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Monday, February 26. 2007
I have enjoyably hunted and fished for well over sixty years and have tried to pass on to my sons and daughters, now to my grandchildren, that it is not the shooting or killing, but the chance to be out of doors and enjoy all of the creatures that God has placed on our planet.
Continue reading "The Way I See Things"
Posted by Jon Bryan in Random Thoughts at 14:58 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, February 24. 2007
Deciding to retire on May 1, 2005, to my ranch in Goldthwaite, Texas, had not been the difficult decision that I had expected. My son, Brad, had returned from his tour in Iraq and was looking forward to a safer tour of duty in Colorado. Months before my retirement I even planted some peach trees and I had just put in my garden, one of my â€œgiftsâ€ being a very green thumb!
In 2005, spring Turkey season opened on April 2, and not having the time in the past to indulge in this spring sport on my ranch, and since I was retiring on May 1, and especially, since my ranch lies in the middle of some fine Turkey country, I decided that I would try to get me one.The alarm went off at 6:00 AM and up I jump, pull up my Wranglers, slip on some socks and my work boots, and tucking in my camo tee shirt, head out to my jeep. I wanted to get a good â€œstartâ€ on the Turkeys. I stepped out of our side door and, whoa, where am I? It is freezing and I go back and look at our inside/outside thermometer and see it is thirty-two degrees. It was in the mid sixties when we went to bed last night and the evening weather report did not include freezing temperatures.
Quickly my plans change. If it hasnâ€™t already, I know there will be a frost and my peach trees and tomatoes are blooming. Covering them up is out of the question, so the only thing left is to water them and hope that the water will freeze over the blooms and prevent them from freezing.
Out of my work boots and on with my insulated boots and quickly putting on my insulated overalls I head out to the garden and apply a liberal dose of water to the peach trees and tomato plants. I will know soon if this works. Now on to the Turkeys, dawn is breaking crisp and clear, and Iâ€™m behind schedule.
After my hunt, I laughingly say I pulled a â€œRandyâ€ and drove and parked the Jeep directly under the elevated blind. Randy, my son, has been known to do just this when heâ€™s late to a hunt. Getting out of the Jeep, I sling my rifle a Ruger, Model 77, .22 caliber, magnum, with a 3 X 9 power, Weaver scope and climb up into the blind.
Laying the rifle down, I survey the blind. The windows are frosted and I canâ€™t see out but I have disturbed two angry red wasps that found shelter from the cold in the blind. I open one window and out flies one of the wasps, while the other takes exception at my having disturbed him and attacks me. I parry his first attack with a handy seat cushion, then whack him a good one and down he goes, and â€œsmushâ€, under foot he succumbs. Now hopefully, down to turkey hunting. I clean the frost off of the windows and open all of them to try and balance the temperature.
I sit down and load my rifle, thinking that no self-respecting Turkey would come within a mile of this blind with all the racket that Iâ€™ve made. Fifty yards in front of the blind is a food plot which I had just planted and some excess seeds were scattered about it, and to my surprise, out walks a Turkey hen and begins to make â€œhen soundsâ€, soft clucks, and starts picking up the seeds. I didnâ€™t have a camera with me, but I have some great â€œmind picturesâ€ of her.
She clucks and nibbles for almost fifteen minutes and Iâ€™m thinking to myself â€œI guess no tom is going to come along,â€ when the silence is broken by the loudest Gobble, Gobble, Gobble, Gobble, I have ever heard. There, right next to the Jeep is a beautiful, multi colored, tom Turkey, in full strut, his wing tips touching the ground, slowly moseying toward the hen.
Gobble, Gobble, Gobble, Gobble, as he walks and struts right up to her, and making a fatal mistake, he turns away from me, and my scope comes to rest right in the middle of his back and, Bam! He jumps about five feet, straight up, feathers fly, and he walks off, the hen following. I quickly ejected the spent cartridge and quickly loaded and ejected another round before I caught myself. Nerves had hit me. I didnâ€™t get a second shot.
Closing the windows, I unloaded my rifle and climbed down out of the blind and stepped off forty yards to where the Turkey had been standing, then heading off in the direction he took, I found him down, in a creek bottom, forty yards from where he was hit.
Once back at our ranch house, Spike, our miniature Dachshund, posed for pictures with me and the Turkey. Spike, who tracks and finds deer when we shoot one, took possession of the bird and guarded it until I loaded it into my truck and headed to a taxidermist in Lampassas.
The first, spring Turkey shot on my ranch is displayed in a flying mount, on a wall in the great room of our ranch house. I did save the tomatoes, having a â€œbumperâ€ crop, which lasted until Thanksgiving! But the peaches were a different story. Off of four trees, I only harvested twelve of them.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 13:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, February 18. 2007
During lunch hour one day in June of 1987, Dana Sawyer, R. E.â€œBubbaâ€ Broussard, and I, went â€œshoppingâ€ at Sporting Goods, Inc., which in 1987, was the best hunting and fishing store in the area. During this specific trip, I bought a new fishing rod for $19.95
The reader has met Dana before in "The Sunken Shrimp Boat". Bubba was a computer contractor and was the first customer I had met with when I returned to Houston in 1979. Layla was the second. On my first meeting with him, I happened to have a picture of the twelve-pound bass I caught in March of that year, which I promptly showed him. He responded by pulling out a picture of a six hundred pound Blue Marlin he had just caught. Our friendship was sealed and lasts till this day.The rod in question was inexpensive. So inexpensive that it didnâ€™t even have a name. But, its shaft extended all the way through to the end of the handle, it had a strong reel seat and trigger grip made of chromed steel, had a good reverse bend to it, had stainless steel eyes and it felt good to hold. It was six and a half foot long, with a medium to heavy action and I knew it would be just the right fit for my Ambassadeur 6500C, wide spool, reel, loaded with twenty-pound line. History would show that I had made a good buy.
I got to try the new rod out the next week, when Layla and I and Bubba and his wife went to Grand Isle, Louisiana, attempting to catch a Stripped Marlin. We caught everything but a Marlin. A hundred miles, yes a hundred miles out in a twenty-three foot, Formula with two, 455 cubic inch, engines and MercCruiser out-drives. A fifty-five MPH boat. We did have company, Jay Prudhome and his wife in Jayâ€™s new twenty-seven foot Proline, with two, two hundred horsepower sea drives. The seas were calm with no wind. We went fast!
After a less than three hour run, one hundred miles out, we pulled up to acres of floating Sargassum sea weed and with my first cast with my new rod, I had a strike from a Chicken Dolphin (small Dolphin weighing less than five pounds) and the fun started. We boated over one hundred that morning. The new rod was fine. I filleted all of those fish before supper that night. During our fishing we lost many fish to sharks! They were a nuisance.
Around noon, I had a big hit and immediately knew it wasnâ€™t a small dolphin. The fish was a great match for my new rod making a long run, it was too far offshore for a Kingfish, maybe a Wahoo, maybe a â€œbullâ€ Dolphin, but no jumps, getting it alongside the boat we saw it was a eight to ten pound Albacore Tuna being followed by a large, six foot, Bull Shark. Bubba grabbed for his .357 Magnum as the shark clipped off the Tunaâ€™s body right behind the head. The shark happily lolled on the surface long enough for Bubba to shoot it right in the middle of its head and, the last we saw of it, it was sinking. Revenge!
We slept in the next morning, and around 10:00 AM we headed out to some rigs to try and catch some really big Red Fish, thirty pounds and up. We randomly picked a rig, tied up to it, baited up and my new rod was bent double by a savage strike and a long, head shaking run â€“ a big, big â€“ Red! Fifteen minutes later we netted a thirty-five pound Red. He worked me, and my new rod out, but back into the water for him.
Not ten minutes later another savage strike, these fish mean business, and, after what seems like two hours, we boat and release a forty pound Red. My new rod did just fine. Mid morning in the middle of July, no breeze and the fish have really worked me and my new rod out, and, splash, cold, cold, splash, my lovely wife and my best friend have unceremoniously dumped an Igloo water cooler full of ice and cold, cold, water on my head to cool me off.
Layla now laughs about this, saying, â€œThis is the only time I ever saw you loose your temper.â€ Which I did. Being a lady, Layla doesnâ€™t approve of swearing, anyway I copied a page out of my Dadâ€™s cussing book and the â€œBlue Streakersâ€ started, and me trying to choke them both at once, and both of them laughing so hard, my temper cooled. They have never tried that again. Meeting Jay and his wife, we headed back out, one hundred miles, to our weed patch.
Fishing around our weed patch, we catch more chicken Dolphin and loose some fish to the sharks. We have a nice Dolphin on and up come a big Bull Shark and eats the Dolphin, lolls on the surface and we see the hole in its head where Bubba shot him yesterday. Incredible, the same shark and not dead! I guess he missed any vitals, if any happened to be up there.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 15:46 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, February 15. 2007
On February 12, 2007, I was going through a trove of old Bryan family momentoes and opening a box of keepsakes from my Uncle, E. Jay Bryan, who served in the Army during the Mexican Border Campaign with Gen. Pershing, and died in France during WW 1, well before I was born, I came across the following handwritten poem, author unknown to me.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 11:16 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, February 14. 2007
The summer of 1957 found the fishing still good for small to medium trout around Galveston Islandâ€™s East Beach Flats and it also found me boatless, still in college and awaiting a six week stint at ROTC Camp at Ft. Hood. We had been hearing stories about the great fishing behind Earl Galceranâ€™s camp and the old Coast Guard Station at the far west end of Galveston Island. How do we get to it?
Earlâ€™s camp was really several thousand acres leased for Dove, Quail and Duck hunting, plus it had access to some of the best Trout water in the state. No bait used here, only Dixie Jet silver spoons with a yellow buck tail attached. Like the Rockport and Port Oâ€™Conner area today, grass grew in abundance and the pot-holes in the grass reminded me of holes in the moss in fresh water lakes. How do we get to it?One of my ROTC buddies, a newly commissioned Second Lieutenant in the United States Army, Ralph Foster, an avid, avid fisherman, had the idea that since we couldnâ€™t sneak into the area, why didnâ€™t he and I go ask Earl Galceran, already a fishing legend, if we could fish behind his place. We could sight our lack of funds, honesty and Ralphâ€™s newly commissioned status as reasons we could be trusted not to do any damage to his property or equipment. Or, we could just go down there and act like members and wave and smile and just wade out and start fishing. We choose the latter approach, correctly thinking, â€œAlways beg for forgiveness and never ask for permission.â€ We would plead ignorance of the private property and say we were just following the road to West Galveston Bay.
Arriving at the open gate to Earl Galceranâ€™s we drove to a parking area, parked, grabbed our rods, and stringers and headed for the bay. Out came Earl Galceran, we smiled and waved, he smiled and waved and went back into his trailer. Whew! We must have looked like members.
Reaching the edge of the bay, a light Southeast wind blowing at our backs, as we looked out over Trout paradise, a slight ripple on green, clear water with grass growing and swirling right up to the surface. No hesitation now, in I go and find a hard sand/shell bottom and I canâ€™t believe the grass. On my first cast, the spoon lands silently past a three foot hole in the moss and I begin a rapid retrieve and whamo, a three pound Trout nails the spoon and the fight is on! When a big trout hits, you know it, a jarring, pounding, rod bending hit, not the sideways, slow hit of a big Red picking up a shrimp. Landing the Trout bare handed, getting a firm grip behind its gills, I slid him on the stringer and looked over at Ralph who was in the middle of a fight with a nice fish also.
â€œThis is some place,â€ I exclaimed, sailing another cast past a likely looking hole in the grass, and getting another whamo! The hook pulled out, no fish. What I didnâ€™t know then, but have since learned, the Trout lurk in the grass beside the holes and ambush baitfish as they swim through the open area. Another cast, another jarring hit, and this oneâ€™s hooked solid and Iâ€™m soon stringing another three pounder. Several casts catch grass and before you know it, whamo, another fine fish soon to be on my stringer.
Thirty minutes of fishing, wonderful conditions, bait in the water, trout all around and three solid three pounders on the stringer. What a day this will be!
Wait a minute, my stringer is caught on something. That something hits my leg. That something is a shark! â€œShark,â€ I yell, stepping back and looking down at my stringer, which is tied, not looped, onto a belt loop of my jeans. Another lesson learned, â€œNever tie, always loop.â€ Two bites and the shark, a four foot plus Black Tip, clips off the last two Trout on my stringer, swirls around me, brushing my leg again, and comes up to the surface and grabs the last Trout, all of this right by my right hand which is futilely trying to pull the fish away from the shark.
I hear Ralph laughing. I donâ€™t think this is funny at all. Iâ€™m left with three trout heads on my stringer, heart racing and heâ€™s laughing. I guess Earl Galceran kept these sharks around as pets to feed on his â€œguestâ€™sâ€ fish. I quickly got out of the water and sat on the bank for thirty or forty minutes cooling off and by that time Ralph, still laughing, came out of the water with five nice trout on his stringer. He said â€œYou ready to call it a day.â€ I didnâ€™t reply, just turned around and started back to the car.
I went back to this place by boat in 1970. A big chemical plant had been built in the mid â€˜60â€™s, on one of the feeder bayous that feeds into Lower West Galveston Bay above Earlâ€™s old place and the grass went away. Trout fishing changed in Lower West Bay to anchoring on reefs, fishing under the birds or drifting. Earl Galceran moved to a house boat set up in the Chandleur Islands off of the Louisiana/Mississippi coasts. From what I have heard, he took his sharks with him.
My buddy, Ralph Foster, went on active duty at Ft. Hood as a Platoon Leader in a basic training company. One of his recruits was Elvis Pressley.
Continue reading "A More Closer Encounter"
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 14:53 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, February 10. 2007
In the summer of 1954 trout fishing had been very good along the broad sand flats from Galvestonâ€™s East Beach Lagoon around to the base of the South Jetties, a curving distance of approximately two miles protected from any wind except north or northeast.
This area was at the far eastern tip of Galveston Island and the western side of Bolivar Channel, which cuts between the island and the Bolivar Peninsula. This is also the mouth of the Galveston and Houston ship channels. It was good fishing and just plain fun to go down there and watch the ships and the girls. We always tried to plan our trips when the wind was light and the tide was coming in.
The week before todayâ€™s event my Cousin and fishing buddy, George Pyland, and I had made a â€œkillingâ€ on school trout on the north side of the flats. The fish were everywhere, plugs or live shrimp, even a bare hook. We spread the news among our fishing group and everyone awaited a break in the weather.
I get a early morning call from one of my partners in crime, Bill Brown, saying â€œThings look good for the flats this afternoonâ€. My reply was â€œI canâ€™t. I have a dateâ€. This was totally unacceptable to Bill. His girl friend didnâ€™t like to go fishing and he was free today and tonight. My girl friend was game for anything. She didnâ€™t fish but liked to wade out and watch us fish. After saying, â€œHe would buy the gasâ€, all of $.18 per gallon, I called my girl and told her of the change in plans and she reluctantly agreed to go with us.
The tide was running in and the wind was light as we bought shrimp at Bobby Wilsonâ€™s East Beach Bait Camp and headed for the flats. Wading out about seventy-five yards to waist deep water, the fish were there and we started catching some nice â€˜Specs, up to two pounds. Bill, to my right, and I were about 30 feet apart and girl friend was behind me, my stringer floating off to my left with the breeze and incoming tide.
My cork goes under and as I set the hook I remark, â€œHey, this is a real nice fish probably a Redâ€. I struggle to keep the line tight as the fish bores toward me, my companions watching intently. Ten feet in front of me a beautiful five foot long Black Tip Shark clears the water, mouth open, the teeth getting my attention, hits the water splashing some on me, and heads off to my right towards where I thought Bill was located. My valiant fishing partner and girl friend had already halved the distance to shore leaving alone me to battle the denizen.
Not much of a battle, fifteen pound braided line on a Shakespeare Direct Drive reel and a fiber glass popping rod, all being no match for an eighty pound shark. The shark headed to my right and I headed straight for the shore where my stalwart friends were waiting for me. At least the shark didnâ€™t get the fish on our stringers!
This area, the East Beach Flats including Bobby Wilsonâ€™s Bait Camp no longer exists. Natural erosion assisted by a small hurricane that came up the channel in the mid 70â€™s, completely changed the landscape, eliminating one good fishing spot.
Girl friend never went wade fishing with me again.
Continue reading "Close Encounter"
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 16:08 | Comments (0) | Trackback (1)
Tuesday, February 6. 2007
The following story was written in 2006 by my Grandson, Austin Bryan. Using this blog to tell my stories wasnâ€™t even on the horizon at that time. His Mom and Dad, Randy and Debbie, had the story reproduced and put into a very nice frame and gave it to me as a memento that I will cherish. The young man is off to a good start and I think honoring his effort and posting this to my blog would be something that he would cherish.
Austin was in the fourth grade, ten years old, and the story was his written composition portion of the TAKS test. He received a perfect score and was the only fourth grader in San Marcos ISD to receive a perfect score on this portion of the test.
Besides being a very good student, Austin is a talented athlete playing organized football, baseball and basketball. He lives with his parents, brothers and sister in San Marcos, Texas. He has two younger brothers, Sean and Jeremy, and a younger sister, Rebekah. His Dad, my Son, Randy, is Pastor of The Fellowship Of San Marcos Church.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 14:07 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, February 3. 2007
In December of 1956 we left West University (then a Houston suburb) well before first light for the 30 minute drive to a rice field that we had permission to hunt on and spending over an hour spreading out our decoys, Wes Reynolds and I were laying along the edge of a levee in a harvested rice field of about eight hundred acres with a mud road bisecting it.Â Wes, four years younger than me, was a friend and neighbor and had been hunting with my Dad and I for several years.Â In the far northwest corner of the rice field, probably five thousand Geese had roosted the previous night and they now provided a serious impediment to our decoying efforts.
On the Katy prairie it was cold, with low hanging clouds and a steady north wind blowing, providing Wes and me a day made for Goose hunting.Â The early morning quiet was broken by the sounds of Geese squawking in the distance and we were doing our best to imitate these sounds and coax the six young Snow Geese to â€œcome on inâ€ and land with the large gaggle of geese, really our decoys, already on the ground, on this side of the large rice field.
Not your normal Goose decoy spread that you see now days with hundreds of large full body, plastic and foam ones, Geese â€œflyingâ€, wings spinning rapidly, hunters dressed in white overalls packing 10 Gauge, 3 Â½â€ magnum shotguns; but newspapers, old diapers, piles of mud with goose feathers stuck into them and hunters with â€œearlyâ€ camo parkas and green waders packing, 12 gauge, pump shotguns with 2 Â¾â€ paper shells.Â But it worked!
Setting out the decoys wasnâ€™t rocket science.Â Spread the diapers over clumps of rice, wrap a full sheet of newspaper so it looks like a Goose head and set it on a clump of rice and attach a glob of mud to each in order to hold them so the wind wonâ€™t blow them away.Â The â€œmudâ€ decoys were the easiest, just make a pile of mud and stick Goose feathers into in, not like a porcupine, but slicked back like a Goose.
Young Geese make mistakes, and these six did, setting their wings and â€œfallingâ€, looking like leaves drifting down from a tall tree, right into the decoys and bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, four geese tumble to the ground.Â We pick them up and unceremoniously propped the Gooseâ€™s heads up with rice stalks and added them to the decoy spread.
Later in the morning, with two Specklebelly Geese down and added to the spread, Wes and I noticed the large gaggle of Geese in the northwest corner of the field become agitated, some starting to take off, some up and circling and a noisy cacophony of Goose sounds filling the air.Â We snuggled down behind the levee and waited, and soon were rewarded with the sight of thousands of Geese taking the air, and heading right toward us!
Over the noise of the Geese, I whispered to Wes, â€œWait until the leaders have flown past, pick out a bird and shoot him before you get on the next one.â€Â The noise of the approaching
Geese and the numbers of them were astounding to us as closer and closer they came.Â The leaders passing over us, the sound deafening, I shouted, â€œTake â€˜em,â€ and we both stood and shouldered our shotguns, we both had two additional shells stuck between the fingers ofÂ our left hands, and let go on the Geese.
Picking out a huge Canadian, not over fifteen yards away from me, bigger than any goose I had ever seen, swinging, putting the barrel of the shotgun about 24 inches in front of the giant Gooseâ€™s bill and bam, the giant kept flying, quickly shucking another shell into the chamber of the full choked, Winchester, 12 Gauge, Model 12, bam again, nothing.Â Shortening my lead on the giant, bam again, nothing.Â Quickly reloading the two â€œback upâ€ shells, the giant being long gone, I acquired new targets, two Snow Geese stretching out for altitude and dropped them cleanly, probably 40 yard shots.Looking over toward my younger accomplice, who was standing there shaking, I said, â€œHow many did you knock down?â€Â Wes replied, â€œI shot five shells and never hit a bird.Â I got excited and shot into the flock on my first three, reloaded and just kindaâ€™ shot at another Goose.Â Nothing!â€
As we picked up our â€œdecoysâ€, the diapers, newspapers and goose feathers, I remarked, â€œEight birds isnâ€™t bad, but you should have seen the one I took three shots at and missed.Â It was twice as big as the rest of the Geese.Â I first thought it was a Swan, but it had distinctive Canadian Goose markings.Â I donâ€™t know how I could have missed it?â€
Driving home, we thought our eight Goose day should have counted at least a dozen, but when we got home, my Dad almost lectured us, saying, â€œBoys, whenever you can go out, on your own and get eight, nice Geese, be thankful of that, and I donâ€™t want to hear anymore grumbling about it!â€Â I said, â€œBut Dad, I really messed up not getting that giant Goose and I still donâ€™t know how I missed three shots at fifteen yards.â€Â My Dad replied, â€œBoy, thatâ€™s easy, at fifteen yards the pattern of your shotgun has probably a six inch diameter and the shot string length is probably ten inches at the most.Â Itâ€™s easy, you led the Goose too much!â€
Later that day, Wes and I were talking with a neighbor Dave Miller, who hunted Ducks and Geese regularly with our Dads.Â He told us, â€œThe giant Canadian Goose that you missed was a Canadian Goose alright, a Canadensis Maxima, the largest of the species and supposedly extinct since1922!Â However, several sightings of the giants have been reported during the past few years.â€
Thinking out loud I replied, â€œMissing those three shots wasnâ€™t so bad after all.â€
Continue reading "Canadensis Maxima"
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 17:57 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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