August 2008
Featured Articles

A Few Tips to Enhance Your Outdoor Pleasure

Click to enlarge  
Let the kids help with the fish cleaning after fish are caught. Above, Emma Howle shows off her catch.   

By John Howle

    August slips in silent as a Sunday benediction and moves slow as molasses. Finding a shady spot on a creek or riverbank offering an occasional breeze lifts the spirits as much as a fish tugging on the line. A cane pole, length of fishing line and hook with a worm are all that is needed to fill a frying pan and soothe the soul. A cool, fragrant place like this is solid therapy for overcoming the stifling work that has to be completed outdoors and around the farm this time of year.      

        An L-shaped sapling limb makes an ideal fish stringer.

Make a backwoods
fish stringer

If you start catching fish and realize you’ve forgotten your stringer, one can be made from a green, sapling limb. Cut a slender, green limb with one forked branch. Cut the branch off in front of the fork leaving the end of the branch long. Cut the other side of the forked limb so it is three or four inches long. The stringer will look like a sharp, angled "L." The  stick will slide through the fish gill and can be pushed into the creek or pond bank securing the fish and keeping them fresh until time to go. The fork in the branch prevents the fish from sliding off the stick.         

Gloves in the summer?

Welding gloves and channel lock pliers are handy on campouts.

Two items probably found in your truck toolbox work well on camping trips. A pair of welding or other thick, leather gloves is handy when cooking over open flames with hot pots, pans and kettles. In addition, channel lock pliers make great pot holders and allow safer moving of the cooking grill top because of the angled handles.

Don’t capsize the canoe

Landing a canoe against the shore in fast-moving currents is easier when approaching tail first. Decide on the downstream spot you intend to land on well in advance. Turn the back or stern of the canoe in the direction of the bank you want to reach. Back paddle until the stern of the canoe touches the shore. Next, allow the current to push the front or bow of the canoe parallel to the shore. Stabilize the craft with a paddle while one person at a time gets out onto the bank. Attempting to land nose first can capsize the vessel in swift waters when the side of the canoe swings around in the strong current.

  Set up your shooting range 
Place your 100-yard shooting range so the sun won’t be in your eyes.

August is a great time to pick and set up a site for a shooting range. Select a site far enough away from base camp so the noise won’t disturb anyone. Avoid an east-west orientation to keep the sun out of the shooters’ eyes during morning or evening. Fairly level ground with a steep hill for an impact area will prevent stray bullets. If no backdrop is available, a bulldozer can push up dirt for a backstop. A range of 100 yards is sufficient.

Beware of the "blowout"

Today’s tires are more reliable than they were in the past. However, "blowouts" still occur. To make matters worse, if you are hauling a heavy load like an ATV or cattle, the problem can be magnified.

"Blowouts" occur when there is not enough air pressure in the tire to maintain the natural flex of the rubber bonded to the fabric and steel cord reinforcement. The cause can be a large gash or tiny puncture in the tire. The extra load weight combined with the loss of air and heated rubber can result in the characteristic boom, whoosh and flap, flap, flap of the tire. The first response to a "blowout" is to hit the brakes and head for the shoulder. This is a mistake.

A 12-volt mechanic light can be hooked to a small battery.

   Research shows that upon having a "blowout" the driver should maintain the accelerator level, counter balance the pulling of the blown tire by gently adjusting with the steering wheel to keep the vehicle in its lane and once the vehicle is stabilized, you can gently slow down and carefully pull off the side of the road. Being prepared for a "blowout" is best. Keeping both hands on the steering wheel instead of eating, drinking coffee or talking on the cell phone will prevent a wreck in the event of a blown tire.

Let your light shine

A 12-volt mechanic’s light, available at most auto parts stores, makes a versatile tool when going afield. Clamped onto a 12-volt battery, the 40-watt bulb gives plenty of light for night fishing, illumination around the campsite or changing a boat trailer tire on a dark night. A small, lawn tractor battery (12-volt) can be packed and requires little space but sheds much light.

Wrap your duct tape around a pencil to avoid bulk.

From duct tape to duckling tape
    Duct tape has been used for temporary fixes on everything from wrapping a leaking radiator hose, covering a hole in the tent or repairing a leaking canoe hull midway down the river. The tape can be a bulky thing to pack since the center core is so large. To remedy this, wrap long sections of duct tape around a pencil for your next emergency. The tape will unroll off the pencil easily, it packs small and you’ll have a pencil handy to jot notes or write a will if things get really bad.

Clean and store what you catch

To prevent freezer burn on stored fish, fill the freezer bag with the fish and submerge the open bag into a sink filled with water. Keep the bag open until all air bubbles escape, and zip the bag before removing from the sink water. The pressure of the water around the outside of the bag pushes out excess air.

Be sure to include the youngsters on fishing trips whenever possible. Each of you will be sure to learn the art of patience. In addition, they just have a good time. Be sure to have them help clean the fish so they will have a greater appreciation for their supper.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.

Editor’s Note: All sketches shown in this article are by Jesse Limbaugh, produced from photos by John Howle.