Saskatchewan pike

After 3 decades as an outdoors writer and a lifetime of outdoor experiences, Luke has compiled some exciting memories. Here is the biggest pike of Luke’s career, a 51 incher he landed in Saskatchewan 3 years ago. Note the pike is not actually hooked as it sunk its teeth into the walleye Luke had hooked and never let go!

Those of us in the media often refer to photographs as ‘images’.  This past week, I was looking through some ‘images’ I have in the form of color slides, film negatives, prints and digital images.

As I was tackling the daunting task of organizing these pictorial records of my outdoor adventures, I often paused and reflected upon the day I snapped the shutter and captured that particular image.   

Some of the subjects in the photos have long since gone on to chase deer or catch fish in the great hereafter. Others are still very much enjoying the outdoor lifestyle.

These photos brought the past back in vivid detail and I thought I might share with you some of the highlights of my little visit back to yesteryear.

One of the photos from 30 years ago took me back to a trip to Japan where I served as an outdoors journalist on a bass fishing match between Rex Bridges and Saramochi, then one of the top bass fishermen in Japan.

I remember eating dinner at a restaurant in a little village owned by the local mayor. We dined on genuine Japanese cuisine while setting on the floor in true Japanese style. Our servers were the mayor’s daughters who were dressed in their finest snow white kimonos.

The traditional method of dining back then by the Japanese took a couple of hours and servings were small. I remember stating that by the time we finished eating, it was time to eat again!   

DEER ON THE HIGH AND LONESOME

Years ago, I was invited by Clayton Williams (who ran for governor in Texas) to hunt mule deer on one of his sprawling ranches in the Trans Pecos region of Texas. I was hunting with a 50 caliber muzzleloader and the guides there (who were also the working cowboys) were a bit dubious of my old style rifle.

I allowed all of them to shoot my smoke pole and after shooting some good groups, they all concurred that the old style rifle would indeed be adequate for mule deer.

I will never forget my guide, Walt, driving up the side of a mountain and glassing a herd of 20 or so mule deer including a giant 10 point buck.

I rested the rifle on a large rock, took careful aim at the buck about 60 yards out and fired. The bullet hit the ground about half way to the buck. I never even glanced back toward Walt. I am sure he was thinking, “I just KNEW using that muzzleloader was a bad idea.”

While teaching the cowboys (guides) how to shoot the smokepole, I had looked up while pouring the powder in and the wind had carried part of my powder charge away!

After the shot, the deer hopped around as mule deer do and stopped about 80 yards out.

I ducked behind the big rock, reloaded and proceeded to drop the big buck with the next shot. I never tried to explain to the cowboys why that first shot hit the ground half way to the deer!

LION UP CLOSE

Five years ago, I was guiding an archery elk hunter up in northern Colorado. I had his positioned on a slight rise above an elk wallow that was heavily used.

I was bugling about 80 yards away, out of sight of the hunter. A black bear walked by, heading toward the wallow. About ten minutes later, my hunter came trotting up and looked me eye to eye and stated, in these words, “Luke, I just looked death in the face”.  

“See the bear,” I quizzed. “NO! a full grown male mountain lion just stalked within 6 feet of me (he was hunting from the ground).”

We went back to where he was sitting and sure enough, the cat tracks were in the soft ground.

That afternoon, I decided to hunt that same wallow again, it was a hotspot for elk and I felt confident the cat was in the next county.

I did position my hunter on the opposite side of the little water hole for this hunt.

About 30 minutes before dark, I noticed movement in the shadows near where the hunter had been that morning. The cat was back! I could clearly see it from my position but my hunter could not!

I was afraid the cat would skirt the pond and walk up on him. I waved my jacket and the cat would not leave. He was standing on the dam of the little pond, glaring directly at me.

Then I stood up and began shouting in an attempt to scare him off. He would not scare. He continued glaring at me. My hunter looked up at me, wide eyed, he could not see the big cat because of the vegetation he was hunting from.

I motioned for him to begin backing out of there slowly. I made a wide circle and joined him.

At the time, it was illegal to have a handgun for protection while archery hunting in Colorado and its difficult to describe the feeling of helplessness, possibly a mouse being eyed by a big tom cat might come close.

I glanced back as we walked out of there and the cat was still setting on the dam on his haunches, just like a giant house cat. He had obviously staked that water hole out for himself and I truly believe he was stalking my hunter that morning.

This scenario could have turned out much differently and to this day I get goose bumps telling the story.   

LAKE FORK CATFISH UPDATE

Fishing for channel catfish at Lake Fork is red hot right now. Guide Stubby Stubblefield reports easy limits of fish in the 2 to 5 pound range.

All fish are coming from within a foot of bottom in water around 22 feet deep over holes baited with soured grain.

For more information on catfishing at Fork, contact Stubby at 817-366-5492

Contact Luke Clayton via his website www.catfishradio.org

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