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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)
Wednesday, October 1. 2014
The large computer company that I worked for had promoted me to their division headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia and, before that, had sent me to Endicott, New York for further “training”. While in Endicott I had become violently ill with some type of flu, was in bed for 3 days and finally flew back to Phoenix, although I barely remember the flight back.
Back in Phoenix with time on my hands, while my family was visiting in Houston, it dawned on me that dove season will still on. There was one spot, a stock tank just off the intersection of 7th Street and Deer Valley Rd. that we’d never hunted before. Back then in the mid 70’s this was still cattle country and cows need water, hence the stock tank. So I decided quickly that I’d just go out there and try my luck on the mourning dove.
Feeling much better, that afternoon, after the short drive from my house, I arrived at the spot, parked my truck under a big ironwood tree, climbed through the barbwire fence that kept the cows inside and walked the short distance to the stock tank. There were no posted signs, so hunters could use it, since most of the land in Arizona, at that time, was Government land.
At the tank, about a quarter of an acre, I picked a dappled, shady spot under a mesquite, squatted down on my haunches and waited for, I hoped, a good flight of dove. My wait wasn’t long as, from my left, 2 mourners zipped past me, made a circle and landed for a drink. Stepping out of the shadows, the dove sprang up, stretching for altitude, but my 20, gauge pump, barked twice and they crumpled, this was just like shooting doubles at trap!
As the dove came piling in, this was one of those days, I’d used only 11 shots and had bagged 9 birds, one away from my limit. The last dove came loafing by over the tank and my shot dropped it right into the water, using cow chips and sticks, I “chunked” it toward the bank where I waded out and retrieved it. A limit shooting in just a little over an hour and 10 dove with 12 shots!
This was a good spot and I’d have to come back and bring the family, then I remembered that all of us had to be in Atlanta next week, so no coming back to this spot, but I’ll always remember the easy shoot there.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | 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)
Saturday, July 5. 2014
I understand that Phoenix, Arizona was hit by a sandstorm on July 3rd of this year. The following recounts another sandstorm that hit Phoenix in 1971, that hit my newly moved into home there.
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 12:38 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, June 25. 2014
The car was found undamaged the next week, but nothing else was ever recovered. The police told me that my guns went to Mexico and that someone in Arizona (probably) got a real good Sony TV!
My insurance settlement, received in early fall, was quite generous and I headed to Oshman’s in Scottsdale to restock my weapons. Having become interested in trap shooting, my first purchase was a Remington 870, twelve gauge, with a trap barrel and ventilated rib. This shotgun served me very well over the five years that I shot competitive trap and it was also a deadly weapon on ducks and geese! But, if I had been real smart I would have invested in a Perotzzi trap gun! Laughingly, I say that, but I was never a good shot with a trap gun. The stocks high comb, and me being blessed with a short neck and arms, precluded me from getting my head satisfactorily down on the stock. A simple lengthening of my 870’s stock was all it took to give me the correct sight picture for trap shooting.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Shooting at 08:05 | 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)
Thursday, September 29. 2011
The large computer company that I worked for had promoted me to their center in Atlanta, Georgia and, before that, had sent me to Endicott, New York for further â€œtrainingâ€. While in Endicott I had become violently ill with some type of flu, was in bed for 3 days and finally flew back to Phoenix, although I barely remember the flight back.
Back in Phoenix with time on my hands, while my family was visiting in Houston, it dawned on me that dove season will still on. There was one spot, a stock tank just off the intersection of 7th Street and Deer Valley Rd. that weâ€™d never hunted before. Back then in the mid 70â€™s this was still cattle country and cows need water, hence the stock tank. So I decided quickly that Iâ€™d just go out there and try my luck on the mourning dove.
That afternoon, after the short drive from my house, I arrived at the spot, parked my truck under a big ironwood tree, climbed through the barbwire fence that kept the cows inside and walked the short distance to the stock tank. There were no posted signs, so hunters could use it, since most of the land in Arizona, at that time, was Government land.
At the tank, about a quarter of an acre, I picked a dappled, shady spot under a mesquite, squatted down on my haunches and waited for, I hoped, a good flight of dove. My wait wasnâ€™t long as 2 mourners, from my left, zipped past me, made a circle and landed for a drink. Stepping out of the shadows, the dove sprang up, stretching for altitude, but my 20, gauge pump, barked twice and they crumpled, this was just like shooting doubles at trap!
As the dove came piling in, this was one of those days, Iâ€™d used only 11 shots and had bagged 9 birds, one away from my limit. The last dove came loafing by, over the tank and my shot dropped it right into the water, using cow chips and sticks, I â€œchunkedâ€ it toward the bank where I waded out and retrieved it. A limit of shooting in just a little over an hour!
This was a good spot and Iâ€™ll have to come back and bring the family, then I remembered that I had to be in Atlanta with my family very soon, no coming back to this spot, but itâ€™ll be hard to forget the easy shoot I enjoyed here!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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