Massive cooler, stubborn hummingbird top list of outdoor miscellany

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D.S. Pledger
Sunday, December 29, 2013

As the year winds down I always seem to have accumulated a few interesting odds and ends that are too short to make a whole column out of, but worth a mention.

Without further ado, here’s 2013’s version of my Outdoor Bits & Pieces.

Plenty of brew

Camping coolers seem to have been getting increasingly large. Now there’s a 400-quart model on the market that can hold 500 12-ounce cans of your favorite beverage.

Don’t plan on taking it on a canoe trip, though, since the portages could be pretty brutal. The cooler alone weighs 90 pounds. Add another 375 pounds for the brewskies (and don’t forget the ice) and you’ll be toting something approaching a quarter of a ton.


Arrival and departure of the humming birds at our feeder is highly predictable. They show up on Mother’s Day and disappear promptly on September 17th to start their long flight south. This year, however, we had one hanging around almost until October—far later than we’ve ever recorded.


Not long before hunting season I was trying to wrestle a heavy wooden deer stand into a tree. The ground was uneven and I’d worked at least an hour trying to maneuver it into a clump of maples.

All it needed was one big heave-ho to get the bottom of the ladder up and over a troublesome tree root. I heaved, something in my left elbow went “pop” and I was suddenly in a whole lot of hurt.

A MRI later revealed that I’d managed to detach the bicep tendon, and surgery was required to put it back together.

The timing couldn’t have been worse!

For the entire hunting season, I couldn’t pull my bow, carry a shotgun or even take advantage of late season fishing during the lengthy recovery.

Then & now

Last October I wrote about a bowhunter bagging a freak deer back in 1942 (there was a photo, but unfortunately the quality was too poor to print with the column).

The hunter spotted the buck at a distance of a quarter of a mile and started his stalk going uphill through a cold persistent rain. When he saw it again he’d closed the distance to 200 yards.

To get close enough for a shot had to crawl on his belly across a muddy field, and then through brush. When he got to within 18 yards he got up and shot the animal with his 65-pound longbow.

I couldn’t help comparing that to today’s modern “bowhunter,” who would probably have been content to sit on a cushion in a stand protected by a camouflage umbrella while watching a bait pile.

Nuts to you

Cleaning up under any of the black walnut trees in our yard that’s dropping its nuts makes me nervous—especially on a windy day.

I weighed one of those hard, green orbs this fall and asked my nephew--who is an engineer--to calculate the force that the 5-ounce walnut would have falling from the top of my 50-foot tree.

He estimated that the foot-pounds you’d be smacked with would be roughly the equivalent of the recoil of a .270 rifle. But, as Brian pointed out, the gun’s recoil is spread out over your shoulder, while the nut’s impact is focused on a spot on your noggin about the size of a dime.

Ouch! Those things can hurt!

Two hands are better than one

By deer-gun season I had clearance from my doctor to hunt, but was still wearing a big klutzy brace on my left arm.

When I shot a good-sized doe, I hadn’t thought much about having to field dress the animal with only one hand. I have enough trouble getting all the “stuff” out and not puncturing any of the wrong things with two good arms, and doing it with one was a whole new experience.

D.S. Pledger is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at maus16@centurytel.net.

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