Friday, July 11, 2014

Full Circle

The End Result

For me as a fly tyer, fisherman and hunter, the gathering of materials that fall to my pursuits in the field plays a large part in my fly tying and material choices. Few things are more gratifying to me as an outdoorsman than to cleanly kill and properly care for game and fish. A lesson I was taught from a very young age was to know your target and the full repercussions of pulling the trigger, and to use every part of a game animal or fish you choose to kill. To waste something you kill is no different than poaching. But to use more than just the meat is a feather in your cap of knowledge that can only enhance your pursuits afield. This lesson has spawned not only great table fare for my home, but also in the forms of antler knife handles, bone and antler buttons, possibles bags made from tanned hides, fly tying tools and materials, etc.

From The Beginning

Past turkey seasons have been kind enough to bless my borderline competence using a turkey call with a number of fat gobbles. And each time, while preparing the meat for the table I take the time to hand-pluck as many usable feathers as I can. Many go to friends for their benches while others go in quarantine ziplock bags for safe storage in my garage. garage.

Out of quarantine

Quarantine bags identify or kill any critter that would be hitchhiking on my collection. And yes, there are times where I go to check the bags only to find nothing but dead bugs of some sort and bare quills.  I would much prefer losing a few feathers in a bag to losing a drawer of hackle. Once in the bags with no sign of critters for several months, I label them as safe and begin to draw from them for my tying bench. When prepping for the bench I pull only what I need currently.

Just washed

I was them thoroughly in scolding water and dawn dish soap, then set them to dry.

The Drying Rack

My dryer?  Well, that tends to be any warm place in direct sun I can find. Most often my bilco doors to the basement. I prefer direct sunlight to blow drying.

Now it's Hackle

Once dried completely and prepped, they now are no longer simply feathers. They now become hackle, for use on the tying bench in many of my favorite patterns.

The Copper Jake, in both Bead-head form and weighted

       One of which is the Copper Jake. Named after a Jake from whom the materials came from, it has become one of my most consistent nymph patterns. Bringing full circle the process of gathering hackle, from the first soft yelp of a hen which brings the answering gobble, to the feel of a fly-caught brown swimming from your hand.

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