Stories and Commentary from the Swampland

saddle

Rawhide on My Backside

As I write this, my butt is blistered, literally. That stinging punishment my parents and teachers always threatened has now been delivered some 40 years later. Only it wasn’t misbehavior that brought More »

Ford truck

When the Heat is Off

Anyone who has seen or ridden in my truck knows that I’m not overly concerned with aesthetics. No one would describe me as “meticulous” about the condition of my vehicle. Ambivalent and More »

Cat Snake

The Problems with a “Cat Snake”

I have no idea whether or not it’s genuine, but there’s an ad that made the Best of Craig’s List with the headline, “Found! Cat Snake?” Accompanying the ad is a picture More »

Charles and squirrel

That First Squirrel

The best thing about a squirrel ­ and one of the only good things ­ is that they are ideally suited for introducing kids to hunting. There are gazillions of them out More »

The Unknown Journey

Book Report: Read The Unknown Journey by Spessard Boatright

In the years since I served as his aide-de-camp, all my phone conversations with retired Brigadier General Spessard Boatright have begun the same way: “Jim, this is your friend, Spessard. How are More »

Rawhide on My Backside

saddle

As I write this, my butt is blistered, literally. That stinging punishment my parents and teachers always threatened has now been delivered some 40 years later. Only it wasn’t misbehavior that brought on the pain, — it was my own choice. In fact, I paid for the privilege.

When the Heat is Off

Ford truck

Anyone who has seen or ridden in my truck knows that I’m not overly concerned with aesthetics. No one would describe me as “meticulous” about the condition of my vehicle. Ambivalent and neglectful would be much more accurate, although I do try to stay on top of the go/no-go items.

The Problems with a “Cat Snake”

Cat Snake

I have no idea whether or not it’s genuine, but there’s an ad that made the Best of Craig’s List with the headline, “Found! Cat Snake?” Accompanying the ad is a picture of a ferret and a plea that is as funny as it is desperate: “Found (assuming) pet. Some sort of cat snake? Long and nimble but with dryish fur and cat teeth. Seems to like cat food, but isn’t a cat. Please come take this off my hands it smells weird.”

That First Squirrel

Charles and squirrel

The best thing about a squirrel ­ and one of the only good things ­ is that they are ideally suited for introducing kids to hunting.
There are gazillions of them out there and all it takes to hunt them is a .22 or a .410 and about five minutes’ worth of patience.

Book Report: Read The Unknown Journey by Spessard Boatright

The Unknown Journey

In the years since I served as his aide-de-camp, all my phone conversations with retired Brigadier General Spessard Boatright have begun the same way: “Jim, this is your friend, Spessard. How are you?” Of course, he’ll always be General Boatright to me, but that alone should tell you that he is a humble man from a humble background who rose to the loftiest heights of military and public service.

Notes From My Everglades Duck Hunt

Everglades small

This past weekend, I strayed far from my typical Northwest Florida hunting and fishing grounds and traveled to Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades in search of ducks. It was a great trip and we got a good pile of birds to show for it. On the other hand, there were some things that could have been better. So, for what it’s worth, I want to offer the following comments and suggestions.

Making the Pioneers Proud

Yon House

I found myself wandering through Walmart last Friday night in search of a blanket. That’s not because I’m suddenly concerned about the color choices in our bedroom, but because I was in Marianna and my sleeping bag decided to stay behind in Pensacola.

Learning to Love Duck

Ducks

I’ve written before about my tenuous relationship with duck. I’ve always enjoyed hunting them and never really minded cleaning them, but no matter how I cook them, they always ended up tasting like liver. PS – I don’t like liver. I tried dozens of different recipes over the years, but nothing could get me past that obnoxious taste.

A Buck in the Hand

Bill's Deer

I’ve never been a trophy whitetail hunter. The antlers I’ve collected over the years are mostly small or oddly shaped and I’ve never taken one to a taxidermist. In fact, the only one I actually mounted (33 years later) is the very first one I killed when I was 14.

Bringing Back the Slat Basket: The Saga Continues

Amazing craftsmanship.

I have this recurring dream that Richard and Seab Larkins are looking down on me from above and laughing hysterically while I try to to re-create one of the round, cypress and vine catfish traps that they built for decades on the Florida River. I’m still fascinated by the simplicity and elegance of their design, but duplicating it is a lot harder than you might think.

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