Environmental scientist and Pennsylvania native Grae Buck discusses what he and wife Jessica are usually up to when he’s not on the water competing as a professional bass angler.
Grae Buck: I was born and raised in southeast PA, where I began fishing from a young age. I got into the sport with my grandfather, and my fishing career—currently in my fifth year on the professional circuit—has continued to grow from there, ever since. I attended Penn State University where I obtained a BS in Environmental Science, as well as fished the college circuit with my wife. I reside in Green Lane, PA with Jessica (wife), who also loves to fish! When we’re not on the water, Jessica and I love to travel to National Parks throughout the country. My passion for fishing and the environment fuels my enjoyment of the outdoors and prioritizing a backyard lifestyle.
GB: We feel our acre-and-a-half lot in the Philly suburbs provides the perfect-size property to enjoy the outdoors, while also remaining manageable in terms of its size and the maintenance that’s required. We have a small stream along the property line, wetlands, woodlands and lawn. This varied landscape provides the perfect habitat for bird and wildlife populations.
GB: There are two giant white oaks (estimated to be 200+ years old) along our property line wood edge. This spring, we had the opportunity to observe Cooper’s hawks nest in one of them (right near the house) and raise three offspring. It was a very cool experience to watch the parents incubate the eggs, then witness them hatch. The tiny hawk heads and beaks became visible, chirping became louder, the adults brought prey back to the nest, and, ultimately, the three fledgings left the nest in the summer!
GB: When searching for our first home together (and, being outdoor and environmental enthusiasts), my wife and I were interested in a property with real outdoor value. What we ended up purchasing is a perfect piece of land to enjoy, and manage its flora and fauna.
GB: Our home’s situated on a sloping piece of land adjacent to wetland, so the backyard was pretty wet when we first moved in. I’ve since installed a French drain and other stormwater management improvements to help with drainage, but there are still areas that hold moisture. We’re continuing to improve these areas through vegetation management and proper soil and lawn care.
GB: One thing we’ve learned in the past year since owning our property is that you won’t “win” when it comes to dealing with deer. Prioritize planting deer-tolerant species if wildlife will inevitably be browsing in your yard. We’ve also found that caging or fencing trees and shrubs helps prevent vegetative damage.
GB: Since purchasing our home in 2019, Jessica and I have been enjoying landscaping and upgrading the property, both indoors and outdoors. While 2020 was a tough year due to COVID, we enjoy entertaining and look forward to increasing our outdoor gathering spaces by adding a patio in 2021. Our biggest home upgrade, to date, has been the construction of a fishing shop/boat garage, which included full site work and landscaping. Additionally, I built a large raised bed garden (with full deer exclusion fencing!) for my wife that’s enabled us to enjoy beautiful, fresh produce all summer long!
GB: While there are plenty of whitetail and other wildlife on our property, we aren’t hunters. We live just minutes down the road from the Perkiomen Creek, a stream I grew up fishing as a child. There’s also a few small local lakes—Green Lane Reservoir and Lake Nockamixon—nearby, which I also grew up fishing, and provide an opportunity for local outings with my wife. While PA fishing doesn’t stack up to other areas the country, our local lakes are fun fisheries, and produce some surprisingly big bass!
GB: That’s an easy one: Cutting the grass on my Exmark mower, then having dinner and relaxing by a campfire in the backyard.
GB: I began smoking meat this year and haven’t turned back! We have two Traeger smoker grills, and use them at least three times a week. My wife and I have enjoyed learning new techniques for diverse cuts of meats. A few of our favorites include pork chops, eight-hour pulled pork and 17-hour beef brisket.