Tag Archives: ken gortowski

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The Day Before the Gray Day

The day before the gray day, there was a glimmer of hope for a beautiful sunset.

Blue sky and lots of sunshine.

There was a slight haze creeping upward, thawing ground, some humidity.

Problem was, no clouds.

Sunsets need clouds. It’s what gives them color, shape and form. There was a hint of clouds on the horizon, but possibly just enough to make the sunset, nice. That was a nice sunset.

Without clouds it’s just a bright yellow / orange object in a sea of blue. Nice, but not what I want.

I killed some time, I always do. Waiting for the right time, the right light and that right moment when everything comes together.

As the sun lowered, the haze rose, the clouds crept eastward.

A short window of opportunity before the light changed.

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The haze was rising, on the horizon, thin clouds. Sunset color killers both.

The haze was rising, on the horizon, thin clouds. Sunset color killers both.

By now I knew the sunset was going to be, nice. I poked around, moved around, uninspiring at best.

While waiting, I kill some time by wandering the archery range. I always find at least one. Most of the time, you don't see this much of one sticking out of the ground.

While waiting, I kill some time by wandering the archery range. I always find at least one. Most of the time, you don’t see this much of one sticking out of the ground.

Little Dickie likes his selfies.

Little Dickie likes his selfies.

The moment came, I took a shot, then another.

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Then I left.

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Another Gray Day

As I walked out the door into still another gray day, I was beginning to wonder if I was imagining things.

Nope, I checked.

Every weekend since some time in September, when I have the time on the weekend to finally walk out the door to do some wandering around, if it was blue skies out they would soon be gone. The blue was rare enough, the days usually started out gray and stayed that way all day.

It’s getting harder to appreciate another gray day. I need sun, shadows, color, even the muted colors of winter.

Weekdays seem to be faring better, but who cares. I get to catch a glimpse of it as I walk past an office window. I always step outside on my lunch break and if I’m lucky I get a few sun rays, but by the time 4:30 rolls around, the sun is pretty much gone and if it was a blue sky kind of day, I wouldn’t know.

I hear they may finally abolish the archaic and inane daylight savings time next year. It was done away with in the late 70’s and brought back from the grave a few years later.

They should have left well enough alone.

In the mean time, another gray day.

I go for a walk. It doesn’t seem to last that long.

I take some pictures. They all look so flat.

Three more months of this.

This is not going to go well.

If there were trout in Illinois, which there isn't, they would live here.

If there were trout in Illinois, which there isn’t, they would live here.

It's a shame I can't hunt ducks here. It would be so easy.

It’s a shame I can’t hunt ducks here. It would be so easy.

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I can't remember a time when I didn't play around railroad tracks. Over a half century later, I see no point in changing now.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t play around railroad tracks. Over a half century later, I see no point in changing now.

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In mid April, I will stand in this very spot and I will catch a smallmouth bass out of that little pool.

In mid April, I will stand in this very spot and I will catch a smallmouth bass out of that little pool.

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A Hunting I Will Go

I don’t do it as much as I used to, but this coming Wednesday a hunting I will go.

A decade and more ago I used to go pheasant hunting fairly often. I’ve been to a number of the places around here that offer controlled pheasant hunts. Been to a couple of hunt clubs and have had the opportunity to do a few of the free upland game hunts on property that is set aside for that purpose.

In the last 9 years I think I’ve gone pheasant hunting 3 times. Two of those were on what are called cleanup days. You get to go for free on a few days after the season ends, but your chances of getting birds without a dog are next to nil.

This is controlled pheasant hunting. Birds are released the morning of the hunt. Not ideal, but around here you take what you can get.

Years ago I would go by myself on weekdays when everyone else had to work. Though I’ve never had a dog to hunt with, I never went home without a bird. I’m persistent and like I do with my fishing, I learn the nature of the beast. Where they lie, how and why they fly, what makes them jumpy and it seems to work.

One of the reasons I haven’t gone much in years is the cost. I had no choice but to go into austerity mode financially and my conscience won’t allow me to spend money frivolously when there are bills to be paid.

Though things aren’t great financially at the moment, they’re the best they’ve been in the past five years. To the point where I check my account and, well hell, look at that, a few extra bucks.

I have one vacation day left this year and had no clue what I was going to do with it. I still can’t get used to taking days off of work and they actually pay me to go away. My boss finds it humorous.

I decided to use that last vacation day to go pheasant hunting, but now there was the cost. Once you’re in austerity mode it’s a flat out bitch to think outside of it. I agonized for a week on whether to spend the few bucks it would take for the opportunity to try to shoot a few birds.

My wife finally chimed in…

“Will you just fucking go, you know you want to.”

That snapped me out of it, for the most part.

So Wednesday, the day has been taken off, I paid enough for the possibility of three birds and a hunting I will go.

I know the place where I’ll be going well. I spend a lot of time there wandering around. I know where the birds congregate, where the other hunters push them, I know which way the wind will be blowing that day and I know how to take advantage of how others around me are hunting.

Last week after shooting time ended I went for a walk at the state park. I hiked along a trail to a stretch I always thought looked birdie. I walked in noisily for about 20 feet, then stopped and didn’t make a sound.

A few seconds later a rooster blew up not twenty feet from me.

I could have hit it with a rock.

I still had the touch.

Now I have a decision to make. Do I use the 80 plus year old 12 gauge, no name, single shot, pipe on a stick that is deadly accurate and hurts like hell when you pull the trigger.

Or do I use the Remington Wingmaster Model 870 twenty gauge pump that’s an absolute joy to shoot.

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I think I’ll bring both. I plan on being out there for quite some time since I have the time. Use one for part of the day, then switch.

I’m confident my shooting skills are still up to par.

We shall see.

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A Hard One to Shoot

Sometimes you run into something that’s a hard one to shoot.

This is one of those.

This little valley is maybe 200 yards wide, but I’ll bet it’s a half mile long.

I have no clue what these red leafed things are, burning bushes come to mind, but I have one of those in front of the house I rent.

That’s not it.

Doesn’t really matter.

Knowing the name of something doesn’t make me appreciate it any more, or less.

The ground cover in this valley is pretty sparse. Last week these red leafed bushes were just about all that was left that had any leaves on them.

They were everywhere, for as far as you could see up and down the valley.

None of the other shots I took did them justice.

Not convinced this one does either, but they are a hard one to shoot.

This will do, for now.

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Photo Tip Number One

Okay, maybe I’ve put up a number of them that can be called Photo Tip Number One, but I’ll be damned if I can find them on my own site.

Don’t shoot into the sun.

Yet I continue to do it against all the advice not to.

I like the unexpected sun flare, the odd purple color radiating from that and the shadow streaks heading my way, more or less.

I like the way leaves get back lit, how the fallen leaves shimmer and shine on the forest floor and how the tree trunks turn brown black.

I like how the sky blue sky intensifies around the edges.

So, do as I say, not as I do.

Don’t shoot into the sun.

As for me, I guess I’ll never learn.