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Tuesday, April 28. 2015
Coming of shooting and hunting age during WW II and with gas rationing and ammunition shortages, my opportunities to shoot and hunt were limited. During this time period my dad drilled into me gun safety and proper rifle shooting and started me out with his 20 Gauge, shotgun. He was a former Marine and since all Marines are trained as riflemen, teaching me gun handling and safety was a natural for him. I was an eager pupil and it turned out, I became an excellent shot with both a .22 rifle and shotgun.
My first hunts were for doves at my uncle Shelton Gafford’s, ranch outside of Marlin, Falls County, Texas and I soon found out that the doves were not the least bit impressed with my shooting skills! Being allowed to take only wing shots, my dad emphasized not to shoot a sitting bird. My scores were around 1 bird for 10, plus, shots, then, as now, unacceptable to me.
After 2 futile sessions, my dad explained “leads” and shot patterns to me and my scores improved somewhat. I didn’t know then, but now I know that one of the most difficult of game birds to bag are doves, twisting and turning in a moderate wind!
One trip, my dad and I were sitting in the shade of a mesquite tree, by a stock tank and the doves were zipping in and I was missing with regularity. Being 13 or 14, I was boiling with my poor shooting, then my dad explained to me again about follow through and keeping my head down on the gun stock and it “took” this time and my shooting improved dramatically!
We took great care in preparing the birds we shot, picking, singeing off the small feathers, cleaning and thoroughly washing them, the hardest were ducks! My mom would make a fried chicken batter, dip the doves in it and fry them until done, then make gravy with the grease and “fryins” and add mashed potatoes. It was unbeatable!
The many stock tanks on Uncle Shelly’s ranch provided me with an opportunity to “go frogging” and to test my .22 rifle skills. In the evening, with my cousin Dan, we would slowly walk around a tank and shine a light into the edge of the water and up into the weeds and “shine” the frog. The light hypnotized the frog and, pop, with a .22, and if you hit it in the head it didn’t jump into the water, a poor shot and the chances of recovery were minimized.
The best thing about “frogging” was the eating. Skin and clean the legs, roll them in seasoned, corn meal and fry them just like chicken. Add fried onion rings and you have a feast!
All of this started me on my life long hunting quest!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, October 9. 2014
Having just signed up on a new hunting lease near Millersview, during the last part dove season standing by myself, with my twenty gauge pump, in the shade of a mesquite tree, the sun on my right and a half acre stock tank to my front. The banks of the tank were sandy/gravelly, just right for doves to use.
Arriving at the tank around 4:00 PM, too early for the birds to water, I sat real still and watched the songbirds and, of all things, the deer, eight or ten doe came into the water. There was a lot of shooting that I guessed was about a mile away on a bordering ranch and I was hoping that the birds would come into my tank.
One hour later, here came the doves! Beginning with just a trickle, I knocked down the first two and they both fell right on the tank damn, just in front of me. Picking my shots, being careful not to splash one into the tank, the doves kept falling and I stopped for a minute and counted up. Eleven birds, then I counted my shots, eleven shots. Never having gone straight on a limit of doves, thinking back, I had run over a hundred and fifty straight on clay birds in trap and downed fifteen straight Mearns quail, but not the diving, twisting and turning doves.
Here came number twelve, right at me, and easy head on shot. Covering the bird, for some reason, I raised my head and missed! The dove veered to the right and, pow, my second shot, down it dropped into the tank. Chunking rocks and cow chips at the bird, the "waves" brought it to the bank and then it was in my bag.
Twelve for thirteen, still not bad and the new lease only got better.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 07:46 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, October 5. 2014
It could be said that the weather in the Phoenix area is always hot and bright. Even if it is cool, the sun is out most of the time and Jake Schorder and I, both of us being good ole' Texas boys, remembered plenty of rain and clouds, and would joke around with each other and say “Ho hum, another beautiful day in paradise.” One day, for me, paradise turned ugly!
In 1972, Bill Randall and I were both managers with a large computer company and both shared the same love for hunting. During the last portion of dove season, we left work early, sales calls you know, and I picked him up in my Bronco and off we went to a spot he had found north of Gilbert, Arizona.
It was a large grain field that had just been harvested. Arizona is strange. It is hot and dry, but if you can get water to a crop, it will grow, and, along its east side a large irrigation canal supplied the water to this field. We up and downed through the canal, thankfully it was dry, and scrambled out of the truck and began our hunt, paying no attention to a large thunderhead southeast of us.
Bill and I were the only ones in the field and were literally “covered up” in birds. We held off of the mourning doves and concentrated on the larger white wing doves. Nearing our limits of birds, we noticed that the thunderhead was moving towards us and causing a small sandstorm. No problem, when it gets close we’ll load up and go.
It got close real quick and the next thing we knew there was a wall of sand coming closer and closer, until it engulfed us. Hurrying to the truck, it started getting darker and by the time we closed the truck doors, it was like night had fallen 4 hours early. As the wind picked up, large drops of rain were smacking into the truck and Bill said, “Jon, we are in trouble. I bet this is a tornado and we got no place for shelter.” I said, “We could lay down in the canal and hope for the best.” And he replied, “Just drive the truck into it.”
We pulled over one of the berms and turned left into the canal and stopped, lightning popping all around, the wind and rain buffeting us and then we heard it. A train bearing down on us, but no tracks around here and we looked at each other and said, “Tornado!”
We could feel the force of the wind shaking us and trying to lift the truck up into the storm, but for some reason, we kept settling back down into the canal. In the darkness, terrifying minutes passed until the big wind and the roaring passed. It remained cloudy, the sky brightening, the wind dropping to an estimated 50 MPH, and the big drops of rain being replaced by a normal shower, and soon, the big storm was breaking up before it ever reached a populated area.
No mention of the tornado on the 10:00 PM news, so I guess Bill and I were the only witnesses. Also, the Chamber of Commerce thinks it is bad for tourism if there is talk of tornadoes in Arizona.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 14:13 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, September 8. 2014
Thinking back, one of the best places that I ever hunted doves was on the St. John’s Indian Reservation, south of Phoenix. In the early 70’s an individual hunting permit was a whopping $5.00 and $10.00 for a family. This allowed the hunters access to some great hunting.
The doves were feeding in a large grain field and then flying into a watering/roosting area in very thick brush. The afternoon sun was to our right and the birds flew south to north, coming out of the field and heading right over us. We usually arrived around 3:30 PM and positioned ourselves in the brush along a fence line and within two hours would generally have our limits.
Incoming, or head on, shots are easy. Track below the bird, cover it with the muzzle, fire and follow through. The bird flies right in to the shot string yielding a clean kill and falls near the shooter. This meant a lot on a hot, Arizona day!
This particular afternoon’s flight was pouring over us, heated barrels banging away, doves falling and the birds kept coming. Here came an easy head on for me, I tracked and fired, puff, a clean hit and the bird rocketed straight for my chest. Holding out my hand, I was going to be real cool and catch this one. But, at the last moment, the dove gained a little lift rising over my outstretched hand and smacked me right between the eyes!
The force of four ounces traveling at, I guessed, 35 MPH, applied right between my eyes, knocked me down. I got up and through my broken shooting glasses, my blood and the dove’s blood, I saw the bird had a broken neck.
The dove got his revenge, but $100.00 later for a new pair of shooting glasses, I was not to be deterred, and soon, the next free afternoon found me back at my favorite spot banging away.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 01:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, October 1. 2013
There were worlds of mourning dove coming in to feed on the grain field stubble, in a field, on an Indian reservation in the Phoenix area. This particular reservation allowed hunting in the grain fields, but we had to be careful not to go into the â€œNo Trespassingâ€ areas that were well marked with signs.
My family, Brad, my ex wife and I, were fast into knocking down these twisty fliers, Randy and Suzanne were doing the retrieving and our bird count was rising. This afternoon, we were the only hunters out so we were hunkered down, a hundred yards apart, along an irrigation ditch, now dry. Many of the birds flew over us as they came into the field to feed, providing some easy overhead shots.
We took a break to count up our birds and our tally indicated that we had knocked down 31, five short of our combined limits. Shooting time was just about over so we let Brad, who was an excellent shot with a shotgun and the reigning Arizona, junior state champion trap shooter, finish out the string.
We set to breasting out the dove, leaving both wings on and dusk was settling in by the time we finished. Rinsing our hands, we loaded everything up into the camper, kenneled up the kids and drove off the reservation, we thought. Coming to a cross road, we turned, we thought, the correct way because there werenâ€™t any signs. The next thing we knew, through the dust, here came a pickup barreling toward us, loaded with Indians and as they came closer, we saw they were all armed!
As the truck pulled to head us off, all the Indians were shouting and waving their firearms, we looked to be in deep stuff, but didnâ€™t know of any tribal laws we had broken. One, possibly the headman, yelled over to us, â€œYouâ€™re on private, no trespassing, property and are under arrest! Been hunting, too, weâ€™ll get all of you for shooting after hours?â€ This really looked serious now.
The year before, we had a run in with an Apache Policeman, he confiscated our .22 pistols and was going to ticket us for carrying firearms on the reservation, until he calmed down some and I told him that I was friends with the Tribal Chairman and named him. He relented, but told us â€œFriends with the Tribal Chairman or not, if he caught us on reservation with loaded firearms again, we be in big trouble!â€ Luckily, we never saw this policeman again!
Back to our immediate plight, the Indians were really heating up and I started fearing for my family. My ex had the, formerly confiscated, .22 pistol on her hip and she slipped it over to me, one pistol, 6 shots against a truck full, bad odds, before another Little Big Horn, I thought, Iâ€™ve got to get the headman talking. Telling him we thought we were headed out toward Baseline Road, he settled down a little and told us we took the wrong turn and were heading deeper into the reservation. He added, â€œOver the past weeks, weâ€™ve had an increase in grave robberies, but to me, it looks like you just took the wrong turn.â€ The occupants in the truck were still yelling until he told them to be quiet and told us, â€œJust turn around and weâ€™ll follow you out.â€
Grave robberies meant that folks were sneaking on to the reservation, not robbing the graves of recently buried people, but rooting around in the desert trying to find graves hundreds, up to a thousand years old. This definitely wasnâ€™t part of our program!
This was to close a call, so during our remaining years in Phoenix, we never went back to that reservation. That truck full of Indians really scared us off!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:47 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, September 13. 2013
In the 1970â€™s, one of our favorite dove hunting spots in Arizona was south of Phoenix on the St. Johnâ€™s Indian Reservation. Back then, a hunting permit was a whopping $5.00 and like $10.00 for a family and this allowed the hunters access to some great mourning dove, plus real good quail and, believe it or not, some good duck hunting.
One of the best spots on the reservation was along an irrigated, grain field, the north edge bordering on thick brush that the doves were using as a roost and rest area. This particular Saturday afternoon, we, my family and the Schroderâ€™s, had decided to combine a dove hunt along the edge of the brush and, after the hunt, a cook out in a clearing fifty yards in. The afternoon sun was to our right and the birds flew south to north, coming out of the field and flying right over us, providing easy head on, or quartering, shots.
Head onâ€™s are easy. Track the bird, cover it with the muzzle, fire and follow through. The bird flies right in to the shot string, usually providing a clean kill, then falls near the shooter. Not having to walk around much in the sun means a lot on a hot September day in Arizona! Quartering shots are a little different, just be sure to get the right lead and then bang away!
The afternoon flight was just beginning, scattered shots coming from our four shooters strung out along the edge of the field. On my first shot, a quartering one, I knocked down a dove that was just loafing along, not flying anywhere near max speed, but soon, with all the shooting the birds picked up their pace considerably! With the doves pouring over us, we kept banging away. Before long, with the temp over a hundred, combining this with all of our shooting, our barrels started heating up. Just load up and keep shooting, but donâ€™t touch the hot part.
One bird away from my limit, I looked up and here came one heading right over me, an easy head on shot. Tracking the bird and firing, puff, a clean hit and the bird rocketed straight for my chest. Holding my shotgun with my right hand and holding up my left, I was going to be real cool and catch this one, one handed, but at the last moment the dove gained a little lift rising over my outstretched hand and smacked me right between the eyes, knocking me over!
The force of four ounces traveling at, I guess, 35 MPH, applied right between my eyes, was a wallop. Getting up and looking through my broken shooting glasses, covered with mine and the doveâ€™s blood, I saw that, besides being shot, the bird had a broken neck. However, the dove got his revenge, but $100.00 later for a new pair of shooting glasses, I wasnâ€™t to be deterred, and soon, my next free afternoon found me back on the reservation.
After cleaning the birds, we washed up, grilled the steaks and along with green chilies and onions almost had a feast. After dinner, Jake looked over at me and, with a straight face, asked, â€œBeech, you went down real easy, think you have a glass forehead?
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 14:37 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, August 26. 2012
During my business career, except for my start with the large computer company, I always had people work for me and I got used to giving orders and having them obeyed. This one time it was given back to me in spades!
Layla, and I arrived at our lease in McColloch County, Texas in mid afternoon, after the 4, plus, hour drive from Houston, and found that we were the only folks there that day. We changed from our business executive clothes, she was a VP at a large rice company, then slipped into jeans and camo shirts and quickly headed out to my favorite place to hunt dove, a â€œsecretâ€ stock tank. Following is the picture of the house we used at our lease.
After the long drive, Gus, our Brittany, was anxious to get to hunting. We let him out and on the walk to the stock tank he took care of his business, then happily trotted beside us. The stock tank was spring fed and tucked behind a butte, or small mesa, way off the beaten path, as the picture shows.
About an hour before sunset, the mourning doves started coming into water. Our set up was ideal. The tank had a rocky, gravelly bank all around, a couple of dead mesquites at one end and several live mesquites that we used for shade and concealment at the other end
The birds came in singularly and in groups and were met with our bam, bam, bamming and soon we had neared our limits. It was great sport, great shooting and a plus getting to watch Gus retrieve birds that fell into the water.
Finally he rebelled. After 7 or 8 retrieves, he walked over beside me and shook himself vigorously, liberally dousing me, and ploped down at my side as I knocked another one down into the water. â€œFetch him up, Gusâ€â€ I commanded, and he didnâ€™t move. â€œGus, fetch the birdâ€ more forcefully as he looked up at me and rolled over on his back! Gus was â€œdoneâ€ for the day! Trying get Layla to retrieve the last dove for me, I asked her nicely, but she declined also.
It was left for me to chunk rocks and cow patties at the bird to wash them close to the shore, where I unceremoniously waded out and picked them up. So much for delegating!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, March 13. 2012
To say the least, the game cam on our corn and protein feeder has taken some very interesting â€œshotsâ€, namely a ring tail cat has been coming around, this one taken on February 21st, shows it just walking off.
Then a â€œshotâ€ of a cat beside the feeder, just sitting there not doing much of anything. This was a hard one to identify, but because I couldnâ€™t see any tail and because the ears and color look OK, so it must be a bobcat.
This is a â€œshotâ€ of a bunch of dove, 20 in all, feeding on the corn, anywhere from 5 to 20 come in each day to feed.
Finally, 3 squirrels show up and oneâ€™s kindaâ€™ layinâ€™ around enjoying the sun!
With all the doves and squirrels hanging around the feeder, now I see why the bobcats and ringtails are keeping a close eye on it!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Pictures at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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