The woods and streams are full of little surprises.
Last time I shared the outdoors with Clint Bowman we were embarked on a wonderful hunting day, stalking geese from tree stands he had built high atop tall oaks at his place on the Eastern Shore.
It was a very exciting and effective way of killing geese.
Last week Bowman was out again, this time crusing the dappled waters of Rocky Gorge in Montgomery County for largemouth bass.
But he had another mission - the preservation and protection of a pair Canada geese that had set up their nest on a point near the middle of the lake.
But he had another mission - the preservation and protection of a pair of Canada geese that had set up their nest on a point near the middle of the lake.
"I run a couple of dogs off the nest last week," he said. "They chased the momma goose off her eggs - a German shepherd and a Weimaraner. But I run 'm off and she went back.
'Now you look closely on his point up ahead. Let's hope she's still there."
Bowman eased the johnboat up the shoreline. Tall rocks jutted out at the point, with scrub pines growing from the cracks in the stone.
"There she is," said Bowman. By peering intently we could barely discren her motionless head as she stared out through the brush.
She stayed that way as we swept by, unflinching, head still, silent, the brown, white and black of her head blending with the foliage.
"She ain't letting you know a thing about her," said Bowman.
Bowman follows the comings and goings of geese carefully. He loves to hunt them and he loves to look at them. He has a theory that more and more Canada are taking up nesting in Maryland.
"It's from the hunting," he said. "The momma goose gets crippled but makes it back to the refuge. Her mate joins her there, and when it comes time for them to head north she can't fly. So she stays put and he stays, too.
"When the little ones are born, they pick up the habit."
Around the bend and into the next cove a half-dozen teen-agers were fishing from shore. That's illegal at Rocky Gorge, which is the Montgomery water supply, but folks still do it.
Bowman pulled up to the group and asked them to stay away from the point. "There's a goose nesting there. We don't have many of them. Let's leave her alone."
The kids said they would, but 20 minutes later a hiker passed us, tramping along a trial and headed straight for the point. He was too far away to hail.
Bowman kept his hunter's eye on him and sure enough, a few minutes later we heard the piercing squawk of our goose. She was down in the water, flapping frantically, calling in her mate.
"Hey," Bowman shouted. "Get away from that goose."
The hiker responded as if he'd been bitten by a snake. He leaped back from the next and scurried off into the woods.
But this is a story about fishing, and Bowman has his own way of doing that, as well.
"I'm going after the big fish," he said early on. "I'll let you catch the little ones."
He did, sure enough. After four hours I'd landed three keeper bass and lost a couple more, one that would have gone better thab 2 1/2 pounds.
I kept offering my plugs to Bowman. "Nope," he said, "I'm going after the big one. Big fish want big plugs."
He was fishing a huge Rebel with a diving lip he'd shaped with a file; a jitterbug the size of a Milky Way bar and a huge blue rubber worm which he dunked in mysterious potion before casting it.
Lesser men would have given up, but Bowman has fished Rocky Gorge since the dam went up 20 years ago. He knows every stump and stickup in the place, and casts to them with unerring precision. He has confidence.
Long into the day it paid off. The jitterbug plopped up against shore just two coves away from our quitting spot. Bowman started his retrieve, burbling the plug along the surface with no particular haste.
Halfway back to the boat the jitterbug disappeared in a flash of green and a swirl of water.
"Get the net," Bowman shouted.
He had the big fish at the boat before I could do even that, cranking it in on 17-pound line and a stiff bail-casting rig.
It was a beautiful fish, 4 1/2 pounds, twice the size of anything I'd pulled in. We set if free a few minutes later.
In all we landed eight fish and lost a few more. Northern pike, which were tearing the place up two weeks ago, were noticably absent. And the bass weren't exactly fighting each other to get to the plugs.
But who's complaining?