#54: Long Division

We’re back – and better than ever!

This week, we discuss the things that divide outdoorsmen, and we talk about ways to bring ourselves together.

Duck hunters vs. duck hunters, fishermen vs. fishermen, hunters vs. fishermen – one day, we’ll wake up and realize we should’ve paid more attention to the things that unite us!

A new season of MeateaterDarkwater calls save early wood duck season – Emily’s stoked about Season 3 of Serial . . . plus – ice cream!

Follow Cast and Blast Florida . . .
Instagram – Twitter – Facebook – Website

Want to experience a world class duck hunt or fishing charter?
E-mail Travis to book today . . .

Connect with the gang on social media:

Travis Thompson – @travisthompson – Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
Nathan Henderson – @nhenderson77 – Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
Emily Thompson – @lovedaloca – Instagram – @lovedalocafitness – Instagram

#53: Jumping Sharks

We live in amazing times – Youtube, Cable, Satellite – so many choices for outdoor programming.

But what if we could re-invent the genre?

This week, we put ourselves in the director’s chair(s) and pitch our best ideas for new outdoor entertainment.

Here’s the link to Travis’ column on the loss of our beloved French Brittany, Coleman.

Here’s the link to the Peterson’s Hunting article Nate discussed about Hunters and Non-Hunters co-existing . . .

Follow Cast and Blast Florida . . .
Instagram – Twitter – Facebook – Website

Want to experience a world class duck hunt or fishing charter?
E-mail Travis to book today . . .

Connect with the gang on social media:

Travis Thompson – @travisthompson – Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
Nathan Henderson – @nhenderson77 – Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
Emily Thompson – @lovedaloca – Instagram – @lovedalocafitness – Instagram

Coleman

It’s the hardest thing, losing a dog.

I was just reminded of that truth.

We’d had a good day.  A good walk that morning.  A leisurely nap together on the couch.  He’d eaten the last of my roast beef sandwich for lunch, just the way it should be.

For 16 years, he was my constant.  I’ve known him longer than I’ve known my wife or my son.  When I was single, I had a twin bed that he was always in – me, 6’3″ and full-figured, and a 45 lb puppy.  He never left my side, day or night, never out of ear-scratching distance.  Any knock on the door was met with barks that belied his stature.  My wife.  My kids.  He was our dog, and we were his people.  That was indisputable.

I carried him home from his last walk.  It was time.  His fight was over.

What you’re never ready for is the little things.  I don’t want to vacuum, little tufts of his hair in the corners.  I don’t want to change the sheets.  I absentmindedly saved a piece of cheese when making Will’s lunch this morning – I always gave him a piece of cheese.  I came home last night and went to check on him, only to catch myself halfway down the hall . . .

There’s never been a dog who had such infectious joy.  He was truly happy, all the time, unless you were scolding him for his latest counter surfing shenanigans.  He once broke into my office and “retrieved” my mounted ducks, the room looking like a malfunction at the world’s prettiest pillow factory.  His grin melted my anger in a moment, a look of “Dad, you’ll never believe what I found in here!”

Sedatives settled his angst, and he looked up at me with his faded, whiskey colored eyes, still smiling.  I tried telling him it would be okay, even though it most certainly would not, ever, be okay.  I laid on the floor holding his head and talking in his ear.  I made sure he knew he’d done his best.  I made sure he knew I was there.  I made sure he knew he was a good dog.

It was over in a minute.  The vet looked at me, misty-eyed herself.

I scratched those amazing, floppy ears one last time.  I smelled his wonderful head, and closed his eyes, rubbing them the way he loved.

I stood up from the floor, and for a moment, so many memories flashed – playing in the snow and chasing deer and fetching doves and swimming pools and ice cream cones and stealing muffins from the kids and snuggling my wife, a furry wedge in our bed every night for 7 years.

And I came back to a simple memory, of he and I sitting on a borrowed couch in our empty house, right after my divorce.  We were watching TV, in as much as any dog watches TV.  We had no food. We had no money.  We were sharing a jar of peanut butter – I’d take a bite, then let him finish the spoon.  At that second, I wasn’t sure which way life would go; I mean, it pretty much sucked right then.  And clear as day I can remember looking at his head as he smiled, almost as if to say “hang in there Dad – this is the best day ever . . . “

That’s the thing I remembered as the vet handed me his effects.

16 years is a lot to lose in a moment.

I stuck his empty collar in my pocket, and stood there alone in a vacant room, and sobbed, a 41 year-old man heartbroken over his dog.

Just the way it should be.

The Old Man

An ode to Ruark.  And also our grandfathers.

The Old Man watches as the steam rises off his coffee mug, just poured from the old rusty thermos his wife gave him so long ago.

He drinks his coffee black.  No cream.  No sugar.  It’s just easier that way.

His pale, grey eyes scan the darkness for the faintest flicker of movement.  His hands caress the checked wood grain of his father’s Remington, each scar and carving familiar to his touch.

The Kid is drifting in and out of sleep at the other end of the small boat.

He drew the short straw among his brothers and cousins and Grandpa picked him up at 3:30 this morning.  He’d piled into the cab of the old truck, next to the greying Labrador, barely awake but knowing it was his turn.

They’d launched the boat by moonlight, loaded with heavy cork decoys and an outboard older than both of them, kicking them along to an unnamed oxbow just upstream.

The Old Man scratches the labs ears, causing that unmistakable thump in the bottom of the boat.  The dog whimpers his appreciation, anxious for the hunt to begin.

The sun begins to win, and nature begins to stir . . . Egrets and ibis and herons and hawks . . .

The Kid awakens, wiping the sleep out of his eyes.  He looks at the Old Man, grizzled, leathery, his face stoic as his eyes sweep the landscape . . . He wonders how many times the old man has done this . . . How many ducks has he shot, how many mornings has he set decoys . . . In a rare moment of awareness, the Kid finds himself wondering how many more times the Old Man will be able to do this . . .

The Old Man sees them from a hundred yards out . . . Even at his age and this distance, he catches the glint of green signaling an impending landing.  He taps his duck call, cementing the mallards into his trap . . .

The Kid grips his gun . . . His mouth feels dry, the wood stock cold and strange . . . He fingers the safety, nervous he’ll forget to push it when the opportunity comes . . . He reminds himself to breathe . . .

The Old Man calls the shot, the Wingmaster coming easy to his shoulder, a motion perfected by a thousand rehearsals over dozens of years . . .

The Kid rushes his gun up, unsure of what’s happening until the first recoil pounds into his shoulder . . . Aim . . . Pull . . . Pump . . .

The echoes harmonize as the ducks splash into the creek, both brought to hand shortly by that old grey lab . . .

The Old Man holds his aloft, admiring the iridescence in the now high sunshine . . . The Kid takes his duck and mimics the Old Man . . . He notices the hidden purples in the green, the brilliance on the speculum, the sharp lines and the subtle shading.  He notices the smell of the recently fired shells, the lab happily panting, the other ducks moving up and down his field of view . . . He hears the clucks, the chirps, the swirl of a fish, the sound of a distant road . . . He begins to take in the feel of his gun in his hands, the smell of the coffee, the rattle of shells in his pocket . . .

The Kid looks at the Old Man again, now with admiration . . . Maybe this is why he does it . . . Punishing himself with middle of the night wake ups and laborious decoy spreads . . . To come to this, this sort of “church” out here in the middle of nowhere . . .

The Old Man sees a small pod of birds turn their way.  The Kid has seen them too.

The Old Man smiles.

If you enjoyed this, check out our podcast, released every Tuesday . . .

#51: Ducks as College Football Teams

Duck season is fast approaching.  College Football Season has already started.

How does a wayward outdoors podcast combine the two?

Simple – we take the AP Top 10 and assign them duck species that correlate to their various program identities.

Oh.  And Emily drafts country music singers.  And maybe rappers.

If that sounds like the most ridiculous 40 minutes you’ve ever spent, wait until you click play!

PS – if you’re in Florida, and hunt the Kissimmee River Basin, make plans to be at this meeting!

Follow Cast and Blast Florida . . .
Instagram – Twitter – Facebook – Website

Want to experience a world class duck hunt or fishing charter?
E-mail Travis to book today . . .

Connect with the gang on social media:

Travis Thompson – @travisthompson – Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
Nathan Henderson – @nhenderson77 – Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
Emily Thompson – @lovedaloca – Instagram – @lovedalocafitness – Instagram

To the Hunt

Here’s to 2 am alarm clocks and ice on the windshield.

To us not being sure why our hands are shaking – is it the bitter cold, or the monstrous 10 point that just stepped into the clearing.

The sound of a wood duck whistling his way unseen through the darkness seconds before shoot time.  The rattle of the dog boxes as the pointers bang their tails against the side, desperate to find their next quail.  The snap of a twig behind you in the tree stand – Unknown yet full of promise.  The whistles, of bobwhites and pintails and dog handlers . . . The clucks, of hen mallards and hen turkeys . . .

Here’s to the game we respect and pursue . . . The bucks and drakes and Toms and boars . . . The shots we take, the shots we miss, and, sometimes more importantly, the shots we pass on completely . . .

To the old-timers, here’s to one more fall in the field . . . To savoring the moments with friends and family . . . Hunting the same bend where a long gone retriever made an unbelievable fetch on what was thought to be a long gone mallard . . . Walking the same trails you walked with your grandfather so many years ago, now with a grandson of your own in tow, a legacy and heritage prayerfully safe for another generation . . .

Here’s to the kids . . . 5 year olds and 12 year olds and 20 year olds, bribed with powdered donuts and packs of Twizzlers and the promise of unlimited Mountain Dew . . . That sense of wonder in their normally iPad-glazed eyes as they see the indescribable colors in an Osceola as he steps into the sunshine . . . Their enlightenment to the “edges” of the hunt – the snakes, the palmettos, the birds of prey soaring overhead, memories that will grow and shrink through the years but placeholders nonetheless of a world unplugged . . . Their pride in their first harvest, be it a squirrel or a dove or a deer . . . And to a hope that they’ll think nothing and everything of being standard bearers for a new generation of sportsman, ethical and honest, future evangelists of conservation . . .

Here’s to those gone to soon, but never forgotten, in this chapel lined by pine trees and sun rays trying to burn off a fog, while a chorus of cardinals and chipmunks and cicadas raise their voices in song . . .

Here’s to the hunt . . . To pursuing our game, our way, be it with bow, or gun, or spear, with dogs or decoys or by ambush.  To gas station hot dogs and four wheel drives and campfires and more stars than you ever thought possible . . . To pheasants and puddlers, divers and deer . . . To the men and the women and the youngsters . . .

May your straps be heavy, your campfires surrounded by laughter, and your thermos never empty . . .

Here’s to the Hunt!

 

#50: A Game Is The Foot

IT’S.  OUR.  BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!

One year ago today, we were just a precocious, nascent podcast.

Today – we’re celebrating.  We talk our favorite episodes and moments – in the finest tradition of this train-wreck of a podcast . . . we hope y’all enjoy!

Follow Cast and Blast Florida . . .
Instagram – Twitter – Facebook – Website

Want to experience a world class duck hunt or fishing charter?
E-mail Travis to book today . . .

Connect with the gang on social media:

Travis Thompson – @travisthompson – Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
Nathan Henderson – @nhenderson77 – Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
Emily Thompson – @lovedaloca – Instagram – @lovedalocafitness – Instagram

Together.

I’m sick of this mess.

I’m sick of Big Sugar, and Discharges, and Red Tide and Mosaic and Cyanobacteria and Septic Tanks and Glyphosate.

We’ve ravaged Charlotte Harbor, the Indian River Lagoon, Florida Bay, and the Kissimmee Watershed, from Shingle Creek all the way down . . .

We’ve posted up our allegiances – BullSugar, Captains for Clean Water, The Rivers Coalition, Everglades Trust . . . “Vote Water” is the chant . . .

We adamantly defend our choices – Desantis was at this rally, Levine really seems to have a handle on things, Graham’s family didn’t really want to destroy wetlands for a mall, maybe Chris King or Andrew Gillum can find Clewiston on a map, Putnam is a mult-generational native . . .

Yes, our water is bad.

Yes, this is a lousy political cycle.

But the worst part is us.

We allow ourselves to be divided.  To attack and wheedle at narratives that don’t fit our agenda.

Sugar’s at fault.  Sugar is innocent.  The Army Corp is in cahoots with Big Sugar. South Florida Water Management District just wants to keep the EAA happy.  The Fanjuls have paid for the election.  Blow up the dike.  Stop the discharges.  #senditsouth.

We’ve lost a huge part of what makes Floridians special.

We’ve never seen eye to eye on guns or marijuana or immigration or religion . . . But surely we can all agree that we all want better water.

Is the answer simple?  Of course not.

SFWMD.  The Department of the Interior.  The Seminole Tribe.  The Army Corp of Engineers.  SWFWMD.  Florida Wildlife Commission.  National Parks Service.  There are a million moving parts to this.  Not to mention, we’ve placed 20 million plus people on a peninsula that’s supposed to be a swamp.

“The way nature intended” left the conversation the second we swapped out our horses for F-350’s.

So.

Which politician wants to talk about limiting the capacity of the state?

Oh – that’s right – none of them.

Which one wants to address growth and the thousand new residents moving here each day?

I’ll wait.

Just kidding.  Because it’s none of them.

Do I like all the candidates? Of course not.

But I don’t think Putnam or Graham or Desantis or King or Levine is hellbent on destroying our way of life.

I don’t think they’re interested in growing green slime and charging up the red tide to better destroy their constituents.

Meetings around the CERP and all the other funny-sounding “RP” plans have been going on for decades.  The Kissimmee River restoration began when I was in high school.

Which is all my way of saying:

Be nice.

We’re losing our way more and more each day, feted by a social media mob and fertilized by content.  We are a different kind of Red Tide and Blue Tide, intent on destroying way more than our beaches and rivers and waterways.  We’re intent on destroying each other.

Are there real issues that need to be addressed?  Absolutely there are.  And water is at the top of my list.  But so is my kids’ school.  So is my wife’s job, and my town’s infrastructure, and my aunt’s healthcare situation.

There is nuance in life.  I can’t pick anyone in the world and say “See that guy, right there – his name’s ‘Pete’ and his life matches up to mine exactly down to the second . . . “

Yes, there are moments, and causes, and for me this is absolutely one of them.  For a hotel operator, a sugar farmer, a fishing guide, a snowbird, a transplant, a computer engineer, a nurse, a lawyer, a retailer – this moment and their moment may look drastically different, there are nuances and splits that shape our discourse and visions.

This election is important for Florida.  It is important for you.

Just remember it’s important for other people, too.

And tomorrow, we’ll all still be Floridians, no matter the outcome.  And we’ll all still have our same issues that need to be fixed.

Together.

#49: Discharges, Big Sugar, and Red Tide

It’s been a miserable summer in Southwest Florida – a never ending red tide bloom. Discharges from Lake Okeechobee.  An election cycle.

Our state sits in the midst of an ecological disaster that’s being tossed around like a political volleyball.  Misinformation abounds.  Divisions are drawn in the sand.  Confusion reigns.

This week, we take one episode to give you our thoughts.  This is not our normal fare.  This is pure, unfiltered, and raw.

We’ll be back to jokes and punchlines and fishing tips and duck tricks next week.

Follow Cast and Blast Florida . . .
Instagram – Twitter – Facebook – Website

Want to experience a world class duck hunt or fishing charter?
E-mail Travis to book today . . .

Connect with the gang on social media:

Travis Thompson – @travisthompson – Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
Nathan Henderson – @nhenderson77 – Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
Emily Thompson – @lovedaloca – Instagram – @lovedalocafitness – Instagram

#41: Stories, Vol. 2

When last we left our band of intrepid podcasters, Travis was being much maligned for his penchant for foul-weather boating.

Today, we take a run at Nate’s family’s near demise.  Plus, Uncle Tim stories, Travis’ dad’s favorite son (hint: it’s Nate), Travis breaks the law, a bunch of people named Jimmy, and “Dude, where’s my trolling motor . . . ”

Follow Cast and Blast Florida . . .
Instagram – Twitter – Facebook – Website

Want to experience a world class duck hunt or fishing charter?
E-mail Travis to book today . . .

Connect with the gang on social media:

Travis Thompson – @travisthompson – Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
Nathan Henderson – @nhenderson77 – Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
Emily Thompson – @lovedaloca – Instagram – @lovedalocafitness – Instagram