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Tuesday, January 30. 2007
During the spring of 1981, by accident, Dana Sawyer and I â€œfoundâ€ a boat, probably a shrimper, that was sunk right off of the Galveston Ship Channel in fifteen feet of water, two hundred yards north of the old concrete ship. For some reason, whenever we caught the tide coming in and the wind and currents not too strong, we consistently caught fish, Speckled Trout and Red Fish, at this spot.
We had been drifting the flats north of the old Quarantine Station, on the west side of the ship Channel, with the depth recorder on, and noticed we had drifted out too far toward the Ship Channel and into deep water, when a â€œhumpâ€ appeared on our chart paper. This got our interest so we criss-crossed the hump several times and determined it was a wrecked boat about the size of a shrimp boat. This was before the days of GPSâ€™, and Dana didn't have a Loran, so we had no way of marking the spot other than triangulating on the old concrete ship, a channel marker and an oil rig.
We anchored over the wreck, baited up and let our rigs down to the bottom. Dana was right into a nice fish, but I was hung up on something. I had caught the wreck and in loosening up my hook brought up a small piece of wood. I netted Danaâ€™s fish, a nice Red, got my rig baited up and preceded to land a two pound trout.
We were on to something and for the next two years â€œThe Wreckâ€ was a fish producer for us and only a twenty minute boat ride from Danaâ€™s Camp! One memorable trip to â€œThe Wreckâ€ was during the summer of 1982. Alvin Pyland, my Uncle Gus, Dave Miller, a close friend, and I had spent the morning fishing the Gulf side of the South Jetty. As usual we had an enjoyable trip and a large Igloo Cooler over half full of fish.
The tide had been going out pushing baitfish around the end of the jetty and back toward the beachfront and we had caught Trout, Reds, Spanish Mackerel and even a Cobia. When the tide changed and started going in I suggested we try â€œThe Wreckâ€. Neither of my companions had ever fished it and didnâ€™t even know it was there. They had good success during the fall fishing for Reds almost directly across from â€œThe Wreckâ€ in ten feet of water on a shelf on the east side of the Ship Channel.
We pulled up my twenty foot Cobia, deep vee, in the vicinity of â€œThe Wreckâ€, and with the depth finder began our triangulating. Soon we were anchored over it and had our baits in the water, when â€œWhamâ€, Uncle Gus has a big hit from, obviously, a Red, a real nice one judging from the bend in his rod, and another, â€œWhamâ€ Dave has a big strike on his spinning outfit, and â€œWhamoâ€ I have a big hit from something. Wham, Wham, Wham, three almost simultaneous heavy strikes!
The fight is on! My fish, a three pound Trout, comes to the boat first, and Uncle Gus netsÂ it while still fighting his. Dave is locked in a line loosing struggle with something big and asks me â€œJon, start us up and get our anchor up. I canâ€™t stop this thing.â€
I have a dilemma, Daveâ€™s fish shows no signs of tiring and is heading north with the tide and Uncle Gusâ€™s fish is heading east toward the deep water of the ship channel. I split the difference and head at a forty-five degree angle between the fish.
Soon Uncle Gusâ€™s fish, an over thirty inch Red is alongside the boat and we net it, get the hook out and release it. Reds now had a twenty to twenty-eight inch slot and this one was too big. Dave is still struggling with his fish, which he thinks is either a record Red or maybe a large, Black Drum. I follow the fish and get the boat up beside it and we see it is a large, over twenty pound, Jackfish. â€œRecord Red, huh, haw, haw, haw,â€ we both laugh as I get the net ready. One more short run and the Jack is ours.
We get the hook out and release it. Jackfish are great fighters, more like sluggers, but have no food value. We find ourselves over three hundred yards from â€œThe Wreckâ€ and both of my guests say â€œWhy donâ€™t we go back and anchor up?â€ I comply.
Fishing â€The Wreckâ€ was a nice interlude, but a short one. Hurricane Alicia hit Galveston Island during the summer of 1983, the strong currents washing our favorite spot away forever!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 14:50 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, January 29. 2007
In January of 1971, I was transferred to Phoenix, Arizona to be Sales Manager in charge of all new business.Â The first months were spent missing the Gulf Coast, then a one month bout of Aisian Flu and then, whatever else time I had getting into my new job.Â Shortly after the Asian Flu, we met the Schlindler family, and Jack Schlindler became my hunting and fishing companion for the next fifteen years.
Jack was from East Texas, and grew up hunting and fishing in Texasâ€™ great piney woods.Â He was also a Mechanical Engineering graduate from Texas A & M College (now University).Â In 1971 Jack was VP of a large grocery chain, one of several local chains trying to gain control of the Phoenix market.Â Jack hung the dubious nickname of â€œBeechnutâ€, or â€œBeechâ€, on me because I chewed Beechnut Chewing Tobacco.
We had many adventures, some spine tingling, like when I slipped and fell/slid fifty feet down a two hundred foot canyon wall at the Black River.Â As I was sliding down, something inside told me to flatten out and spread my arms and legs to slow my fall.Â This saved my life!Â By lying flat and â€œscroochinâ€ up inches at a time I finally got to where Jack could reach me and pull me up and out of my fix.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 12:36 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Getting up at 5:00 AM and slipping on my workout clothes, I opened the side door of my house, in the Texas Hill Country, southwest of Goldthwaite, Texas, and was preparing to go outside and get into my truck for the ten-minute drive to the gym, when the â€œglareâ€ hit me.Â Not so much the glare but the complete whiteness of the early morning.Â The TV weather had reported a Winter Storm Warning, but so many of their warnings fizzle out I had not mentally prepared myself for snow on the ground and snow piling out of the sky.Â Flipping on the TV, sure enough, they reported it was snowing in their north and northwest viewing area.Â So much for a workout.It kept snowing for well into the morning and everything was white!Â I did notice that my newly planted Garlic was bravely sticking barely above the snow.Â Wow!Â We must have at least four inches and counting.Â The field behind our house looked like a bowl of whipped egg whites, and a crazy thought popped into my mind, if we get two or three more inches I could get out my skis and ski down the county road or take a leisurely swing down my field.Â That would make a good picture.
Growing up in Houston, and living most of my life there, we would see snow, maybe once every ten or fifteen years. We have hunted Quail in the snow in Arizona, sledded down the hills in Georgia and pounded the slopes, skiing, in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, but having all of this snow on the ground and falling out of the sky on my place was more than exciting.
After breakfast we, my wife and our wonder dog, Spike, headed out to my truck, cleaned the snow off of the windshield, put it in four-wheel high and â€œplowedâ€ out onto our place.
The first stop was a water trough, frozen (I broke up the ice), framed by snow and on down the road, where we both noticed how pretty the snow was on the prickly pear cactus.Â We couldnâ€™t resist a picture.
Spike was bouncing up and down wanting to get out into the snow.Â Being a miniature Dachshund, he only has three or four inches of ground clearance, but out he went, nose to the ground.Â No game was moving but he was hunting.Â My wife was worried, that with his short hair, he would get cold, poor baby.
We checked on a deer feeder and there were signs of activity early in the morning, but the tracks were almost snowed out. Driving on, we noticed deer tracks crossing the road.Â Stopping and letting Spike out, he quickly found the trail and the â€œhuntâ€ was on.Â He hunted for several hundred yards, me following.Â Spike is short, no more that ten inches tall.Â I am six feet tall.Â Spike runs under the brush and trees while I plow through the snow and brush covered with snow.Â Not even having a gun and having enough of this fun, I call off the â€œhuntâ€, pick Spike up and head back toward the truck.Â The little dog had been in â€œhog heavenâ€ hunting in the snow.
The snow had stopped by the time we got back to the house and we shed our wet jackets.Â Looking out over our place and thinking how great this moisture would be for the land,Â how sloppy it would be for a couple of days and how dirty our vehicles would be, helped us to appreciate the warm, cozy house and the fire glowing in the cast iron heater.
Spike wanted to get back to hunting!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Weather at 11:24 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
In the 1950â€™s the Katy Prairie stretched from Farm Road 1960 west to the Brazos River and from the pine tree line northwest of Houston, south to the farm country around Richmond/Rosenberg, an area of over 400 square miles. The corner of Texas Highway 6 and F.M. 529 was known throughout the area as â€œWolf Cornerâ€ (today a shopping center) because the trappers and hunters would string the carcasas of red wolves, coyotes, bobcats and foxes from the barbwire fences. â€œWolf Cornerâ€, that is F.M. 529 was one of the entry points to the Prairie.
Rice, cattle, oil and gas were the main products of the Prairie, but the sub-product of rice farming was geese and ducks, at one time, hundreds of thousands of them, and the hunters flocked to it. I have hunted with and without permission, as a guest and used my own lease, but finally the urban sprawl of Houston closed down this wonderful enclave. Most of the Prairie now is sub-divisions, schools and shopping centers and the geese and ducks have moved away.
In 1952 I shot three times and missed at the largest Canadian goose I have ever seen, later finding out it was a Canadensis Maxima, thought to be extinct since 1922, however some sightings are still reported. In 1980 I saw an â€œextinctâ€ red wolf cross a road that ran through my hunting lease. And to top that story, in 1988, while quail hunting near Waller, on the Katy Prairie, I came upon, and my Brittany Spaniel, Gus, pointed two â€œextinctâ€ red wolves. Gus, me, and the wolves, all froze. Gus and I both held our points, while the wolves trotted away into the thick grass and brush. This ended our quail hunt!
Years ago the State tried to plant pheasants on the Prairie and apparently into the 1980â€™s people were still running across some. The birds couldnâ€™t cope with all of the winged and fur bearing predators. In 1989, I was quail hunting south of Hockley, on the Prairie, and shot a cock pheasant, pointed by Gus. Maybe that was the last one?
My youngest son, Randy, actively pursued the geese and ducks on the Prairie. Later I came to believe, his main interest was seeing how much mud it took to stick his Blazer. One night I was having dinner with an important client and Randy called and told me he was stuck just off of Barker-Cypress Road, then a narrow two lane track, now a major four lane boulevard.
The client and I stopped eating and headed out, a 20 minute drive, to save Randy. He was stuck in the ditch beside the paved road and says he was forced off of the hard top. Forced, yes, when he turned the wheel into the ditch.
One good thing came out of this, the client and I began a 25 year business and personal relationship that night that lasts to this day!
Continue reading "The Katy Prairie"
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 10:37 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, January 22. 2007
Jack Shindler and I had narrowed down the best place in Arizona to hunt Gambel Quail and it was in the Tonto National Forest on the south side of the Tonto Basin, along the west side of the Salt River Canyon.Â This was our â€œPlaceâ€ and it was an â€œeasyâ€ drive from our Paradise Valley homes.
This particular hunt Jack and I were taking a good friend, Tommy Walker, who was in Phoenix for a business meeting which ended the coming Friday.Â Tommy was excited at the prospect of some real good Quail hunting!
Our â€œplaceâ€ was off of the main road from Payson to Roosevelt Dam and on to Globe, Arizona.Â Once on the Payson, Globe road, heading east, we would take a dirt road south for eight miles before it turned into a four wheel drive only road for four more harrowing miles, following the west rim of the Salt River Canyon.Â When the four wheel drive road ended, we were at our â€œPlace.Â Â We probably made six or seven trips to the â€œPlaceâ€ and never saw another soul there.
Â The â€œPlaceâ€ began as a wash feeding into the Salt River and continued west up into the hills for several miles, turning into a mini canyon almost two hundred feet deep, with nicely terraced sides along the north rim.Â We, our dogs and hunters, would spread across the wash and head up it until the coveys of birds were found.Â The coveys were enormous, at the time, one hundred to two hundred birds and needed to be seen to be believed.
Back to our story, Tommy, Jack and I, along with our four Brittany Spaniels, arrived at the entry point to the â€œplaceâ€ just at sun up, checked our gear, made sure we each had canteens of water for us and the dogs, trekked a quarter mile in, spread out and began the hunt
Once the birds were found, we pursued them up the wash into the small canyon, splitting the coveys into more manageable groups, then the shooting really began, up the canyon, up the terraces, back down the terraces, up the terraces, not for the faint hearted!Â The dog work was excellent, the shooting bordered on fantastic and the Arizona desert hills made for a perfect setting.
We hunted two dogs for two hours then circled back, took a break and got two fresh ones, then, around noon we broke for a quick sandwich, sat a spell enjoying the scenery, counted our half limits of birds and headed back up the north rim of our little canyon.Â We saw the birds running on the ground ahead of us, before seeing them flush wildly over the rim to the bottom of the canyon.Â These were a group of birds that flew up here when we broke up their covey earlier this morning.
Jack said, â€œIâ€™ll take the dogs and go down into the canyon and try to drive them up on the terraces.â€Â I said, â€œIâ€™ll take the middle terrace,â€ knowing that I could come under fire from Jack if the birds flew straight up the canyon wall. Â Me better than Tommy being there.Â He wasnâ€™t used to the rough hunting terrain, and especially to the erratic behavior of Gambel Quail when being pursued by dogs and hunters.Â It was safer for him to be up on the top sixty yards or more from Jack.Â He was to walk slowly and mark the birds that flew up and out of the canyon, and I had already told him that I would not shoot at a bird flying up the canyon wall toward him.Â
The dogs pointed a group of twelve to fifteen birds, Jack, in the bottom of the canyon, letting me know of the point (Tommy hearing the exchange), walked in on the birds and they went everywhere.Â bam, bam, two shots from Jackâ€™s, twenty gauge, over and under, which whizzed over my head as I ducked down and then heard Tommy yell in pain, â€œIâ€™m hit!â€
Scrambling up the thirty yards to where he was, down on his knees, holding his eyes.Â Oh no, not his eyes, I thought!Â Up comes Jack, â€œWhat happened to Tommy?â€ He exclaims.Â â€œLooks like he got some shot in his eyes,â€ I answer.Â Tommy says, â€œI heard you and Jack say a few words and I got curious and walked to the edge of the canyon and looked down just as Jack shot, and I think Iâ€™ve got some shot in one of my eyes!â€
I checked his pulse, it was normal, his skin felt normal, one eye definitely had one or more shot in it, the other was normal.Â No apparent signs of shock, for now.Â We had him lay down and elevated his feet, while we figured what to do and how to get him out the two plus miles back to the truck.
We figured if we bandaged his eye we could lead him out OK.Â The only problem, no bandages, some in the first aid kit in the truck, but none with us, so we improvise.Â We take the back of my tee shirt and Jackâ€™s clean hankie, tie them together, and oops, to cover his injured eye, we have to cover his good eye too.Â We donâ€™t have any tape with us.Â It is in the truck, too.Â Covering both eyes, we tie the â€œbandageâ€ off in the back of Tommyâ€™s head.
We start back to the truck and it is hard to guide Tommy, so Jack and I take turns, one carrying all three guns, the other guiding Tommy, by having him lean on and put an arm around our neck.Â He told of being wounded in WW II and didnâ€™t feel like he was anywhere near to going into shock, our main worry.
The dogs, bless their hearts, hunted all the way back.Â Tommy couldnâ€™t see with both of his eyes bandaged, but he could hear us talking.Â â€œHey, Jack look, point up here.â€Â â€œJon, hereâ€™s a point.â€Â Whirrrrrrr!Â A quail takes to a hurried flight.Â Tommy said, â€œGuys, set me down here and you all hunt these birds.Â You can come back and get me.â€Â â€œNot a chance, Tommy,â€ we both echo.
Tommy was a load, weighing about two hundred pounds, and carrying the shotguns for two miles sounds easy, but remember there are no handles, or slings, on them and no easy way to carry three guns at once for any distance.Â Our two mile jaunt took us almost two hours, but our first goal, the truck and the four wheel drive road, was reached.Â
We still had four, hard, four wheel drive miles, at least two hours, to cover before we got to the dirt road.Â Jack drove and I sat with Tommy in the back of the SUV.Â The dogs were packed into two kennels behind the second seat.Â We were all tired, and Tommyâ€™s eye was beginning to throb, as we bumped the four miles to the dirt road.Â Our second goal was reached.Â We could make this eight mile leg in about thirty minutes.Â It had been over four hours since the accident.
The sun was setting as we reached the hard top road to Payson and it had been almost five hours since the accident.Â Jack and I knew there was a small hospital in Payson, twenty-five miles ahead, and we hurried on into town.
No cell phones then, so we stopped at the first convenience store we came across in Payson and called the hospital, alerting them of the accident and getting directions. We found the emergency room and checked Tommy in.Â There was a short wait for the local eye specialist.Â An hour later the doctor comes out and tells us that he had removed the shot from Tommyâ€™s eye, but he was concerned that the vitreous fluid could leak out, causing Tommy to loose his vision in that eye.
The doctor would end up keeping Tommy in the hospital for a week.Â His eye healed and he returned to shooting and hunting almost as soon as he got back home.Â Â I hunted and shot skeet with Tommy for the next ten years and all of us started wearing shooting glasses!Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Continue reading "Walking Wounded"
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 16:52 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, January 12. 2007
Years ago, after a dove hunting trip that was hard and yielded very poor results, my Dad passed on some sage advice to me, saying, â€œBoy, donâ€™t worry about todayâ€™s bad hunt.Â Just remember, if it was easy each time out, it would be called â€œshootingâ€ instead of â€œhuntingâ€.
Leaving my house, the phone rang and a very close friend was calling from
Yes it was late, almost 5:00 PM, so I decided to hunt a special â€œhideâ€ of mine, ten yards off from a well used deer trail and reluctantly decided not to take my Deer horns with me.Â No â€œrattlingâ€ this trip.Â My â€œhideâ€ was cut into a cedar tree and some buck brush, a very concealed spot and sneaking into it and pulling on my camo face cover, quietly chambering a round into my Ruger Lightweight .270 and slipping my â€œgruntâ€ caller over my head, Iâ€™m ready for the deer.Â I thought.
Not a minute later, looking down the trail, a Doe is running, about half speed, toward me followed by a beautiful ten point buck, with tall horns at least six inches past his ears, a twenty inch spread for sure!Â Boy, am I ready for him, I thought.Â The Doe flashes by and I can hear her hooves pounding (or is that my heart) as I raise my rifle with my left hand and try to slide my â€œgruntâ€ caller under my face mask.Â When I â€œgruntâ€he will stop in his tracks, but, the caller is tangled in the mask and as I try to blow into it, nothing happens and the Buck, nostrils flared and mouth half open, as if in a mocking smile, flashes past me, and both Deer turn into the brush.
Wow!Â What a sight.Â Not to be outsmarted by the Deer and finally untangling my caller from my face mask (I am very frustrated now), I blow a defiant challenge call to the apparently, long gone Buck, â€œGrunt, Grunt, Grnt, grnt, grnt, grnt.â€Â Barely a minute later, looking down the trail, here comes the Buck trotting back looking for this unseen challenger.Â He is more interested in fighting.Â Iâ€™ve got him now I thought.
Facing me, a large cedar tree blocks out a portion of the trail, and my mind, in overdrive, quickly calculates he will clear the right side of the tree, and I shoulder my rifle and prepare for the killing shot.Â Waiting, for what seems like an hour, no Buck.Â I cut my eyes away from the scope and look to the left of the tree and there stands the Buck, not fifteen yards from me, behind a knarly, dead mesquite.Â
Moving my rifle slowly, ever so slowly, from the right side to the left side of the cedar tree and moving the safety to â€œfireâ€, I see there is no killing shot available.Â Maybe a head shot, but I choose not to as the Buck wheels and moves off, masking me with the cedar tree.Â I donâ€™t even know where my â€œgruntâ€ caller is, I guess still around my neck, so instead of fumbling with it again, and my â€œstoreâ€ teeth prohibiting me a whistle, I yell â€œHEY!â€Â Â The Buck doesnâ€™t even acknowledge me, no stride breaking, no tail flashing me, just trotting back into the thick stuff.
Thinking to myself, well Jon, you really blew this one.Â The Buck has â€œmarkedâ€ me at this spot, so I ease out of my â€œhideâ€ and begin slipping toward a new spot about three hundred yards away. After slowly moving about fifty yards and rounding a curve in the trail, all the while looking â€œthroughâ€ the heavy cover, I spot my adversary again, watching me from behind a mesquite that hasnâ€™t shed its leaves.Â The Buck is approximately seventy-five yards away and slowly moving my rifle to my shoulder and sliding off the safety, he is in the cross hairs, along with several mesquite limbs.Â My mind racing, can this 115 grain bullet traveling at over 3,100 FPS, break through the brush and score a killing hit, or will it be deflected. Should I shoot?Â Not taking the chance of wounding and loosing this fine Buck, I lower my rifle and he turns and walks back into the thick stuff.
Walking back to my Jeep, my thoughts are a â€œjumbleâ€.Â I really screwed up a good opportunity to bag a trophy, and, on the other hand, I choose to pass on a marginal shot.Â There will be another time for both of us.Â In spite of my earlier well wishers, my luck wasnâ€™t â€œgoodâ€ this hunt.
Like my Dad said, â€œIf it was easy, it would be called shooting, instead of hunting.â€
Continue reading "Why it is called â€œHUNTINGâ€"
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 17:44 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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