Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

‘Macho status symbols?’

pickup.jpgIt isn’t often a radio news broadcast can red-line my blood pressure, but one this morning sure did.

The announcer, from one of the big national networks, was reporting on President Obama’s Tuesday announcement of new federal automobile fuel-efficiency standards. The announcer predicted that the proposed increase in minimum mileage per gallon from its current 27.5 mpg to 35.5 mpg would “make pickup trucks so expensive they would used strictly for work, and not for macho status symbols.”

Macho status symbols? Macho status symbols?!

To hoity-toity types who sip martinis at Beltway cocktail parties, that might be the perception. To those of us in flyover country, it’s an out-and-out insult.

Call the average home handyman’s pickup a “macho status symbol” and he’ll show you the retaining wall he built, stone by stone, with rocks hauled in the back of his truck. Call the average deer hunter’s pickup a “macho status symbol” and he’ll open his freezer and show you the venison he hauled home last fall. Call the average camper’s truck a “macho status symbol” and he’ll wonder how the hell else he would tow a camping trailer around.

To many of us — no, make that most of us — pickup trucks are tools. Nothing more. They haul our lumber, tow our boats and take us places our passenger cars simply can’t go.

“Macho status symbols.” Harrumph!

A ‘working vacation’

gonefishin.jpgAs of today, I’m officially taking a week’s vacation from my duties at the Gazette.

I say “officially” because unoficially I still have next Sunday’s column to write, and I plan to drop in every day to update the Woods and Waters Blog. I might skip a day if the fish bite really well, but that hasn’t happened in so long — well, let’s just say I doubt if I’ll miss any blog entries. Most of my time will be spent finishing up a house rehab, mowing grass, working out at the gym, fishing and maybe doing a little turkey hunting.

So if you need to reach me, shoot me an e-mail or leave a voice mail on my Gazette extension, 304-348-1231.

In search of simpler times

bobber.jpgFond as I am of fly fishing, I occasionally find myself yearning for a simpler approach.

When I was a kid, that meant looking under a piece of tar paper for earthworms and casting those little red wrigglers to chubs and bass in the nearby creek.

In tomorrow’s weekly Gazette-Mail column, I’ll revisit the joys of keeping fishing simple. Check it out!

Lamenting the loss of a friend

I suppose we knew it was coming, but learning that conservationist Jack Lorenz had died was still a stab in the gut.

Lorenz, the long-time former executive director of the Izaak Walton League of America, passed away March 3 while vacationing in California. He had been in poor health for years. He was 70.

I served with Jack on several Outdoor Writers Association of America boards and committees, and found him to be one of the good guys. He was an endless font of bad jokes and entertaining tales.

He particularly like to tell of his days as a bodyguard-slash-babysitter for Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Dizzy Dean. Jack said Diz was as generous and trusting as a babe in the woods, so the brewing company they worked for had Jack travel with him to keep him safe and out of trouble.

I’ll miss those stories, and I’ll miss Jack.