fter nearly 30 years, I have decided to retire from writing this column due to poor health.
This is not a decision I have made lightly. In fact, being able to write this column for you all of these years has been one of my life's proudest achievements. Five years ago, as many of you will recall, I suffered a massive stroke that robbed me of the use of my left arm, hand, and leg. At the time I thought I could overcome these injuries and within five years or less, be able to resume a fairly "normal life. Well, despite a lot of very hard work and the efforts of some really great medical professionals, my recovery has progressed a lot slower than I had hoped. The result is that I am unable to get out and participate in the activities necessary for keeping this column fresh and interesting. Instead, I have had to rehash memories instead of telling you the best places to hunt and fish at this time.
The main reason I have written this outdoors column was to share my experiences with you, the reader. And I completely refuse to do my hunting, fishing, and shooting seated behind a keyboard of some sort. That would be unfair to both of us.
Make no mistake, I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this column. It has allowed me to experience so many great times that the average person never undertakes, and if I have tried to pass on one single thought throughout these years it is this, try different activities and locations.
If not for the information passed along to my readers I would never have jumped into waterfowl hunting, on Maryland's Eastern Shore, nor fished a fly-in lake in Canada. I also doubt that I would have tried my hand at shooting blackpowder guns. I would not have known of the great tidal Potomac bass fishing available so close to home. I got to fish the Chesapeake Bay from one end to the other and my float trips down the Pennsylvania portions of the Susquehanna River are among my sweetest memories.
Also, I have had the pleasure of introducing you to some of the country's top professional guides. I used guides whenever it was possible because my time was limited and I wanted to provide you with the best information available. After all, you didn't want to read about places and methods that did not produce!
I've had so many great mentors along the way — famed outdoor writers Bill Burton, Keith Walters, Bill Perry, Gene Mueller, Mike Sawyers, Kermit Henning, and Lefty Kreh, to name just a few. And then there was the truly great, late Gene Hill, who I consider the best of the best. When you read Gene Hill, you know him because he was exactly the way he wrote – funny, interesting, and the complete outdoorsman. I'm sorry I only got to spend a short amount of time with him. Gene was the kind of man you wanted to be like. Another that I miss very much is the late Bill Perry, who lived and worked on the Eastern Shore. Think of him when you visit the Easton Waterfowl Festival this November — that was HIS idea.
And I cannot say enough great things about the way Bob Blubaugh and the rest of the Carroll County Times staff has stood by me throughout the years and especially through these five difficult years.About a year ago Bob asked me, "You are feeling better, aren't you?" When I replied that "yes, I had been feeling better", he said, "I thought so, because you aren't making as many mistakes!"
Oh, I still make mistakes and as most stroke survivors do, lack good judgment from time to time, but Bob has always "been there." I deeply appreciate that.
Well, I used to keep a daily diary so that I would be in the habit of writing every day. I think I'll do that again. I also dearly want to try to get back on a golf course. I'm thinking I'll be spending a lot of time pounding balls at a driving range and eventually progressing to playing nine holes from the most forward tees on a flat course such as Quail Valley or Oakmont Green.
And, you will be able to find me at the Dug Hill Rod &Gun Club's shooting ranges enjoying my rifles and handguns. Also, someday I will find a way to fish with only my right hand! Maybe, too, I'll even show up on these pages on the rare occasion.
Get outside and enjoy nature's bounties, I won't be far behind you!