FROM DINOSAURS TO INTEGRATED CIRCUITS
by Morris Gresham
(Editor of the Focus Daily News)
Being a dinosaur has one big advantage. Those of us who survive long enough to qualify for Social Security enjoy a wide variety of outdoor experiences along the way. From my early days spent on the banks of small ponds and creeks with cane poles and safety-pin hooks, I progressed to jon boats, level wind torture reels and hexagon steel rods. Then, I fished from the old wooden Skeeter, forerunner of the modern bass boat. And, somewhere along the way, I learned to fish.
My first largemouth bass struck a surface plug with a typical heart stopping slash. She hit a frog pattern Hula Popper as my father paddled us around the old brickyard lake, a flooded shale pit on his employer's property. Luckily, the gears in the old Zebco 33 held and I was marked for life. Later, my wife's Uncle Martin Cole talked a next-door neighbor into taking me to Lake o' the Pines for a day. There, the old man taught me the finer points of worm fishing with Nick Creme's newly invented plastic marvels.
A lot of folks had a hand in my outdoors education. Bill Allen, a decorated footballer from the powerhouse Sunset High of the fifties, taught me all the nuances of working Heddon chuggers, preferably black, through button willows. And what delightful days I spent on Lake o' the Pines with old friend Billy Bass, the famous bass guide/lure manufacturer/educator from Bettie, Texas! His Billy Bass lure, a finely tuned top water/shallow diver, is still a top producer on East Texas lakes.
Leonard Ranne, a proud member of the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, never had time to teach me anything about fishing. But my old friend did teach me a thing or two about community service. Ranne was one of the 18 founders of Texas Black Bass Unlimited, a conservation organization that worked tirelessly to protect our native fisheries. As the editor for his publication, I was regularly pressed into service on one of his Don Quixote missions, as we called them. We soon learned, however, that when Ranne tilted at the windmills, they fell. He taught us all the value of hard work and dedication.
My Uncle Marvin Wright taught me a lot of things, most of them good. However, he was known to "telephone" up a big flathead catfish on occasion, both because he loved to eat catfish and he thrived on the thrill of evading local game wardens. He never plugged a shotgun either, figuring if his peanuts fed migrating ducks, he had a right to harvest them in any manner he chose.
To his credit, none of his wild game, gathered legally or not, was ever wasted. Nor did he ever harvest as many ducks as the average duck hunter. He just got them all in one morning. He could make miraculous shots with the old rusty .22, usually taking squirrels from his pecan trees with head shots. He taught me the value of stealth, whether stalking the little rodents, the Rio Grande turkeys or the trophy whitetails that roamed his land.
My late father taught me to field dress a deer, as well as butcher it for the freezer. For a family that raised two hogs a year and maybe a calf for the freezer, butchering game is a snap … once Dad showed me all the tricks.
Then Clinton Metcalf, retired from the Dallas Police Department training division and now a gunsmith in Ovilla, taught me to shoot pistols … and made me a better rifle shot. My late friend Billy Waggoner goaded me into shooting skeet for the first time and then mentored me for 20-plus years. I'll never earn a World Championship, but watching the clays break has it's own appeal. Plus, skeet shooting makes doves easier to hit.
Now, after learning from these folks and hundreds of others, I find that today's hunters and fishermen have a tremendous advantage over us dinosaurs. Where we had to locate a talented individual to mentor us in each endeavor, today's sportsman has merely to hit the World Wide Web. For example, I had a note the other day from Jim Porter, my Fishing Editor when I edited USA Outdoors, a national hunting and Fishing magazine. He asked me to take a look at his web site, Jim Porter's Guide to Bass Fishing at www.jimporter.org.
In his "Old Fishin'Tipster Tacklebox" Porter lists ten links to such inviting topics as "The real secret of lipped crank plugs", "Baiting a fishing spot", "The best sunblock ever" and on and on. One that got my immediate attention was "Stop losing crappie jigs". Porter noted that hanging a new crappie jig hook on a limb while using light line usually means goodbye to the lure. But he has a cure.
"Remember those times when you did manage to get the snagged hook back? " Porter wrote. "You straightened the hook and went back to fishing - correct? And, from then on while using THAT jig, you always managed to get unhung again - correct? Think about it. A hook that has been bent is now a soft hook. A soft hook will bend easily again. So, the trick is to take your needlenosed pliers and bend the hook on a new crappie jig before you ever put it into the water the first time. It is that simple."
And getting almost any information on hunting and fishing is just that simple. The Yahoo or Google search engines, the two I use most, will cough up enough links to keep a sportsman busy for hours on any topic. So, now I can find out in minutes how to do almost anything … except find a way to return my declining reflexes and eyesight to youthful levels!
About the author: Morris Gresham is a freelance writer living in Ovilla, Texas. He began hunting and fishing during his youth on an Erath County, Texas farm during the forties. He began his writing career in 1974 and has since published hundreds of articles in dozens of national, regional and state publications. He has been a contributor to Sports Afield, Outdoor Life, Bassmaster Magazine, Texas Fisherman, Texas Fish & Game Magazine, Texas Trophy Hunters Magazine, Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine, Texas Sportsman Magazine, The In-Fisherman and many others. He currently is a columnist for The Skeet Shooting Review, a national publication. Gresham served as Editor of USA Outdoors, a national publication, in 1985. He has edited several other publications, among them, Our Inland Fisheries, Bass Clubber Magazine and The Texas Lake Atlas.
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