, National Route 1, which spans 1,700 miles along the East Coast of England and Scotland, from Dover to the Shetland Islands, passes right by Elibank House. Quality road and hybrid bikes can be rented at Bspoke Cycles (bspokepeebles.co.uk). If you’re a hiker or walker, the Tweed Valley is lined with seven forests, hosting dozens of routes of varying levels of difficulty. (The sister sites walkscottishborders.com and cyclescottishborders.com provide downloadable maps.) The Elibank

House property gives you access to the Elibank and Traquair Forest, which is the largest of the valley’s woodlands. Lori and I didn’t have to be on Skye for a couple of days, and we tried to extend our stay at Elibank. Unfortunately, Eleanor told us she was booked solid for the next three days. Stewart gave us some suggestions about other areas we might visit, and we set off. If you ever fish the Tweed in May, the stretch that runs through the Elibank Estate, and you happen to see a guy standing in the river, swinging flies with a snake roll, even when he doesn’t have to, come over and say hello. It might be me, after all. I have some unfinished business there. &

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&

PURPLE

with DEC HOGAN

BRONZE

Spey

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Spey The simple one-syllable noun became an iconic and indelibly thoughtprovoking word in the world of steelhead fly fishing during the last 30 years. It means many things to many

people: a rod, a cast, a fly, a fishing methodology, a style of apparel, etc. It’s a fun, easy word to say as it spews sparsely from the lips. Spey. It actually feels and sounds like water.

It’s a pretty seductive word when you really consider it. The word Spey is so much a part of our lexicon that it’s often overused and even sometimes humorous when we take a closer look:

I went spey fishing using my spey rod where I speyed up a steelhead that took my spey fly in some really killer spey water. Of course the spey fly was tied on a spey hook with an extra long spey hackle. Duh! A little stretch, maybe. But only a little. In actuality, Spey is a river in Scotland. Yes, it is a storied Atlantic salmon river with a rich history and traditions. Because of the nature of the river and its brushy banks, roll casting with a long rod was often employed as a means to effectively reach the Spey’s salmon lies. Thus the Spey rod was born in the mid-1800s and the unique style of Spey casting evolved after that. Alas, the River

Spey angling community also developed a distinctive style of fly specifically for the Spey. Original Spey flies were tied on longshank hooks and were dressed sparse and simple. Tied in drab, somber colors with thin bodies usually of wool and with a simple wing of bronze mallard or turkey. Typically they did not have a tail. What really set Spey flies apart was the long, wispy hackle

that was palmered up the body along with intricate tinsel ribbing. Long rooster tail feathers from a now extinct strain of chicken often referred to as Spey cock were commonly used for the hackle as were feathers from the gray heron. The patterns were thought to resemble ocean shrimp which make up an important part of the Atlantic salmon’s diet.

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Spey flies continued to evolve, gaining in popularity, and found their way around the globe— eventually to the steelhead rivers of the Pacific Northwest.

long and the feathers take dye well. The difficulty is that the stems tend to be short. Careful examination of a skin or pack of feathers will often yield plenty of feathers to work with for a range of hook sizes. Blue eared pheasant is readily available online and in many fly shops.

The late Syd Glasso of Forks, Washington, gets the credit for first using these flies for steelhead. Glasso went to work on creating Spey-style flies And good news regarding the exotic, that were more brightly colored to mysterious, extinct Spey cock: It was attract winter steelhead. The neutraljust a chicken. Last time I checked colored bronze mallard and various there are plenty of chicken species turkey wings were not colorful left on the planet and the roosters still enough to meet the task. Syd began grow long tails. Spey feathers galore! experimenting with brightly dyed The tail feathers are often called and hackle tips to serve as the wing. Four sold as coque feathers. Stems are hackle tips applied in tent fashion really long and can be a bit thick. gave the fly color and a slightly deeper Again, with careful inspection one profile. Thus, the first Spey-style flies can find plenty of usable feathers. for steelhead were born. Thank you, Between a rooster’s saddle and tail are Syd Glasso! the long, webby schlappen feathers. These, too, can be wonderful Spey The stylings and overall shape of Spey feathers with proper selection and flies are alluring not only to steelhead preparation. but to steelhead anglers. They just look and feel rightfully fitting. Tying Another useful feather is burnt goose a Spey-style fly, or even any one of the shoulder. The shoulder feather is original true Spey flies, requires clean, treated with a solution of bleach that precise tying skills and a lot of practice breaks down the feather’s barbules, to perfect. thus creating nice separation of the barbs. Stems can be thick and brittle. One of the fun challenges of tying a When I use burnt goose shoulder, I Spey-style fly is selecting the hackle. always presoak the feather in warm First, the barbs of the feather must water for 15 minutes to soften the be fairly long in relation to the hook. stem. This makes the stem more Then the stem of the feather must pliable and prevents it from breaking also be long to make the necessary when being wrapped. wraps up the hook. The stem must also be fairly thin and not too brittle. Ringneck pheasant rump feathers can With legal heron nearly impossible be a great feather for Spey flies tied in to obtain and the Spey cock extinct, smaller sizes. Marty and I are always what’s a fly tyer to do? Fear not! There on the lookout, sizing up feathers are many wonderful suitable feathers for the possibility of being used as a available. Chief among heron subSpey hackle. Sometimes you just have stitutes are the rump feathers of the to think outside the box. In doing so blue eared pheasant. The barbs are you may find a superb source of Spey

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hackle has been lurking right under your nose. A prime example of that is Marty’s use (and now mine) of gadwall flank feather as a Spey hackle. Stay patient and precise in your tying this unique style of fly and you will realize utter satisfaction with your well tied Spey-style flies. Please be sure to understand that not all steelhead flies are Spey flies. True Spey flies, once again, are of a specific style and material selection inherent of the old patterns of the River Spey in Scotland. Anything we have adapted to steelhead fishing with influence from these old Spey flies that utilize a long palmered hackle and a form of feather wing I refer to as Spey-style flies or even steelhead Speys. It may sound nitpicking but I believe it’s important to the integrity of the history and traditions of our glorious sport that we do not dilute proper nomenclature and maintain a solid understanding of—and respect for—where things came from. Spey certainly is a beautiful iconic word in our world of swinging flies for steelhead. Let’s just be careful with how frequently and carelessly we use it as a means of communication. I went fishing using my two-handed rod where I hooked a steelhead that took my Spey-style fly in some really killer water. I like that better. Don’t you? &


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&

PURPLE

with DEC HOGAN

BRONZE

Spey

Hook: Daiichi 2051 or your choice, size varies Body Rear Third: Orange silk floss Body Front Two-Thirds: Purple seal fur dubbing or substitute Rib: Flat silver tinsel followed by gold oval tinsel Body Hackle: Burnt goose shoulder or coque feather dyed purple Collar: Natural guinea fowl body feather Wing: Bronze mallard

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Start the thread at the mid-point of the hook. Work Ensure that each wrap butts tightly up against the last. At the third joint tie in a length of oval tinsel

followed by a length of flat tinsel, then followed by a

STEP 1

the thread rearward two-thirds down the hook shank.

length of floss. Wrap the floss rearward to the start

of the bend trapping the oval and flat tinsel as you go.

Wrap the floss back to the tie-in point and secure with

STEP 2

two turns of thread.

Prepare a burnt goose shoulder hackle by stripping all

the stem. Strip the barbules from the left side of the hackle. Tie in by the tip at the floss joint.

STEP 3

the fluff and unusable material from the root end of

Build a dubbing loop with the thread and load with Advance the thread to the eye return of the hook.

Wrap the dubbing forward butting each turn tightly against the last. Relieve any trapped fibers with

STEP 4

dubbing. Give the loop a spin to trap the dubbing.

Velcro or bobbin.

Advance the flat tinsel to the eye of the fly with

following the rearward edge of the flat tinsel. Refrain from clipping the tag ends of the tinsel at this point.

STEP 5

five or six open turns. Bring the oval tinsel forward

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Proper selection of material for a strip wing of bronze mallard is essential to the appearance of the finished wing. Not all mallard flank feathers are equal to the task. Start by selecting matching bronze flank feathers from each side of a mature drake mallard. The strip for the far wing is taken from the right side of the stem, and the strip for the near wing is taken from the left side of the stem of the opposing feather. When clearing the strip from the stem, the individual barbules tend to hold together better when pulled from the stem rather than cut. By briskly pulling the strip from the stem, part of the skin of the stem stays connected to the barbs—thus holding the barbs married in place. The strip should have sufficient length with a clear transition from the bronze coloration to the softer white material closer to the stem. Locking the wing in place inside the softer white section of the strip will insure the integrity of the wing.

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STEP 6 STEP 7

Select and prepare a guinea feather for the collar. The length of the barbs should reach to the joint between the floss and dubbing. Secure the feather by the tip and wrap as a collar while folding the barbs on both sides of the stem rearward.

STEP 8

Bring the hackle forward following the rearward edge of the oval tinsel and secure. As a reminder, thread control will enhance every aspect of your tying. Remembering to remove a turn or two of thread before the final securing wraps for each step of construction will greatly enhance the overall balance and appearance of the finished fly.


STEP 9 STEP 10

STEP 9: While holding the strip of the far wing in your right hand, gauge the length. The tips of the strip should extend just slightly past the bend of the hook. While maintaining this position, transfer the strip to your left hand. Take a soft turn with the thread, followed by a firm wrap, slowly compressing the strip into place. As you can see in the photo, this style of wing is set lower on the shoulder of the hook. If the mallard strip needs further adjusting it can be done by manipulating the strip. Care should be taken to move the whole strip by holding the untrimmed stems with one hand and the strip itself using the other hand—it takes two hands moving in unison to move and manipulate the strip. Setting bronze mallard wings properly takes some practice and, like it or not, you will waste a lot of mallard while learning. The rewards are certainly worth it, though!

STEP 10: The near side of the wing is set using the same method. Clip the tag ends of the wing and whip finish the thread. Give the head a coat of cement. The completed Purple and Bronze Spey.

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braised venison

shanKs with Kelli Prescott

I love braising. It takes any cut of meat that is generally too tough and makes it melt in your mouth. With a little time, braising will become one of your favorite methods of preparation too. Feel free to try this recipe with any cut of meat suitable for braising: chuck short ribs, oxtail, neck, hind quarter roast, et cetera. Shanks however, are my favorite. I pair these with my cheesy grits and fried onions. ingredients: braised shanks:

swiss chard:

shallot gravy:

2 venison hind shanks 1 HALF stick OF butter 1 cup marsala 1 quart beef stock 4 cloves garlic, minced 2 large yellow onions, sliced 3 sprigs thyme 3 sprigs rosemary

1 bunch swiss chard drizzle of olive oil

3 shallots, diced 1 sprig thyme 2 cups reserved braising liquid 2 tbsp butter 2 tbsp flour 2 tbsp heavy cream

kosher salt cracked pepper

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kosher salt

kosher salt cracked pepper


Season the venison shanks liberally with kosher salt. Sear them one at a time in a hot dutch oven coated with olive oil until browned on each side. Set aside.

For Swiss Chard: Swiss chard is my favorite green and full of flavor. It takes 5 minutes to cook and only needs a sprinkle of salt.

Add onions, garlic, butter and a good amount of cracked pepper to the dutch oven. Cook 5 minutes. Deglaze with marsala wine, then add herbs. Cook another 5 minutes then return the shanks to the pot. Add beef stock and bring to a simmer.

Rinse the chard thoroughly and pat dry. Roughly chop the leaves. Julienne stems separately.

(If you want to cut down cooking time, cut the meat off of the shanks in pieces before returning to the pot (be sure to return the bones and all). Cover and place in a 350Âş oven. Cook for 3 hours or until meat is fork tender.

In a hot skillet, drizzle a small amount of olive oil and add stems first. Sprinkle with salt and cook 3 minutes before adding the leaves. Cook leaves until they wilt and color changes. Taste for seasoning once more, and they’re finished. Serve picked meat from the shanks with gravy over a pile cheesy grits and side of chard. Enjoy.

Depending on the size of the shanks it may take up to 4 hours. Once the shanks are tender, remove them from braising liquid and set aside. For shallot gravy: Skim off any excess fat and reserve 2 cups of the cooked braising liquid. In a separate saucepan, melt butter. Add diced shallot and thyme. Cook the shallots for about 5 minutes over low heat, season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in flour. Cook the flour/shallot mixture for a couple of minutes. Whisk in reserved braising liquid and cook until gravy thickens. Taste for seasoning, and stir in heavy cream to finish.

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ingredients: CHEESY GRITS:

FRIED ONIONS:

2 cups stone ground corn grits 5 cups water 1 cup heavy cream 1 HALF STICK OF BUTTER 2 cups gouda, shredded

peanut or vegetable oil, heated to 325ยบ 2 round white onions, sliced 1/8" thick 3 cups flours 1/ 3 cup bbq seasoning

kosher salt cracked pepper

kosher salt

For the grits: bring a medium saucepan with water and butter to a hard simmer. Add a nice pinch of kosher salt and cracked pepper. Add dry grits. Whisk grits over low heat until they are almost tender and thicken (about 10-15 minutes). Continue to cook the grits for about 10 more minutes, whisking in heavy cream. Once the grits are tender, turn off the heat. Stir in gouda cheese and add another good cracking of black pepper. Enjoy these cheesy grits by the spoonful or as an accompaniment to any saucy dish. Gouda is my favorite when I use this recipe with a braised meat. Try sharp white cheddar grits with fried chicken or shrimp and grits.

FOR THE Fried Onions: Heat your oil in a large saucepan or use a deep fryer. Slice onions thin and separate rings. Place sliced onions in a gallon zip lock bag and add a hefty pinch of kosher salt. Fill bag with water just enough to make sure onions are covered. Mix flour and seasoning in a large bowl. Take onion strings by the handful directly from zip lock bag, shake a bit of the excess water off, and place in the flour mixture. Use your hands to press the onions lightly into the flour so a nice thin coating sticks to all of them. Shake excess flour from them onion strings and carefully drop them into the oil. Stir while cooking occasionally to avoid sticking, and let fry until golden brown. Allow the oil to come back to temperature between batches. Transfer cooked onions strings onto paper towels to let drain and cool. Try not to eat the whole stack by yourself!

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Curated by: Andrew Robinson and Ansel Vickery Free House, Portland, OR The cold, dark months were made for strong drinks and good friends. Mix up one of these winter warmers, kick back, and let the snow fall. Tools needed: Cocktail shaker Fruit/vegetable peeler Teaspoon Shot glass or other measuring vessel

1

Toronto 2 oz. rye whiskey 1 oz. Fernet Branca 1 tsp. rich simple syrup (2:1)

A variation on a classic Manhattan with the substitution of Fernet Branca for sweet vermouth and rye whiskey for bourbon. A can’t miss cocktail for the cold months.

How it’s done: Combine ingredients, stir with ice to dilute, garnish with expressed orange peel. Serve in chilled single old fashioned glass.

4

WinteR WarmeRs

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Free House Toddy 2 oz. bourbon ¾ oz. lemon juice ¾ oz. honey syrup (equal parts honey and water) ½ oz. triple sec 1 tsp. allspice dram 1 dash Angostura bitters Pinch of cinnamon The able minds behind the Free House bar came up with this iteration of the traditional Toddy. At Free House, the bartenders pride themselves on consistency; whether you recognize the face behind the bar or not, you get the same quality cocktail every time you pony up to the bar. How it’s done: Combine ingredients in smaller half of shaker, fill large half with hot water, place small tin in large tin like double boiler, stir until hot, warm 10 oz mug. In mug, add contents of small tin and top off with hot water. Garnish with expressed lemon peel.


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Mean Time Sour 2 oz. bourbon ¾ oz. lemon juice ½ oz. rich simple syrup (2:1) 1 tsp. allspice dram 2 tsp. dry red wine Dash Angostura bitters

New Nog 1 ½ oz. aged rum 1 oz. heavy cream ¾ oz. whole milk ¾ oz. rich simple syrup (2:1) ¼ oz. allspice dram 1 whole egg Pinch nutmeg

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The Free House is a cocktail bar located in Portland, Oregon’s Sabin neighborhood. Known for innovative cocktails and top-notch food made from scratch, it’s a favorite of bartenders and their families across the city.

Based on a New York or Greenwich Sour, The Mean Time Sour is somewhere A ’shake and take’ on a blended classic. between a whiskey sour and mulled wine. No immersion blender needed. The best Your new afterhours best friend when the nog you’ll ever have. If you’re feeling adstandard winter warmers just won’t do. venturous, take your nog to the next level by using a funky spiced rum like Doctor How it’s done: Bird or Smith & Cross. Combine all ingredients in smaller half of shaker tin, fill tin with ice, How it’s done: shake to combine. Double strain Combine all ingredients in the smaller into a double old fashioned glass. Fill half of a shaker tin, add 2 1-inch ice glass with ice, leaving ¼ inch of head cubes, shake until you can’t hear the space. Top with a float of dry red ice cubes anymore. Pour into double wine. To maintain the float without old fashioned glass, garnish with mixing, slowly pour wine over one ground or grated nutmeg. of the floating cubes. Garnish with expressed orange peel.

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A California Condor lands atop Vermillion Cliffs, AZ. At present, there are fewer than 500 California Condors in the entire world, of which over half live in the wild. The eight condors seen in this shot represent over ten percent of the Arizona-Utah group, one of the largest of the wild populations.

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ON the BRINK with John ’Verm’ Sherman

In 1982 there were 22 California Condors in the entire world. Extinction seemed imminent. By 1987 the last condor in the wild was trapped and entered into the captive breeding program. The current population hovers around 450 condors. Though still critically endangered, they have gone from the brink of extinction to the brink of survival. Still one obstacle stands in their way.

Lead poisoning is responsible for over half of diagnosed condor mortality. The source is lead-based ammunition residues in the form of bullet fragments, pellets and sometimes intact bullets unintentionally left in the discarded remains of animals the condors sometimes feed upon.

People who leave the remains of shot animals afield are at the heart of the problem. And today’s hunters are the core of the solution. A new wave of hunters is rediscovering and redefining hunting’s conservation ethic. Embracing the latest ammunition technology and unswayed by regressive dogma, these hunters may well become the heroes in this story.

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Female Condor 297, hatched in 2003, stretches her left wing while perched on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona. Condors have developed an ideal morphology for the messy work of scavenging carcasses. They bathe after eating and a bald head is easier to keep clean and healthy than a feathered head. The hooked beak easily rips through the toughest animal hides. Condors have a poor sense of smell (unlike Turkey Vultures) and use their exceptional eyesight to locate food and the presence of other scavengers and predators.

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With a wingspan of 9.5 feet, California Condors are the largest landbird in North America. Adults can weigh from 18 to 26 pounds. Their feet are an enormous and sturdy platform, but lack the hooked talons and reverse toe of other raptors. Thus they can’t carry food with their feet; instead they use them to pin down carcasses while they rend meat off the skeletons with their heavy bills.

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Despite being the jumbo jet of the bird world, condors are excellent aviators and can fly up to 200 miles a day in search of food. Condor 349 takes evasive measures to avoid a dominant gesture from Condor 388. Aggression between condors usually only occurs during territorial defense around breeding season.

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F I S H PA R T N E R® ANGLING TOURS WWW.FISHPARTNER.COM

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Condors don’t kill their meals, they only scavenge and they prefer the carcasses of large dead mammals. They can wolf down up to four pounds of meat in one feeding. Because they have bombproof immune systems, they provide a key service in eliminating pathogens from circulation.

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Male Condor 193 giving a courtship display to his mate Condor 241. Despite courting the year before they didn’t produce a chick, hence are able to try again a year later. Parents who successfully hatch a chick will generally

reproduce every other year due to the 20 months it takes to raise a chick to independence. In rare cases, condors can produce a chick in consecutive years.

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Male Condor 337 perches in the rugged terrain north of Kanab, Utah. In June of 2016, 337 staggered about the base of a thousand-foot tall cliff in Zion National Park. A shallow cave hundreds of feet above him contained his newly hatched offspring Condor 848. 337 could not reach his chick. He was dehydrated and emaciated, his chest muscles so wasted he could no

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longer fly. His digestive tract was full of food, yet he was starving to death. A few ingested bullet fragments were also in his GI tract, and the lead from these had paralyzed his digestive system. The food inside him started to rot. When biologists reached 337, he was still alive, but just barely. He was rushed to the treatment center, and administered EDTA injections in an effort to bind up the lead and pass

it out of his system. It was too late to save him and he died the next day. His mate 409 worked diligently to raise 848 on her own, making foray after foray to satisfy the growing chick’s enormous appetite. Tragically, 848 perished a few weeks before it was due to fledge.


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The solution to lead poisoning is simply for hunters, ranchers and anyone else who dispatches an animal with a firearm to use non-lead ammo instead of lead bullets. This prevents lead from entering the food chain where it doggedly persists, sickens, and sometimes kills. For instance, a rancher might euthanize an ailing

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steer with a lead-based bullet. Later a group of scavengers (eagles, coyotes, turkey vultures, ravens, condors, etc.) clean up the carcass. Because lead bullets tend to fragment while traveling through target animals, numerous scavengers might ingest lead fragments. Those that do can become sick and/or die and if their carcasses

are scavenged the lead fragments can be consumed and kill again. Lead poisoning can sometimes be slow to debilitate, sicken or kill, so there’s always concern that if a parent condor ingests lead, it can be passed to the chick when they regurgitate food for the young one.


Hunters lucky enough to draw tags for the Kaibab Plateau receive coupons they can exchange for non-lead ammunition. For the past eleven years, 87% of drawn deer hunters on the Kaibab have participated in lead reduction efforts. Here, 15-year old Anna Parish, on her first deer hunt ever, chambers a non-lead round into her hunting rifle.

On the famed mule deer Mecca of the Kaibab Plateau, 15-year old Anna Parish and her dad pack out the bounty of her first ever deer hunt. Anna chose non-lead ammunition and dropped her deer with a single shot. The lead-free gut pile left behind provides a healthy snack for the condors.

John ‘Verm’ Sherman is a rock climber and photographer based out of Flagstaff, Arizona. A pioneering climber in the 1980s and 90s, he now devotes his time to wildlife photography and preserving the California Condor in the American Southwest.

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the TENDENCIES of BROOK TROUT with JoE DAHUT

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“Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.” — Cormac McCarthy, The Road

I sit on the edge of the trunk to string up my boots, the laces still soggy from yesterday’s adventure. Spring’s recent arrival brings pleasant days warm enough to ditch my waders for shorts. Finally, the brush is overgrown and the hatches are plentiful, the nirvana I have dreamt of since winter. The brook trout streams of Maryland that I call my home water are a splattering of wilderness and a buffet of adventure and discovery. They are wild, untouched land void of trails, signs, or cell phone service, hosting no modern distractions. Brook trout fishing is theological, a transferal of worries and stresses into the simplicity of connecting to a five inch fish with Pollock-esque coloring. Rattlesnakes sleep on mossy rocks by trickling

streams so skinny you could spit across them. Brook trout habitats are forms of fine art, and they include as many joys as they do frustrations. I am ankle deep in running water, staring down a deeper pool that quite obviously holds fish. Although small, the fish are beautiful and electric living artifacts of the land, swimming in the cold water mountain streams from Maine to Georgia. I pinch the bushy feathers of an orange stimulator I tied the night prior, a burst of color, a buoyant brook trout snack. My rod tip bends towards me, line taut in precast pressure. My thumb and pointer finger separate and line shoots over the unsuspecting pod of trout. The freezing water sheltered

by rhododendron and other shrubs swallows my fly below the surface. After saucing up the wings of my fly with floatant, I shoot another cast to the left of the riffle. The long leader springs and gives me a faulty drift. Sure enough, the trout call my bluff and stay put, eyes upstream, waiting for the real bugs to parade into the feeding zone. Identifying where brook trout live is one thing, catching them is another. Studying the tendencies of brook trout is an unabridged version of casting a fly in small water. Although casting in an attic will grant more space than many of these streams would like to offer, these habitats are precious relics to communities

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throughout the East Coast. Crouching, kneeling, or clinging onto a tree branch for support are frequent moves in the brook trout angler’s playbook, moves that showcase creativity and stealth, essentials to success. Fishing for brook trout on the fly conjures a sense of what fly fishing is really about - the small things that initially attracted us to the sport. Dry fly action aplenty, days chasing brook trout often humble anglers to make shorter, more concise casts, casting only when needed. There is not much up for question when a brookie takes your fly; it is typically immediate, violent, and amazing to

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watch. Although they are not huge fish, they can put up a huge fight on light tackle, and they live in the most beautiful, hidden places. We must do a little more pioneering in order to get into fish, and although most other anglers have streamer boxes with flies the size of the fish we catch, there is magic in each capture. Most likely, a nine inch fish will be the biggest in a pool of wild and native fish, and that experience is what brings us back to the water.


Anglers interested solely in the size of their catch often misunderstand the brook trout angler, and are not aware of the truth that comes with brook trout fishing. For the angler pursuing the biggest, baddest fish in the pool, the ethos of brook trout fishing gets lost in translation. Why do we do it? Is there inherent value in chasing four inch fish in tiny mountain streams when bigger fish in deeper water are just a short drive away? To many anglers, the answer is an emphatic ’yes’. Brook trout are the only native and wild species in the D.C. area, making them unique in the schema of fisheries managers and anglers alike. “In a society that often tries to control our natural world through the import of non-native species and their subsequent stocking, I fish for brook trout because they are distinctly representative of the East,” said Evan

Dintaman, a local angler in the Washington, D.C. area. It is this pride for his native species that brings Dintaman and so many other local anglers back to fish these small mountain streams. Brook trout live in gorgeous little streams brimming with life, and the streams alone are great snapshots of backcountry fly fishing. The ecosystems that sustain brook trout are pure and clean, and the more wild the habitat appears, the better the fishing could be. Fly fishing close to the nation’s capital can be as wild or mild as you make it, from fishing under memorials and monuments for urban carp or striped bass to mountaineering to find the mythical, magical brook trout. Because the local brook trout streams are cold all year, they provide the truly native and wild experience that many anglers seek.

Sometimes finding these streams takes dedicated research, and other times, all you need to do is step into your backyard. If you want to know where to look, go where the dirt roads converge with the cold, skinny streams. Go where the fish have eyes bigger than their stomachs, and wear candy colors spots. To find brook trout, you must venture into the wild. &

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Department of the Interior with Johnny Defeo

At any time, I can head to the middle of the forest and dive into a river to wash off in cool, flowing water owned by each and every one of us. Knowing I have this freedom is how I get through my day, and that freedom hinges on access to America’s public lands. I use painting as a means of parsing through my thoughts and exploring the world. Mostly I paint landscapes. The places we spend time in become inextricably entangled within us. I focus on the unquantifiable and unprovable characteristics of a thing, the feeling of it. Rather than taking photos or sketching, I do my best to commit a place to my memory and later recall it in paint with aims of creating a souvenir- an object to help to remember. By working from memory it is easier to pick out the essentials, and to emphasize the details that

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stood out so vividly. I hope to create paintings that can transport you to a remarkable place or time in your own life, or help you imagine somewhere wonderful. In this series of paintings called ’The Department of the Interior,’ specifically, I ruminate on the uncertain future of America’s public lands. Likely, without intervention, bits of it will slowly be degraded or destroyed. These paintings are an attempt to reconcile my love for these places and the news of their troubles. Often, I worry that all of my favorite places will end up as someone’s fenced backyard. In my paintings I imagine homes, and the people who might buy them, and how they might be decorated and designed. Homes filled with relics of the natural world, patterned textiles,

and wildlife decor, side-by-side with views of the magnificent lands from which they are hewn. For the public, closed off from these now private spaces, these homes are a nightmare, but from inside the living room it would be hard to argue that it’s a pretty great view, and therein lies the problem. &

Johnny DeFeo lives and works in Denver, CO (but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t love to meet you in your favorite fishing spot or mountain bike trail anywhere in the country). You can find him on Instagram @johnnycakesdefeo and at www.johndefeo.com. Works can be purchased through Visions West Contemporary, www.visionswestcontemporary.com


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HIGH MIGHTY with ALAN CORBETT

The mule deer scattered. To my left a big buck, bigger than the one I’d been putting the sneak on, bounded away over the knife-edge ridge. A little ’forky,’ the companion to my buck, broke left with two does. My lungs burnED as I ran and my breath came in shallow gasps as I inhaled the thin air. Things were going to shit fast. I reached the edge of the rim and peered down into the shadowed basin hoping he was still in range.

This debacle started a year earlier as the sunset painted the landscape in an auric hue. I’d been hiking with a friend to scout for deer. We’d paused on the ridge opposite, the one where I now stood, and scanned the sparse timber. Before long, we began spotting mule deer. A group of does here. A bedded doe there. Previous hunts took me through southeast Alaska’s thicketed lowlands where shots are likely to be less than 70 yards and you’re more likely to walk past deer hidden in the undergrowth than actually bump them. The exception is the early season when they are up in the alpine

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country, but even then you’re more likely to be out of breath from fighting through the tangle of devil’s club and blueberry than the altitude. But here was different; all around us the corrugated landscape creased away in a series of ridges and mountains running beyond the horizon, tawny-colored slopes patchworked by shadows and pale pines.

from miles away. The antlers adorning his living room were a testament to how big mule deer bucks could grow, especially up here. I scanned down and across but couldn’t see anything. “Hold on that spot. He’ll walk out from behind the tree,” instructed Wes.

A moment later the buck moved cautiously out of cover. Bathed in the salmon light of the setting sun, he “There,” my friend, Wes, whispered, sauntered top the top of the ridge and “see the V shaped rock by the scree? paused. Perfectly skylined, perfectly Drop down to the dead tree on the still. His huge antlers were almost left. The one with the all low branches.” indistinguishable from the bare aspen He knew deer and could spot them branches that flanked him.


His silhouette filled the lenses of my binoculars and seared itself into my mind. For weeks, he haunted my dreams. I caught glimpses of him through the fog of memory, but he’d vanish as quickly as he arrived, disappearing into the dense timber of mundane thoughts and worried nerves. My plan coalesced as my obsession grew. I would find him. I would do it alone. I’d hike up that same knifeedged ridge, carrying several days’ provisions and my rifle. I was easily fit enough to accomplish the physical part of the task. This hunt would be on the back of my first public land elk hunt and the training that preceded it. I’d prepared all year, hiking up my local mountain everyday with eighty

pounds on my back and lost thirty five pounds of fat as a consequence. However, one is never really prepared for a three thousand vertical foot climb with fifty pounds of gear and water on one’s back.

little forkies grazing with the does but not my buck, I continued higher. With each step came a wheezing breath that echoed off the rocks like a klaxon in a stadium. How would I ever find him making all this noise?

Initially it was easy, even enjoyable, despite the slope. Then slowly I wore down. My focus became less about the ridge and more on the next hundred yards first to that tree, then that rock, then the log. The higher I got, the more mind games I played. I’d pause and scan the basin with my binoculars, realizing that what I had initially thought were small rocks were actually mule deer. Perhaps my big buck was down low courting does. I stopped and glassed. Seeing a couple of precocious

My perception of distance was out of whack, no two ways about it. What appeared to be stumps at a distance grew into respectable trees as I approached them. This place was vastly bigger than I had imagined. I cast a glance at the top of the ridge. Little specks were already drifting across it. Does ambling though the trees, drifting like shadows over the lip and vanishing into the sage. I pushed to the next outcropping.

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At the outcropping I caught the acrid musk of a rutting buck on the wind. Spooked from his bed, he evaporated into the rocky landscape like a gray mist. But the scent was encouraging. Perhaps I’d encounter the buck. Any buck. Two hours later, I sat on the top of the ridge drenched in sweat. As soon as I dropped my pack, I started seeing deer. A series of does were bedded the length of the ridge, perfectly positioned to catch the afternoon thermals rising from slopes fore

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and aft. They chewed their cud and enjoyed the sunshine. A flicked ear caught my eye as two forkies ambled up from the timber. They too bedded down. I was in the right place. My first order of business had to be to find a flat place to pitch the tent. I grabbed the gun and decided to explore. I’d have plenty of time before the big buck ventured up the ridge to chase does. I crested another rise and froze. A couple of hills ahead of me, a promising 4x4 buck stood gazing in opposite direction. He glowed in the

sepia light of the afternoon sun, like a bronze statue framed against the powder blue sky. A little forky trotted over to him. The big fella nudged the usurper and chased him out of sight. My heart pounded. I ranged a tree on their ridge. It was 500 yards away. Way beyond my effective shooting range. The big guy had the higher ground and would easily see me coming, and also had a second pair of eyes with that forky hanging around. I opted to drop down the opposite side of the ridge and side-hill until I was below him. That would involve post-holing through the snow, but


anything was better than blowing the stalk. It wasn’t five minutes later that I was spotted. Twelve does pranced away with their tails held high. Dammit! The only saving grace was that he wasn’t among them. Fearing they had alerted him to my presence I sprinted to edge of the ridge, spooking the retreating deer as I ran. I peered down into the shadows and spotted my buck three hundred yards below me, also on the run. I raised the rifle to my shoulder, tracked him in the scope, steadied my breathing, and waited. When he was at a safe

distance, he stopped to see what the commotion was about. I took the shot. The rifle’s echo yielded to the silence and the ridge fell quiet once more. Sweat stung my eyes as I gazed into the basin. He lay below me nestled into the sagebrush exactly where he had fallen. The climb down the slope gave me time to reflect on how his life and mine were now connected. We were predator and prey, two threads woven together in an ancient tapestry. But I didn’t celebrate. A successful hunt is a sober affair; an animal loses its life

so my family can eat. When I reached him I knelt beside him and thanked him. I honored both his sacrifice and his life. The light faded as I dressed him out and darkness had fallen by the time I was ready to leave. As I sit at my desk and stare at the antlers mounted on my wall, I realize my desire to hunt mule deer hasn’t waned or faded in the face of life’s challenges. It has intensified. I’ll be back in Idaho next year, that much is certain. &

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THE WA REMEM UNFORGE After you display a Boen original, go ahead, embellish your fish stories just a tiny bit more.

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AY WE MBER IS ETTABLE. STRUNG MAGAZINE

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SYSTEMS FOR ANY SEASON SYSTEMS FOR ANY SEASON BRAVE THE ELEMENTS IN TECHNICAL GEAR FOR ANY WEATHER BRAVE THE ELEMENTS IN TECHNICAL GEAR FOR ANY WEATHER

HOT HOT WEATHER WEATHER

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ALL ALL WEATHER WEATHER S Y S T E M S Y S T E M

FOUL FOUL WEATHER WEATHER S Y S T E M S Y S T E M

THERE AREMANY MANYFACTORS FACTORS THAT THAT MAKE ININ THE FIELD, THERE ARE MAKEOR ORBREAK BREAKAADAY DAY THE FIELD,

BUTITITALL ALLSTARTS STARTS WITH BUT WITHTHE THEWEATHER. WEATHER.

We’ve designed systems that will keep you cool or warm so you’ll be well prepared for early, We’ve designed systems that willpiece keep isyou cool warm so you’ll well and prepared forthe early, mid and late season hunts. Each made fororthe mobile, activebe hunter achieves mid and late season Each piece is made breathability, for the mobile, hunter and achieves the ultimatehunts. balance of briar resistance, andactive moisture control. ultimate balance of briar resistance, breathability, and moisture control. We make gear for those who hunt hard and often. We make gear for those who hunt hard and often.

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Profile for Strung Magazine - Life at the Treeline

Strung Magazine - Winter 2018/2019