Thursday, February 3, 2011


click photos to enlarge
This is the first day off of two in a row and the weather is cold, damp and just plain less than desirable.  I'm not motivated to indulge myself with boating.  I'll probably feel the same tomorrow as we are to get freezing rain overnight.  Mix a bit of wind with that and it adds up to a miserable day.  I'm over Winter!

I had a doctor's appointment this morning at 8:15AM and when I got there;  I found the door locked to the building.  Strange, I thought.  Well; I probably wrote down the wrong day.  I blamed myself for not being more careful with the dates and time given to me by the receptionist.   I couldn't call them to reschedule because no one was there at the office to call.  As I was driving home my cell phone rang and a voice notified me I was late for my doctor's appointment.  What?!  I told the lady I just left her office a half hour ago and it was locked.  She asked if I went to the old building?  Yep;  the doctor's office had moved down the road to a new building and I wasn't notified.  So;  we'll do the doctor thing first business of tomorrow morning----again.

 I enjoy writing this blog and documenting all the things I happen upon in the forests and on the waters of Tennessee.  Sometimes I get emotionally involved in a topic and use this blog as a release mechanism for my frustrations.  I am passionately involved with the natural world and at times feel the need to strike out against elements that would threaten or offend it.  The non hunting community appeared united in defense of the sandhill cranes when Tennessee Wildlife Resources proposed a hunt on the population of birds located in East Tennessee near Hiwassee.  They had their facts about the cranes well researched and presented a powerful objection to TWRA and the proposed hunt was stopped.  I believe that TWRA thought it had a downhill slide into the hunt and wasn't prepared for the confrontation with the non hunting establishment (citizens) of the state.  The agency's data and facts were flawed.  The cranes are safe for two more years but, I fear that next time TWRA will have a well thought out game plan to fully implement a hunt.  The point is that the battle is over and the cranes won.  Yet;  there are those in the public eye who just can't let the idea of a crane hunt alone.  Outdoor columnists and the Tennessee Wildlife Federation continually write comments in their papers that pertain to the sandhills.  Things like they heard they taste better than turkey or, they are difficult to trick with decoys.  It's over for two years.  Is there nothing else out there hunting related to write about.  What is this obsession with the desire to kill sandhill cranes?

 I guess what I'm trying to say is that I want this blog to be a happy, informative place to visit.  I do not enjoy posting stories and articles that have negative connotations but, I can not and will not sit idly by and have the environment I hold most reverent encroached upon by people who have little respect for things wild, even though they call themselves sportsmen.  The term sportsman is an over generalization when used to describe people who carry a gun afield to engage in the process of hunting.   I look at it this way;  If the leaders of the activity called hunting, Tennessee Wildlife Federation, Tennessee Wildlife Resource Commission and Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency all are in bed together to gain enactment of a regulation that will allow the killing of sandhill cranes then; they are the guiding lights that the so called sportsmen of the state will follow.  A true sportsman, in this case, would just say "hell no!  I'm not killing any crane."  End of story.  I would highly respect that man or men and would put it in print and be proud to describe them as "sportsmen" of the highest order.  But, the newspapers just won't quit talking about cranes.  And if they don't stop;  neither can I.    I wrote two pieces below this entry that were instigated by comments made by popular news celebrities recently.  Oh well;  it is what it is I guess.

On a different note;  this Spring will be an exciting time for me as I plan on retiring in March.  I will still work part time at Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson as long as they want me to.  But, as I sat on a log today and thought about the ramifications of a retirement situation;  I was overcome with a feeling of confusion.  I can't explain it.  Confused is the only word that comes to mind.  I suddenly realized that I was treading where I have not ever tread before.  What should I expect on a day to day basis?  I wondered what it would be like not having to be somewhere every day on time.  Will I be able to cope with the pressure?  (tongue in cheek)

Can I be satisfied continually paddling my canoe into the back country and camping for days at a time along the lakes?  Will I grow tired of the water and sell all the canoes and the Gheenoe?  Will the camping experience become "old hat" and become a boring experience?  Will I cast the love of wilderness aside and embrace a new life of luxury in the big city where the excitement of the night exists?  Take a guess----Oh;  will the money run out?  That's possible(:
Below:  Who knows what evil lurks in the dark?  Demonic eyes of the night see all
It's just Douglas playing wolf.  He didn't really fool me.
I happened to notice a vine laying on the ground that had been severed in half.  The end of it was frayed and shredded as if something had tried to eat it but couldn't.  I gazed at the tree it lay under and located the end it had been severed from.  That piece on the ground was chewed through at least twenty feet up the side of that tree.  The other mating end also bore the same fray marks.  Certainly the offending creature was not a deer.  I can't imagine a squirrel cutting through a vine that was an inch thick, and why would he even try?  If the severed piece on the ground were the only portion with the shredded end;  I would say a deer found the woody morsel palatable and tried his best to eat the pulpy material.  But, the end that remained over 20 feet up the tree was also frayed.  That rules out deer.  Actually there were three separate vines that were cut.

These three vines have definitely been chewed through.  This had to be a squirrel.  I've never heard of them doing this.  I have no other explanation. How about a really big squirrel?  How about a really, really big squirrel?

This piece of frayed vine is way up the side of the tree.  I'm guessing it's about 25 feet up.

The picture to the right is a magnified shot of the frayed vine high up on the side of the tree.  I am at a loss.  There is not a wide variety of tree climbing critters that would be inclined to chew on a vine in that fashion.  If anyone has any idea;  I would appreciate hearing it.  We don't have porcupines in East Tennessee so, that leaves them out.  Wow;  maybe there really is a monster gray squirrel loose in the forest.  Great Scott!

That's about it for today.   The dogs got their exercise and I'm happy for that.  An outing like this for them is like you going to a South Sea Island for a week.  Their happiness is paramount.  The weather is soon changing and I am planning some great outings for the near future.  Please be patient with me and I'll take you along on some super voyages soon.  Promise.  Stay safe and be kind to those who can't speak for themselves.