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Friday, December 19. 2014
Bob Baugh and I had driven up to Haney’s ranch to chase some quail and this particular hunt stands out in my memory for a number of reasons.
Our first afternoon, we had enjoyed good hunting and the next day as well. Sonny, my Brittany’s, work finding and retrieving the birds was excellent and we welcomed the steaks cooked over Rick’s “old timey”, fired brick, barbeque pit. After the meal we talked for a long time about hunting, ranching and business and turned in around midnight.
The night was cold and Rick’s old ranch house, built in the 1900’s, was drafty and hard to heat. As usual, Rick was hidden under his covers with his AC running full blast, when I was jolted awake by my door being thrown open and Bob running through my room in his long-johns, .357 Magnum in hand, shouting, “Where is that son of a bitch, I’ll shoot him if I catch him!” He continued his “hunt” for several minutes, bursting into Rick’s room and awakening him, and then, Bob told us his story.
He said, “I woke up and saw someone/something standing at the foot of my bed. Then it ran and opened the door to Jon’s room and I’m sure it ran through his room.” By that time, Bob had armed himself and given pursuit. He added, ”When I chased it into Rick’s room, I “lost” it.” We looked around inside the house and found nothing, no sign of anyone else with us and both outside doors were locked.
Rick went into his patented speech about having to sleep out here often and not wanting to disturb anything. Bob said, “But something was standing by my bed.” Rick laughed, made sure his AC was roaring, got back into his bed, slipped his cap over his ears and covered his head with the covers.
Two years later, Rick “rebuilt” the old ranch house, and even before the stonemason had finished his work, the rock wall on one side of the house developed a serious crack. Rick said, “We put too much load on the rocks.” I answered, “Sounds like something didn’t like it being rebuilt.” The old house burned down during the summer of 2011, the grass fires around Abilene were the cause, and, I guess it chased the ghosts out too!
Bob still doesn’t like to talk about the chase.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, December 14. 2014
During the spring of 1979 we moved back to the Houston area and bought a nice home in Cypress in the Lakewood Forest Subdivision. The house was in Section 2, Section 3 was just being developed and, still to go were Sections 4 and 5. In Section 5, as we explored the area, we found numerous ponds and the piney woods abounded with wildlife! Since it was only 5 minutes from our house, Randy, Brad and I quickly took advantage of this situation.
Confining our activities to Section 5, September 1 found us having limit, dove shooting and the birds just seemed to continue to pour in. By November and quail season, my summer and fall, dog training had found several coveys that provided excellent shooting. Wood ducks and mallards frequented the ponds and sloughs near Cypress Creek and we were eagerly awaiting the December opening of duck season.
Brad scored first on a beautiful wood duck, drake that he had mounted and gave to a friend so I thought I’d try my luck on a “woodie”. Two days of rain slowed me down and finally taking off of work early, Rooster and I hit Section 5.
The first pond we snuck was void of ducks and we were slinking on to the next one when, just ahead, Rooster came down hard on point. Looking down and quickly checking the brush and grass for snakes, I spied the telltale holes poked by woodcock, one more step and tweep, tweep, flutter, flutter and two woodcock took to wing. My pump boomed twice ending their escape and Rooster fetched them both in. We cooked them that night and they were wonderful!
These were the only two woodcock to come out of Section 5, because by January 1, 1980, things changed. Access was denied, posted signs were up and cables were strung across the 2 entry roads. The boys and I snuck back in once but we felt very awkward carrying our shotguns through the resident’s backyards.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 14:55 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, December 8. 2014
By the third year we were on our McCulloch County hunting lease I had walked over almost all of the 2,000 plus acres. Either hunting quail or still hunting, deer, I kept flushing ducks off of the stock tanks and sometimes, in season of course, would pop one or two.
Noticing one particular spring fed, stock tank, almost a full acre, with a tall dam on one end, that was nearly impossible to sneak was where I had chosen to hunt some ducks. This stock tank was long and narrow, and the end I would hunt was only one to two feet deep with a rock bottom. Since the water was so shallow, I wouldn’t even need to take Gus to retrieve the ducks and “he could sleep in”. There were several mesquite trees around its edge and if I could make me a rough blind, almost under one of the mesquites, I could use my twelve, plastic decoys and I bet, could have some excellent shooting.
In the dark, using dead mesquite limbs, I hastily threw together a rough blind and set the decoys in two groups. Placing one group of four decoys on my right and the other eight on my left, leaving a space between the groups for the ducks to land in, they poured in!
My twelve plastic decoys were bouncing on the ripples as shooting time commenced and never had I had such a terrific duck hunt. With a minimum of calling, the ducks piled in and I thinned them out, being able to clearly identify the drakes of the various species – mallards, pintails, widgeon and gadwall and passing on some beautiful green wing teal.
Just shooting drakes, I was elated getting my limit in forty-five minutes, shooting eight with ten shots, having to shoot two twice. But, bad news, picking up my decoys, I carried four to the bank, laid them down next to my toe sack and returned to the water for four more. The next thing I knew, here came a cow, stepped on a decoy and smashed it beyond repair. Now I only had eleven plastic decoys. I should have carried my sack out with me and only made one trip.
I’m really lucky that the cow didn’t step on all four of the decoys!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 15:34 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, December 1. 2014
I still wonder why there was no “Road Closed” sign at the Bartlett Damn end of the road?
Posted by Jon Bryan in Weather at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, November 26. 2014
A rancher friend told our rancher that he had had good luck using emus to check the coyotes. His rancher friend also told him they were tough on bobcats, badgers and coons and, by eliminating these predators, it would help to insure good quail and turkey hatches.
Other benefits were that emus would be self-sustaining and their meat was delicious! His “friend” had 15 of the large birds and told him that he could have them for no cost! Our rancher couldn’t pass up that deal.
Opening morning of quail season found me and 2 other lease members, trailing 2 of our dogs as they tried to locate a covey. Thinking nothing of it, we saw an emu about 400 yards to our front as the dogs worked 75 yards out. Before we knew it, the emu was charging and an emu at top speed is a sight to behold! Whistling our dogs to come in, they responded and we grabbed them as the emu stopped about 50 yards away and looked “daggers” at us. We retreated to our Jeep, loaded the dogs and found an emu free spot to hunt.
During the following week, another one of our hunters was hunting alone with his 2 dogs and was attacked by two emus. They killed one of his pointers and he shot one emu, killing it. The visibly shaken hunter made tracks to the main ranch house and told the rancher of the events. Soon the predator controllers, the emus, became the hunted.
Next trip up the rancher warned us of the emu menace and said to go ahead and kill as many as we could. His son had dropped 3 this past week!
We began our hunt around the stock tank and sure enough, an emu spotted our dogs and charged. We whistled the dogs in, reloaded our shotguns with #4 lead shot and waited for the emu to challenge us. It did, we unloaded on him at 45 yards and scratch one emu. Breasting it yielded 2 ham size pieces of dark meat that I took home for Layla to cook like a roast. It smelled very, good, in the oven, sliced well with a sharp knife, but was uneatable, being too tough to chew. So much for emu’s food value!
The rancher told me shortly after the last emu was lured in and shot, “Jon, I worried about those birds from the start. I had never worked with any creature that literally fought me the entire time I was loading them into the trailer. They were awful to deal with! Good riddance!”
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, November 21. 2014
This story has been passed down through my family for well over 100 years. I have heard it from my dad and his brothers and sisters. Brinson and Fannie Bryan, who, at the time, were living near Riesel, Texas, McLennan County, were my paternal Great Grandparents and Peyton Bryan was my paternal Grandfather.
The dogs were raising a racket outside, waking Brinson Bryan and his wife, Fannie, up from a sound sleep. He figured they had a possum or ‘coon treed in the large oak tree near the hen house. Next thing he knew all eight of his kids were awake and asking him “Papa, what is all the racket with the dogs.” Fannie was expecting their ninth, and she hoped the last, child the next month, December 1889.
Brinson slipped on his heavy clothes, it was cold for mid November, and lit a coal oil lantern. He was going to “chunk” the “coon out of the tree and not even mess with loading his .44 pistol. With all these kids around, it didn’t pay to leave the old pistol loaded. He handed the lantern to his oldest son, Peyton, slipped on his boots and said to him, “Let’s go run that varmint off.”
Stepping outside and heading the 100 feet to the old, oak tree with the dogs furiously barking, Peyton held the light up towards the tree and he and his Papa were rewarded by seeing two of the biggest, yellow eyes staring back at them. “Papa, that aint no ‘coon,” he exclaimed, as he and Brinson edged closer to the tree, plainly making out a very large cat, rather a very large mountain lion, crouched on a branch about eight feet off the ground.
This looked like another “tight spot” shaping up. Brinson had had his share of “tight spots” in his life. Joining the Texas Rangers in 1845 he had fought Mexicans and Indians during the Mexican War. After that war he guided wagon trains to California facing more Indians, wild animals and thieves. Next was his three and a half years of service with the Confederate Army of Tennessee and experiencing some of the fiercest battles of that war. He had married Fannie in 1867 and settled into a life of farming, mule trading and raising his family.
Now, he is being stared down by a big cat and knowing the dogs would keep the cat treed, he told Peyton, “Boy, hold the light on the cat while I get something to finish it off with!” That “something” happened to be his old Bowie knife, almost two feet of it, which he tied onto a walking stick, or Moses stick. Counting the knife and stick, his “lance” was nearly 6 foot long. He knew if he shot the cat with his pistol that it would die, but not before it would leap down on he and Peyton.
As Peyton held the light, Brinson shinnied up into the tree and with one thrust shoved the knife into the cat’s throat and then, with both hands, held tight to the stick as the animal thrashed about, impaled on the knife. After it was over and the cat lay still on the ground, Brinson thought it funny that his three dogs could tree the lion and keep it treed, while the lion could easily kill the dogs and also how the light from a coal oil lantern had kept the cat off of them.
The dogs had apparently intercepted the cat before it had gotten into the hen house. It ended up a very lop sided victory for Brinson and Peyton, no dogs or chickens injured, just a little lost sleep.
This may have been the last mountain lion killed in McLennan County, Texas.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 08:05 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, November 16. 2014
The next weekend, after signing up on our new Deer lease in McCulloch County, my sons, Brad and Randy, and I headed right back and begin construction of two sturdy tree blinds. The boys have the blinds since I prefer to hunt birds, but, eight years later, by the time we left the lease, I will be hooked on deer hunting.
Brad’s blind, later named “The McCulloch County Hilton”, was a two level affair by a cross fence of the back trap, as the rancher called each pasture, right beside a big, rock, water trough. Randy’s blind was less spacious, but set near the property’s back fence. From their elevated positions, both boys could see each others blind.
Early in the morning the day before deer season opened, my boys and I rushed, as much as you can with a fifty-five miles per hour speed limit (another bad idea forced upon us by a politically correct government), up to our lease and began the annual ritual of making sure the deer feeders were full, checking equipment and sighting in the guns. We finished by late afternoon and began helping with the communal dinner, when the last two hunters arrived.
Mac handled the introductions and my boys and I met the Taub brothers, Ralph and Dennis. Ralph, the oldest seemed like a good guy, but brother Dennis seemed like a jerk. It is funny how first impressions are, so many times, correct.
Supper, steaks, potatoes and green chilies, hits the spot and after dark we retired to the side porch to swap lies, when we saw headlights moving down the road by the railroad tracks that bound the east side of the property. Then from the vehicle we saw a spotlight searching out over our east trap – poachers!
Brad has an M-1A, a predecessor of the M-14, and Jerry Thrash, a lawyer and private eye, came up out of his kit with three .308 Cal. Tracer rounds. I loaded them into the M-1A and prepared to welcome the poachers to our lease, when the legal uproar began.
“Don’t shoot,” “You may hit them,” “We may be arrested,” (do they think we were shooting at law officers), “We may get sued,” Bam, Bam, Bam, I let loose with the tracers, three rounds over the poachers heads.
Results were immediate. As the reddish/orange tracer rounds arced over their car, the spot light went off, their car lights went off, they did a quick uwey and sped off for safer poaching grounds. Poachers never bothered us again for the eight years we were on the lease!
The legal uproar continued, but my boys and I went on to bed.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, November 11. 2014
My grand daughter, Beckah, (Rebeccah), scored on a big buck on November 9th, she was watching the buck for about 10 minutes then she shot him, with Randy’s old rifle, a Remington 660. We bought this gun at Oshman’s in Atlanta, Ga.; he has shot 36 deer with it. See my post, Buck Fever, of July 24th, 2008.
There was a lot of activity around the thick stuff, turkeys were gobbling, doe and bucks were moving, then Bekah saw her opportunity and nailed him, about 50 yards from MaMaw’s blind.
Yes, MaMaw’s blind. She had gone out with her dad and they had gone to MaMaw’s blind, because Randy had good luck there in the past seasons. I had planned on going to Sunday School, but that wish was cut short when Randy called to let me know that Beckah had shot a nice one, so I took the tractor down to pick it up, however we did make Church!
The buck was fat, had 10 points (almost 11) and scored 130 raw on Boone and Crockett!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 14:34 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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