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Thursday, February 9. 2012
My neighbor, Fred Walters had earlier signed on to a 600 acre quail/dove lease outside of Lockhart, Texas, then late in the season had asked me to join him on a quail hunt, and reminded me to bring along some heavy shot for, maybe, a passing duck. Following his orders, along with 20, 8â€™s for quail, I slipped 5, 6â€™s, into my hunting coat pocket.
Having no dog, we had busted into a couple of average sized coveys and had reduced their numbers by 4. Luckily we found all of them, and as we looked for the last quail, in the brush some 300 yards ahead, we spotted the damn of a stock tank. Fred hollered over to me and said, â€œWhile I look for this bird, why donâ€™t you walk on up and see if there are any ducks on the tank? If there are, go ahead and shoot â€˜em.â€
Shuckinâ€™ out the 8â€™s, I slipped 3, 6â€™s into my pump and clipped the other 2 between the fingers of my left hand. Quickly, but quietly, I walked up behind the damn, eased my eyes over the edge for a look and to my surprise there were many, many different varieties of ducks swimming and feeding in the small tank. Quickly ducking back down, my mind racing, I tried to wave for Fred to come on up, but he couldnâ€™t see me through the thick stuff, so I decided to tie into them by myself.
Taking a deep breath, I eased over the tank dam, and the surface of the water exploded as the ducks took to air! Up they came and boom, boom, boom, my 12, gauge barked! I had picked out a duck for each shot and as they caught the wind and swung back over me, 40 yards up, I quickly slipped the 2 shells that I had jammed between the fingers of my left hand into the pump and let fly, boom, boom and 2 more fell.
Glancing back into the tank, I counted 11 ducks down and counting the 2 that had plopped near me, 13 ducks in total. On each shot I was careful to pick out just one duck, but the spread and pattern of the shot had knocked down 8 more. Dreading retrieving them, because I knew weâ€™d be over the limit, I started picking up the ones close to shore and then started â€œchunkingâ€ the ones left out in the middle.
Fred ran up, having heard the shooting and correctly figuring I had gotten into some ducks, we counted, 2 greenheads and 2 pintail drakes along with 9 other of ducks, a mixture of teal, gadwall and widgeon! We each had a lot of ducks in our freezers back in Houston, so we were over our daily bag limit by 3. Having shot too many ducks, I was crushed, but Fred assured me there would be no problem. He said, â€œWeâ€™ll just clean â€˜em all and leave 3 big ducks with the rancher. Hopefully, then weâ€™ll be OK!â€
The rancher happily took the ducks we gave him and then he said, â€œDonâ€™t forget that I like quail too!â€ We got him some quail the next week!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, January 25. 2012
Either hunting quail or still hunting, deer, I had walked over almost all of the 2,000 acres of our McCulloch County hunting lease. One thing I had noticed was that in the winter the stock tanks almost always had ducks on them and many times I would flush and even pop a couple of shots at them, in season of course.
Noticing one particular spring fed, stock tank, almost a full acre, with a tall dam on one end, that was nearly impossible to sneak, I had chosen this one for my first, formal duck hunt on our deer lease. This stock tank was long and narrow and the end where I would hunt had a rock bottom and was only a foot or two deep. Since the water was so shallow, I wouldnâ€™t even need to take Gus to retrieve â€˜em and he could rest up for the afternoonâ€™s quail hunt. There were several mesquite trees around its edge and a rough blind wouldnâ€™t be hard to throw together, then I could put my 12, plastic decoys to good use, decoys that had been used with good results in Texas, Arizona and Georgia!
In the dark, pulling on my well used hip boots, using dead mesquite limbs, I hastily scrambled a rough blind together, then set the decoys in two groups, placing a group of 4 on my right and the other 8 on my left, leaving a space between the two where the ducks could land. In my makeshift blind, squatting on one knee, I loaded my 20, gauge pump with high velocity 6â€™s, (lead shot because the Gulf coast was the only place where steel shot were required) and waited.
As shooting time neared, the 12 plastic decoys were bouncing on the ripples and I could already hear ducks quacking and whistling. Shooting time and the first ones to circle and set their wings were 5 sleek, graceful pintails, bam, bam, bam, my pump barked and 3 splashed into the water. With a minimum of calling, ducks piled in and being able to clearly identify the drakes of the various species â€“ mallards, widgeon and gadwall, I thinned them out. One thing stands out in my memory, the teal, beautiful green wing teal that would swoop over the decoys, circle them, set their wings, then at the last moment, speed of somewhere else, there must have been 3 or 4 bunches of them.
The most important thing was proper identification of ducks on the wing, because back then, the limit was 8 drakes, however no open season on canvasbacks or redheads and we were allowed a mallard and pintail hen. So just shooting drakes, I was elated to get my limit in just under 30 minutes, all big ducks, shooting 8 with 10 shots, having to shoot two twice!
As the morning ended, there was a touch of gloom to my story, bad news, I picked up my decoys and carried 4 to the bank, laid them down next to my toesack and returned to the water for 4 more. The next thing I knew, along came a cow, stepped on a decoy and smashed it beyond repair. Now I only had 11 plastic decoys. Thinking back, I should have carried my sack out with me and only made one trip, but Iâ€™m really lucky that the cow didnâ€™t step on all 4 of the decoys!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, December 1. 2011
Wesley, after his successful buck find for Randy, sent me a â€œshotâ€ of the buck he killed on November 10th. Notice the date of the â€œshotâ€ is November 9th. Wesley is on his way to becoming an excellent deer hunter and tracker.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Pictures at 10:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, January 28. 2008
In January 1958, my cousin, Dan Gafford, from Marlin, Texas, came down to visit after hearing of the fabulous Duck hunting my Dad and I had been enjoying between Crosby and Anahuac. One of my Dadâ€™s former employees was now manager of a rice farm/ranching operation (they had oil wells too) and gave us free rein to hunt on the 1000 acre property. My Dad and I were in â€œhog Heavenâ€, having this place all to ourselves.
There were sloughs and potholes scattered all over the ranch and, convenient, since most were accessible by the oil field roads that connected the oil and gas wells. We would put on our waders, drive to a likely spot of standing water, put out my twelve plastic decoys, hastily construct us a makeshift blind, hide the car as best we could and begin our hunting.
The secret of our success was â€œluckâ€ and being at the right place. This ranch contained plenty of fresh water and was not far from Trinity Bay and was an easy flight for the ducks from the salt water to the fresh.
Early in the afternoon my Dad and his former employee dropped Dan and me off near a likely looking fifty-foot wide pothole. I waded out and set the decoys while Dan made us a blind of logs and grass. It wasnâ€™t much of a blind, but it would do.
Before we had settled down, a flight of Teal buzzed our decoys and as they were passing. bam, bam, bam, and two fall on the other side of the pot hole. Both of us were using number 6 shot with our full choked, pump, shotguns. Duck poison! Bunches of ducks, Teal, Gadwall and Widgeon kept us busy for most of the afternoon, and we had bagged nine, when we see a flight of ten mallards inspecting our layout.
Blowing a â€œhailâ€ call to them, they wheel around and circle behind us. A few chirps of a â€œfeedâ€ call sets their wings, their orange feet drop, wait a minute, somethingâ€™s wrong with these Ducks I think to myself, since they are landing in the edge of the pothole, not ten feet in front of us!
Dan and I jump up and bam, bam, six shots, and not a feather. We look at each other in amazement. Dan asks, â€œHow could this happen, it seemed as if I could have reached out and grabbed them?â€ Maybe we should have. Remembering what my Dad had told me years ago, â€œOur patterns were too small at this close range.â€ And I added, â€œWe should have let them gain some altitude, and not have been greedy and taken such close, â€œeasyâ€ shots.â€
We had a nice â€œbagâ€ of ducks anyway and didnâ€™t get any more shots that afternoon. While cleaning the Ducks, my Dad chided us saying, â€œBoys, you got greedy with those big Greenheads and didnâ€™t take your time!â€ Dan had fun anyway.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
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