The Good Side Of The Outdoors

In early August, Phillip Laughlin at “The Hog Blog” did a post about the positive side of outdoor activities and this inspired Kristine of “Hunt Smart, Think Safety” Blog to issue all outdoor bloggers a challenge to post stories about the “good” side of the outdoors.

A friend of mine, Warren Blesh; owner of RRR Feeds in Goldthwaite, Texas, and RRR Ranch, a high fence, fee hunting paradise, in Mills County, came up with the idea that we would offer a free Deer hunt on his ranch to a deserving youth.

His idea coincided with the impending issue of the local paper, “The Goldthwaite Eagle’s” annual, Mills County Hunting Guide. “The Eagle” has been serving our County continuously since 1894!

WantedYouthHunter

Steve Bridges, owner of “The Eagle” agreed to run the following ad for us in the hunting guide and we decided to have interested youths between 8 and 16 write us a short essay about themselves and why they would like to go on a Deer hunt this fall. Warren and I will select the winner and then guide them on the hunt and we will do our best to make this a lasting, positive experience for the young person.

A young hunter will be selected by September 30 and a story and pictures of the hunt will follow.

A Score Of 9 On The Dive

As the summer passes I’m really getting the feel of the little Whaler. I find a short cut from Jones Lake to upper West Galveston Bay and the fine fishing around Greens Cut, the wrecked shrimp boat, and North and South Deer Island.

Randy, my son, and I were heading out, under the railroad bridge, to chase the birds around Greens Cut. He said, “Dad, let me drive the boat.” “Why not,” I reply, adding, “We’ll take my shortcut. Be sure to cut real close to the stake that you will see shortly. This stake was the right side of a four foot cut, in a live oyster reef. We found out the width of the cut on this trip, At the then tide level, about twelve inches of water covered the reef.

We are skimming along close to thirty-five miles per hour and I tell Randy, “See the stake? Steer close to it and we will be OK,” and then we enjoy one of those moments of miscommunication, and CRUNCH! We hit the left edge of the reef, missing the cut. As the boat suddenly stops, I go flying over the bow, tuck quickly and cover my head with my arms, do a flip, and crash down, on my back, into the twelve inches of water covering the reef.

Randy is half in and half out of the Whaler. When we hit the reef, he had the presence of mind to pull back on the throttle, idling the engine, and it had no shear pin, so it should be OK. Randy gets all the way out of the boat saying “Gee Dad, I’m Sorry. We missed the cut!” I stand slowly, I’m not hurt bad, my shirt is shredded and my back is cut up. I tell Randy, “Don’t worry, I’m OK. Let’s lift up the front of the boat and make sure it’s not damaged.”

The boats fine, Whaler can really make ‘em, we still have our shrimp, there’s not much wind and the tide is coming in, so I say, “If you’ll wash off my back with salt water and clean out the cuts we’ll go ahead and fish.” Later that morning, while we were catching Speckled Trout, Randy says, “Dad you’re a tough old guy! I thought you were going to end our trip after my wreck.” I thought to myself, old, I’m not even 50.

Competition

This past spring, just before the summer vacation at Copperas Cove (Cove) High School, Copperas Cove, Texas, one of my Grand Daughters, Sara Bryan, a fall semester Freshman, was selected to be a Cheerleader on the Junior Varsity (JV) squad. Quite an accomplishment considering the JV squad performs and supports the Sophomore and Junior Team.

Cove has one of the top football programs in our football crazy State, each year securing major college scholarships to several players. Last year Cove was a state finalist, but lost a close State Championship game. So, being selected a Cheerleader for this school is quite an honor!

In July, the Cheerleading team attended a clinic at Texas A & M University, in College Station, and was selected the number 2 team out of 24 participants.
Sara . on the right, and her Cheerleading friend, Alecia, accept the award for second place.
Sara was also presented an award for “Best At Handling Messed Up Routines”. Sara is a good student, a good Christian girl and a great, Grand Daughter!

As the year progresses, I will post her accomplishments.

A 13′ Boston Whaler

The low railroad bridge across Highlands Bayou, Bayou Vista’s outlet to Galveston Bay and Jones Lake, prevented large boats from passing under it, so I became a 2 boat fisherman. I owned a 20” Cobia that I used for going offshore and fishing around the Galveston Jetties, but I needed something that would make it under the low bridge.

The new railroad bridge over Highlands Bayou, Bayou Vista, Texas. This one has 6′-7′ clearance, the old bridge had 3′ plus, a really tight squeeze. This picture was made at noon on Aug. 15, 2007 when Tropical Storm Erin was just coming ashore. I was fixin to get wet, but nothing like the ravages of the flooding in our midwest brought on by Erin!

That something was a 13’ Boston Whaler, no motor, no steering controls and a worn out trailer. Quickly I fixed 2 of the missing items. One fix, a new galvanized, trailer and, the other, being a 20 HP, Mercury with manual steering. My steering position was a small cooler/bait bucket placed by the transom. Maybe a little light on safety issues, but the boat would run over 30 MPH and would be great for fishing in Jones Lake.

So what was one of the first things I did with my Whaler? Roy Collins a former Galveston Bay fishing guide, and I trailered it to the base of the Texas City Dike, put in there and go screaming of to the northeast to drift around Dollar Point. Definitely “big water” and not the best place for a 13 footer, even a Whaler!

There were probably a dozen other large boats drifting in the Dollar Reef area. Never having drifted in the Whaler before, I mistimed and misdirected my first drift and before I knew it I was drifting into a twenty-three foot Mako. I yank the starter cord and nothing. Yank, yank, yank, still nothing. Roy grabs the side of the Mako to hold us off, while the Mako’s owner is giving us some very clear instructions, “#@$%^&*#. Keep that little thing away from my boat. Don’t drift into my engine! #@$%^&*#!”

We clear the Mako and I see we are about to drift into some fishing lines from a twenty-one foot HydraSport. Yank, yank, yank, motor won’t start. More instructions from the HydraSports owner, “#@$%^&*#, keep out of our lines. Don’t you know what you are doing! #@$%^&*#!” Very embarrassing! Yank, yank and then I remember, Viola, turn on the Mercury’s on/off switch, which I did, yank, put, put, put, put, put, it started and we eased away from these awful predators.

Getting control of our drifts, we began catching some real nice Speckled Trout, when a small rain squall popped up south of us and was heading our way. We really didn’t pay much attention to the squall and kept on fishing and catching fish. Then it started to rain, better said, then the bottom fell out. Blinding rain and the next thing I know water is up around my ankles, the gas tank is afloat and the rain is still pouring down! At the time I didn’t have a Tempo Two-Way drain plug on the boat that would have let the water drain out, so the water keeps rising and we start bailing. I pour the shrimp out of the thirty-three quart cooler that I was using as a bait bucket and seat, and we finally make headway against our small flood.

Ankle deep, the rain stops. I start the engine, pull the drain plug and gun the engine. We jump up on a plane and the boat drains. Whew, that was close! I reinsert the plug and we go screaming back to our trailer, and I think to myself, no more big water for this little boat.

I will say one thing about the little Whaler, it didn’t sink. These boats are made with positive flotation, and as their advertisement shows, you can cut one in half and it won’t sink!

I bought and installed a Tempo Drain Plug that afternoon.

Almost Another National Championship

A happy team, The Texans, celebrate their second place finish at the International Senior Softball Association’s (ISSA) national championship tournament.

Sluggo had been on the DL since June 25, but this past weekend in Manassas, Va. he came off of it to help his team, The Texans, to a second place finish in their age group.

Sluggo still has to wear a protective shin guard over his skin graft that is healing ever so slowly, but playing each inning of all 7 games and striking the ball very well, it looks like a full recovery is near.

SluggoOffTheDL

Two more national championship tournaments remain, September in Dalton, Ga. and October in Phoenix, so maybe the Texans can come home with a championship.

We were close this time!

Grandma Bryan’s Tea Cakes

On August 12, I posted the story, “The Magical Wood Stove” about My Grand Mother, Ella Bryan’s, cooking ability on her old wood stove. Her Tea Cakes were wonderful and were my favorites, but I bemoaned the fact that her recipe for them was lost, leaving me only memories of those treats.

Last week while I was in Manassas, Va. playing in a National Championship, Senior Softball Tournament, I received an e-mail from one of my Cousins, and attached was Grandma Bryan’s recipe for her Tea Cakes. It had been stashed away with one of my Aunts, Myree (Bryan) Turner’s, other recipes and my post had jogged my cousin’s memory as to its whereabouts.

The Tea Cakes were so good, I will now make this cherished recipe available to my readers.
Grandma Bryan’s Tea Cakes

Sift together,
3 cups flour
3 TSP baking powder
1-1/2 cups sugar
a pinch of salt.

Then, with a pastry blender, cut in 1 “scant” cup of Crisco. I have been told that a “scant” cup, means not packed down.

Add 3 eggs and
Either 1 tsp vanilla or lemon flavoring, then mix well.

Use rolling pin and roll dough to approx. ½” thickness.

Take
a large glass, iced tea size, and flour the rim, then cut raw cookies
out of the dough and place on a greased cookie sheet. Keep the scraps
and re-roll and re cut. Your last cookie may be funny looking.

Cook at 350 deg. Until done, light brown.

Sprinkle sugar on top,

Then eat and enjoy!

A Fishing Party?

New Year’s Eve of 1981 was a memorable event because we, the three couples that collectively owned the house in Bayou Vista; Jerry and Sammie Masters, my brother-in-law and his wife, Jim and Pat Buck and my ex-wife and I, decided to jointly put on a big New Year’s Eve party in our new beach house.

The party was rolling along and around 10:00 PM I had lost interest in all of the small talk and went down stairs and was sitting on the boat dock when I heard the unmistakable “pop” of a trout hitting the surface right out from where I was sitting. “Pop”, another one, and I was up in a flash and into the ground floor of the house and out with a rod, reel and silver spoon with a yellow bucktail attached.

The rod that I grabbed had a silver spoon with a yellow bucktail already rigged up and Jim grabbed one with a 52M, MirrOlure attached.

The only light was from a full moon overhead as I whipped a cast almost across the canal and began a rapid retrieve and “Whamo” a good trout nails the spoon and the fight is on. Now I think, how am I going to land this fish with no landing net since I’m standing at least three feet above water level. In my haste I had forgotten to bring out a net! I swing/flop the Trout out of the water into the yard, run to it, get the hook out and carry it inside and put it into a forty-eight quart cooler, sans ice.

Back outside, this time with a long handled net, and cast again, and again “Whamo” another Trout, which I subdue, net and add to the cooler, just as Jim Buck comes downstairs asking, “Brother-In-Law, are you OK? I thought you may have fallen in,” as he sees me putting a fish into the cooler.

He grabs another rod and reel, this one with a M-52 Mirror Lure attached and makes a cast. We catch four more Trout before the school moves on, all nice fish two to two and one-half pounds. We wash our hands, get some ice out of the fridge we have downstairs, cover the fish with it and go back upstairs to the small talk.

Nobody else missed me but Jim.