Cast and Blast: Part 2 of 2

Cast and Blast: Part 2 of 2
If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that last issue I spoke of my love of hunting and the joy I have reaped over the years from participating in what we all know as the cast and blast. You might also remember, from past issues, that I have a fondness for tying flies. Well this month the two subjects become one.

Over the years I have taken to the field with shotgun, rifle and bow to test my skills against all manner of game and fowl. It is something I truly enjoy but, like everything else I do, I still try to find ways to make the experience even better. I think that is why I took up hunting with traditional archery gear. I wanted more of challenge. Heck, thinking back it is why I took up fly-fishing. It was just too easy with conventional gear. In fact, I would have to say that stalking the flats with a fly rod in hand and then making that perfect cast is not too different than the challenge of getting close enough to a deer to take it with a long bow or recurve. If there was a difference it would be- there is a lot less room for error with a bow. The last thing you want to do is cripple an animal.

Anyway, I guess one of the reasons I love fishing so much is the fact that we can be greedy and take our successes to the extreme and yet still take a conservative stance through the practice of catch and release. This is rarely the case with the sport of hunting. In fact, unless you take to the field with a camera, a person pretty much has to kill an animal to demonstrate success. I of course do not have a problem with this however, I do have a problem with the wasteful nature of our society. One of the ways I have found to combat this waste is to utilize parts of the animal's hide in my efforts to fool fish.

Let me tell you folks, you just think it is a good feeling to take a fish on a fly that you tied. Wait until you have taken one with a fly that you tied using feather and fur from an animal you have successfully hunted. It truly adds to the experience.

Probably one of the most obvious parts of an animal that can be utilized in saltwater fly tying is that white flag that a whitetail deer flies when it is spooked. And, let me tell you, there is not a finer bucktail to be found than that of a Texas whitetail, especially one taken closer to the coast. You see, unlike the stiff hollow tails taken from a northern deer, a coastal deer's hair is fine and supple making it easier to tie with but also more lively when moving through the water. From Clouser minnows to Deceivers, a bucktail can be utilized to create a number a great patterns.

Another favorite material of mine from the field is the tail from a coyote. Mind you, I do not hunt coyotes for food and truthfully, I would just as soon not kill one however, in some areas coyotes have become a problem especially on ranches where they prey on deer and young calves. By utilizing their fur for various fly patterns, I have found it somewhat easier to justify taking them as game. It is better to wait later in the season to take a coyote for its fur because it gets thicker and the quality is better after winter has been around a while. The fur makes for great collars on various shrimp patterns as well as nice wings on slider type patterns.

As for the waterfowl hunter, the flank from just about any drake duck (especially pintails and widgeon), add detail and makes a good addition to a variety of patterns. I also really like to pull a few flank feathers from a snow goose to finish palmering the heads of my Sea-ducer type patterns. In fact, one of my favorite big trout patterns is created by using craft-fur for a tail and then palmering an EP dubbing brush forward to create a collar and then finish it off by palmering a flank feather from a snow goose. I feel like the stiffness provided by the goose flank helps push a little more water than the usually softer neck hackles.

As for how to prepare the tails for tying, it requires little effort at all. In regards to the bucktail and coyote tail, no tanning is required. I have found that if you bone the tails about half-way out, you can then just throw them in a deep freeze and let the skin essentially freezer burn. It usually takes 3-4 months to completely cure and become odor free. This also works well with squirrel tails. As for the feathers, just pull them out and put them in a baggy or some other storage container.

Over the years I have garnered a great deal of enjoyment by combining the joys of hunting and fishing. I hope I have helped you do the same.

Until next month... be gude and stuff like that.