Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics of photography to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

Prairie Sunrise

Prairie Sunrise
Prairie Sunrise

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

At Least Part Of It…Anyway

Many years ago, when I was 13 or so, my long time hunting and fishing partner Rocky and I decided it was time for us to become great outdoorsmen and so we deemed it appropriate that we go on a great fishing adventure.  What we ended up doing evolved into somewhat less than that, but still served its purpose as that day became one of the most iconic days of our youth.

The best I can remember it was late in the winter, probably March, before the spring bloom took hold, but the cold days of January and February were behind us.  The fields were still brown and the trees not yet coming out of their dormant state, but the weather was warm and the sun was out.  Rocky’s mom, and I can’t remember the exact relationship, knew someone who lived on a farm out north of Okmulgee Lake, and on that farm was a pond that was stocked with catfish and perch.

Grand enough for two 13 year old boys, so we talked her into taking us out there and leaving us all day.  We had visions of sitting under a shade tree Huckleberry Finn style, wasting the day away around the edge of clean and clear pond, freshly caught fat catfish and perch cooking over a campfire.  What actually occurred were encounters with more snakes than I have ever seen in one place before or since, mean gangs of cows, thirst, hunger, and very few fish on our stringer…two to be exact.

I’m still not so sure which one had more color to it, the water in the pond or the red dirt that covers that part of Oklahoma, the two were pretty much indistinguishable.  Snakes were everywhere…big snakes…ugly snakes…nasty long evil snakes fresh from a winters slumber, slithered into the water all around us or were curled up sunning themselves in the dried grass around the perimeter.  A herd of mean cows roamed in gangs all around us, trading insults with the snakes and threatening to beat us up at the first provocation.  Come around 10:00 a.m. our breakfast had worn off and the baloney sandwiches we brought didn’t look all that appetizing…(we eventually used some of it as bait)…nor did we have anywhere near enough water to drink.
Oddly enough I remember making my first cast out to the middle of the pond and within a few seconds my bobber was pulled under and I landed the first catch of the day…a stunted little catfish not much bigger than the worm I had attached to the hook.  Throughout the course of the day the fishing progressively deteriorated from there with one of us eventually landing another single perch…I don’t rightly remember which one of us.

Those gangs of mean cows stood around smoking cigarettes acting all tough and everything and eventually got bored waiting for us to do something to give them an excuse to beat us up, so one gang turned on another one, I’m sure instigated by the evil manipulations of a snake… and the rumble was on…rather the rumble we heard was the stampede that started as a result…whoa…it got a bit exciting there for a while as the thick red dust mixed with the slobber dripping from the mean cows muzzles as they ran toward us.  Not knowing exactly what else to do, and never having dealt with mean gangs of cows before…we ran for our lives trying to distract them by running out in front of the stampede until they tired of the chase and stopped eventually sauntering back to their cigarette smoking and throwing intimidating moos and dirty looks our way.  We, not wanting to appear timid, sauntered back to our fishing and keeping company with the snakes…but kept a close eye on the, at least for the moment, the less docile gang members.

Love those high water pants
We spent the day pretty much doing nothing except keeping watch for snakes and hoping to see some kind movement from the bobbers sitting on the muddy water. By later in the afternoon, our ride home returned and we reluctantly gathered our gear together…what little we had…I with my paper sack of fishing bobbers and assorted hooks, Rocky with his high tech blue metal tackle box with a single tray that lifted up when you opened it.  

My fishing rod was my old venerable True Temper casting rod and reel combo...(…can’t remember what fishing rod and reel he used but I’m sure it was something very similar.  My dad tagged along for the ride out to pick us up and managed to snap a single picture of the day…this one iconic image showing us proudly displaying our two stunted fish…

As challenging as that day became, it set in motion a lifetime friendship of hunting and fishing…canoeing and hiking…camping and backpacking.  That day would have been just another ordinary day in the lives of two rather ordinary 13 year old boys…had we not had the run in with those mean cows and the evil intimidation of all those snakes.  As it turned out…well, seems we’re still talking about it forty seven years later, so we must have enjoyed the day…at least part of it…anyway.


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