Chris Hunt's blog

Imprinted

The ocean calls to me. Now and then, it needs an answer.
Photo: Captain Tom / cc2.0

“In your belly you hold the treasures few have ever seen.”
— Jimmy Buffett, ‘A Pirate Looks at 40’

When your foot presses into firm, wet sand, it leaves a brief, but detailed imprint on the earth. And though, with the next wave that washes over the beach, that footprint is gone, there’s no shame in knowing you left your mark on this place, at this moment in time. And a fleeting moment it is.

Angry birds

Karma on the flats of Long Island
Photo: Chris Hunt

It happened in a split second, and I'm sure it was karma jumping in to kick my ass.

For four straight days while wading the flats off of Deadman's Cay, we'd been hounded by nesting black-headed gulls — it's understandable that the screaming, squawking, black-headed birds would be threatened by us as we walked quietly among their nesting islands in search of bonefish, and I think it's understandable that, after a time, the birds began to drive us nuts.

On the move

During what might be the best trout fishing of the year, I'm moving
Photo: Mike cc/2.0

Years ago, when my wife and I were young, we moved just about every year. As a young journalist, in order to move up, you had to move on. Also, as a young journalist, I apparently took a vow of poverty — I don’t remember the exact time I made that papist promise, but it was probably some time right out of school when I agreed to edit a little weekly newspaper in Crested Butte, Colo., for wages I likely could have matched had I taken the unenviable job of “fry guy” at the only McDonald’s in Gunnison County.

Old Sly

This particular character topped Dr. Johnson's shit list for as long as I knew him
Photo: Eric Killby / cc2.0

Old Sly was a son of a bitch. That’s what Dan’s father said, anyway. Dr. Johnson had a way with words around us kids — he was the only grownup in our uptight little East Texas neighborhood who’d dare curse in our presence. He wasn’t a doctor. He was a dentist, and after a glass of Glenlivet, he’d proffer up nuggets of wisdom that, as the son of an oil-field traffic manager and a “damn Yankee,” I couldn’t get enough of.

The end of dispersed camping?

An increasing number of campers are trashing dispersed camping sites around the country
Dispersed camping in the Cocoino National Forest (photo: USFS).

I love to camp. I love to camp almost as much as I love to fish. Being outside, far from city lights and city traffic, is soul-building. Dropping the jacks on my little camper overlooking a stretch of fishy water and spending a week away from computer screens, cell phone signals and the damn lawn mower is how I recharge.

Sandblasted

When you've traveled to fish, you endure
Patterns in the sand on South Padre Island in Texas (photo: John W. Schulze / cc2.0)

As we strung up the rods beneath the shelter of the rental car's hatchback, I could feel the reluctance on Todd's part. It was palpable.

We left a perfectly good hotel room stocked with rum and beer and the balcony view of the pool for this? They even had a never-ending supply of bacon on the breakfast buffet.”

This, as it turned out, was wind. Well, wind might not be entirely accurate. Not exactly, anyway.

A great personality

The fishing is always better on another river
Casting to native westslope cutthroat trout on a river with great personality (photo: Chad Shmukler).

Several years back, my buddy Mark Taylor hosted a group of friends for a smallmouth trip out of Roanoke, Va. — we were all in town for the annual Outdoor Writers Association of America conference, and Mark worked hard to get a group of friends together to do some fishing before the conference began.

An empty nest

And just like that, he's gone
Photo: Chris Hunt

And just like that, he’s gone.

I remember when Cameron sprung himself onto the world on a brutally windy Idaho day in 2002 — he was sliced from his mom’s belly during a planned C-section delivery, and emerged with a surly attitude and full bladder. As the doctor held him up and showed him around, he peed on the scrubs of every surgical attendant at the operating table amid a round of laughter.

Memorial Day: Count on snow

The weather will eventually cooperate
Casting to risers on the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park (photo: Chad Shmukler).

If you’re like me, you’ve become attached at the hip to the weather app on your phone, particularly when it comes to your fishing.

It’s a love-hate thing, honestly. The 10-day extended forecast, whether I’d like to admit it or not, is usually spot on this time of year. Spring on the fringes of Yellowstone National Park could be aptly renamed “winter, part II.” There’s some suspense, of course, and, as the rivers in the park open to fishing the Saturday before Memorial Day, that day gets a lot of looks on the phone well ahead of the actual date.

Despite winter, we fish

Undeterred by the frozen toes, numb feet and the stinging wind, we make our way to the water
Photo: NPS

Cold fingers sting back to life, pressed firmly against the vent as warm air, fresh from the engine block, puffs on pink digits. The heat reawakens icy toes, and what was numb is now just painful.

I gobble a sandwich. Cameron is lost in his phone. We don't speak. Not because there’s nothing to say. Our faces are frozen.

It's the wind, really. It's not terribly frigid out there, on the other side of the glass. But with a steady gale blowing up from the south and armed with a cleaver's edge, it feels cold. Bone cold.

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