The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


September 22, 2013

Mallards on the pond: a beautiful sight

The telltale signs of fall arrived this week with the appearance of 14 Mallard ducks in the pond I can see from my office window. They seem perfectly content with their short-term home feeding in the shallows and resting sleepily during the day under the shade of the silver maple. I cherish their arrival every fall.

An after work stroll through the woods this week also provided a strong indicator of fall. A glance overhead at the canopy of leaves showed the trees responding to the gentler rays of sun with hints of yellow and pale greens as their leaves begin to change. This time of year, squirrels are busy cutting beech and hickory nuts, scattering and hoarding their stash in preparation for winter’s cold grip on the natural world. In between their chores, they can be seen flashing their tails and heard barking at each other throughout the treetop canopy.

Backyard apple trees are full and their limbs bowed from the hanging fruit that is enticing deer with the sweet smell of ripening fruit. Soon, produce counters will be filled with seasonal apple varieties like Stayman, Rome and Honeycrisp that are perfect for snacking or making homemade pies. Cellar shelves are once again useful to store cans of fresh-picked vegetables from the garden patch. Cool evenings allow for the thoughts of soups being prepared for dinner giving the back porch grill a rest from its summertime tour of duty.

Like in nature, we too begin the process of change that occurs when summer turns to fall. At home, air-conditioners get a much needed rest with windows being opened to allow the fresh air to fill the rooms with the feel of fall. There will certainly be a day or two left of summer-like weather to catch a bonus day of fishing or two, but for most sportsmen, the transition into fall means the excitement of time afield and the anticipation of the chase of game that can only be enjoyed in months ending with the letter “r”.  

With archery season opening here in West Virginia on Sept. 28, bowhunters will be busy this week with last-minute scouting chores of checking trial cameras and deciding where the perfect spot is to hang their stands for the opener. Plenty of arrows will be flung at backyard targets to ready themselves and their equipment for the moment when Mr. Big walks slowly toward them and the shot is presented. The anticipation and planning of that moment is enough to keep even the most seasoned hunter awake tossing and turning the night before the hunt.

For those of us who choose to hunt ducks, there is still time to find the perfect location for a new blind to be built and plenty of time to tune an old call. Nothing says fall like driving those who live in your house batty trying out a new duck call in the still of the evenings.  The three-way split season for ducks starts with the first segment opening on Oct. 1.   

This week I plan on driving to work with my windows down, dragging out a flannel shirt from deep within my closet and spending as much time as possible outside in the cooler air. Feel free to join me and don’t worry about dinner; I will have the vegetable soup on the stove simmering and waiting on us to return from afield.

Text Only
  • 071714 Coda and Callie.jpg Coda and Callie’s excellent adventure

    How is it something that you profess to love so much can cause you so much anxiety and grief? No, I’m not talking about dealing with your children (or your spouse). This is worse. This is about dogs. More specifically, hunting dogs. 

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071314 Chris Ellis.jpg DNR’s ‘outdoor summer school’

    Attention all West Virginia hunters and trappers. It is once again time for outdoor summer school and the course materials are hot off the presses.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Meet the Eurasian collared-dove

    Back in 1974 a local pigeon fancier imported a flock of about 50 Eurasian collared-doves to the Bahamas. Ultimately he released the birds, and they took to living in the West Indies. By the late 1970s some had reached south Florida, and by the late 1980s, some had been seen in Georgia and Arkansas.

    July 13, 2014

  • July in W.Va.: Recreational opportunities abound

    It’s July in the West Virginia mountains, which brings vibrant orange tiger lilies, blooming rhododendron, and of course fireworks. Usually the heat and humidity is in full force, but so far the weather has been nice.

    July 13, 2014

  • Shotgun 101: Shoot more and live better

    “God is not on the side of big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best.”
    — Voltaire

    July 9, 2014

  • Fireflies are living lights

    At recent Fourth of July fireworks displays, spectators squealed with delight at the annual spectacle that illuminated the night sky. And I’m sure more than a few compared the spectacular pyrotechnics to the subtler displays of fireflies that punctuate backyards, parks, and campgrounds all summer long. We call these displays “nature’s fireworks.”

    July 5, 2014

  • Get on up, or you’ll get left behind

    “Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.” —
    William Shakespeare

    July 3, 2014

  • Catfish, it's whats for dinner

    I think for far too long the catfish has had an image problem. They seemed to be the Rodney Dangerfield of the fish world. You know, they got no respect. Fortunately though (maybe unfortunately if you are a catfish), that seems to be in the past. They are a fish whose time has come.

    June 28, 2014

  • It’s more than a boat, it’s an adventure

    Growing up on Elk River, I couldn’t help being connected to the river and its waters. It is where I caught my first fish, learned to swim, paddle a canoe, to read water and throw a buzz bait, killed my first duck, gigged frogs and spent many a Saturday night fishing for catfish. We lived in a river bank community, and the Elk provided us with everything from water for our homes to all the recreation a young boy would need to fill his youthful requirements for adventure.

    June 28, 2014

  • Old friends at the beach

    If your summer vacation plans include a trip to an east coast beach, I can’t predict everything you might see. But one bird that I guarantee you’ll encounter many times is the laughing gull.

    June 28, 2014

Web Special Sections
  • Special Web Sections

    Click HERE for stories about natural gas and Marcellus shale gas extraction.

    Click HERE for stories about the Upper Big Branch mine disaster.

    Click HERE for stories about the passing of U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

    Click HERE for stories from The Greenbrier Classic PGA TOUR event.

    August 6, 2010

Helium debate
AP Video
Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong