*TC The boss tells me that I'm supposed to use this week' outdoors column to introduce myself. The problem is that I don't really know how to go about it.
About a dozen years ago, I began a weekly hunting and fishing column in Carroll County, and in the early '80s I did a couple of pages a week for an all-sports paper called SportsFirst by The News American.
My first columns just jumped into the middle of the season in progress.
Besides, with the rockfish season kicking into gear last week while flounder, bluefish, spot, and Spanish mackerel are still nothing short of great, I hate the idea of boring you with personal facts.
Heck, this is one of the best times of the entire year for freshwater fishing, too.
If you can't catch a mess of bass or trout in October, you just haven't been out on the local pond or river.
And, if there is a more dastardly time of the year than October to sit in an office, stand on an assembly line or wait behind a counter, I don't what it could be, although strong arguments can be made for November, December and April through September.
Why, in addition to the best fishing of the year, we've got dove season in full swing, great squirrel-hunting prospects, bow hunting for deer, a nifty little duck hunt on the 16th and 17th, grouse and woodcock and perhaps the nicest weather of the year.
Why, I don't have time for introductions. We've got to make and hang bird feeders, get the goose pits into the ground, get that new pup into the field, get the deer rifle sighted in and last year's rust knocked off the shotgun.
It would be nice, too, if maybe we could make another trip or two out of Ocean City for some tuna, togs or sea bass.
Obviously, the boss doesn't hunt or fish, or he'd know what October's like.
It's a piece of cake compared with next month -- more rockfishing, even better bassing, quail, pheasant, rabbit, deer, geese, etc.
But, you know what bosses are like, so here goes. . . .
I have spent most of my 46 years hunting and fishing in Maryland and the surrounding area and loving every minute of it.
I love spending the day on the water, but my favorite boat is someone else's, though from time to time the faint outline of one appears on my future's horizon.
I like "being there," as a favorite outdoor writer once wrote, but I also like to feel a tug at the end of my fishing line when I go fishing and the weight of a bird or so in my game pocket when I go out with the shotgun.
I no longer bow-hunt, simply because I ran out of time to do it properly, but I still follow the sport and greatly admire those who do it well.
Trap and skeet are high on my list of favorite off-season activities, as is sporting clays. Bird hunting of any kind is a passion of mine, though I failed miserably at dog training.
And, I may as well fess up and tell you that I have had groundhog hunting disease for something like 38 of my 46 years, and no cure is in sight.
I have lots of rods, reels and other fishing gear and fully intend on buying lots more. My knees quiver at the sight of racy profiled side-by-side and over-under shotguns, most any kind of bolt-action rifle and old Winchester Model 12-pump action shotguns. Except for .22s, I load my own rifle ammo and about half of the shotgun fodder.
Along about mid-February, boredom sets in real bad, and you may find me putting some lures together.
As for the weekly meat of this column, we're going for light on seriousness and heavy on the fun stuff.