Expanding your outdoor horizons enhances enjoyment

Mark NaleA stream outing with my daughter a year ago led to the discovery of ripening black raspberries — lots of them!  The trout fishing was good, but three days later, we were back toting containers to fill with berries instead of carrying our fishing rods.  We harvested several quarts of delicious fruit with minimal effort.

On another early morning fishing trip, a below-freezing May night really turned the trout off and we had difficulty even getting a hit. However, we came across several streamside patches of white trillium and spent a half-hour photographing them. Other hunting and fishing trips have been “interrupted” by stopping to forage for morel mushrooms or pausing to admire a rare fern or wildflower.

I have hunted and/or fished with a few people who have a very narrow focus when they are outdoors. They think about the trout, deer, squirrels or bass that they are after and that is about it. I believe that they are missing something that could greatly add to their enjoyment of the time that is spent astream or afield.

The people with whom I really prefer to share time outdoors tend to have a broader focus and a more diverse complement of interests. This isn’t to say that we are not focused on our quarry when we are out there, but we are more likely to notice deer tracks in the mud along a trout stream, stop to photograph a butterfly or bend over to pick a sample of an unknown wildflower.

The deer crossing is jotted down in my fishing notebook as a potential archery hunting spot, the butterfly photo can be enjoyed over and over, and the wildflower will hopefully be identified by using a field guide after I return home.

It is truly a joy to be out with someone who has expertise in the natural world.

Che-bek – “Did you hear that?” my brother asked.  “Two clear notes.”

Che-bek – “Yes, “I replied.  “There it is again.”

“That’s an Acadian flycatcher,” he said. 

I was fishing Potter County’s Kettle Creek on June 2, with my brother Frank. The fishing was a bit slower than we would have liked, but the birds that we saw and heard helped to make the day enjoyable.

Frank is making an effort to learn to identify more birds from their calls. He has several bird call CDs and often listens to them on his early morning drives to his fishing destinations. An outing with him always includes a birding lesson or two, which I thoroughly appreciate.

Consider picking up a field guide to the birds, wildflowers, butterflies or whatever might catch your interest. Then start identifying. I think you will find that the added focus will enrich all future outdoor experiences.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Mark Nale

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