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Saturday, March 31. 2007
This is another story from the book, "Waif Of Times", written by my Great Uncle, Lee Wallace. He was either the presiding judge or defense attorney in this case. He was know for his oratorical skills and was a self-styled poet, so I favor him being the defense attorney.
Art Sheely was prosecuted on a charge of goat theft. The main witnesses for the State, two trappers running their lines on a cold morning at sunrise, from a high cliff, swore they saw Sheely catch and kill the goat with his knife far down in the canyon below them. That about this time Sheely discovered the witnesses and ran away without the goat and that they immediately reported the matter to the sheriff, who went to the scene, found the dead goat and nearby a bloody open knife. They testified they had seen Sheely a short time before the theft with just such a knife.
At the trial, these two witnesses on cross examination admitted they had lost money as trappers, that they knew there was a standing $500.00 reward offered by the Goat Raisers Association for evidence â€˜sufficient and convictingâ€™ anyone guilty of goat theft, that they knew Sheely lived three miles away, that he was a shiftless, lazy non-working kind of fellow.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hill Country Happenings at 14:18 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, March 27. 2007
By the summer of 1946, WW II had ended the previous August and gas rationing had gone away. We celebrated these events by taking a trip to visit my Aunt Lenora and Uncle Pete and their two kids in Temple, Texas. I was excited to see the family, but really excited because Uncle Pete told me that he was going to take me fishing in his boat. Never having fished from a real boat I was wound up tight for the visit.
At the time, Uncle Pete, A.J. Peters, had a Texaco Service Station in Temple and I remember he had a trophy in the station for having the number one Texaco Station in the country. How could a station in Temple be number one? Easy, Ft Hood, with about 50,000 troops stationed there, was about thirty miles away and anyone leaving the post heading east would stop at his station and gas up for around $.15 per gallon, get their tires checked and their windshield washed, all for no charge. Everyone smiled and spoke English then.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 12:25 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, March 26. 2007
These fish jumped into the boat!Â Spring, 1968, southeast of Houston.Â Pictured are John H. "Poppy" Bryan and Brad Bryan.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Pictures at 13:42 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Welcome to the home page of the â€œOutdoor Odysseyâ€ blog carnival. Each week, I will publish articles that showcase the best Hunting, Fishing, and Outdoors Stories. Submit your articles now and share your best insights. Plus, you should see increased traffic to your blog! You can submit your article at blogcarnival.com using this link.
Posted by Randy Bryan in Blog Carnival at 01:10 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, March 21. 2007
Our first trip was with our neighbor, Dave Miller, a WW II veteran and former student at Texas A & M College (now University) and his son Benny, to an oxbow lake off of the Brazos River, south of Richmond, Texas. This was a very â€œprivateâ€ lake being on a large State Prison Farm.
Another Uncle of mine, A. C. Turner, Uncle Ace, had returned from the war and was back working for the Texas Prison System and had arranged for us to fish on this lake. He was Rehabilitation Director and, at that time, the Texas Prison System was self sufficient and even showed a profit. Drugs, illegal immigration and our Federal Courts fixed that! Uncle Ace went on to become Warden of The Walls unit in Huntsville, then to the State Parole Board, rising to its President.
This was my second trip to a Prison Farm. Here, on the Brazos River, the inmates seemed happy and waved and spoke to us. My first was to the German Concentration Camp in Temple, now the site of the V. A. Hospital. These were â€œhardâ€ guys, Afrika Corps troopers. They were sullen and took immense glee that when a plane flew over them, they would raise their shovels and rakes and pretend to shoot at it, then congratulate themselves on a â€œhitâ€!
We drove to the lake, inflated the boat and then â€œtook turnsâ€ fishing out of the life raft. Benny and I went first and learned quickly the art of paddling a life raft. Our first attempt resulted in an inglorious circle! Our fishing results were better, several small Bass, which we put on our communal stringer and we headed to the shore and turned the raft over to our Dads.
Left on the bank while our Dads were working on the Bass, Benny and I caught some grasshoppers and went to bait fishing for Bream and Perch. Not much wind, a real nice afternoon and we noticed a snag drifting near our spot. It drifted up and stopped and quit drifting. Being 9 and 11 years old we thought nothing of it and kept fishing.
Our Dads were headed back our way with a couple of more Bass on the communal stringer and Dave Miller yelled to us, â€œWhatâ€™s that in the water out from you?â€ Being young we answered, â€œWhere?â€ My Dad said, â€œBoys, watch where I cast,â€ as he cast a wooden, Lucky 13 plug, toward us and across our â€œsnagâ€.
He twitched his rod tip and reeled one turn at a time, â€œWalking The Dogâ€ back over the â€œsnagâ€ and the water exploded and a big, it seemed five or six foot long, Alligator, our â€œsnagâ€, clears the water in a twisting, mouth open, teeth showing jump, makes a great splash as it returns and then takes off, at top speed, pulling the life raft behind it. My dadâ€™s Calcutta rod is dangerously bent, he is yelling because the â€œGator is stripping the line from his reel, and having no drag system, only his thumb, which is being blistered, to put pressure on the line and try and stop the run. The â€˜Gator jumps again, the plug pulls loose and comes flying back toward my Dad and, a ducking Dave and settles on the water behind them. â€œWhoopeeâ€ exclaims Dave, followed by a â€œDamnâ€ from my Dad, as both anglers paddle back toward us.
Laughingly, my Dad told us â€ â€˜Gators like to eat little boys if they can catch one and this one was sizing both you all up for a dinner.â€ Silently we packed up the raft in its plywood box and we did not enjoy his attempt at humor!
In a picture box display, in the main hall of my ranch house, are all of my Dadâ€™s old fishing plugs, including the tooth scarred, wooden, Lucky 13 that he â€œWalkedâ€ over the â€˜Gator.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 10:29 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, March 16. 2007
The summer of 1964 found me still working multiple jobs with little spare time. My dad had made friends with a Telephone Co. contractor from Philadelphia, Miss. Looking back now I can see that he was a â€œredneckâ€™s, redneckâ€. He was a market hunter for ducks in the fall, had absolutely no respect for game laws, but he was the man who had introduced us to The Trinity River bottom.
In past years he had spent time in north Louisiana and had made several successful float trips down the head waters of the Calcasieu River. Easy trips of four to six hours, floating and fishing about five miles of river. Put in and take out at State boat ramps. Easy, no problem. The object of these trips was to catch Smallmouth Bass â€“ not really the cold water variety â€“ but Spotted Bass, common to moving water in the south and southwest.My Dad, who was nearing retirement, and I had arranged for a weekend off in mid September, so off we go to north Louisiana. Our â€œheadquartersâ€ was a motel in Alexandria and we arrived at the jumping off point at first light on a bright, clear, Indian Summer day. Four of us were going on the float trip, my Dad and I in one jon boat and his contractor friend and one of his relatives, who â€œknew the riverâ€ and would â€œguideâ€ us, in the other boat. His relative saying â€œWe got a few falls (fallen trees spanning or down in the river) to go over or under, but outside of that, it will be easy. I have since learned that if I hear the word, easy, prepare for the worst.
Where we put in, the Calcasieu River was slow moving, clear as tap water, about seventy-five feet wide and for our whole trip didnâ€™t exceed that width. The banks were lined with tall pine and oak trees. Pretty. Pretty now, but we all would be cursing them by midnight!
We drift about fifty yards from the boat ramp, I put a hand full of Beechnut chewing tobacco in the side of my mouth, and my first cast with a yellow Piggy Boat and, bam, a solid strike from a one pound spotted bass, the fish is taking line, running, not jumping like a regular bass. My dad hooks up and soon we have two nice bass on our stringer. Looks like a good day starting. Iâ€™ll ask myself later â€œWhy did we keep these bass?â€
We ease under our first fall, a tree down from bank to bank, and up ahead we see one resting in the water. We drift up to it and, in the water we go, and pull the jon boat over it. The little â€œdipâ€ was refreshing. This is repeated several times during the first half-mile of our â€œeasyâ€ float. We come to hundred yard stretch with no falls and casting right up to the bank, retrieving for two reel cranks, I have a savage strike. This fish is fighting hard, running and now jumping. What a pretty sight. I land him and onto the stringer he goes, a four-pound Spotted Bass! My dad takes another and we are amassing a really good stringer of fish.
More falls, it seems one every thirty or forty yards. It is now noon and I bet in the last four plus hours, we havenâ€™t made two miles. I ask the relative and he says, â€œA few more falls than I remember, but we donâ€™t have that far to go.â€ Later I think, â€œWho is this guy who supposedly knows the river?â€
The fishing remains great! Whenever we can we make a cast, at least half of them are rewarded with a solid hit. However, it seems we are spending more time slipping under or pulling over trees, than fishing. We catch several more nice, three and four pound bass. Our stringer is getting heavy. We slip under a fall and blankety-blank, my dad lets out a line â€œblue streakersâ€, and slaps the top of his head, smushing a red wasp which has popped him. Over he goes into the water and I think, â€œOh no, heâ€™s had a heart attack,â€ but he comes up out of the water smiling and says, â€œBoy, when wasps get after you, itâ€™s better to go into the water than run.â€ As if he could have run anywhere. He asks for my chew of tobacco and places it on the sting and soon the sting just a memory.
More falls! Over them, under them, drag the boat, weâ€™re both soaked, so are our other fishing mates, itâ€™s close to 5:00 PM and no relief in sight! The intrepid relative says, â€œThere sure is a lot of these falls!â€ We echo his sentiments!
Here is something new, two trees down at the same place, a longer drag, almost a portage. My Dad jumps onto the logs pulling the boat sideways so I can also get out. We pull the bow of the boat up on the logs and he jumps into the water and the water explodes! He has jumped down on to an Alligator! Ride â€˜em cowboy! â€œAlligator, look out!â€ the fearless relative shouts. A six foot â€˜gator is airborne as my Dad scrambles back up onto the logs. The â€˜gator is long gone but here come the â€œblue streakersâ€, blankety-blank-blank, from my Dad. He is soaking, again, really mad and ready to choke our â€œguideâ€, the relative. He says in a firm voice, â€œGet me out of this blankety-blank place. The relative says, â€œWe still got a ways to go.â€
He was right, itâ€™s nearly dark and we seem no closer to the take out ramp than we were two hours ago. Something is wrong here. We pull over to the side and ask the relative, whatâ€™s the deal. He replies, â€œBest I can figure, the hurricane that came through here last year just tore up these woods and knocked all of these trees down. But donâ€™t worry itâ€™s an easy walk outâ€™a here.â€ Thereâ€™s that word, easy, again.
At near dark, probably 7:00 PM, we tie up the boats to a convenient (they are all convenient) fall. The â€œrelativeâ€ can worry about his boats later. We start â€œoutâ€, carrying our rods, luckily we didnâ€™t bring any tackle boxes, fish on the stringers and water, todayâ€™s lunch being all gone. Our â€œguideâ€, the relative leads off. We guess we have to walk two to three miles to the road, then north on the road for another mile to the State ramp and our vehicles.
The darkening sky finds us walking somewhat north, through very thick underbrush and trees everywhere, carrying our rods, the stringer of fish and our water. Down and up through a dry creek bed and slipping down the â€œup sideâ€ of the bank I remark â€œThis is more like a forced march than an easy walk.â€ No reply from our â€œguideâ€.
We trudge on for an hour and go down a creek bank and climb up the other side and I see my slide marks. We have walked in a circle! â€œStopâ€ I cry out and our weary procession slows to a halt. â€œWeâ€™ve walked in a circleâ€, showing them my slide marks. I say, â€This deal stops right now and Iâ€™m walking in front and am going to get us out of this damn place!â€ I look to the sky and find the Big Dipper and follow its bottom two stars to the North Star. That will be my mark to keep us on line. Our â€œguideâ€ is silent.
With me in the lead we head north. After about another hour we all decide to drop our stringers of fish and leave them for the varmints. Why did we keep those fish? We finish the water and drop the water bags to the ground. Pressing on, we hear the artillery at Ft. Polk, north of us, begin booming. I think, â€œThe booming will be a good guide.â€
As we head north we see a light ahead, six hundred yards later it turns out to be a Coleman Lantern hanging in a tree. We see three men sitting around a low fire. â€œHello, the camp!â€ I exclaim. The three men jump up, startled, and look around. Seeing us, four apparitions coming out of the dark with no lamps or flashlights, out comes their guns!
â€œStop right there, who are you.â€ We explain our plight, still standing outside of the circle of light and finally our â€œguideâ€ remarks that he is the brother in law of â€œso-in-soâ€ a deputy sheriff. The guns comes down and they ask, â€œWhat do you want.â€ I reply, â€œA drink of water and a ride to our cars parked at the State ramp.â€ Mumbled conversation and a reply, â€œPay for the gas and weâ€™ll take you to your car, but no water.â€ â€œThanksâ€ I say, then mumbling under my breath, â€œYou sons of bitches!â€
Back at our cars, my Dadâ€™s contractor friend is quiet, not having said much for the last six or seven hours and his relative, our â€œguide, only says â€œIt was a tougher float than I thought it would be.â€ Saying our good byes, Daddy and I got into his car. He looks at his watch and says, â€œItâ€™s almost midnight. Quite a day!â€ I rolled down the window, and fished out a Pall Mall and lit up, blowing the smoke out of the window. My Dad had smoked for forty years but had quit smoking ten years past and hated for me to smoke. He said to me, â€œBoy give me one of those.â€ I never saw my Dadâ€™s contractor friend again. And, I never saw my Dad smoke another cigarette.
Continue reading "The Alligator"
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 14:10 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, March 15. 2007
Ham always had a tear in his voice. He was on trial charged with assault to murder one Stark by cutting him with a knife.Placed on the stand as witness for himself and after identifications he was told by his attorney to tell the Jury everything done and said by Stark and himself to and concerning each other the day of the alleged assault. The following is Hamâ€™s direct testimony: â€œHit wuz on the 4th of July. I wuz working out at the Fair Grounds for the Fair Managers. Hit wuz just when the hosses and waggins wuz a goinâ€™ out and the automobiles wuz a cominâ€™ in. The hosses wuz scared of the automobiles. I wuz showinâ€™ the folks where to put the waggins and the hosses away from the automobiles. I had never seen that feller (indicating Stark) before. He come to where I wuz and said he heard I wuz a bad man and he said he wuz a bad man, too; and we wuz a goinâ€™ to find out right there which of us wuz the baddest. I told him somebody had told a story on me. I wuz not a bad man. I was a workinâ€™ man trying to make a livinâ€™ without stealinâ€™. About that time the sheriff come along and told him to leave me alone â€“ and he left. I did not see him anymore until I went to town after the Fair broke up.â€
â€œI worked all day. I didnâ€™t git no dinner. When the Fair broke up I started to town on foot. When I got to Town Creek, Shell Lawrence overtuck me and I got in his hack and rode to town. I got out at the bush-arbor by the side of the saloon where George Heiman had coffee and hamburgers. I hadnâ€™t had no dinner. I wuz blowinâ€™ on my coffee to cool it, and Mr. Stark come and set on the bench by me with his back to the table. He didnâ€™t say nothinâ€™. But roostered me, (indicating with his right elbow). That sloshed the hot coffee all over my hand, scalded my handâ€.
Here the witness paused and his attorney asked, â€œMr. Bailey, then what did you say or do if anything?â€ To which the witness answered, â€œI didnâ€™t say nothinâ€™. I cut his throat. I didnâ€™t have no pistol.â€
Just another case of where a fellow was hunting rabbits and squirrels and jumped a twelve-foot mountain lion.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hill Country Happenings at 14:17 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, March 10. 2007
The period of my life from 1959 to 1964 was spent finishing up my Army duty, working three jobs and welcoming my first child, Brad. All of this left precious little time for any outdoor activities.
Several times during this period I did have the opportunity to spend a day hunting and fishing in the Trinity River bottoms, between Dayton and Liberty, Texas. We would enter â€œThe Bottomsâ€, as we called it, at a remote place near Dayton, at the Kennefic Fire Tower, then proceed down seven miles of probably the worst road in the United States. This road was always flooded, mud axel deep on a jeep, deceiving ruts that covered bogs and the home of the largest mosquitoes on the Gulf Coast.The road was only part of the challenge. The leaseholder of the land, I never knew his name, would come by several times during the week to check on his cattle and hogs and to scare poachers out. He even chased us out one time mounted on a horse! When the river was up and out of its banks you couldnâ€™t possibly get in. But if you could get to the river, the creeks and sloughs provided some of the best bass fishing and duck and squirrel hunting to be found.
My brother-in-law, Jim Buck, was desperate to get down to â€œThe Bottomsâ€. He had heard my Dad and I talk of the fabulous hunting and fishing opportunities. Just a month before my Dad and I had a very enjoyable afternoon fishing there, in one of the many sloughs, catching one to two pound bass.
My Dad had an â€œemployeeâ€ and friend, a telephone company contractor who worked for him and had first taken us to â€œThe Bottomsâ€. The friend had a jeep with mud grip tires and a â€œnewâ€ Warn winch mounted on its front bumper. If we got stuck, hook up to a tree and let the winch pull us out. That was the way to conquer â€The Bottomsâ€.
Well, Jim found, for $500.00, a 1947 Jeepster Station Wagon, four wheel drive, a rusted green color, but mechanically sound, which he promptly purchased â€œBottomâ€ here we come! â€œJimmy, we need a winch. Did you get one for the front bumper?â€ I Asked him. He replied, â€œNo, I have something better, a hand winch which we can use front or back.â€ At that time, I had a very elementary knowledge of mechanics and uses of a hand winch so I thought we were fine. â€œBottomâ€ here we come!
The new, old, Jeepster made the trip to the Kennific Fire Tower with no problems. It turned out it ran very well on a smooth road. Pulling up to the gate in the not light, early morning, it was unlocked, but we also knew where the key was hidden, and there was no sign of the leaseholder. Many times during the day to come I had wished for the evil leaseholder to show us up and â€œhelpâ€ us out of this infernal place. â€œBottomâ€ here we come.
We navigated the first six hundred yards and came to the first boggy spot. The Jeepster, and its skinny road tires, we never thought about mud grips, plowed gamely through the muck and deposited us safely onto solid ground. â€œPiece of cakeâ€, we thought. Another low spot, spinning tires, mud flying everywhere, stuck! No problem we have our hand winch. There is a tree close by in front of us, very convenient, and we hook on and begin cranking the winch and the vehicle moves, all of six inches. (My mind flashes back to a duck hunt that turned sour, where, in a boat, me and two of my friends had to scoot across the mud flats twelve to eighteen inches at a time to get back to our launch area.) Twenty minutes of cranking and we are out of the mud and sailing down the â€œroadâ€.
Winching through three more bogs we notice the sun is up, its hot and humid and the mosquitoes are out in force. We missed the sunrise fishing we had planned on. No worry, so little fishing pressure where were going the bass will hit all day.
More bogs, more winching. We are both wet and covered head to toe in mud and its getting close to noon, we wonâ€™t have much time to fish. We gamely â€œsoldier onâ€. We hit this one spot which I had worried about on the way in â€“ a fifty foot run through bog, mud and water â€“ and we splash in, four wheels spinning and making no progress. Stuck again. No tree close by, so I volunteer to push. Maybe that will help. It did for five feet. Still, no tree near, and we are really stuck! Finding small logs and branches to give our street tires some traction, we inch forward until we can reach a tree with our winch line. Crank, six inches. Crank, six inches. Crank, six inches. This ceases to be fun. Crank, six inches. Solid ground and we break for a late lunch.
We assess our situation. Over the past seven hours we estimate we have made about three miles. We are almost out of water. We have been stuck twelve times. If the Jeepster doesnâ€™t break, at this rate we will get to our fishing spot about dark. Maybe we donâ€™t have the right equipment. We can always blame the Jeepster â€“ no mud grip tires. We can blame the weather â€“ that last big rain really made a mess of the bad road? We can blame the leaseholder â€“ maybe he came in with a Dodge Power Wagon and deliberately ruined the road. Admitting a tactical defeat, we turned around and headed out. â€œBottomâ€ you won.
However, there were some good things to come out of this ill-fated trip. We only got stuck seven times coming out. We got out just before dark. I did not have to push. We â€œmadeâ€ the leaseholder some new road. We had no fish to clean. And, best of all, we dried out before we got home!
Continue reading "Four Wheel Drive And A Hand winch"
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 14:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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