What a brutal winter! Good time to head for the man-cave.


Winter is a wonderful time of year for the ice fishermen, rabbit/coyote hunters, and other cold weather enthusiasts.  But this year the weather conditions have been so miserable that many of these sports have been curtailed. Many of us have been practically house bound.  So what do we do during those long cold winter days and nights?

Head for the man-cave, of course.   The inviting atmosphere, especially on a cold, winter evening, provides a good place to take on various projects. Hunters can be found there cleaning and oiling their hunting guns, reloading shells or sharpening their knives.  Hikers may be there waterproofing their boots, the skiers waxing their skis, etc.  Fishermen will be there lubricating their fishing reels and putting new lines on them.  Fly fishermen are there tying up a batch of trout flies or building a new fishing rod for next spring’s season.

I love it in my man-cave.   The fly tying vise is all set up on the desk ready to begin tying on a whim.   I am surrounded by bags and boxes of all kinds of fly tying materials, hooks, etc.   I love to spend a comfortable, undisturbed evening there.  Only I do the vacuuming there, lest a valuable wood duck or jungle cock feather be sucked up.  Our beagle, Jacques, loves it in there, too, what with the smells of all kinds of furs, feathers, gun oil, etc.  With tail excitedly wagging, he is probably hoping to kick up a rabbit out of there.  Now that my wife Jan bought me a little TV to watch while I tie flies, I see no reason whatsoever to come out for days on end.  (Just kidding!!)

What’s your man-cave like? Is it a heated garage, wood-working shop, studio, computer room or is it just a comfortable place to sit and listen to music or read a good book.  It seems that we all need such solace and enjoyable diversions.

Outdoors sportsmen are always creating something in them.  Some make their own fishing rods, tie flies, make wooden bass plugs, reload shells, carve duck decoys, make wooden bows and arrows, etc.   Perhaps its a throw-back to the days when the early hunters/fishermen had to make their own gear, in order to survive.  There is something very gratifying when you make stuff with your own hands.   Ask any sculptor, wood worker, knitter or seamstress.


Incidentally, there is nothing that prevents a woman from having a woman-cave.


I never knew anyone who made their own snowshoes. But I suspect that is about to change, for Brian J. and Edmond Theriault, master traditional snowshoe makers from Fort Kent Mills, Maine, have written a book on how to make them.  Entitled “Leaving Tracks, “A Maine Tradition”, this book shows and explains everything you need to know on how to make wooden snowshoes. Edmond Theriault, taught his son Brian how to both make and repair them when Brian was a young man.  Now, Brian has been making them for over 50 years himself.


Admittedly, this was the first book on snowshoe making I have ever read and it is so complete, there is little need to read another.   I liked the fact that it not only shows readers how to make snowshoes, but also how to select the right tree/wood, process cow hides, shape the woods into frames and build snowshoe molds.  It describes the necessary tools and shows diagrams with measurements on how to weave traditional snowshoes.  All of this was done in an easy to understand format.   I also liked the fact that information was given on how to care for the snowshoes and bindings, how to repair them and what to look for when buying a pair.


Obviously, the Theriaults take pride in the snowshoes they make and they clearly convey their knowledge onto the reader.  They call their snowshoes “usable art”.  It is no wonder that the Maine Arts Commission named traditional snowshoe maker, Brian Theriault one of its 2015 Individual Artist Fellowship award winners.

The book is available in Kindle ($9.99), hard cover ($44.52) and soft cover ($21.28).  My soft cover copy has 206 pages   The Publisher is Theriault Snowshoes. *****

The sporting community was recently saddened by the loss of two well known local sportsmen, Ernest “Ernie” LeClaire, formerly of Williamstown, and Lambert “Mickey” McGinty, of Dalton. LeClaire was a founding member of the Hoosac River Watershed Association and an officer and director of the Hoosac Chapter of Trout Unlimited.  He was the recipient of one of TU’s highest national awards, the Silver Trout Award.  McGinty was a director and past president of the Berkshire Beagle Club and the recipient of the 2003 Berkshire County League of Sportsmen Sportsman’s Achievement Award.    Both will be missed. *****


Congratulations to Miss P for winning the Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show recently.  She is a 4 year old, Canadian born, 15-inch beagle and the grandniece of Uno, the first beagle to ever win the big show in 2008.   There was no “aawroooo” from her when she was announced the winner, unlike Uno.  Instead, she just pushed her way through a bunch of dangling ribbons, perhaps biting a couple of them on the way to receive ribbon.   What a handsome dog she is. *****


For fly fishermen who fish the Deerfield River, the Deerfield Fly Shop is opening at 8A Elm Street, South Deerfield, just a few minutes from the lower stretches of the river.  An all day grand opening celebration is scheduled for March 7. Check out deerfieldflyshop.com for a listing of events, raffles, speakers, guides, river reports, operating hours, etc.  *****


The Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club is having its wild game dinner next Saturday at 6PM.  Call 413-298-3277 for more information.


Questions/comments:  Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com.   Phone/fax:  (413) 637-1818


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