Some Special Guns

During the late summer of 1971, while we were out of town, my trusty Winchester, Model 12, twelve gauge pump with a modified barrel, that I had shot for over twenty years, along with all of my other guns, a new Sony TV that I won in a sales manager’s contest and my brand new Buick Electra 225, were stolen. What really upset me was that the thieves took my Dad’s Fox, sixteen gauge, side by side. Many times I have wished that I had that old one back!

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.

As soon as we moved to Arizona, we started seeing Gambel quail and our roamings in the foothills and the deserts only showed us more of these remarkable, little runners. This led to my second purchase, a Remington 870, twenty gauge, pump with a ventilated rib and skeet barrel that I shot for over thirty-five years.

However, not planning to shoot skeet, this shotgun, shooting “heavy” one ounce, reloads of seven and a halfs or eights, chalked up amazing numbers of quail and doves. One afternoon in Mexico, using the twenty gauge, pump, I shot one hundred white wings with one hundred twenty-nine shells! On the skeet field it was equally impressive, helping me to shoot many twenty-fives European style. My Son, Randy, has this gun now.

I don’t think that I was a “natural” shooter although in the Army I shot Expert with the M-1 Garand and M-2 Carbine. Probably friendly pasters! But I did learn early on that if you’re going to be a good, competitive shooter, you had to practice regularly. This practice carries over into the field, helps in judging shot distances and reinforces correct shooting techniques – see the proper sight picture whether you track, lead or swing on the target, keep your head down on the stock, keep swinging after you shoot and pretty soon the hits will really start to add up whether you’re shooting clay or real birds.

In 1975 returning to Arizona on a business trip, I found out what befell the thieves that broke into my house and stole my stuff and how they were finally apprehended. Their “business” was so good they had opened a used furniture store on Indian School Road in east Phoenix and of course much of the stock was stolen goods.

They had just committed another home robbery taking a TV and some guns. Of all things, the latest victim showed up in their used furniture store looking for a TV to replace the one these guys had just stolen. Spotting one just like his, he looked a little closer and saw his Social Security number that he had engraved on the back. He left the store without a purchase, went to the police and thus ended the careers of a vicious gang of thieves.

Their store closed too, but they had a get your stuff sale, not a going out of business sale!

A Fight To the Finish

The quail season in Georgia opened the Saturday before the opening of deer season and John Walton, a hunting buddy, Mark Greenberg, a church friend and also a hunting buddy, and I had arranged a hunt south of Jonesboro. Supposedly this was a good place.
In their kennels Rooster, my Brittany Spaniel, and Crystal, John’s German Shorthair were bouncing up and down with excitement as we let them out and began our hunt. We started patrolling around the edge of a large, cut, soy bean, field.

Not a hundred yards into our hunt Crystal froze and Rooster “backed” her point. We spread out and walked in on the birds and “whirrrr”, a big covey of twelve or fifteen came rocketing out of the brush along the edge of the field. This was classic! Our guns exploded simultaneously and several birds fell. Both dogs began to “hunt dead” and we collected four quail. To us it looked like it would be a good day!

We continued around the field and within three hundred yards, both dogs come down on point and we collected two more. So far our hunt and the selection of this place was definitely looking good as we cut through some swampy woods on our way to another bean field.

Ahead in some honeysuckle I saw Rooster on point and picking up the pace toward him I shouted, “Point up here,” as John came up on my right and Mark on my left. Crystal, honoring Rooster’s point froze next to John’s right leg. Right behind Rooster, I stepped past him into the honeysuckle expecting the customary “whirrrr”, and, of all things, up jumped a buck!

All at once, literally all “hell” broke loose. Crystal rushed in between John and the deer; the buck lunged at me and I unloaded three number eights at a three, foot distance, straight at the deer’s head, in the excitement obviously missing! Rooster charged the deer and the deer hooked Crystal and threw her to the side; James yelled “Crystal,” and as he moved to his right to reach for dog, the deer hooked him with his horns and ripped his left pants leg.

Then, the deer turned toward Mark and tried to hook him. Quickly searching through my pockets, I found the two double ought bucks I always carried and finally fumbled them into my twenty gauge pump as the deer, head down, lunged at Mark. Mark, all five foot seven of him, calmly “high ported” his Browning Superposed, right into the buck’s horns and the deer began shaking him like a rag doll.

While the deer’s attention was focused on Mark, John drug Crystal away. Rooster was now posted strategically behind me as I finally got my shotgun loaded and up to my shoulder. The buck was still shaking Mark like a rag doll and my two double oughts at three feet dropped the deer in its tracks.

Whew! This battle lasted for less than thirty seconds. The longest thirty seconds imaginable. As we loaded up Crystal and hurried to the nearest Vet’s office, we took stock of our situation. Except for John’s torn pants, no hunters hurt; one dog down and seriously injured, Mark “all shook up”, one dead deer, and deer season was still one week off. In fifteen minutes we pulled up to a Vet’s office in Jonesboro and ten minutes later we found out Crystal was dead. John was crushed!

Returning to the scene of the battle and looking closely at the deer, we saw that it was a nice, seven pointer, probably close to a sixteen inch inside spread, that, at least three days before, had been shot by a poacher in the left hindquarter. The wound was festering and gangrene, or the deer equivalent, had set in and the buck must have been in great pain. Checking out the area, we found a large quantity of corn spread around the honeysuckle patch. At least two game laws had been broken. One, shooting deer in Georgia over bait was illegal and, two, the deer had been shot at least ten days before deer season opened.

We found the local Game Warden and told him what had happened, but don’t know if any action was taken or if the perpetrator was apprehended. Three weeks later we returned for another hunt at this spot and discovered that someone had come in and cut the deer’s horns off.

As a sidelight, some may not know what “high porting” is. It’s a term applied to hand to hand combat training with a rifle, expensive shotgun in this case, where the weapons weight is evenly balanced in both hands at shoulder height and used to block and parry an opponents thrusts with a bayonet or butt stock. Mark, a Viet Nam veteran, former Air Force Officer and Navigator in a B-52, had used the technique perfectly!

Texans Come Up Short In Phoenix

Last week, Stumpy and the Texans traveled to Phoenix to play in the Senior Softball National Championships. Everyone arrived on Sunday, October 18th and was greeted by 101 degree, temperature. This was a new record for that date! Luckily a dry front came through during the night and our tournament was played in ideal weather, light wind and mid 80’s for the highs. This particular front dumped two inches of rain on central Texas!

The Texans haven’t been playing well lately, not driving the ball and not playing good defense, hence, we finished fourth with three wins and four losses. There weren’t many bright spots. Several players hit well; Jack, Eldon, Chuck, Gary, Phil, our MVP, and Stumpy, who had thirteen hits in nineteen at bats with ten RBI’s!

There’s one more tournament this year and it’s in Las Vegas in mid November, right in the middle of the first week of deer season, which means Stumpy won’t be there. After Stumpy’s injuries piled up this year; a pulled groin, kidney stones and facial surgery for skin cancer, he topped it all off with a “ruined” ankle, courtesy of a line drive. Running the bases, he thought he had jumped high enough for it to miss him. He jumped just high enough for it to whack his ankle. That was last Tuesday and he is still limping around!

Better luck next year!

Pardon The Interruption

During the summer of 1979 my company moved me back to Houston and the first customer that I had called on was Bob Baugh. On my first meeting with him, I happened to have a picture of a twelve-pound bass that I had recently caught which I promptly pulled out and showed to him. He responded by producing a picture of a six hundred pound blue marlin that he had also recently caught. Needless to say, we became close friends!

Shortly after our first meeting, we had Bob and his wife out to dinner and were enjoying a pleasant evening, when the phone rang and it was my Son, Randy. He was calling to let me know he was going to be late for supper. The reason that he was going to be late was that he was stuck in my new truck, on our new Katy Prairie, duck and goose lease, and needed me to come and help with the extricating of the truck.

One of his excuses was that the roads had been ruined because the week before, a low pressure, system had come barreling ashore between Galveston and Freeport, had hesitated over Alvin, thirty miles inland, and dumped over twenty-four inches of rain in twenty-four hours. This remained a contiguous states record for a twenty-four hour, period, until it was surpassed by tropical storm Allison! The low pressure, system also soaked the Katy Prairie, thirty miles northwest, with over twelve inches, making any dirt road travel very difficult.

He, luckily, didn’t use the real reason why the truck was stuck. It was because he and his friend Doug would try to see how much mud it would take to get stuck in. In most cases Doug would also have his truck and they would alternate pulling each other out of the mire. Not this time because he and Doug had taken advantage of the early Teal season and gone hunting together in my new truck!

Being familiar with where Randy told me he was stuck, I told him, “We’ll be right out,” and fuming, I ended the call. Filling Bob in on the details he said, without hesitation, “Let’s go get him!”

We loaded up in Bob’s 4WD, truck and headed out for the short drive to the new lease. Waiting for us at the main entrance was Randy and Doug. The boys had found the rice farmer and he had pulled them out with a tractor.

Randy, Doug and the new truck were safe and Bob and I didn’t have to wade in the mud. Our evening was interrupted but our friendship was sealed and lasts till this day!

One more fact about Randy and Doug; the owner of the local car wash, a nice man and a Deacon in the Baptist Church that we attended, had banned both boys from using his facility to wash their trucks. He said that he knew when they had been there because his main drain was always stopped up, with mud, of course!

Excused Absence

October 15, the opening day of quail season, I stopped by Brad’s school, Cocopah Middle/Elementary School in Scottsdale, and told the Principal that Brad had a doctors appointment that afternoon and he wouldn’t be back. It was an easy OK for the principal, one less kid to worry about. At the time, Cocopah, besides being an open school and unbelievably noisy, was the largest school of its type in the U.S., with over 3,000 students.

Brad’s appointment was really a quail hunt on the southern slopes of Sombrero Peak, two hours northeast of our home. Jake Schroder and Candy and Ned, his Brittanies, accompanied us. The week before, during one of our quests for Indian artifacts, we had scouted this place and knew that it was loaded with birds!

It was hot, well over a hundred, as we parked our 4WD truck, unloaded Candy, Ned and Rooster, my Brittany, on a road that overlooked a mile long sloping hill that ran toward the upper part of Tonto Basin. Within a hundred yards the dogs were down on a hard point. The three of us walked in, up came the Gambels and our guns erupted, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam and five birds fell.

We held our ground as the dogs ran down the cripples and then moved ahead for the next covey. This scenario was repeated six times and before sundown we had three limits of Gambel Quail. The coveys were huge, fifty to a hundred birds each, and even after chasing the singles and taking out forty-five birds, there were still over four hundred left! The dogs and all three of us were worn out, but what a great hunt!

On the way home, Brad told me, “Dad, this was a lot more ‘funner’ than school!”

Dove Hunt at RRR Ranch

On Saturday, September 26, Warren Blesh had some hunters come out to his RRR Ranch in Mills County, Texas for a dove hunt. Mickey Donahoo, a softball buddy, and I were two of the lucky invitees. For almost all of the hunters it was a perfect day, not too hot, a few clouds and light wind, but for me it was a challenge.

Two weeks before I had undergone extensive surgery on my nose, including a skin graft, and my doc was hesitant to let me hunt. When I told him that I was using a minimum recoil, twenty gauge, shotgun, he relented and said for me not to lift any heavy objects and be sure to wear a surgical mask. The day of the surgery he had given me a supply of masks to be used when I was doing tractor work and mowing my yard. He never mentioned about hunting!

Here, Warren, sitting in his Ranger, is giving some instructions to Mickey, left, and another hunter.

Mickey and I were assigned spots around a newly planted oat field and I snapped this picture of him walking toward his “hide”.

My first dove came in low and as it tried to gain altitude, I blasted it. Retrieving the bird, I checked myself out, no recoil on my shoulder where the skin graft was taken, no injury to my nose since I was careful not to ram it down on to the stock and I looked forward to a great day of gunning!

On the following birds my great day turned sour. Consistently shooting over the doves, my birds down to shots fired was awful. With the surgical mask and bandages on my nose, I couldn’t put my face down on the stock, hence my over shooting. Therefore, I did decline any dramatic, pictures of me in my surgical mask,

Ending the day with five birds for nineteen shots taken, my misses were more than made up by the other hunters, here shown cleaning the days kill.

We take a lot for granted, our health, our physical well being and excellence in what we do, but this hunt was a wake up call for me. Taking it for granted that I would have a successful hunt, my score and birds per shot was awful, but the hunt was a success for a lot of reasons. I met some nice folks, renewed acquaintances with others and, most important, got to be out in God’s great outdoors!

How To Break A Drought

Through the summer of 2009, San Marcos, Texas and almost all of our great State was locked in a terrible drought. There had been no rain for months. When times like this happen people start praying!

Here’s a picture of some deer taken during the drought in early August in a subdivision in San Marcos. Notice the condition of the lawns.

In late August, my Son, Randy, had visited up here in Goldthwaite, a relative oasis of green in a dry,dry, State! He had attended a mens prayer meeting and the men had collectively prayed for rain for our state and our area. This spawned an idea with him and led him to want to pray for rain is San Marcos. He thought, Why not have all the preachers in San Marcos, collectively pray for rain?

When he returned to San Marcos he selected a date for the prayers and contacted the local ministers and the Mayor. The Mayor came to the prayer meeting and did the “welcome address and thanked the ministers for praying for rain.. Collectively the ministers prayed for rain and within ten days their prayers were answered, it rained and it has kept raining!

Then some unusual things happened. The Mayor called Randy and thanked him for leading the prayer effort and then he was called to appear on the local, nightly news. The news had been in attendance at the prayer service and had called Randy when it had started raining. Using this as a witness opportunity, he looked into the camera and said, “As Christians, we believe that if you offer prayers in Jesus’ name, they will be answered in the Lord’s time!”

Tbrowsing on the very green, grass in Randy’s subdivisionhis picture, taken last week, shows some deer browsing on the very green, grass in Randy’s subdivision

End of drought

More Outdoors Pictures, October 17, 2009

The two pictures below really “struck” me. They were taken roughly at the same time, one with a scenic mountain view and the other with a foggy, swampy look. Both taken in our great U.S of A! What a great country!

Randy Pfaff, who lives in southern Colorado, sent me this picture of fresh snow on the mountains.

And my Cousin, Kathy Pribble, sent me a picture, taken by her neighbor, of fog rising off of Long Glade Lake, south of Tatum, Texas. She lives on the lake and her boat house is on the left.

Each day, Kathy, Randy and their families are greeted with these wonderful views! Just think, city folks may not know what they are missing!

A Trip To San Marcos

On Tuesday I drove down to San Marcos, originally to see my Grandson, Austin, play in a middle school football game, but he had come down with something and didn’t get to suit up. His Dad, and my Son, Randy, had a birthday on the 12th and Rebekah, his daughter has a birthday next week, so I thought that I would kill two birds with one stone and deliver their b’day cards in person.

Driving through their subdivision toward their house, on both sides of the street, I started seeing deer, not one or two but bunches! Within three blocks, there must have been a hundred or more and all does or yearlings!

Finally, stopping the truck, I snapped this “shot” at the largest bunch.

Debbie, my Daughter-In-Law, had fixed Randy a late B’day dinner, including cake, and he then rushed of to a planning and zoning meeting, so I enjoyed a nice dinner on their shady, front porch, with Debbie and three of my Grandkids. Debbie mentioned that the city and their subdivision is at a loss about what to do with the deer?

Austin and San Marcos are the two most liberal towns in our state, and this problem could be fixed with bows and arrows, game nets or traps. New Jersey, Connecticut, Neuvo York and Pennsylvania are plagued with deer running wild in their towns and these folks just wring their hands and, like San Marcos, do nothing and the problem grows!

Driving out of their subdivision I spied two bucks and snapped a “shot” at them. They were grazing on the newly sprouted grass.

On August 4th, I posted a story and pictures about “What Is A Melanistic Deer” that Randy had photographed in his subdivision and there was no grass, just dry barren yards.

The city was in the midst of the worst drought in memory.

But the breaking of the drought is another story!

Shooting With Wesley

Last Saturday Wesley, my Grandson and Paul, his Dad and my Son-In-Law, did some shooting. We spent some real quality time teaching Wesley the finer points of shooting and firearm safety.

Paul had his Dad’s, now his, Remington 511, .22 cal. Rifle. My first rifle was a Remington 510, single shot, that my Dad bought for me in 1945. The two guns are identical except the 511 is drilled and tapped for a scope and is clip fed.

Paul is going over with Wesley correct shooting technique and stressing gun safety!


Wesley is taking aim



His first shot was six o’clock low. Notice the “home made” target. Any used paper plate will do! Earlier, checking out the scope, Paul had nailed his first shot, dead center.

Wesley’s second shot was just off the “bull”. His third shot was in the bull’s eye.

Wesley is now ready to move up to his Dad’s .223 and go after a deer. We’re planning on the second week of the season and I’ll let everyone know about his success!