DOUGH BALLS CATCH MORE THAN CARP

August can be a hot, somewhat dull month for a youngster growing up in the country. Most crops are laid by, fishing is slow and soon school will be back in session. It is a time when adventure is scarce.

“Punky” Kelly, Walter “Chipmunk” Green and I were sitting in the shade, under a country road bridge, trying to catch bluegills from a pool of water that resembled lukewarm coffee, Punky, a freckled-faced, red headed, short, round boy, was reading aloud from a tattered outdoor magazine about the excitement of using dough balls and a rod and reel to catch large carp. 

“I saw some big carp over in Mr. Sharp’s gravel pits the last time I was fishing there with my dad,” Chipmunk told us through his toothy grin, the source of his nickname.

“That’s a long bicycle ride from here,” I responded. “But pulling in some of those monsters would sure beat sitting here drowning worms.”

Punky devised a plan. “The recipe for making dough balls is in the article, so let’s go to my mom’s kitchen and make some,” he said.

“She’s helping Dad work on the hay baler at the Perkins’ place, so we’ll have the kitchen to ourselves.” The kitchen was Punky’s favorite room in the house.

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WHERE HAVE ALL THE WOODSMEN GONE?

He is as rare and endangered as any critter in North America, perhaps more so. No, I’m not talking about a Black-footed ferret or the Florida panther. I am speaking of the “woodsman”.

I grew up in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, when outdoor magazines were a colorful mix of adventure stories with really useful “how-to” information thrown in to help the reader learn a collection of outdoor skills that was called “woodsmanship”.

Writers such as Charlie Elliott, Fred Bear, John Jobson, Ted Trueblood, Russell Annabel, and Townsend Whelen took us to the most remote corners of North America. These men could use a canoe like an Indian, navigate by the stars, and cook scrumptious meals in a reflector oven. They could sharpen an ax, track game across a bed of rock, butcher a deer, and make a comfortable shelter using only a tarp.

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