Last August, on one of my adventures down into South Jersey, I stumbled upon this little Musk Turtle that I surmised had apparently became the failed “dining-attempt” of a Cormorant or some other aquatic bird.
The little turtle is missing his right leg, so more than likely, a bird had this little fella in the air and dropped it. Hence ending up on his back, wedged between stump and rock, this became his final destination in life.
I was rather amazed at how intact this little creature was or as my friend Jason Beck put it, “Mummified” –
So I decided to take the little guy back home with me to Port Murray………as I had an idea.
Figured this would be a nice one to add to my list of “Winter Projects” – The little Musk Turtle.
As you can see, he had become sort of “bleached-out” from basking in the sun over time, so the first thing was to attempt to add color back to the shell. But I didn`t just want it to look like it was just painted black and lose all of it`s character. So the I actually gave it a coat of shellac, rather than add color first. Once dried, I carefully stripped the coating of shellac down to almost nothing. Normally you would stain something, then shellac it, but I knew this would give me a nice, sort of translucent effect that I wanted.
Next I took a urethane-oil based Expresso stain and submerged the entire turtle in it for two days. The idea of using an oil-based stain was because it would “hold” or set better as compared to a water-based one. After it`s two-day bath in stain, I sat the turtle on bamboo shoots to partially dry. The trick here was to not let the stain fully dry.
After three hours, I took the stripper again, and very gently worked away the oil stain, exposing the detail of the shell. After I got it to a point where I liked it, I then took an Expresso water-based stain and gently colored in the shell simply using my fingers while wearing rubber gloves.
My idea worked and I restored a very nice hue back to the little Musk Turtle! Then in my travels, I found a nice piece of driftwood while out and about fishing out on Spruce Run one afternoon.
So there I was…….. Playin` in the rain this past Saturday….. not a soul out & about on the water. Figured I`d have a go at some Toothy Critters to start the year off right. I got to the river at noon & decided to try to wait out the rain in my truck……for a friggin` hour & a half!
Finally I said the hell with it and tossed the Yak in the pond. I worked various drop-offs and weedbeds for about two hours……..nothing. Then I decided to mix it up and tied on a jerk-bait as at this point, I really didn`t care what jumped on.
“Whooooooooah! Helluva nice Bass!” I said aloud as I bare-handed the chunky, football-size green-back. As I admired the big Largemouth, I figured the bucket-mouth had to go somewhere between 3-4lbs….
A reeeeeeally nice fish indeed! Especially for it being January and the fact that this was my very 1st fish landed in the New Year! I was pumped up as I sat there in the torrential down pour admiring my big Bass. “Let`s take a few pics and put you back in the pond” I told the Largie. So with that, I brought out my net and carefully laid the beast into the cold water, while I set up the Go PRO for some pictures. I figured I`d let the monsoon blow over a bit, and snap a few pictures.
Then that `ol magic kicked in……..BAM!
After about ten minutes, the rain quieted down…….. As I pull the net into the Yak…….. it was empty!!! My friggin` big greenback, Bucket-mouth had escaped! Through a hole in my net! “Son of a bitch!” I barked out loud. Boy was I pissed…… and laughing at the same time.
I quickly dismantled a metal stringer that I had on board, and mended my net for the rest of my outing.
Lo and behold, I did manage to nail a decent pickerel shortly thereafter. And my makeshift mended net worked just fine. By the way, if you look closely, you can see the “Snot” runnin` off of him too…. hence the name “Snot-Rocket” –
So I really don`t know what the moral of this story is…..…. Other than…..
Howdy! If you get a chance, when you`re at a Quick Chek, Krauszer`s or maybe 7-Eleven store, pick up a copy of this month`s June edition of The Fisherman magazine. I believe you will find the story by yours truly, quite compelling and rather challenging on page 28.
I`d like to give a big thank you to Jim Hutchinson NJ/DE Managing Editor for considering and publishing my Pike story. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jim in person in April at the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife Outdoor Writer`s Workshop. Just a heckuva nice guy.
Here are a few pictures of the flies, Pike and of course, Piper our Pomeranian. If you do not live in Jersey and can`t pick up the magazine, you can go on-line to read it digitally at the link below;
After talking about getting a new kayak for Sharon and honing in on(and eliminating) a few different ones at some local stores, I decided to take a run to Dick`s where I bought my `Yak last year. I really like buying at Dick`s as the sales assistants in the outdoor department are always very helpful and give good solid advice.
Sharon and I, discussed a “sit-on-top” vs. a “sit-in” type of kayak and she opted for the “sit-in” as we both felt it would offer her a little more stability(and she wouldn`t get as wet! Very important factor! ha! ha!)
We loaded up the `Yaks and headed over to Spruce Run on Sunday to give it a go in her new kayak.
I helped her get all set, she jumped in and away she went!
After paddlin` out and about on Spruce Run for a few hours, Sharon suggested that we head home, grab a bite and make our way over to Merrill Creek.
(However, she also had another “motive” other than just feedin` Ken……..to bring a “guest” with her to Merrill Creek! ha! ha!)
Turn up your speakers and enjoy this fun little Video of the day`s adventure in the `Yaks;
We really had a wonderful day in the kayaks on Sunday and I`m looking to many more fun future Adventures with my new kayakin` side-kick and the most awesome, sweetest girlfriend a guy could ever have!
It was a nice balmy night on November 5th and at about 12:30am our Pomeranian “Buttercup” woke me to go out. So I picked her up & I swaggered outside on the porch, half asleep. As I put my Crocs on she started growlin` in my arms……. I said, “Buttercup!…..Shhhhhh……..There`s nothin` out here”…………
Boy was I ever wrong.
I put her down with her leash on & she bolted for the driveway……….. I ran over & walked her out in the yard, still going, “Shhhhhhh……knock it off Buttercup!” as she growled. I should know better………
dogs have a much better sense than us especially in the night.
Then I heard a loud smash right across the street & as I hustled her back to the house, I said, “Guess we`re not alone Buttercup!”………… I put her back inside & grabbed a flashlight & pussy-footed back down the driveway to see what was makin` all that racket across the street. Low & behold as I shined the light towards the neighbors driveway, there where not one, not two, but three Black Bears rummaging through the garbage! They could`ve cared less about me as they “dined” away! After watching them for about ten minutes, I went back inside.
Now in the morning, I took all three of our pups out at 9am……….. again as I walked them towards the driveway, that little Buttercup went crazy barking again!
They were back!
Yep…… All three Black Bears where at it again! I hustled the pups back in the house & grabbed my camera!
Now I could obviously see them really well…….. Looked like a Momma & her two youngsters.
The two younger bears probably went about 150 pounds and “Momma” was quite a different story!
My guess was she weighed in between 600-700pounds! A Monster NJ Black Bear indeed!
I worked my way down the edge of my property & wasn`t even 25 yards away from this big bruin!
(Yes….I know……. Definitely wasn`t a very wise thing to do on my part! Please do not try such a foolish stunt like I did!)
Here is that enormous NJ Black Bear caught on video that morning……….. Hope you all enjoy it.