Saturday, January 7, 2012


     How many of you suffer from what’s-around-the-next-corner-ism, or what is more often called WATNC (pronounced by medical professionals and sufferers as “what-n-c”)?  I have it bad, and it negatively affects both my bird hunting and trout fishing.  Possibly this malady is more prevalent in the thick northern forest areas than in the open plains country, where one can see for great distances.
     During my early college years I soaked up the tales of JRR Tolkien’s hobbits and to this day can recite some of the little guys’ songs, such as:

          “Still round the corner there may wait 
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”

     My whole life has been influenced by those books and I’ve spent more time searching “round the corner” than putting money in my bank account, and it shows.  And, sadly, it also has diminished the holdings of my game bag and creel.  The only thing I have accumulated is a bunch of memories, and the only conciliation is that at least those don’t disappear during downturns in the economy.

Can you see the dog?
     The typical partridge covert of the northeast is a fairly thick piece of property.  If a hunter can see fifty yards in every direction it feels wide open, more likely it’s twenty or thirty yards of visibility.  Not that we can’t often see hills and mountains all around us, we can through the leafless treetops, but the area where you can actually see your dog on the ground or a bird flush is rather confined.  So I always get to wondering, what is just beyond where I can see?  And then off I go, traipsing through places that may hold birds, but more likely not. 
     Don’t get me wrong, I have discovered some great places to hunt because of WATNC, but mostly have worn my boots thin and my clothes ragged.  The dogs don’t seem to understand why I’ll wander away from perfectly good cover through bland hardwood stands, just to see what is on the other side.  Sometimes they almost refuse to follow my wanderings.
     Trout fishing has suffered also.  The more bends and turns in a stream the more WATNC seems to rear its ugly head.  On one twisting northern river a few miles south of our grouse camp, a fishing trip a couple of years ago looked more like a hop-scotch marathon than a fly fishing excursion.  I started fishing at roadside and an hour later the truck was over two and a half miles away.  That’s a lot of walking in waders and not much time with the fly on the water.  Maybe I should fish ponds and small lakes where I can see all the perimeters. 
     So I am considering looking for grant money to study the problem and hopefully see just how prevalent WATNC is.  Did Meriwether Lewis suffer the ailment?  Columbus?  Possibly Daniel Boone?  Is there a cure?  Can a sufferer keep it under control?  Is there a twelve-step program?  Twelve steps wouldn’t be a problem…it’s the twelve thousand steps I take. 
     To which branch of our government do I apply for the grant?


  1. If you don't have a dog, then you are just standing in the woods. My dogs are What n c dogs so it works well. I feel like they are escorts to adventure. Isn't that what the outside brings us to?

  2. My oldest dog recognizes grouse cover from a distance, so when we're out in an open stand of hardwoods she'll want to skirt the edge of softwoods or plunge into alders if she see them. It sort of creates a zig zaggy course, with me wandering toward her and calling, then her reluctantly following me, and then everything repeating. If you tracked our course with a GPS it would look like a child's scribbling.