OK, time for Salmo's non-hunting report. As per usual, the yard is full of deer again this year. Fortunately they have been staying off the front porch, but they are checking ever inch of the exclosure fencing around my raised bed garden area. More bucks than ever this year, but I've only seen spikes and fork horns. And this seems to happen every year; I haven't seen an antlered animal in the last 3 weeks. I think a memo goes out to them every year that early archery season opens Sept. 1 or thereabouts. Funny how all the bucks get scarce around the end of summer every year. I really should get a game camera and mount it on our deer "freeway" to get some idea of just how many of these hooved varmints inhabit the neighborhood.

I have a bear story too. Two weeks ago I was fishing on the Madison River up a trail from a public access. On my way out that afternoon I could see a couple people at the access waving their arms over their heads toward me. For a moment I thought they were mistaking me for my well-known popular friend and were just happy to see me coming to the parking area. Then I overheard them yelling, "There, there!" Huh? So I yelled back, "There where?" Still hiking along, I could now hear that they were saying, "Bear! Bear!" So naturally I said, "Where?" "In the brush right in front of you!" they responded. Oh. So I yelled, "Black bear?" They replied, "Yes." So I reached for the can of bear spray in my pack's side pocket and let my wading staff drag and clank along the trail and began talking my usual and best Alaska and Kamchatkan "Hey bear, hey bear," and walked forward on the trail which became extremely brushy there because it was a riparian area along a small creek that ran into the big river. And sure enough, Mister Blackie was sufficiently disturbed by my conversation that he climbed up the hill from this brushy berry patch until he was about 10' above and 20' west of the trail. So I kept talking to him and walked over to the access area where my car was parked. I had no sooner reached the parking lot and the bear came right back down into the brush and resumed chomping on the berries he had been feasting on. I met the couple who had warned me of the bear's presence and thanked them. If they hadn't been there and seen the bear, the brush is so thick on the trail at that one spot that I would have literally run smack into the bear before I saw it. I think that is only the second, maybe third, time that I have encountered a black bear that didn't zoom off full speed away when I came upon them. This guy just didn't want to leave his berry patch and was willing to move aside for a minute while I walked through his territory. Then I got to thinking, just before I began hiking out, another angler came hiking up into the canyon, and he too would be hiking out at some point in the late afternoon or early evening. I hope the bear was finished with the berry patch by then.

Oh, the trout fishing was just so-so, and the biggest brown came unhooked and got away.