Friday, November 30, 2018


Is it just me, or is everyone exhausted, burdened by more than can be done these days?

I hear it all the time.  My first thought, when people tell me they’re exhausted, is, “How much time do you spend on your phone every day?”

I think, if folks added up their daily time on-line, it could be close to 2-3-hours.  That’s 25% of a work day!

It’s easy to be controlled by our phones:  a ding here, a door knock there, a flashing blue light, a flashing red light, Johnny is “checking in” somewhere, a text message from your daughter…  It seems to never end!

No wonder everyone is exhausted!  We’re exhausted from too many phone distractions, which are controlling our lives!  It takes a lot of work to keep up with all your friends and family on social networking – work to make sure you’re “included.”  If someone did the numbers, I would be willing to guess that some folks put as much time into their social networking as they do their daily work.

And, here is a good question:  When folks are at home, engaged into their social networking, do they stop and take care of work “interruptions?”  When folks are at work, how many times throughout the day, are they interrupted from their livelihood to respond to social networking, or to just blindly scroll through Facebook…

I think we all better get a grip on this, before it becomes worse…  I think the creators of The Walking Dead were foreshadowing where we will be as a human race, moving into the future…  Phones, specifically social networking, are turning us into a world of zombies.

My daughter, Kate, attended a golf camp at an ACC school a few weeks ago.  Parents were asked to sit in on a couple sessions, and the head coach talked about preparing your game to perfection.  She related it to, “You have these prom pictures, and you spend hours working on the perfect pic to put on Instagram – to make it just right.  Do you treat your golf game the same way?  Do you spend hours to make sure it is just right, with no imperfections?”

We should all take note of that.  Do we give the attention to our spouse, our kids, our work, the same detailed attention we do to our phones?

In my opinion, the cell phone is playing a lead role in the dumbing-down of America.  It has made us impatient, inattentive, and rude. 

We expect things NOW!  And, if we don’t get what we want “now,” we take it out on the poor soul on the other end of the line, or across the counter.  To be fair, sometimes the person on the other side of the counter could be slow getting to you, because they are on their phone…. It’s happened to me!

Being inattentive and rude can be lumped together.  You know, when you’re talking to someone, and they are looking at their phone the whole time…  You’re waiting for their answer, and they start to give it to you two or three times, before they finally get their thoughts organized to put a full sentence together.

In that regard, the human race’s people skills are fading fast.  We don’t know how to talk and be polite to one-another, but we can sure text and give emojis at the drop of a hat – probably without looking!

We better get it together, folks.  And fast.

On a fishing note, Kevin and I got out on Black Friday, and we each got abused by the only two fish we saw all day…

Kevin’s ate twice in the 8.  On the second eat, the fly completely disappeared in the fish’s mouth.  Kevin set the hook, and the came back at him clean…  Unbelievable.

I didn’t even see my fish come in on the follow.  He came in late from another angle, and luckily, Kevin saw him coming.  I made some passes in the 8, and nothing.  I cast again, and he showed himself once in the 8 and was gone.  I kept making several casts in the area and tossed up against some floating timber next to the bank.  Strip, strip, and out he came and tagged the fly.  Set, wiggle twice, gone…

We had a lot of current Friday, and we were fishing upstream, when this happened.  I have been abused in this same situation several times:  Cast upstream, and line bows downstream as fly lands, you have some slack, until that third or fourth strip to get your line tight – fish eats on the second strip, and I never seem to be able to get a hook in them…

I’m thinking just make shorter casts in the future, but if anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them!

For those wondering, yes we had good luck Baby Doll with us, so I guess that luck has run out…!

Mark Hanni

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Being Grateful for the Bad Experiences in Life

It wouldn’t be proper to not write a Thanksgiving theme on Thanksgiving week, so here we go.

In my devotional this morning, I read a statement that addressed saying “thank you” to others.  Are we just using our manners, or are we truly grateful?  What a great question!

When you think about that statement, what percentage of the time are we truly grateful, when we say, “Thank you”?  20%? 10%?  I know it’s probably lower for me than I would hope it would be.

And, it made me think of my daily prayers, when I thank God for the things he has given our family.  Am I feeling completely grateful, or do I just take these things for granted and say, “Thank you,” as lip service?

A simple phrase has really made me stop and think.

Who is grateful, when things are going badly?  For instance, my last few years as an Allstate agent, before I sold the agency, were not good.  The company was changing the way they were doing business, and it was driving a lot of loyal customers away.  I spent about five years being angry.  and when you’re angry, it’s hard to be grateful…

I look back now, and I should have been grateful for what God had given us.  First, the opportunity to sell my book of business for a large price, when no one was buying Allstate agencies!  Instead of seeing this as a positive, I remained angry at the company for what it had done to my business.

I should have been grateful for the opportunity to have the independent agency, which my wife had started.  Because that was underway a couple years, before I sold, we were able to make a transition into another agency.

I should have been grateful that I started Mountain Creek Anglers in 2008.  The extra income has helped us tremendously over the last several years.  And, if things ever go South at our agency, I will always be in position to ramp this up, if needed.

So, in reality, while I spent so much time being angry, and I had THREE positives going for me that I couldn't even see where happening!

It’s funny how, especially these days with notifications coming at us from every direction, we get so caught up in the current moment.  Everyone is so focused on themselves and needing immediate feedback, that we forget to stop, see where we are and what we have, and be grateful for it.

Folks get so angry, if they do not receive the feedback they are wanting.  I was there, with my agency.  When we’re not receiving the answers we want, maybe we should take a breath, and realize that maybe the answer we just received, was the answer that is best for us in the long run…

As I read back through this to proofread, it makes me realize something.  I am guilty of all the above and have been for a long time!  Moving forward, I hope that I can focus on being grateful, and not just thankful.  I think it would make the soul much happier.

…It’s now Tuesday morning, as I finish up last Friday’s blog post.

I am very grateful that we got to spend a bunch of time with our grandkids Emilia and Knox this past weekend! 

I have had to remind myself over the weekend of how much fun we had with them on Thursday and Friday, and how grateful we were to see them…  Because, I spent Saturday and Sunday dealing with the violent stomach virus that they brought with them to Thanksgiving!

The grandpa gig is good.

Mark Hanni

Friday, November 16, 2018

My Buddy, Dave...

I was sitting in my recliner last Wednesday evening, watching episodes of House of Cards, when my neighbor, Dave, called me.  It was 10:29, so I knew there must have been something wrong…

Dave retired as Vice-President of Ashland Development Company, back in the late 80’s.  ADC was a division of oil giant, Ashland Oil.  He will be turning 96 in January, and he is probably in better shape than most of us!  He eats well, goes to the Y every day, stopped smoking when he retired, and has one martini a day.

Dave is an obstinate son-of-a-gun.  Gruff, with few friends.  He and I get along famously.

His wife, Anne, died six years ago from kidney cancer.  She was the epitome of grace.  She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and pseudo-grandmother to my daughters.

We moved next door in January, 2001, when our oldest daughter, Kena, was a sophomore in high school.  Kena, and my wife, Kelly, immediately became close with Anne.  Kelly and Anne were a lot alike.

Dave and I kind of hit it off, too.  

I was cleaning the gutters one weekend that first Spring, when Dave saw me struggling with the back of our house.  I’m scared of heights, so it was not going well.  He hopped up the ladder, at age 79, and went to work…

My favorite story on Dave, also occurred that Spring.

I was installing an underground fence for our dogs, and Dave having a background in engineering, was intrigued.  He walked up the driveway and grabbed one of the collars.  “I don’t believe you can get enough current to make this work,” he said.

“Is it on?”  “Ya, the power is on right now,” I answered.

Dave proceeded to grab the collar by the prongs and walked out to the end of the driveway.  About 10 feet away, he felt the vibration warning.  He kept walking.

As he got near the line, he tossed the collar into the air, and yelled, “I’m a believer!”

Over the past 17 years, Dave and I have had a lot of discussions about religion, politics, and life in general.  We don’t agree on much, and that is OK.  We respect each other enough to believe the other is wrong, but we listen to each other’s side of the story, anyway.

For instance, Dave is agnostic.  I don’t care much for organized religion, as I think a lot of church “leaders” are egotistical crazies, but I do believe, and practice Christianity daily.  Dave says the reason the world is, and has been since the beginning of time, in an uproar, is because everyone is fighting over which religion is best.  It’s hard to argue with that…

Back to Dave’s issue from his phone call…

He was calling to tell me that he couldn’t walk!  He could get out of his chair, but he couldn’t put one foot in front of the other!  Thank God, Kelly made him give us a key to his house a few years back…

I walked in, and he was sitting in his TV room, just off the kitchen.  He showed me how he could stand up and move his body and legs around, but he couldn’t put one foot in front of the other.  “What do you think I should do?” he asked.

We talked for a few minutes about calling for an ambulance or waiting to see if the feeling came back.  He finally decided on the ambulance, as it would have been difficult for me to get him out of the house.

I followed the ambulance to the ER.  Within minutes of getting Dave into a room, there were four nurses and a doctor on him.  They were thinking he may have had a stroke.  Good thing he didn’t take my advice of going to bed and seeing if the issue was still there in the morning….

He was admitted for a couple days, but in the end, they couldn’t find anything wrong with him.  He told me after it was all over with, that he did a different exercise at the Y that day.  I told him, “Don’t do that exercise again.”

Have a great weekend, and good luck on the water or in a tree stand!

Mark Hanni

Monday, November 12, 2018

Adolescent Responsibility

Save for a weekend trip to Winston-Salem this coming weekend for a golf camp at Wake Forest, this year’s junior golf season is in the books.

Last night, our daughter Kate, attended the KHSAA All-State recognition dinner.  It was a great achievement, especially earning this honor as a Sophomore.  In golf, as anything else in life, it takes hours upon hours of practice to be good at what you do.

This morning, I am starting off the day with my first hour of the day being productive – something I started, recently.  This routine includes a daily devotional, and today’s topic focuses on “excuses” and “personal responsibility.”

I know kids these days hear us older folks talk about the old days in sports and school, where if you messed up, you were going to get it worse at home, more than your coach or principal.  Our parents took responsibility for our actions, and if they wanted our actions changed, they made us responsible!  I don’t know when all this started changing, but my wife and I are doing our best to keep the “old days” alive.

Kate had an up and down first part of her golf season, but I am most proud of how she finished.  She took responsibility, changed her approach, and saw the rewards.  There was no room for excuses.

I am also proud of how she took responsibility for an incident that occurred in August:

On August 12, I was comfortably sitting in my recliner watching the last round of the PGA Championship, when I received a call from Kate.

She seemed panicked and told me that she had just wrecked a golf cart at the country club.  She had looked down at her phone…

On the way to the Club, I received a call from John, who is a good friend, and works in the pro shop.  John may be Kate’s biggest fan, and I could tell he was calling me to “buffer” the situation.  “How bad is it?” I asked.  “She got it pretty good,” was his answer.

I got to the club, waved Kate over from the putting green, and we made our way down to the cart barn.

I couldn’t believe it!  The cart looked like she had rolled it twice!  I then proceeded to give her a 15-minute butt chewing, the likes of which Red Foreman and my Grandpa Bob would be proud of.  It was legendary.  I felt sorry for the poor cart boy standing outside who had to hear it, on his first day of employment…

I don’t think I have ever been madder at either of our children.  And, it was because the cell was involved.  My wife and I own an insurance agency – we preach texting and driving all the time.  Kate usually doesn’t take her cell phone on the course with her, but this day, she did.

When we got home, I showed my wife a pic of the cart, and her response was, “Dear, God.”  I resumed my ripping of Kate, and finally Kelly said, “You have to stop.  She is hyperventilating.”

I know I let her have it pretty good, but I wanted this to stick.  I just hope this accident will serve as a reminder of the perils of texting and driving, once she gets her license.  If this would have happened in a car, she might not have been around for me to yell at her…

A couple hours later, I went up to her room, and told her, “I’m really pissed right now, but I still love you.  A lot of guys at the club are going to think this is funny, but I don’t.”

And of course, the next day, the men were calling her “crash.”  I also received about 15 texts from other members over the next couple days – long texts, about how great of a kid Kate is, and that I should take it easy on her.  Better a golf cart, than a car.  That was nice to know your child is that well-respected by adults.

Now, when Kelly tells our friends about the accident, she says, “Do you think I would have told Mark Hanni that I had an accident, because I looked at my phone?  I would have definitely left that part out!”

I am proud of Kate for coming clean, from the beginning.  As soon as she wrecked, she went straight to the pro shop and told John exactly what happened.  Sometimes, you just have to take responsibility and accept the consequences.  If a 15 year-old can do it, it should be easy for us adults, right?

I just received the check from our insurance company - $2,154.  I guess we can finally close that chapter.

I’m looking forward to getting back on the water next weekend.  Lord knows, I need the therapy!

Mark Hanni

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Baby Doll is Good Luck!

October 14, was my first day musky fishing, since last January.  Back in January, Kevin and I got out twice, and both times, I got thoroughly abused…

The second was my worst ever, and probably most unbelievable.  A fish came out of nowhere in about three feet of water, swiped and missed on the retrieve, and then proceeded to eat three times in the 8.  I missed them all.

Last Sunday produced six follows with no takers.  I think the pressure this particular hole of water receives, is causing the fish to be a little too cautious.  This is something we used to see a lot in Cave Run Lake fish, but not so much in the creeks. 

I got to Kevin’s about 7:15 on the 21st, and it was still a little dark.  I met him at the top of his driveway to help pack his gear to my Jeep.  I noticed he was carrying a small baby doll.  One of those bald-headed, creepy ones…

I really didn’t think anything of this.  Being a grandpa and dad of two daughters, I just figured he picked one of his granddaughter’s dolls up by mistake and was packing it out with the rest of his stuff…  Us older folks tend to do stuff like this once in a while.

“What’s up with the doll?” I asked, about halfway down the driveway.

He confidently told me that when he asked his family to wish him good luck on the way out the door, his granddaughter, Riley, said to wait, she had something for him.  She ran and grabbed her doll, and told her Poppy to take baby doll with us for good luck.

God bless Riley, and baby doll.

First stop, grab some breakfast.  Nothing like starting your day with a fried bologna, egg, and cheese sandwich.

We pulled into one of our favorite spots, the Black Friday Hole.  We’ve had some great days on the stretch, and some bad ones, too.  In fact, we had our first three-fish day on this stretch back in 2012.

I love this stretch of water, because it is pretty remote, and there’s a ton of water to fish.

We decided to start out by heading upstream.  It didn’t take but a few casts for Kevin to get hung up.  And, this was a good one – a shirt off, lay across the front of the boat, face in the water to reach the fly, hang up…

Good start.

Back to fishing.  I rowed us up another 50 yards to a spot where we have caught a few fish.  It’s odd, you catch fish in different spots over 300 miles of creek, but rarely in the same spot.  But, we have found one exact spot where we have caught multiple fish.  Especially odd with muskies.

Kevin made a couple casts to this spot, and right as he was going into the 8, I heard, “There’s one.”  No sooner than he said it, the rod was bent.  Fish in the net, pic, fly out, release.

My turn.

An early fish like that, gets the nerves going.  Every cast you make, you think you are going to get hammered on every strip.  Legs shaking, hands shaking, hard to keep ahold of the line on the strip…

After a while, you settle down.  You start talking, focusing more on your conversation than your fly, and then out of nowhere, here comes a fish…

This one came out from cover in a few feet of water, and I got him into the 8.  Pass after pass with little “nips,” and then the take.  Another one in the net, pic, fly out, release.

For some reason, we hardly ever catch many fish, before noon, and here we were with two fish landed, before 10:30…

Kevin fished out the remainder of this stretch, and we turned the boat around and headed back downstream.  He had fished for a while, with nothing happening, and then came a missed swipe, into the 8, and no interest.

“I blew that one,” he said.  “That’s one I should have had.”

I rowed back above the spot, and he threw a couple casts back in, to see if he could move the fish again.  Nothing…  Then on the third cast, the fish shows up again, right at the 8.  After several passes, the fish ate, and we had a third fish in the net.

Three fish, just after noon, and we hadn’t even fished the long, deep hole, yet.  This could be a record day!

We fished the lower hole, all the way down, and halfway back, without a single glimpse of a fish.  The wind was picking up, making it tough on the guy fishing, and on the oars…  You start to get that feeling, “We have three fish in the net – that’s a good day.  Let’s pack this up and get home, so I can have a beer.”

I made a short cast under a leaning tree, and about halfway back to the boat, here comes a charging fish.  First turn into the 8, and wham, he tagged it!  Four fish released.

That was the last fish we saw.  We saw four fish, they all ate in the 8, and we landed them all. This was my third four-fish day.  After we spent the first two years chasing these things, without landing a fish, who would have ever thought four-fish days were possible!

I hope we can get back out in the next few weeks, after the leaves clear the streams.

Mark Hanni

Friday, May 4, 2018

It's Turkey Season!

I got a slow start on the season this year with Junior Golf Tournaments on the schedule.  It's hard to believe there are only two days left to hunt!

I started off the first week of the season hunting one evening, and managed to scare off a nice Tom...  I got into the blind about 2 in the afternoon, and nothing much was happening.  At 7:30, I was getting a little restless and was probably moving around a bit too much.  I looked up, and there he was, out of nowhere, standing in the forest road, about 70 yards out.

I tried to adjust myself to get ready, but he caught my movements, and he was gone.  It didn't help that I had forgotten to close a shade in the back of the blind, and the evening sun was glaring through that hole...  Another lesson learned the hard way...

Last weekend, I was able to get in the blind about 5:30 am.  It is so cool to walk through the woods in the darkness of the morning and watch the Earth wake up.  I'm going to miss that, when the season is over.

As the sun rose, I heard quite a bit of gobbling coming from four directions.  And, just about like every morning this year (from reports), it all stopped around 7, and things got quiet.

At 8:30, I decided to get out of the blind and see if I could walk the woods and get a turkey to respond.  After climbing two big hills and nothing happening, I told myself to get my ass back in the blind.

At 10:00, I let off a couple box calls, and a Tom gobbled back about 100 yards straight out, on the hillside.  I spent the next hour making some soft purrs and yelps on the slate call.

I was peaking out a side window and slowly turned my head back to the front, and there he was, walking toward my Jake decoy.  He did a couple laps around the decoy and started to walk off.  Thank goodness he gave me a few seconds to get adjusted, as I didn't have my gun in the best position, after coming back from my morning jaunt...

As he was walking away, he stopped and stuck his head out, and that was it.  Almost...

I stood over him and admired all the colors.  They truly are magnificent creatures.  After a few minutes, I turned to walk back to the blind, and he jumped up and staggered about 20 yards, wedging himself under a tree.  We had a brief altercation at that point...

On the board for 2018!

The next morning, Sunday, I took my son-in-law, Eric, to the same farm, and we set up on an opposite hill, where I had seen a nice Tom the year before.  We had a lot of gobbling around us, but all went quite at the 7 o'clock hour.  At 8:30, we moved and went to a blind.

Nothing was happening there, either, so we took off around noon.  I hated it for Eric, as he had missed a big bird the day before at my in-laws.  I knew it was weighing on him.  But, that's turkey hunting...

We got back to my in-laws and had lunch.  After he and my daughter left to go home, I decided I would hunt my in-laws property that afternoon, since I was out there anyway.

My father-in-law has this awesome blind that he built a couple years ago.  It stands about 20 ft off the ground, and you could probably live in it, if you had too!

He decided last year that he would start locking it up with a padlock he used in the Navy.  He is 74, now, so you can imagine it has been put through its paces!  I haven't tried to open a padlock, since my locker in high school, and I couldn't get it open...

So, I decided I would just get some branches and throw them around the base of the blind and sit inside that.  I have never hunted outside a blind, so after an hour or so, I was thinking, "What the hell are you doing?  You're wasting your time!"

I sat there for another hour or so, making soft calls on the slate call, when I looked up, and through the wheat grass, I saw a big red head!  Then, another.  And then, one more!  Three Toms!

As they made their way toward the old styrofoam Jake decoy I had set up (probably 30 years old!), I slowly got myself in position.  I was thinking my best chance was to line up the gun to a spot, and get the first one that crossed it.

As I was lining up, I noticed my rear sites were missing.  A result form my "altercation" with the Tom the day, before...

The first Tom, crossed the target, and I fired.  I missed...

Get 'em this weekend...

Last Monday, my father-in-law, Richard, got out to hunt, and he was home, before I left the house for work.  Of course, with turkey in hand.  He has been struggling with a lot of back and leg pain, so it was great he got out.  I think the turkey season adrenaline got him going!

Hopefully, we can both get tagged-out this weekend.  I hope I get mine done early, so I can get home and celebrate at a Derby Party!

Mark Hanni

Friday, April 27, 2018

Orange Barrels...

We are in the midst of local and state elections in Kentucky, and I think Haywood Banks should re-write his Orange Barrels song with Political Signs...  Dear God, please have these elections end soon!

Political season also makes me think of Jimmy Buffett's Fruitcakes...  It is comical to watch this all shake out.

My local favorite is all the new folks who want to be my "Friend" on Facebook.  People who are running for office, who I have never met, seem to know me all of the sudden and comment on the few posts I make on my personal Facebook page. 

I'll probably vote locally, just as I did in the last two Kentucky Governor races:  Neither.

And speaking of Governor...  I never really cared for the guy, going back to when he ran against Mitch McConnell in the Congressional race a few years back.  How does a guy from the Northeast all of the sudden move to Kentucky, and then decides he wants to represent us?   Never got that.

He has done some great things bringing new business to Kentucky.  Our unemployment rate is at a 42-year low.  But then, instead of empathizing with the teachers on the pension issues, he says things publicly that are truly unbelievable!  No person in their right mind would say these things.  If you haven't seen or heard them, just Google "Matt Bevin."  If he just would have been nice through this whole thing, he could have been a hero...

I'm going to try to get away from all this mess this weekend by heading to the woods.  I've got about 12 hours in on turkey hunting the past couple weeks, and hope to triple that this weekend.  Walking into the dark woods at 5:30 am kind of makes you forget everything.

And speaking of turkey hunting, I should have the new Turkey Tees listed on my website within the next week!  These are going to be really cool, so be sure to check them out at, under "Apparel."

I better end this and get envelope stuffing!  The Creeknuts stickers continue to be a big hit, and I'm shipping three days a week, now!  Three stores have also begun selling them:  Sportsman's Warehouse in Lexington, KY;  Border's Sporting Goods in Ashland, KY;  and Ramble House in Crede, CO.   Stop by any of these stores and see what they have in stock!

To all those heading to the woods this weekend:  Good luck and be safe!

Mark Hanni