Burton on the Bay:

Bill Burton's Year in Review

Every year, the dean of Maryland outdoor writers brings us a literary smorgasbord while teaching us about the wilds. From Bill Burton we learn about wildlife and about life. 1998 was no exception, as these excerpts from Bill Burton show.


March 26: Behold this Eagle

There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not.

The way of the eagle in the air


Behold this eagle. Behold also the little birds that traffic to and from the many bird feeders and birdhouses on my east lawn overlooking Stoney Creek in North County.

A bald eagle has taken up at least temporary residence nearby. Of late, that same tree has held a hawk or two and I've seen an occasional osprey. Now the eagle wants this barren old tree from which it can survey Stoney Creek, the open waters of the Patapsco and a half dozen houses nearby.

It has been 18 years to the week since my first eagle sighting hereabouts. Since then, the status of these magnificent birds has improved considerably


April 16: Rockfish Luck Returns

In the past, I've had more than my share of luck when it came to angling on Good Friday. All of it was bad.

You might say the streak began back in the late '40s when the boy wonder of politics, Harold Stassen, the former governor of Minnesota, was making his first of what was to become a long series of bids for the presidency of the U.S.

This changed last Friday


May 21: Where Hunger Rules

Where there's a will, there's a way - and chances are the inherent wisdom of wild creatures will prevail. Or is it their hunger?

Whether it be a woodchuck, wild rabbit or deer - even black bear out in Western Maryland, it can get hungry enough to overlook repellent concoctions, find a way through a fence or even brave proximity to humans who sow and plant


July 9: Louis Goldstein:A Friend's Appreciation

When State Comptroller Louis Goldstein passed away at his Calvert County home the other day, I couldn't help reflect on some of his advice: 'Buy land, invest in land; it's one thing God or anyone else won't be making any more of.' If only I had listened


August 13: When the Navy Court-martials its Cows

Maybe a cow can't jump over the moon, though I've seen a few make it over some fences while in a frolicking mood. But one obstacle the cows of the U.S. Naval Academy couldn't overcome is the decision by the top brass to give up its milk operation

August 20: Vantage Points - A Porch is Where to Watch the World Go By

As a boy, I was fascinated by widow's watches, the decks atop coastal houses where the wives of seafarers could scan the ocean for a first glimpse of the returning windjammer carrying husband or son. I've never had one of those widow's vantage points, though for a few months when I first came to Baltimore to join The Sun in 1956, I took up residence in a seventh-floor apartment. But for the most part, my homes have had porches.

A porch is a delight; a playback to earlier times when people had more time, were more sociable and didn't live in air-conditioned abodes


September 17: Baseball is a Very Lucky Game

Baseball is very, very lucky indeed. It not only has new home-run records but also a pair of fellows with the bats that are legitimate role models.

In Babe Ruth, baseball had a hellion who liked parties, booze and women as well as baseball. He also was known for his disdain for training or physical fitness, but boy could he wallop a ball, which was just what baseball needed in the years following the Black Sox scandal


October 1: My Yankee Roots

This is my Vermont: farms and mountains on the outskirts of villages. There are but two real cities, Rutland, in central Vermont, and Burlington, in northern Vermont. People now outnumber cows, but it was the other way around when I moved away to Alaska 45 years ago.

Vermonters take their politics seriously. In the recent U.S. Senate primary election, multi-millionaire Jack McMullen's well-greased primary campaign flopped. In a debate, his opponent, a 79-year-old retired farmer named Fred Tuttle, who pledged to spend no more than $18 to get elected, asked McMullen how many "milkers" were on a cow's udders. When McMullen responded six, the word spread and the outcome at the polls was obvious


October 15: The Trouble with Boats

I'd hav'ta weed through an awful lot o' what is curiously called "pleasurecraft," a word in my way o' think'n is an oxymoron.

I kinda like that word oxymoron when it comes t'boats. The last part of it - and I hadda look it up in Websters - pretty much fits my think'n 'bout them who buy boats fer sump'n other than fish'n 'n crab'n.

That's pleasure, fish'n 'n crab'n is


Dec. 3: A Day in the Life of a Hunter

Accompany me into the into the maze of vines, brush, brambles, tall pines, oaks and other softwoods and hardwoods I invite you along to get my perspective on the extraordinary sport I have pursued the past 65 years. This is just another in the perhaps 500 days I've spent afield in pursuit of big game from Maine to Alabama and west to Alaska.

Since I got my first deer at age eight, 116 more have joined my personal scorecard, so I don't know what I want - if anything. I just want to enjoy the woods, the chase and drink in my surroundings. About the kill, I am ambivalent.

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VolumeVI Number 51
December 23, 1998 - January 6, 1999
New Bay Times

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