The Dove’s Revenge

September 1st means the opening of the 2009/2010 hunting season, also, football season has kicked of with a big Goldthwaite win over a tough team from Collinsville. (More to come on that game). 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.

Splitting The Difference

One memorable trip to “The Wreck” was during the summer of 1982. Alvin Pyland, my Uncle Gus, Dub Middleton, a close friend, and I had spent the morning fishing the Gulf side of the South Jetty. As usual we had an enjoyable trip and a large cooler over half full of fish. The tide had been going out pushing baitfish around the end of the jetty and back toward the beachfront and we had caught trout, reds, Spanish mackerel and even a cobia, better known along the Texas coast as a ling. When the tide changed and started going in I suggested we try “The Wreck”.

Neither of my companions had ever fished it and didn’t even know it was there. In the past, during the fall, they had good success fishing for reds almost directly across from “The Wreck” in ten feet of water along a shelf on the east side of the Ship Channel.

We pulled up my twenty foot, deep vee, into the vicinity of “The Wreck”, and with the depth finder began our triangulating. Soon we were anchored over it and had our baits in the water, when “wham”, Uncle Gus had a big hit from something judging from the bend in his rod, and another, “wham” Dub had a big strike on his spinning outfit, and “wham” I had a big hit too, three almost simultaneous heavy strikes!

The fight was on! My fish, a three, pound trout, came to the boat first, and Uncle Gus netted it while still fighting his fish. Dub was locked in a line loosing struggle with something big and shouted “Jon, start us up and get our anchor up. I can’t stop this thing.” I had a dilemma, Dub’s fish showed no signs of tiring and was heading north with the tide and Uncle Gus’s fish was heading east toward the deep water of the ship channel.

Like a politician, I split the difference and headed at a forty-five degree angle between the angler’s fish. Soon Uncle Gus’s fish, an over thirty, inch red was alongside the boat and we netted it, got the hook out and released it. Reds now had a twenty to twenty-eight inch slot and this one was too big.

Dub was still struggling with his fish, which he thought was either a record red or maybe a big, black drum. I followed it and soon we saw a large, over twenty pound, jackfish. “Record red, huh, haw, haw, haw,” we both laughed as I readied the net. One more short run and the jack was ours. We got the hook out and released it. Jackfish are great fighters, more like sluggers, but have no food value. We found ourselves over three hundred yards from “The Wreck” and both of my guests said, “Why don’t we go back to “The Wreck” and anchor up?”

The Sunken Wreck

During the summer of 1981, by accident, Dewey Stringer and I “found” a boat, probably a scuttled shrimper that had been sunk in fifteen feet of water, two hundred yards north of the old concrete ship, right off of the Galveston Ship Channel. With the right conditions, incoming tide, not too much wind or too heavy a current, we consistently caught speckled trout and red fish at this spot.

A very favorable set of circumstances led us to “finding” this sunken wreck. With our depth recorder on, because we had forgotten to turn it off, we had been drifting the flats north of the old Quarantine Station, on the west side of the Ship Channel. We noticed that we had drifted out too far into deeper water toward the Ship Channel and, all of a sudden, a “hump” appeared on our chart paper.

This got our interest so we crisscrossed the hump several times and determined that it was a sunken boat about the size of a shrimp boat. This was before the days of GPS’s, and Dewey didn’t have a Loran, so we had no way of marking the spot other than triangulating on the old concrete ship, a channel marker and an oil rig.

We anchored over the wreck, baited up and let our rigs down to the bottom. Dewey was right into a nice fish, but I was hung up on something. I had caught the wreck and in loosening up my hook brought up a small piece of wood. I netted Dewey’s fish, a nice red, got my rig baited up and proceeded to land a two-pound trout. We were on to something and for the next two years “The Wreck” was a fish producer for us and it was only a twenty, minute boat ride, straight down the Intercoastal Waterway from Dewey’s Camp!
In 1983 the tidal surge from Hurricane Alicia washed away the sunken boat and put an end to a great fishing spot!

A Meeting With Senior Mal-De-Mere

We took a trip to Mazatlan with the Schroder family and one event stood out. A long fishing trip with no fish and four hours into our trip the Captain was fretting about (in Spanish) our lack of luck. We had seen some sails lolling about on the surface, but they weren’t interested in our baits regardless how skillfully presented.
Our trolling continued, four lines on out riggers and one flat line and all of a sudden, one by one, everyone in our party, two adults and four kids, started getting Mal-De-Mere, seasick! It seems that when, like flu, one person gets it, it become contagious and spreads quickly.
Taking turns, “chumming” for fish, Jake and I told the Captain to head back in, easily over a one hour trip and as the boat came about to head back to Mazatlan, one of the four outriggers snapped, then a second, then a third, then the fourth and the flat line was nearly pulled from the holder by a vicious strike! The infirmed anglers quickly recovered, grabbed rods and the fight was on.

We had run into a school of dorado, dolphin, not Flipper, and the water behind the boat was churned up with the acrobatic fish. These were large dorado, at least 25 pounds each, and on the medium tackle we were using, great fighters. As the fish wore down, the mate had his hands full getting them aboard, but he finally put the last one in the big cooler.

A younger, and both recovered, Jake and Beechnut display the day’s catch!The excitement of the furious action helped everyone to recover for about two minutes. Everybody was “up” and apparently recovered, then the Mal-De-Mere hit again. We didn’t get a strike all the way in, but we kept chumming!

Our hotel’s chef did a stupendous job of grilling our dorado and with full “tummies” everyone had forgotten our afternoon meeting with Senior Mal-De-Mere.

Morning Walk, August 21,2009

Yesterday’s walk didn’t produce any wildlife pictures because of the activity around here, cutting and bailing hay. Tractors and a lot of noise puts the wild things way back in the thick stuff.
My thirty acre, hay field, Sudan grass, produced one hundred and eleven, big, round bales. The record, year before last, was one hundred and sixty-seven bales! Last years crop, ruined by lack of rain, was a mighty, six bales. You take the good with the bad!
Here is a prepared, four acre, coastal Bermuda, field that will yield up to eight bales.
The serious stuff, dove hunting, starts a week from this coming Tuesday and if we don’t get any real strange weather, we’re expecting a great crop of mourners, white wings and ring necks!

Sailfish In Mazatlan Harbor

On this fishing trip in Mazatlan, the Captain put the lines out when we were about four hundred yards away from the dock. The fish hit almost immediately and put on quite an aerial display, making five or six jumps and “greyhounding” for almost a hundred yards. What a fight and what a memory! We snapped a good picture of one of its jumps.
That morning the mouth of the harbor was loaded with sails. As the day progressed the fish moved out into El Golfo never exceeding four miles. An easy trip and for the day we connected with five sails. After almost arguing, one fish was released, mine was being mounted and the Captain sold other three.

The sailfish mount, hecho en Mexico, on the wall of my den in Paradise Valley, Ariz. It weighed one hundred and ten pounds and was ninety-seven inches long. It was destroyed in 1983 when a tornado in north Houston hit the storage shed where I was keeping it. Sadly a trailer park was right next to the shed and it was completely destroyed killing two people.

More Outdoors Pictures, August 15, 2009

Sunday morning at Bible study, Warren Blesh, owner of [RRR Ranch], in Mills County, gave me this picture of five very nice bucks that he “shot” early Saturday. He was in a blind and worked the Stealth Cam manually.
The one on the left is, by far, the best of the group.

The RRR Ranch is a high fence place with outstanding white tails along with a mix of exotics. If you want to bag a real keeper, get in touch with Warren!

James Crumley sent me this picture of a nice kingfish he caught out of Port O’Conner, Texas. This time of year, offshore, the fishing is really good down there and, no, he’s not offering a guide service.

Sunday evening I was getting ready to shut it down when I looked out of our kitchen window and saw a bunch of deer in our newly cut, thirty acre, hay field. Counting them there were eighteen all told, which is a new record for deer all at once!

Not being able to get them to line up for a picture, I “snuck” around and did get this long “shot of a nice buck.

Rocky Point- The Cut

On one excursion to Rocky Point, several of the locals asked me to accompany them to “The Cut”, a two hundred foot wide, cut and channel leading from El Golfo into a small bay, St John’s Bay. Catch the conditions right, mainly the water movement, and the fishing is excellent.

The trip was ten miles down the beach, not hard packed sand like along the Texas coast, but fine volcanic sand that refused to pack. It’s a ten, mile trip from Hell, four wheel drive all the way. Tires deflated to eight, yes, eight pounds each! We probably saw a dozen skeletons of disabled trucks littering the beach. If you broke down, chances were the truck just stayed, rusted out and sank into the sand.

Once we got to the cut and the tide started moving, I cast out a Mr. Champ spoon with a small sardinero, hooked through the mouth, and jigged it slowly along the bottom My first cast was met by a savage strike, a long run and after a spirited fight, I landed and released an eighteen inch bonefish! Before our wild trip back to rocky Point, we had loaded up on two to three pound, corvina, a fish resembling our Gulf Coast white trout, but this one can grow to a size of up to thirty pounds and we even released several small snook! Hot fishing!

It is a very enjoyable, exciting experience to make a suspense filled trip to a remote fishing spot, hammer the fish and then come back out in the dark, engines roaring, sand flying and finally making it back to civilization in one piece. I made a total of four trips to The Cut. We even spent the night at The Cut once. Once was enough!

Morning Walk, August 13, 2009

Having overslept, I was walking backwards out of my driveway, watching Bo and Spike to see if they were coming with me and not thinking about the time. I turned around and was looking right into the sun.

Being lazy I thought that I would just go along on my walk down County Road 406, sun or no sun, however, I knew that there wouldn’t be any wildlife pictures this morning. Going, I couldn’t keep my head up looking for anything and coming back, we’d have already scared everything off!

Bo and Spike generally walk a very short distance with me then go off after whatever fancies them, but today they saved the day.


They kept up pretty good until I looked back and saw that Bo had decided to lie down on the job. Only a cat would take this particular time to stretch out and I was lucky to get this picture.

Texans Stink Up Raleigh

The past week Stumpy and his Senior Softball team, The Texans, sporting a gaudy 20 and 3 record, traveled to Raleigh, N.C. to play in, and our plan was to win, the Senior Softball Eastern National Championships. Sometimes, our best laid plans falter and go astray.

Last Thursday The Texans were the last team without a defeat. We had rolled over two tough, teams, one from Ohio, Joseph Chevrolet, and the other, Doc’s from Michigan. We rested while Doc’s and Joseph’s played for the chance to go up against us in the finals. Doc’s won the extra inning game and this one was Doc’s second consecutive game.

Stumpy and The Texans took the field for, what should have been an easy win then the wheels came off of our vaunted attack. We forgot how to field, we forgot how to hit and Doc’s never looked back and pounded us in the first game, their third consecutive one, 20-4 and now we both had one loss. Never fear, in the final game, Doc’s fourth game in a row, The Texans, vaunted attack will carry them through to victory.

For three innings we, The Texans, held a slim 1-0 lead but in the fourth Doc’s slammed us with five runs and we never caught up. The wheels remained off of our vaunted attack and Doc’s won the Eastern National Championship, 12-4.

The Texans are still embarrassed over their poor, wilted performance and are still licking their wounds, but are looking forward to payback and playing Doc’s, in what we hope will be the finals of the Softball Players Association, National Championships, September 3-6 in Dalton, Ga.

Who knows what will happen when you play with a round ball and a round bat on a square field?