Fillin’ The Tank

Dove season had just opened in the south zone, and having nothing special to do that Saturday, Layla and I decided we’d run down to Crystal City for a hunt. We could be back to our home in Cypress before midnight and then, gas was only around $.60 a gallon!

Our plan was to find a shady spot around the stock tank and ambush the Doves when they came into water. This was a great plan, but arriving at our lease and driving into the stock tank, we found it completely dry! We were pacing around and worrying about what to do when Eldred Lawrence drove up. He too had made identical plans as ours and couldn’t understand why, or how, the tank had dried up so fast.

Walking around and worrying, no shooting yet since it was a good hour before the Doves would water, I noticed a 2 inch hose and curiously followed it to a large pump with an electric motor. The pump was directly wired to an incoming 220 line and beside it was a switch on a fuse box.

Quickly adding 2+2 and getting a solution, I would see if the pump worked and if it would pump water. Hollering for El and Layla to come over, I flipped the switch, the motor hummed the hose “bowed up” and out came water into the tank!

Saying, “Why don’t we just run this hose for and hour or so, until the birds come around, then we can turn it off?” My fellow hunters agreed.

El walked across the tank from us and sat his stool in the dappled shade of a mesquite tree. Layla and I spaced apart and followed suit. The pump kept pumping and soon we had enough water in the bottom of the tank to make a difference. As the pump pumped and the water gushed, the first flight of Doves came zipping in and tried to land in a dead mesquite next to El.

Rising up, he fired, bam, bam, bam and one Dove tumbled down. Here came another bunch toward Layla and I and we knocked down 3. Running over to the switch, I flipped it off as El whirled around and fired away from the tank and the bird tumbled into the brush. He got up to go retrieve it and I returned to my vigil.

“Son of a gun!” Boom, boom, boom, both El and his 12 gauge, autoloader barked. I didn’t see any birds, so I thought a predator perhaps. He called to us, “Jon, Layla, come over and see this rattler.”

Walking over to him, several pieces of a large Rattle Snake were laying 3 or 4 feet from the downed, Dove. We figured the snake made a serious mistake and thought he had found an easy meal.

We had an excellent hunt and in a little over an hour, ended up with 3 limits and no more snakes,. Any bird that fell outside of the tank was carefully retrieved and, during the retrieve, all eyes were firmly locked on the ground!


This past Monday I had lunch with Brad and his wife, Joan. After lunch, as Brad and I went out to load some oak firewood into my truck, I noticed this motivational poster lying on his workbench.

Picking it up and admiring it, Brad told me that he’d seen this picture when he’d been in Iraq and, that obviously, someone had added the ‘sentiment’ and made a poster out of it.

The picture is of an Army sniper and his M-14, in Falluja during the big fight there. The ‘smiley face’ got my attention, but I really liked the prose.

Remember, “Three muscles for proper trigger squeeze”, but always keep smiling!

Two Eyes, Tropical Storm Allison

My life has been blessed with many different events; some rewarding, some terrifying, many dangerous, many stimulating, but none remain with me like Allison, the tropical storm that flooded and devastated not only Texas and Louisiana, but also the Southeast and Eastern United States.

Damage estimates were over six billion dollars. Texas and Louisiana led the list, with third place in damage, of all things, Pennsylvania! Over forty people were killed by the storm, twenty-three in Texas alone, and Allison dumped over forty inches of rain on southeast Texas, which was the fourth highest amount of any storm in recorded history

Allison began as a tropical wave off the coast of Africa, moved west and crossed upper, South America into the Pacific, then moved over Mexico back into the Gulf of Mexico and wandered north, made landfall between Freeport and Galveston Island, with the eyes, yes two eyes, passing over Bayou Vista. It hit Houston and moved not over 100 miles north and stalled, then moved south back into the Gulf Of Mexico, pounding the entire Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard and finally sputtering out in Massachusetts where it produced a tornado and flooding. It was the costliest tropical storm in history and the only one that has had its name retired!

Houston experienced over seven inches of rain in one hour and over twenty-eight inches in twelve hours and that is where my Allison story begins.

Allison’s rain was pounding us and around 2:00 PM, my partner, Bob Baugh, said he thought I should head on down to Bayou Vista and make sure my house was OK. My experiences on Interstate 45 between Houston and Galveston, told me that it would be a long, difficult and possibly dangerous drive down there.

Layla was working part-time, in far north Houston, for a national softball organization and I headed out, called her and said that she should start home right away. We had just sold our home in Cypress, Texas and were living full time in Bayou Vista. The next day we were planning on driving to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where Layla was running a senior softball tournament and I was playing in it.

Starting out around 3:00 PM, traffic was building. Our local media was wearing their rain suits inside of their studios and telling us to brace for a tropical storm with fifty mile per hour winds. Overkill, I thought. Traffic on I-45 was awful, not thinning out until past the NASA exit and when the traffic thinned, here came the rain. It poured buckets on us, slowing speeds to around forty miles per hour. It poured for the next ten miles and when I reached the Dickinson exit, the rain stopped and the skies lightened up. I looked to my right, west, and saw, not five miles away, a funnel cloud hanging down nearly to the ground. It was heading north, so no immediate danger to me.

I turned up the radio and heard that the eye of Allison had just passed over Galveston Island. Wow, I thought, I must be in the eye right now. That makes three for me! The next ten miles down to Bayou Vista were fairly nice, light rain and not much wind. I pulled into my driveway and my neighbor, Jack Bustos, was standing in his driveway and says to me, “Hey, the eye just passed over here! Come on in for a drink.” “OK,” I accepted. We were chatting about what a strange storm this was when it started raining again and I cut our visit short and ran home. Then it really started to rain!

During my travel south, Layla was trying to get down to Bayou Vista to, but was hung up in the traffic and rain. Freeways were being closed and she made it no farther than West Belt and Westheimer, where, because of the rain and flooding, she decided to get a room in a motel and meet up with me in the morning. My company’s offices were right across the street from her motel, but Bubba and the staff had already gone home, and she was too late for them to help her. She called me and we decided she would be safe to stay where she was.

It rained and rained and rained, with a constant wind of thirty-five to forty-five miles per hour, a steady hard wind, and the water in the canal started rising not from the heavy rain but from the expected five foot tidal surge that Allison packed. I had raised my twenty- two, foot boat as high as I could in the boat shed, so I should have plenty of clearance between my boat’s hull and the water.

The water had risen three feet and was already over the bulkheads and washing into my yard, so I went into the garage and made sure everything was up off of the concrete, floor. If we actually had a five, foot surge, water would be in the garage. My property was nine feet above sea level and the street was eleven feet, which meant we could still get out if need be.

It was raining hard, wind blowing and then it stopped. I went out onto my deck just as Jack, my neighbor came out and yelled over to me, “Looks like another eye, that’s real strange. How about another drink?” “No thanks,” I replied, thinking that when the storm on the backside of the eye picked back up, I could be stranded next door. This made the fourth storm-eye I had been in. That’s enough for anyone!

The night passed with more rain and wind and the tidal surge didn’t make it into the garage, just up to the patio. Not much storm when I awoke and called Layla and said for
her to be ready over at my office and I would pick her up in two hours. She told me what to pack for her for our trip to Arkansas and I was on my way.

Houston was flooded, but the freeways were open with not much traffic and I buzzed on in. We loaded up, parked her Suburban in a secure area behind my office, and headed north up I-45 in my 4WD Suburban.. Water everywhere and a light rain falling on us until we passed Huntsville, sixty miles north of Houston, when the rain hit us. By “the rain”, I mean the main rains of Allison.

The storm had stopped north of Houston and was dumping rain over the countryside. We were forced to slow down, blinkers flashing, to thirty miles per hour for the next fifty miles. By the time we had driven to Fairfield we had passed through the heart of Allison, but no “eyes” for me this time. We drove on to Hot Springs, with a light mist and rain all of the way, with the weather clearing the next day.

We followed the storm closely on radio and TV and the tournament proceeded as scheduled and my team won our classification and qualified for the Nationals in Plano in September. Allison was another story.

The storm made landfall in Texas, on June 4, 2001, passed through Houston, stopped around Buffalo, north of Houston, turned back into the Gulf of Mexico and slammed into Louisiana, then skipped down the north shore of the Gulf, turned northeast along the Georgia/Florida line, up the East Coast and finally, on June 18, turned out into the North Atlantic Ocean. So ended Allison, the most expensive, damaging and dangerous tropical storm on record and I was able to experience all of her fury as she pounded into Texas!

The Eye Of The Storm

In August of 1941, my family and I had recently moved into our newly constructed home in a brand new, incorporated, subdivision, several miles outside of Houston’s western boundary. Being west of Rice Institute (now University), the subdivision was aptly named West University. ‘West U’ as we called it had, and still has, its own fire, police and water departments.

Houston’s urban sprawl now has encircled ‘West U’ and driven prices sky-high! Our 3, bed room, frame, house and lot, had cost $3,900. Today lots are over $100K and homes over $400K. Back then, drainage ditches lined the streets that were ‘paved’ with oyster shell. When new shell was applied to the streets, on calm and still days, the smell was overpowering! Now ‘West U’ is a model, pricey, yuppie haven, not the almost country place of my youth.

The radio had alerted us of a storm thrashing around in the Gulf of Mexico and apparently headed for landfall on the upper Texas coast. It hit between Galveston and Freeport and unknown to us, was headed our way. Now, with satellites and radar we can tell within miles of where one of these monsters will hit. Back then it was just an educated guess. To me, not yet 6 years old, it sounded like a lot of fun! Looking back, I just don’t know how we survived without the TV weather folks telling us what to do, how to pack our survival items and not to drive our cars into the deep water!

The storm made landfall and bored inland. ‘West U’ is about 60 miles as the ‘crow flies’ from the coast and we received almost the full fury of the storm! The rain was first, beginning in mid morning, then the wind, strengthening and making noises that I had never heard before. By early evening the lights went out, the telephone was dead and we had lost all power. Lightning flashed, thunder roared, the rain came down in sheets, but our new house held together! Then everything stopped!

The hurricane’s eye was passing right over us my Mom and Dad explained to my sister, H.R., and me, as they took us outside for a quick look around. It was dark but we could tell that there were no clouds above us, the stars were out and there was no storm, wind, rain or lightning. Our parents hurried us back inside and we waited for the onslaught to begin again, and it did with a vengeance! More wind and heavy, rain, not as much thunder and lightning, but the storm pounded us until morning.

The hurricane had moved away and following my Dad outside, we both heard a tiny “Mew” and looked under the edge of our house (it was built on a block foundation and raised about 18” above ground level) and found that the source of the “mew” was a tiny, yellow kitten. I picked him, I discovered later, up and ran back inside, yelling, “Mother, can we keep it?” She replied, “If your Dad says so.” He was easy on this one and ‘Tom’ lived with us for the next 14 years.

Not knowing it then, but we had a much bigger and deadlier ‘storm’ coming our way on December 7, 1941!

Here Comes Football

It’s mid-August, football, two-a-days, are on us, every town’s team is going to ‘State’, but by December, only a few will make it to the big game.

One of our Grandkids, Sara, a sophomore, was selected to be a varsity cheerleader for the Copperas Cove Bull Dawgs, a Class 5A school. Quite an accomplishment! The ‘Dawgs’ have been to ‘State’ the last 2 seasons.


Goldthwaite is no different and last Friday night, held in the high school gym in deference to the heat, was the official start of their season Meet The Eagles!

Layla and I had two of our Grandkids introduced.
Mikayla, who had just had her braces applied that day, was introduced as a 7th grade cheerleader.


Colton, on the left, was introduced as a varsity, defensive line backer and offensive guard. He made his goal of making the varsity team as a freshman. Colton, and his friend, Tyler, both being freshmen, were introduced first.


On Saturday morning we drove through a driving, rain, storm, out to Bangs, for a controlled scrimmage between the Class A, Goldthwaite Eagles and the Class 2A, Bangs Dragons. Fearing the season opener would be postponed, we arrived in Bangs, and to our surprise, the scrimmage was being held in an indoor practice facility. I would expect this at Katy or Southlake-Carroll, both big Class 5A, schools, but not small, Class 2A, Bangs.

Colton, in the middle, and Tyler, left outside, both started at linebacker for the Eagles and after a few stuttering plays, settled in and played excellent football, especially for freshmen. A wall of the indoor facility is in the background. I wonder why they played crossways to the stripes?


The longer the scrimmage lasted, the better the Eagles performed. If the team builds on this early success, maybe they’ll be a December team?

Our Second Amendment

Generally, this is not a political blog, but sometimes a person has ‘to take the bit in their teeth’ and speak out for what they believe in and I really believe the following.

Being a Life Member of the National Rifle Association, I recently received their September, 2008, issue of ‘The American Rifleman’ and perused with interest their story on pages 40 and 41, “Barack Obama’s Ten Point Plan to ‘Change’ The Second Amendment”. Having scanned in his Ten Point Plan, I want share it with everyone:


When it comes to politics, I am definitely not a ‘one issue’ person; and I believe in low taxes, the use of all of our own natural resources, smaller government local, state and federal, the rights of the unborn, strict judicial interpretation of our Constitution and my individual right to keep and bear arms. Most important, I believe in God and love Jesus!

I also love and respect our Constitution and have sworn to uphold it! It is a wonderful, insightful document, written by far sighted, intelligent men. It doesn’t ‘live’, but it does clearly state our rights as citizens and, to me, near the top, is our right to keep and bear arms! The Second Amendment reads:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
As our Presidential election nears, I believe that hunters, shooters, gun owners and their supporters must band together and prevent Barack Obama and the rest of the liberal democrats from gaining control of our government!

What are some of the things that we can do to push our agenda to the front? Here is my 10 Point Plan To Save Our Gun Rights:

1. If not a member already, join the National Rifle Association.

2. Encourage friends and supporters of the shooting sports to do likewise.

3. Contact your local, state and federal representatives to support firearms,

ammunition and right-to-carry laws.

4. Vote only for representatives that share and support your views on this subject.

5. Vote for McCain.

6. Don’t hesitate to speak out!

7. Get involved in shooting sports.

8. Get your family involved in the shooting sports.

9. Get involved in local, state and national politics.

10. Keep the pressure on our elected officials to preserve the Second amendment!

All of these things have to start at the grass roots level! Get involved and, as we say in Texas, “Git’ ‘er done!”

The Writin’ Spider

Mowing the grass around my garden, right beside the shed, I spied a “spidey”. The large, almost 2’ body length, and vivid, orange, black and white coloration, made my identification easy. A Garden Spider, probable better known as a Writing Spider, Argiope Aurantia, in Texas, better known as a Writin’ Spider.

These large guys aren’t dangerous to humans and build their nests in and around gardens and use their webs to catch insects attracted to the garden. A Writin’ Spider will usually make one egg sack and then dies before winter.


It’s easy to see how the heavy portion of the web looks like writing. I wanted to get a picture of the Writin’ Spider on the “written” portion, but when the lawn mower approached, the spider retreated to the upper part of its web. Since the Writin’ Spider is one of the garden’s good guys, I ceased all mowing operations in the vicinity of its web.

However, I can’t mention this sighting or the location to Layla, because 8 years ago, she was bitten by a Black Widow Spider, and still hasn’t forgotten her painful recovery and 3 day ordeal in the hospital! Now, she is quite insensitive toward ALL spiders!

Big ‘Uns

Wednesday evening, just before dark, I saw two very big bucks in the field behind my house. With my binocs, looking thru the picture window, my estimate was that both of them had a minimum of a 20” spread and had 10-12 points. Both looked like they had dead cedar trees on top of their heads. Having seen some nice bucks this year and even photographing one last week, these two are definitely “Muy Grande”!

Thursday evening, 30 minutes after the sun had gone down, I saw a small buck walking across the field behind my house and thought that I would sneak over to the old house, get my binocs’ and see what I could see. There were plenty of deer! I counted 21, with 3 or 4 small, bucks but no big ‘uns.

Last evening, Layla and I were returning from our town’s annual, “Meet The Eagles” event, where this year’s football teams, cheerleaders, twirlers and band are introduced. Looking out into the field, there stood both big ‘uns, not 50 yards out. They are magnificent deer!

I’ll start feeding corn and deer pellets next week. Luckily, I can buy bulk corn at $7.50 a hundred, while bagged corn is around $10.00 for 50 pounds. What a big deal?

You know, I think it’s terrible that our government has subsidized corn and driven the prices up so much! Ethanol is more of a problem than it’s worth! Sugar cane produces better ethanol, but we have import restrictions on cane! But that is “another story”.

These 2 big ‘uns have really stoked my fires for this year. Hopefully, and I say again, hopefully, I can at least, get a picture of one of them!