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Wednesday, June 29. 2011
No wind blowing this morning, maybe there will be game movement? Not having even cleared the cattle gate, as I looked to my left, there was a skunk. My first thought was to go get a rifle from the house and dispatch it, no, that would take too long, so I took these two â€œshotsâ€ with my camera.
Unlimbering my pistol at extreme range, to no avail except the skunk letting loose, I let loose two errant shots. When last seen the skunk was heading west toward the thick stuff!
A hundred yards into my walk, a doe and her fawn were watching me as I passed. To get a better look at the fawn, click on the picture. Getting this â€œshotâ€, before I could get off another they were gone.
Along a fence line, these two doe had heard me coming and as I watched, they both slunk off into the thick stuff. Walking quietly is tough on our gravel roads!
A hundred yards up the road this young jackrabbit was just sittinâ€™ and enjoying the morning. He sat still for a â€œshotâ€, but when I moved a few feet toward him, he sensed the danger and sped away.
Two mornings ago, I shot another young jack with my .22 auto. I knew he was young because when I shot and missed it, instead of running off at full speed, he just hopped a few feet and continued nibbling at the tender shoots of grass. Big mistake!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Pictures at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, June 26. 2011
At first, moving to Arizona in mid-January, 1971 was a challenging experience, but as we became acclimated, the entire family thoroughly enjoyed the State and its many outdoor activities. Along with our acre lot and diving pool, our house, a four bed room, Spanish colonial period style, with stucco walls and a courtyard, was very comfortable. During mid spring of that year, the family had survived a tornado that had hit our mountain, Mummy Mountain and bounced over our house, tearing into northern Scottsdale and yes, it did sound like a freight train.
Come June 1, into the pool we went. The water was still cool, but wow, our own pool! On a pleasant summer afternoon, only 110 degrees, we were enjoying the water when we noticed, moving rather fast to our southeast, a funny looking cloud and before we knew it the funny looking cloud was within two miles of us, rolling in our direction. So like the flatlanders we were, we kept on swimming and playing and soon it was a block away when we figured out that the cloud was made of sand.
It was a sand storm with epic proportions and it blew over us for the next 15 minutes! No one was hurt, but everything, including us watchers, was a mess and liberally doused with a covering of fine sand. The sand seeped into our house, our cars, and our beautiful pool had almost an inch of sand on the bottom.
If you are a beginner in pool maintenance, try cleaning sand out. After this storm we hired a professional and in their local and national advertising, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce never mentions tornadoes or sand storms.
When I was a little boy, my mother told me a story about her childhood in west Texas, about it raining during a sandstorm. She said it rained mud and that the mud was much harder to remove than dust!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Weather at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, June 23. 2011
Our computer services company was still growing and our business prospects looked good, so early in the summer of 1998, Bob Baugh and I decided to take a day off and go fish for tarpon. Over the past few years the tarpon had moved back to the beachfront in sufficient numbers that several fishing guides had started a fishery for tarpon, kingfish, jack fish and shark. To protect their newfound livelihood, they used medium to light tackle and vigorously practiced catch and release of tarpon.
We decided to get a guide and we chose Mike Williams, owner of Tarpon Express, considered to be the best saltwater guide in the Galveston area. Never having used a local guide before, we knew heâ€™d know about catching tarpon, where they were and most important, he was on the water chasing them every.
We met him in Galveston, at the gas station, at the corner of 69th Street and Seawall Blvd., followed him down the sixteen, miles of beachfront to San Luis Pass and launched his twenty-three footer, powered by a two hundred horse outboard. He had already picked up a supply of frozen cigar minnows that we would be using for bait. He had made the decision for us not to use artificial bait since he said the tarpon were really spread out and hadnâ€™t been hitting artificials for the past week. Thatâ€™s another reason why we hired him!
The morning was picture perfect, light southeast wind, tide rolling in bringing in the clear green Gulf water as we loaded up in the boat and motored under the San Luis Pass Bridge. Two hundred yards past the last sand bar simultaneously, Mike, Bob and I, spotted a circular slick about the size of a washtub. This usually means trout. Trout voraciously feed and while feeding, regurgitate their stomach contents and continue feeding, the slick being made by these contents floating to the surface.
Mike cut the boat back to neutral and since I was already baited up, told me, â€œJon, cast right into that slick.â€ Casting into the slick I was rewarded by a solid strike, the fish took my bait my, but no hook up and no fish. Quickly baiting back up and casting back into the slick, this time a big fish hit my bait, headed east down the beachfront, pausing only to clear the water and expose its silver, green sides â€“ a big tarpon!
Wow, my first real opportunity to land a big, tarpon. Having the utmost confidence in the fishing tackle, a seven foot, medium action, fiberglass rod Bob had made for me several years before, with an eighty pound, monofilament leader and twenty pound line wrapped onto a saltwater size, red reel,
The fish continued to run, then stopped, cleared the water again and just like the outdoor writers say, to create a small bit of slack in my line that acts as a cushion, I dropped my rod tip as the tarpon entered back into the water. Now, as he ran right back toward us, to keep the line tight, I reeled furiously. Another jump, another lowered rod tip, another long run, then I started to gain line as it wallowed on the surface, then Mike put a hand gaff right in the point of the tarponâ€™s lower jaw and I had my trophy!
Since this was only catch and release, we measured the tarpon as best we could, Bob took pictures of the fish in the water (he canâ€™t find the picture now) and we released it to fight another day. We estimated it was sixty inches long and weighed eighty pounds! I took the measurements to a taxidermist and had a shoulder mount made up of the fish coming out of the water. The mount was displayed in my office for many years and now, Bob has it.
We continued fishing that day, caught two kingfish, a five foot, black tip shark and lost several fish when they bit through the mono leaders. We did not see or connect with another tarpon. One good thing, as we were fishing, Mike cleaned the fish, so at the end of the day, we plopped them into the cooler and headed home. Another reason why we hired him!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 11:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, June 21. 2011
Getting up yesterday morning and looking outside, of all things it was raining, a nice shower, but it barely moved the rain gauge. This shower also put a halt to my morning walk, but big things are happening today because at 5:16 PM, the sun stops! Not really stops, but the declination of the sun, itâ€™s apparent movement south on the horizon, appears to stop before reversing back to the north (I think). Todayâ€™s also Bradâ€™s birthday, he would have been fifty.
Summer solstice and all, I was up early for my walk and as I glanced over at the water trough, there were two deer, taking the â€œshotâ€ and thinking this would be a good movement day for them put an additional spring in my step.
After getting home and displaying the â€œshotâ€, to my surprise, two small ones, obviously born maybe six weeks ago, were hunkered down beside Mom. Retitling my â€œshotâ€ to â€œThree Generations Of Deerâ€, may be in order.
As I walked back in the side door, I was buzzed by one of our barn swallows. They are very protective of their young and get quite offensive whenever Layla and I come near their nests. The go berserk whenever Bo or Spike come around. Always thinking that mockingbirds do the biggest number on pets, these little guys are poison and far exceed
mockers in aggressiveness!
Last year, this barn swallow looked so â€œcuteâ€ sitting up in a dead tree.
This morning, the one that buzzed me was all movement, the camera shutter wasnâ€™t fast enough to stop it.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Pictures at 10:20 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, June 19. 2011
Back when I was in college, between studying and work, my fishing time and trips were limited, but this particular Saturday in mid June, my dad, Dub Middleton and I were cruising along the Houston Ship Channel, out in the middle of Galveston Bay, hoping to spot a flock of sea gulls hovering and splashing down into the water, a sure sign of speckled trout feeding on shrimp. The specs push the shrimp toward the surface, the birds spot the shrimp dimpling the water and sweep in to pick up an easy meal and us fishermen, then cast into the feeding frenzy and tie into some monster specs. Easy fishing if you can find the birds!
All of us saw this cabin cruiser wallowing along the ship channel, we hadnâ€™t found any birds so far that morning, but we saw what looked like a flock hitting the water behind the far off boat. Full speed ahead, we rushed toward the birds, and to our surprise, they were working right behind the cruiser and the occupants were thrashing the water with cane poles. Funniest thing we ever saw, but we assumed they were fishing?
We didnâ€™t see them catching any fish, so casting among the birds we tied into three nice ones. After several waltzes around Dubâ€™s boat, we iced them down, at least two pounders. The folks fishing on the big boat never said a word to us, if itâ€™d been me, I wouldâ€™ve tried to run us off! Casting back out, more strikes, until we boated eighteen, nice specs, almost filling our cooler!
This old picture shows the dayâ€™s catch of specs and is one of the first ever taken of fish we had caught.
With a good mess of fish, we moved on, the cruiser people were still thrashing away, fishing I guessed, but I never saw them catch a fish!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, June 17. 2011
Two morning walks this week and other than the sweat, not much wildlife was seen. Several reasons for this are daytime temps are over a hundred, the moon is full and if the deer move, they move at night and probably the most important, we are still under a severe drought. We havenâ€™t had much rain in over a year, weâ€™ve sold all the cattle because thereâ€™s no grass and even the Johnson grass in the field has stopped growing!
On my walk on the 14th, Tuesday, one deer, a doe, stopped in the middle of the road and let me get this â€œshotâ€.
But during my walk this morning I spied a really different snake, one that Iâ€™d never seen before and didnâ€™t even know of the breed. Taking these â€œshotsâ€ of it, as soon I got home I Yahooâ€™d it and came up with this answer from eHow.com. â€œThe typical ringneck snake is between 10 and 15 inches in length and quite thin. The various subspecies are dark gray on top and yellow to orange underneath, with the slender yellow and sometimes orange ring encircling the neck.â€ Now I know that this kind of snake lives around here and at least it doesnâ€™t bite!
Yes, I Yahooâ€™d it instead of Googling because I heard this morning on Fox News that Google had been caught kicking back money to obamaâ€™s campaign! They have denied it, of course!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Pictures at 10:30 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, June 15. 2011
Meeting my barber, Joe Riley, at his Sugar Land, Texas home, we drove on down to the San Barnard River, actually where it crosses the Intercoastal Waterway, to have a go at some trout and redfish. We were going to fish in a new spot for me a place Joe called The Tripod. He said it was a good spot and we wouldnâ€™t be troubled with other folks fishing there.
From the bait camp we bought live shrimp, ice, drinks, snacks and launched my boat for the two mile run, west on the Intercoastal, there we would turn into a little cut, not fifty yards wide, that opened up in a small, shallow bay. In the middle of the bay, I found out a few minutes later, was a gas well with a triangle shaped sign, hence, The Tripod.
As we entered the cut, Joe guided me to the left where he quietly slipped the anchor into the shallow, barely three foot, water. The tide was coming in toward us, bringing in green, fishy looking, water and, just perfect, the wind was at out backs, making casting easy! Cast toward the right of the cut and, keeping the line tight, let the current drift our rigs back over the fishing area, a reef along the right side. Today weâ€™d be using standard popping gear, six and a half foot rods, fifteen, pound line wrapped on red reels and a popping cork, but today was a little different. Instead of using a three to four foot leader under the corks, our leader was only fifteen or eighteen inches and no popping either.
Getting the feel of this new style of fishing, I cast out and began the drift with no results, but Joe, having cast out before me, was fast into a nice something that was stripping line from his reel. That something turned out to be a three, pound redfish that I netted, Joe took out the hook and boxed it, remarking, â€œI didnâ€™t tell you the secret. When your cork stops and acts hung up, set the hook because a fish has just picked up the shrimp.â€
The secret being out, my next cast scored, the cork stopped, I set the hook and was into something that was splashing at the surface, probably a trout that turned out to be barely a keeper, fourteen, inches then. Swinging the trout into the boat, I grabbed it, took out the hook and boxed it too. We kept catching small trout and Joe mentioned, â€œOver the years Iâ€™ve fished here a lot, but never have caught a trout over two pounds and often, Iâ€™ve wondered why?â€ Having fished the same spot for almost five years, we never caught a big trout there either!
Later in the morning I cast out, drifted my shrimp above the reef, my cork stopped and I reared back, setting the hook and the fish took off, stripping line off my reel. After a grudging fight, Joe slipped the net under a big flounder that on my hand held scale was just over four pounds, a new record for flatfish for me! This was a real bonus, a big flounder that would be delicious baked. For me, this spot turned out to be a flounder haven where I boxed several that were over eight pounds, whoppers! We ended the day with thirty-two fish in the cooler, flounder, reds and specs! Not bad for a new to me spot and I certainly will come back.
Over the years we had some excellent catches from The Tripod, but moving away and on our trips back I never had time to try it out, but after I returned to Houston, one afternoon, with the tide coming in Mac Windsor and I decided to check it out. Motoring west of the San Bernard River on the â€œIntercoastalâ€ we started looking to our left for the channel leading to The Tripod. Not there and no Tripod either. We came about and began searching back toward the river and it was still not there.
Motoring all the way to Karancuha Bay, five or six miles, still no channel. All we saw was a spot on the south side of the Intercoastal where it was extra wide. We came about again and motored to the bait camp where the river and Intercoastal crossed and asked the owner, â€œWhereâ€™s that little cut, that channel leading back to the gas rig, The Tripod?â€ â€œNot there,â€ he answered. â€œA while back, that gas well blew up and rearranged everything. We call it the Blow Out Hole now. Good fishing in the winter!â€
Now I found out why we never saw another boat there!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 10:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, June 13. 2011
The last few morning walks have been pictureless with no deer or any other wildlife holding still long enough for a â€œshotâ€. Having seen, bucks, doe and a gray fox whetted my appetite, but they wouldnâ€™t sit still!
This morning was different, not two hundred yards into my walk, there was a doe, but she already had her tail up and after my first â€œshotâ€ she took off into the thick stuff, still with her tail up.
Just before the three quarter mile mark, my turn around point, up on a wire was a lone dove, a male by his long tail. He was sitting up there enjoying the sunrise and to my surprise, upon displaying the picture, the sun was reflecting off of his buff colored breast.
Overall a good morning, some wildlife pictures and I worked up a good sweat!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Pictures at 08:30 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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