The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 27, 2014

Taking you on the trail not taken

By Larry Case
For The Register-Herald

— Once I had a good friend that would relate many of the things that we deal with in life to the realm of the outdoor world. Hunting, fishing, trapping, and boating all served as a backdrop for his often earthy observations. As I stumble into my advanced years I catch myself doing the same thing.

Sometimes he would compare a buddy’s marital woes to various turkey hunting scenarios (“He got flushed off the roost and he ain’t comin’ back”). If a task wasparticularly difficult, he would say it was “Like putting a wool sweater on a bobcat”. You get the idea.

Although I am not that well read on Robert Frost poems, I wanted to use the quote from his famous “The Road Not Taken” to illustrate the intended theme of this column.

When the editor of this newspaper extended to me the very generous offer to write a column dealing with the outdoor world, I took it — but with some reservations. I wanted to do this, but like Frost, I wanted the road less taken.

Like many of you I’m a hunter, fisherman, trapper and former river guide. I don’t rightly know how many shotguns I have at present, but it’s not enough. I’ve owned beagles, blueticks, cur dogs and pointers. I had one really good dog in my life and have spent more than I will admit looking for another one.

Just to put a finer point on the hunting part, I will confess to being somewhat obsessed with turkey hunting, spring and fall. One more thing, I have worked for the Division of Natural Resources for 35 years. I say all this only by way of introduction; I really don’t consider myself an expert on anything.

On this journey I hope that you will join me. We may float the river one day for smallmouths and the next head to some farm land with the 22.250 and see if there are any groundhogs left.

Who knows, I may regale you with a dissertation about the grouse population. The point is I want this to be a column you enjoy, but unlike any other. Taking the trail less traveled, will it make all the difference? I honestly don’t know, but it is the one that I must follow.

Now we embark upon this trail, you and me. I hope that you will enjoy it but might not always find it easy going.

You may encounter some obstacles along the way. “The trail not taken,” I believe, will take us manyplaces. You might not agree with all that you read here, but you have my solemn promise that it will be heartfelt and factual.

OK, time to go, your boots cinched up tight? Gotenough shells? Candy bar and water bottle in your vest? Follow me.

  

— Larry Case has been a devoted outdoorsman for most of his life, he will admit to a turkey hunting addiction (spring and fall), but refuses any treatment. He lives in Fayette County with his wife Helen, who has endured eons of early mornings and long absences to hunt. They have two children Sarah and Jesse, who still hope Dad will stop embarrassing them wearing camo year round, or making inappropriate remarks about field dressing or skinning something.

Any views or opinions expressed in this column are solely that of Mr. Case and not that of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.