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Monday, March 30. 2015
The practice rounds were completed and there were twenty-five shooters and Brad was shooting twentieth, so I got to watch some very good shooting and picked up some useful pointers. Don’t be glued to the middle of the shooting area. Change your position once the Colombaire said “Listo” and he can’t change his. Your initial aim point is the center of the middle rope. Block out the Colombaire’s movements and just watch the bird. Keep both eyes open and concentrate on the pigeon. And a truism of all wing shooting, swing through your shot and don’t stop your swing until the bird is hit and always be ready for a second shot!
My turn came up as the lady in front of me finished with the lead having knocked down seven out of ten birds thrown. I was nervous, took a half breath, walked to my position and looked the Colombaire in the eye. His lips moved, but with ear protectors on and being hard of hearing from too much shooting without them, I heard nothing. I told him to speak louder, he smiled and said “Listo.” “Pull,” I answered and the bird sailed over the rope and dove to the ground and Pow, Pow, I missed both shots.
After the miss my “nerves” were gone and I hit eight straight birds including a long, long shot of over seventy-five yards, and the bird fell just inside of the flags. Concentrating completely, being deaf and having ear protectors on I can only hear the “Listoes”. But Brad told me later that I really had all of the other shooters attention. “Who is that guy with the wide shoulders?” “ I have never seen him shoot before.” “That old guy can really shoot!” “What a long shot!” The crowd murmured.
On my last bird, nine of ten should win the shoot for sure, the Colombaire stood right in front of me, smiled and said, “Listo”, I moved two side shuffles to my left, clearing him, he took two spins forward as if to release the bird like a discuss, and of all things, released it behind his back. The bird was flying between the Colombaire and me, and I was completely “faked out of my jock,” in the wrong position to shoot a hard right bird and Pow, Pow, two weak misses. The Colombaire then does something I had not seen him do with the other shooters, he came toward me, held out his hand, and smiled saying, “Good Shooting.” Everyone was patting me on the back, shaking my hand and congratulating me, but I was worried that one of the last five shooters would tie or beat me.
The last four shooters had sixes and sevens and, as in all good stories, the last shooter a young man probably in his mid twenties, and sporting an old, beat up, twelve gauge, pump, tied me. He missed his first bird, then shot seven in a row, missed number nine and hit an easy straight away for an eight. We tied and to determine the winner, a shoot off was needed.
Having come to the shoot to support Brad, I found myself in a shoot off for the championship. This wasn’t planned, but I will definitely do my best. The Colombaire was primed to make both of us work hard for the victory. He’s getting the bird ready, pulling tail feathers out and swinging it around, while he paced in the throwing area. We both missed the first two birds, our Colombaire stepping up the level of his throws. Shooting first, I nailed a low bird right past the rope and my opponent hit a high, climber. I got a discuss type, behind the back bird to my right and dusted it on the first shot, but hit it square on the second and my opponent hits on his second shot also.
Still tied, I moved to the shooters position, and the Colombaire was smiling and pulling tail feathers out. I’ve seen everything he has I think, so he spins and released the bird with his right hand a hard left. I hadn’t seen that! Pow, Pow and I missed. My opponent won the shoot with an easy climber. My young opponent was the best shooter that day.
Second place still paid handsomely, but I donated my winnings to Jubalee Junction!
However, second guessing, I think that if I had hit the hard left bird, our Colombaire would have pulled one of his tricks on my opponent. Quien sabe?
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, March 25. 2015
Brad had been invited to participate in a live pigeon shoot and mid March 2006 found us driving to east Texas for the event. Brad was still recovering from extensive surgery, radiation and chemotherapy that had removed and treated a stage 4, tumor on his right tonsil. He believed that he was well enough to participate and was looking forward to it! He had been on the Army rifle team, and, for two years had been the Arizona junior trap champion and remains an expert shot with both a rifle and shotgun. Brad had asked me to accompany him, and said, “Why don’t you bring your shotgun along.” I needed no encouragement and accepted the offer. I did not expect to get to shoot, but you never know.
The pigeon shoot, a benefit for Jubalee Junction, a nonprofit organization that provided deer, duck and wild hog hunting for severely injured people who had the desire to be in the field and take part in hunting activities. The founder of this group, David Gates, is a banker in a small East Texas town and a wonderful guy! He was a severely injured victim of an industrial accident but spending time around him you could never tell.
We had dinner at David’s house that night and met there the next morning to begin a thirty minute drive to the shoot that was being held on private land, deep in the Trinity River “bottom”. Pigeon shoots aren’t against the law, but secluded, private locations are necessary to keep “The Friends Of Wildlife” and other “Tree Huggers” out!
Pigeon shoots are conducted on a one hundred yard, half-circle, field with distance markers spaced every twenty yards around the circumference. To be counted as a kill the bird must fall within this half-circle. The shooter stands in a roped off, chalk lined rectangle twenty yards wide and ten yards deep that is placed in the middle of the half circles base and can shoot from anywhere in this rectangle.
In front of the shooter the thrower of the pigeon, the “Colombaire” also has a rectangle the size of the shooters for him to maneuver in. Once he is in position and ready to throw, he says “Listo”, which means he can’t move until throwing the bird. The shooter says, “Pull” and away goes the bird.
To the shooters front, the posts and ropes, ten feet off of the ground, are for the safety of the Colombaire, and when he throws the pigeon, it must clear the ropes to be a legal bird. Since he is throwing the pigeon from in front of the shooter, this gives the Colombaire a margin of safety. However, when the pigeon clears the ropes and then dives back down toward the ground, the Colombaire must hit the ground quickly to avoid being shot. He must be quick and smart!
Brad got three practice shots and moved into the shooters area shouldering his shotgun. “Listo,” says the thrower and Brad counters, “Pull,” and the bird rocketed over the rope climbing for all it’s worth. Pow! The bird folded and Pow, Brad dischargeed the second shot, which is a safety rule. A shooter gets two shots to hit the bird and if successful on the first, must discharge the second into the air.
Brad turned around and said to David, “The gun’s recoil puts too much pressure against the implant in my jaw and I don’t think that I can continue. Is it OK for my Dad to shoot in my place?” David says, “Fine,” and I quickly prepared. I felt somewhat funny with my Browning Superposed “knock off”, a twelve gauge Lanber, a good looking gun made in Spain, but a lot less expensive than a Browning. My opponents all seem to have had Browning’s, Perrottzi’s, Beretta’s and Krieghoff’s, all costing many times more than mine. But, as they said, “The proof will be in the pudding.”
Our Colombaire was a man about fifty years old, left handed, with all the moves of a baseball pitcher, which he was professionally in his youth. “Listo,” he announced right in front of me and I nervously answered, “Pull” and he overhanded a bird right in front of me, it darted low, he hit the ground, and too much movement in my direst front, and Pow, Pow, two clean misses. An inauspicious start!
The second, practice bird cleared the rope and climbed fast to my right and Pow, down he went. The Colombaire said, “Second barrel.” I looked at him. “Second barrel,” a little louder and I remembered to discharge the second shot into the air. Being “tight”, if you hit a bird on the first shot, you didn’t waste the second one. I missed both shots on my last practice bird and thought to myself, this is harder than sporting clays or trap shooting and much worse than shooting mourning doves on a real windy day. I’ll have to crank up my concentration just to compete with the other shooters. Part two continues in five days!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, March 20. 2015
Posted by Jon Bryan in Pictures at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, March 15. 2015
Last week I was enrolled in the "Son's Of The American Revolution" and I thought it fitting to relate a family story about my 5G Grandfather, William Murrill and an action he was involved in during our Revolutionary War. This event was passed down through the family and recorded in the diary of a 3G Uncle of mine, James Buckner “Buck” Barry, and later copyrighted and published as “Buck Barry, Texas Ranger And Frontiersman”. I have used family history and this book as my references.
As heavy gunfire erupted on the other side of the large pond, the 20, man detail of Colonial soldiers from Onslow County, North Carolina, started sprinting towards the skirmish. “Tony stay here and guard the pack horses,” William Murrill shouted as he ran past Tony, a family slave, who was assisting the small unit that was on a prolonged scout, along the coast, for rations and supplies.
The firing grew in intensity and was sustained for, to Tony, it seemed hours, when he saw 2 Redcoats enter the water and swim towards him and the prize of horses and supplies he was guarding. Thinking that William’s unit had been wiped out he quickly hid behind a tree and kept a close watch on the 2 enemy soldiers. When they came within gunshot range of the camp and saw the horses, they ducked behind a log in the water, trying to hide.
Soon William and his victorious unit returned with no prisoners, but they carried the booty from the British camp, which included whiskey and William’s brother, my 5G Uncle, Kemp Murrill proceeded to get himself drunk on the spoils. Tony told William about the Redcoats hiding behind the log in the pond. William immediately ordered them to come up to camp with their hands over their heads.
As they were coming into camp, Kemp and another drunk were going to shoot the prisoners, but William took their guns away preventing a killing. Years later, Tony told Buck Barry, then a young boy, that they kept the prisoners for 2 days but he never saw them again.
Feelings were real hard then!
Authors note. Tony served with William for the duration of the war.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, March 10. 2015
My old neighborhood friend and fishing buddy from West University, Bill Priddy, and I both had jobs with a large computer company in Atlanta and had decided to go after a really big bass. We believed that our best chance at one would be a “pay” lake and we choose Horseshoe Lakes, just outside of Tifton, Georgia, only miles away from where, years earlier, the world record, twenty-two pound large mouth bass had been caught, California excepted.
The dogwoods were blooming spreading their white glory over the hills and hollows, but winter still had its grips on Atlanta as we left on Friday afternoon, March 8, 1979. We spent the night in my camper beside Horseshoe Lake number 1, were up, and on the water before the sun on Saturday.
This place had ten lakes, all stocked with Florida strain largemouth bass. We hadn’t been fishing ten minutes when, “Whamo”, Bill has a jarring strike on a yellow, Piggy Boat. The fish took line and shook its head like a redfish and we couldn’t figure what Bill had tied into. A roll by the boat told us, the high fin giving it away, a channel cat of at least ten pounds. Not the ten-pound bass we were looking for but it would look real good in the skillet!
We fished the first lake hard with spinners, worms and rat-l-traps, but only had the catfish to show for it, so far, not worth the $5.00 fee. We move on to the second lake, by picking up and carrying my twelve foot, Sears, aluminum boat and trolling motor over the levee. A feature I had added to the little boat was three coats of rubberized paint applied to the insides making it nearly soundproof.
The second lake, almost fifty acres, was much like a rice field reservoir along the Texas coast. A deep channel cut all around a square impoundment with about ten feet of shallow water along the sides before the channel dropped off into over six feet of water. The channel, the only structure, was approximately thirty feet wide, sloping up to a large, shallow flat that covered the center of the lake. On both lakes we had not noticed any bass on their spawning beds, but if not today, within the week.
We flipped our casts toward the center of the lake; me a six inch, motor oil colored, worm, rigged Texas style, and Bill, back to his trusty yellow, Piggy Boat, and drug the baits over the shallow water and across, or down, in my case, the drop-off. We finally caught two, three pound, bass, and quickly put both of them back into the water to grow up. Well, we may be onto something, casting toward the middle and working the baits back over the drop-off.
About five minutes after putting the last bass back, I had a jolting strike on my worm. The fish didn’t gently tap-tap-tap, but picked the worm up and “headed south” at full speed. I was using a Mitchell 300, Spinning Reel with ten-pound line and a fairly stiff, six and one half foot spinning rod. I exclaimed to Bill, “I got a big hit Bill, I guess it’s another cat.” I have fished for and hooked a big, blue marlin of over five hundred pounds, a one hundred and twenty pound Pacific sailfish, a sixty pound amberjack (hardest fighter) and a sixty plus pound, kingfish on light tackle, and in comparison, this fish jolted me just like the big ‘uns!
The fish took line and then came to the top and wallowed up, almost into the air and we saw the big mouth. Good heavens, a big, big bass, and all I could do was hang on and hope the hook was set securely in its jaw. Another wallow/jump, the fish was too big to get out of the water all the way, but we could see it more clearly, and it was a whopper! Another short run and my line seemed to be hung up. Guessing the bass had wrapped me around something, I turned on the electric motor and inched toward the point where my line entered the water, Bill saw a motion, a swirl, and the fish had wrapped the line around a snag of some kind.
All in one motion, I cut off the motor, told Bill to stick a paddle into the bottom to hold us, leaned over the side and stuck my arm down into the two and one half foot of cold, water. With my rod held high in my other hand, I ran my hand down the line until feeling the snag. I inched my hand around until I felt the bass, and hoping that I don’t hook myself, tried to lip the fish. No luck. I got a good hold of the snag, pulled it and the fish to the surface and then Bill slipped the net under the huge bass!
We didn’t have a scale, but estimated its weight at over ten pounds. I told Bill, “I felt like I was harvesting rice, reaching down and bringing up the snag, moss and fish, all in one handful. This one is going on the wall.” This was years before you could get a plastic replica of your fish, so we put it on a stringer and kept fishing.
This is THE bass, a 12 pounder, on the hall's wall near my 9 pound trout and my dad's fishing lures.
We caught several more bass, but none even close to the big one, so we decided to find a scale and weigh the fish, then head back home. We found the owner of the lakes who acted as proud as if he had caught the fish himself and his certified scale showed twelve pounds! I couldn’t imagine that I had caught a twelve-pound bass. More pictures were taken, congratulations accepted, the fish was packed in ice and we loaded the boat on top of the camper and headed back.
Back home it seemed like the whole neighborhood came over and the viewing turned into a party. Keeping the fish on ice, on Monday, I took it to the best taxidermist in the Atlanta area in Duluth, Georgia and within a month, my fish was ready. Today, it hangs in the hall of my ranch house, next to a picture box display of my Dad’s old fishing plugs and a replica mount of a nine, pound, speckled trout. But that’s another story.
The Sears, twelve-foot aluminum boat is still providing yeoman service to my son, Randy. He uses it to take his kids bass fishing.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, March 5. 2015
Growing up, my Grandmother, Linnie Ross Sanders Wallace, told me several times (in no uncertain terms) that the Sanders were SCOTS-Irish, with the emphasis on "Scots". I heard her and remembered it, but like all youth, I didn’t realize the importance of it later.
Digging through the Sanders’ family’s genealogy, I’ve come across a mystery of sorts. The mystery being was William and/or Lewis Sanders involved in the capture and slaying of Edward Teach, better known as, Black Beard the Pirate. Lewis Sanders was my 6G Grandfather and William was my 6G Uncle.
The plot started when I read an old letter, written in 1895 by Thomas Bailey Saunders and sent to one of his nephews. The letter was posted on Gary B. Sanders website, “Sanders, of Randolph and Montgomery Counties, North Carolina, and Jackson County, Alabama, and other counties in Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas”, and I quote,
"There were two Saunders brothers who came from England long before the Revolutionary war. At that time the pirates were very bad on the North Carolina coast. The governor of Virginia outfitted a vessel to catch them, and in making up the crew he took one of these brothers, and they caught old Black Beard, the pirate, and hung him to the mast arm. The crew got a good deal of money, and when that brother came back he left the U out of his name. This is the reason so many spell their names Sanders”.
Spending a good deal of time researching the events, I was surprised that, actually, the Governor of North Carolina was in league with Black Beard. In fact his Secretary was captured and convicted of accepting funds from the pirate. In reality, the Governor of Virginia gave two unarmed sloops, Ranger and Jane, to Lt. Maynard of the Royal Navy.
On November 22, 1718, Black Beard engaged the two, unarmed sloops in Oracoke Inlet off the coast of North Carolina and opening fire on them with his cannons, he almost destroyed both ships. Teach closed in on Maynard's ship, Ranger, boarded it and engaged Maynard personally in combat. Maynard shot him and both men swung their cutlasses, Teach's shattering Maynard’s and as Teach was going to deliver the death blow, according to an Autumn, 1992 article in the "Colonial Williamsburg", magazine, now online, his throat was slashed by a stout Scot among Maynard's crew.
To claim the reward Maynard cut off Teach's head. Returning to his home port of Hampton, as a warning to other pirates, Teach's head was placed on a stake near the mouth of the Hampton River.
Another quote from Gary B. Sanders website, further whetted my appetite for intrigue, “… I think it's likely that William Sanders of Anson County, North Carolina may be the brother of Lewis Sanders of Fairfax County, Virginia. William and Lewis appear to be of the same generation. DNA tests show William was related to Lewis. These two may well be the two emigrant brothers described in a somewhat jokingly fashion in the 1890's letter of Thomas Bailey Saunders."
Being left with questions that, in all probability, will never be answered, I can only make some assumptions and ask a few more questions. Both brothers were of Scots-Irish ancestry. Both brothers also took the "U" out of Saunders. Was one of the Saunders boy’s a part of Maynard’s crew? Was one of them the “stout, Scot”?
What if the old story is really true?
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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