Townsend, Tennessee
December 10, 2009

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is sunny and the wind quit blowing.  Paula heard or read somewhere yesterday that Great Smoky Mountians National Park recorded winds up to 100 miles per hour yesterday.  I’ll tell ya, I wouldn’t doubt it.  Our power went out yesterday.  Try running this place without power and computers.  We were pretty much shut down. And we were busy too, filling online and called in mail orders.

Little River is clear today but the current is strong and there is plenty of water.  I wouldn’t wade today hardly anywhere.  The flow is at 1,210 cubic feet per second right now, down from 4,620 cfs yesterday.  But there is still a lot of flow. 

If you go fishing today stay near shore, chunk some big ugly nymphs or streamers and you might latch on to a big brown trout.  They should still be feeding.  The water temperature is 44 degrees in town and it’s colder in the Park. My fly pick today would be a Girdle Bug.

We may get some snow in the higher elevations this weekend.  I’ll be in the high elevations wild boar and bear hunting.  I really don’t care about shooting a bear.  I don’t plan to shoot one of those unless it is charging at me.  But, I really want to get a wild boar.  They are destructive exotic Russian transplants inhabiting the Southern Appalachians and they taste good.  I started getting my gear together last night.

We use marine radios to communicate with each other.  Evidently marine radios work better in the mountains than two-way radios.  I noticed the hound handlers have marine radio antennae on their trucks and dash mounted marine radios made for boats.  When we are hunting we hear constant conversations between the dog handlers.  They use receivers to track their hounds so they know where they are most of the time.  And, they let other dog handlers know where their animals are.  Each dog collar has a unique tracking number that can be read by the complicated and expensive tracking devices.

If a handler wants to know where his dog is and can’t pick up a signal he simply gets on the radio and asks the other guys where his hound is.  There are several handlers and they all work together to keep track of the hounds.

We are called “standers”.  On this hunt I am a stander.  A stander stands or sits at a known place where boar or bear run out of the hollow trying to get away from the hounds.  Our job is to shoot the boar or bear.  When that happens the handlers show up and help get the harvested boar or bear out of the woods.  Though they don’t actually shoot, the success of the hunt is shared between the stander and the handlers.  We are all part of the team.  It’s been done this way in these mountains for a long, long time.  Of most importance to a handler is having his hound be the one that is on the track of the harvested game. 

I’ve learned there are two or more types of hounds.  On a hunt like this you will see a lot of trucks with dog boxes in the bed.  There are holes that the hounds stick their heads out of while the handler drives around the forest roads.  Sometimes there is a hound in a box on top of the truck cab.  That is a special hound, one with a keen sense of smell.  I forget what they call that hound but his job is to detect a scent from his position.  When that happens the handler stops and watches his prized hound.  If that dog is really onto something they release him and watch.  If he takes off on a trail or scent, more hounds are released.  Other handlers are aware of what is going on.  If that pack is near them, they release a few hounds.  This is an amazing sport that carries on a tradition most people have no idea about or understand.  The handlers are special people with deep rooted tradition passed down to them from several generations.  Most of these guys are true mountain men.  The younger ones actually run through the dense forest trying to keep up with the hounds.  The older guys participate in their sport from the comfort of their pickup truck. 

Being a stander is a pretty cushy job.  We are all dressed in blaze orange clothing so we don’t get shot.  Our truck is nearby in case we want to grab a bite to eat.  You could even take a chair with you.  Most of our standing is on old forest service roads.  We just sit or stand there all day wondering what is going to come running out of the woods in our direction.  We listen to the hounds and the radio.  There is always some excitement going on.

Our job is to shoot and “don’t miss”.  If you miss the first shot, don’t miss the second one.  These animals can weigh several hundred pounds and some of them are capable of killing you.  The average shot is between 50 and 150 feet.  In the dense forest, by the time you see a boar or bear it’s going to be close, real close. Missing would also be an embarrassment and you would also be letting your team down. Also, you don’t want to shoot a hound.  That would be awful. 

So “standers” have a lot of pressure on them.  I know, I’ve been there.  I absolutely can’t wait until tomorrow. Below is a photo from our October hunt. This wild boar was estimated to be 250 pounds. I took the photo so I'm not in it.

Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.

Byron Begley
December 10, 2009


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