Lair of the plastic worm

I put the fly rod away this spring, temporarily, so I could hone my conventional tackle skills. There's a small lake near the house full of largemouth bass, and I went to work with a drop shot rig, sorting out a technique that isn't as different from fly fishing as it might seem.

My preferred plastic baits are cucurbit-colored Yamasenkos — pumpkin, watermelon and green pumpkin.

Jeremiah Johnson, not the “Between Two Ferns” guy

Many youngsters mistake this grinning screen shot of Robert Redford for Zach Galifianakis. The scene comes from the 1972 movie "Jeremiah Johnson," in which Redford plays the part of a mountain man in a story loosely based on the life of Liver-Eating Johnson.

I'm getting pretty stir crazy so I decided to review a "hunting" movie. This is sort of a "hunting" movie. There's certainly hunting in it. It's also sort of a good movie. Enjoyable, but not perfect.

Old School Montana

I curled up with a good book the other day: “Dale Burk’s Montana.”

Here’s my look back at the book. It was published in 2002, but it's filled with content that dates back at least two decades earlier.

Burk’s Montana is the Montana I never knew, first hand at least. The Montana Burk describes, writing in the late ’70s, was gone before I arrived in 1992. But I learned of that Montana in other ways, from friends and later in-laws when I married into a Montana family with roots dating to the early 1900s. And I learned about that Montana from Burk himself. I went on to lay my own, tentative, Montana roots. My twin daughters were born in Missoula, one graduated from the University of Montana, though neither live in the Treasure State today.

Work keeps pulling me away, but whenever I’m not in the nation’s greatest state, I’m plotting my way back, either for the summer, or hopefully some day, permanently. 

“Dale Burk’s Montana” is available at

A look back at the beginning of modern wildlife conservation: Leopold’s “Thinking Like a Mountain”

My latest "Out of Bounds" column in a continuing series on outdoorsy things to do while self isolating is a reflection on Aldo Leopold’s essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain,” from the classic “Sand County Almanac.” The image is one of my favorite pieces of wall art, a poster commemorating the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction in the White Mountains of Arizona in 1998. The iconic photo was taken by the great AZ Game and Fish photog, George Andrejko. It was a Mexican gray wolf Leopold shot, then watching “fierce green fire dying in her eyes,” that inspired his essay and the conservation movement he led and inspired.