More Outdoors Pictures, March 30, 2010

Today’s post has some more neat pictures from my friends and neighbors!

Randy Pfaff sent me this picture of a wolf killed recently in Idaho. This one is a really big animal and wolves like this are a definite threat to our wildlife and hunters to boot!

My neighbor, James Crumley sent me this picture of a two man, limit of stripers caught on Lake Amistad, along the Mexican border. He added that the winds were 25 to 50 and gusting out of the northwest and that it was a real scary                                               outing.

Clayton Gist, another neighbor, snapped this picture of six, axis deer that he just acquired. Nice animals and I understand they are quite tasty too!

Scouting, March 26,27, 2010

Last Friday and Saturday morning, rather than sleeping in, I greeted the sun peeking over the horizon. Each time I was in a different spot trying to pinpoint turkey movement. Friday, when the sun was half up, I heard one gobble, then on Saturday after blasting a “come here call” on my crow call, another one (probably) sounded off. Both birds were along a creek south of my property.

Later Friday morning, nervously, a deer walked out, constantly looking behind it.


Soon, here came the family group, eight all told, but they caught me moving the camera and jumped back into the thick stuff! It was almost like a deer circus!

Saturday morning, after a couple of “blows” on the crow call, a deer walked across an opening and went on its way, I thought.

Then two cows walked by and I got this “shot” of them.

Thinking that with all the movement around my spot, why not really crank down on the predator call and see what happens. After a dozen or more squeals, I noticed movement to my front, slipped the safety off of my twelve gauge, slowly raised the shotgun and what did see, but the yearling, deer peeping around a cedar tree. It continued peeping until I tried to get a picture of it, then it crossed an opening and was gone!

At least these two gobblers should stay in our area for the nest week.

An Unusual Catch

The period of my life from 1960 to 1964 was spent finishing up my Army Reserve duty, working three jobs and welcoming my first child, Brad. All of this left precious little time for any outdoor activities. However, several times during this period I did have the opportunity to spend a Saturday hunting or fishing in the Trinity River bottoms, between Dayton and Liberty, Texas.

We would enter “The Bottoms”, as we called it, at a remote place near Dayton, at the Kennefic Fire Tower, then proceed down seven miles of probably the worst road in the United States. This road was always flooded, mud axel deep on a jeep, deceiving ruts that covered bogs and the home of the largest mosquitoes on the Gulf Coast.

In March of 1964, my Dad and I, along with our redneck, friend from Philadelphia, Mississippi, John Henley, braved the bad road with John’s Jeep and hauled a twelve foot aluminum boat into the oxbow lake. Surprisingly, going into “The Bottoms” we only got stuck twice, no problem with a big winch and a lot of cable!

John took out for an afternoon of squirrel hunting, while my Dad and I hefted the boat into the lake for a go at some bass. We would meet at twilight to head back to civilization. This oxbow lake was, in reality, an old river channel that always had water in it but the depth varied according to rain and subsequent flooding of the Trinity River. The river hadn’t flooded this year so the lake was “down” a little.

We both were “armed” with six foot, bait casting rods and red, Ambassaduer casting reels loaded with fifteen, pound line. My bait of choice was a yellow, Piggy Boat spinner and my Dad was using one of his favorites, a Pico Perch, a swimming bait with a tantalizing wiggling action. The action was hot and heavy and during our afternoons fishing, I don’t believe we changed our lures one time!

After we launched the boat, for silences sake before casting, we paddled up the lake for a hundred yards. My first cast was met with a solid strike and the fish, a two-pound, bass, took to the air, spending more time jumping than in the water. My Dad’s second cast was a duplicate of mine, so within five minutes, we had already boated two bass! The bass kept hitting and within an hour we had a good mess for supper and started culling the fish, only keeping the good ones. Several times during the afternoon we heard John’s .22 crack, so we knew that he too was scoring on some squirrels.

Casting into a likely spot, just as the spinner hit the surface, I had a savage strike, but didn’t get the hooks set. My Dad sped up his retrieve so he could cast into the likely spot, but with the change of pace of his retrieve, he had a big strike too. Feeling the hooks, the fish, a three- foot, alligator gar, went airborne immediately! Several short runs and five or six jumps later the gar tired and as my Dad kept the pressure on, I was able to grab it behind the head. Long nose pliers made getting the Pico Perch out of the gars mouth easy, but looking at the teeth, I couldn’t do it fast enough!

As the afternoon wore down, we started rowing back to the Jeep, casting to fishey looking spots. My Dad had a heavy strike and unlike the bass and gar, the fish didn’t take to the air. It made a long run down the middle of the channel, we both wondered, what kind of fish was this? My Dad said, “This ones fighting like a red or a big drum!” Another long run and a wallow at the boat only told us that it was a big fish. Neither one of us could identify it. As the fish tired, Daddy grabbed it by the lower jaw, or lip, and held on. The long noses helped retrieve his lure, we slipped a stringer through both lips and then tied it down.

We guessed the fish was a fresh water drum, but, back at the Jeep, John correctly identified it as a buffalo, Ictiobus bubalus and said that they were quite bony. (No, he didn’t know the scientific name.) Before we released the buffalo, we weighed it and it pulled the hand scales down to the max, twelve pounds. The fish must have weighed fifteen or better?

We had a good mess of bass, good memories of the gar and buffalo, and John had a bag full of “tree rats”, so this afternoon’s fishing/hunting trip could be called a success, however, the drive out still awaited us! It was “a piece of cake”, we only got stuck three times and winching out in the dark wasn’t so bad after all!

March Weather

Long ago, I learned never to plan any outdoor excursions in March!

However, most of this month we’ve had beautiful weather and I thought we’d have an early spring. That was dispelled this past Saturday when the winds really blew, thirty-five to forty miles per! Then the temps dropped to below freezing, it rained and even snowed. The weather cleared and by Sunday afternoon we were in shirt sleeves.

Monday was a workday and I’d planned to go varmint hunting Tuesday afternoon. That is, until the wind blew me out, a steady eighteen to twenty with gusts higher. I doubt if the varmints could even hear the call?

The long range, weather forecast for April 3rd, the opening of spring, turkey season is quite good, moderate temps and no rain. I’ve been busy trying to get my work wrapped up because I need to scout for turkeys in the mornings, scare up a varmint in the late afternoon (or night) and then, pick a cloudy afternoon to try to tie into a big bass. That’s my plan. We’ll see if I can implement it?

Springtime Blizzard

Stumpy and his Senior Softball team, The Texans, traveled to Georgetown, Texas, for the first qualifying tournament of the 2010 season. The Texans won this one with a mark of four wins and one embarrassing loss on Thursday to their old rivals, Texas Greyhounds. However The Texans came back on Friday and beat the Greyhounds in two straight games to capture the winner’s laurels. Now for the rest of the story!

On Friday afternoon, the wind had picked up significantly from the south, meaning here comes another front. Saturday morning in Georgetown, we were greeted by chilling rain, dropping temperatures and a big wind, twenty-five to thirty, out of the north. As the temperature fell, the rain and wind persisted until mid morning. With conditions so bad and a drop in temperatures to near freezing forecasted, having no other choice, Layla cancelled the tournament. But, that wasn’t all.

We called our Daughter, Laura, in Goldthwaite and found out that there were snow flurries along with a chilling rain. Then our Daughter, Suzanne, in Paris, Texas, called and said it was really snowing and coming down hard there. By the time I got home, the rain had stopped, 1.1 inches on my gauge, but there were still flurries of snow, none of it sticking.

Saturday night the temp fell to thirty-one, with a wind chill, because of the high winds accompanying the storm, near zero. Suzanne called on Sunday afternoon and said that it was still snowing in Paris, over 6 inches total and the temp was twenty-eight. Right after her call, a friend in Plano called and said it was still snowing heavily in the Dallas metro area and the temp was below freezing.

All of this cold, snowy weather and Saturday was the first day of spring! Of course, my peach trees were blooming and with eight hours of below freezing temps, no peaches from my trees this year!

So far our local record for the winter of ‘10 remains at four snows and now, one snow on March 20, the first day of spring. Bee Cave Bob’s fearless prediction of a cool snap before Easter, was totally wrong! Anyone know where I can find a good used snow shovel?

Sometimes, March 20, 2010 Version

Trying to keep up with some of the best “lines” that I have posted, I’ve researched them for the past quarter and come up with, not the best, or the funniest, but different categories that vary from profound to confounded.

Sometimes I write profound statements:

The birds were perched on the small branches in the tops of the trees and it never ceases to amaze me, how can those little limbs hold up a big, turkey?

We were told that we would keep all the barracuda that we caught and I didn’t want any part of that.

Back then, early February 1973, Tom Mix wash was rough country, now it is probably million dollar homes!

Men and women were tough and had to be strong just to exist from day to day. Where has all of that strength and toughness gone?

Sometimes I Write About The Weather

Who are we kidding, global warming is a hoax!

All of my life I have tried to beat nature and weather forecasts, and, one more time, I lost again!

Sometimes I try to be funny:

I find it very relaxing playing in the dirt!

When I was 7, his watermelon patch was the scene of my first “crime”.

It was a big, big fish that Carl couldn’t stop. Maybe it was one of those Russian subs?

Sometimes it’s about sports or exercise:

This year The Texans are pumped for a good season having a good, experienced (at our age we have a lots of experience) nucleus.

Sometimes I Write About Indecision

Then I used my head for something other than a hat rack, and figured out what to do.

I’m thinking twice about buying a snow shovel!

Sometimes I just get confounded:

I didn’t have a gunfight this past Wednesday afternoon, however I sure did need a bigger gun!

I even blew on my predator call several times, didn’t wheeze or cough and quickly pronounced myself well! That is until I told Layla where she could find me. Promptly, she told me that in five minutes she better find me back in bed!

Now let’s see what the next quarter holds.

Softball’s Crankin’ Up

The second Senior Softball tournament of the 2010 season, the real season, gets underway today in Georgetown, Texas. Stumpy and The Texans will play on today and Friday and the young guys, 50’s and 55’s, finish up on Saturday and Sunday.

With all Senior Softball Teams, hopes are high, with dreams of a National Championship, but only one in each age group will walk away with the spoils. This year The Texans are pumped for a good season having a good, experienced (at our age we have a lots of experience) nucleus and have added a power hitter and another pitcher to our talented team.

Who knows how the 2010 season will turn out? Who knows, because we play this game with a round ball and a round bat, on a square field?

What Was That

Along the upper Texas coast, in early March of 1991, spring had sprung. Water temperatures were up above seventy and the pelagic species of fish, namely big, king mackerel had moved in to the near shore waters, almost up to the beach. Kings traditionally spawn in late summer, but I’ve heard that the big fish spawn early. I don’t know, but I do know that several of my friends had caught a couple of fifty pounders right off the end of the Galveston jetties this past weekend.

Unpredictable March is a tough one to plan offshore trips for, but the Wednesday morning after my friends big catch, the wind wasn’t too bad, ten to twelve out of the southeast, some gusts to fifteen, temps in the mid seventies, but it was cloudy. It was one of those mornings that seemed cold, but if you put a jacket on, you started sweating.

My Bayou Vista neighbor, Carl Parkinson and I braved these conditions in my deep vee, twenty-four footer, with two one twenties and right after sun up, as soon as we slid past the end of the jetties, we put out two lines. Both rigs were stout, six foot boat rods, medium weight Penn Senator reels, both loaded with sixty pound line, just the ticket for big kings. For bait we used jigs, one with a green plastic, tail and the other with yellow feathers.

We circled around the end of the south jetty and about a hundred yards out from the rocks, began trolling back toward the beachfront. Our first hit wasn’t the screaming run of a big king, but more like trying to stop a Greyhound bus. The bus turned out to be a twenty-pound, jack crevalle that Carl landed, but even on the medium/heavy tackle, it put up a bruising fight. The jack is one of the pelagic species that isn’t good table fare, so we released the fish and continued trolling.

Our second hit, again on the yellow tail, took off for the Yucatan and peeled off a blazing fifty yards of line. Again, Carl grabbed the rod and held on! From the long run, we figured that it was a big, king and as it grudgingly yielded to the pressure, we saw the silver flash that identified it. After a couple of short runs and several splashes around the boat, we gaffed it, whacked it on the head with a billy and put the thirty pounder into the big cooler.

The fishing slowed, we kept trolling within sight of the jetties and around 10:00 AM Carl said he believed that he’d had enough. Coming about, the lines slackened, and right then, the line with the green tail was hit by something. Carl grabbed the rod, didn’t set the hook, just bowed back and let nature take its course. Setting the engines in neutral we started drifting and it seemed to me, we were being pulled, by the big, fish. Carl said, “Jon, I can’t stop this thing and it’s taken almost half of the line. Better chase it!”

Putting the engines back into gear, we eased forward with Carl keeping pressure on the fish. Carl said, “You’d better speed up.” I did, and the line went limp. No fish! What happened?

It was a big, big fish that Carl couldn’t stop. From all appearances, it was hooked very good. Surging the engines forward, did this create a little slack and the hook fell out? Was the fish just holding the bait in its mouth and spit it out when the tension eased off? Did the hook just pull out? Maybe it was one of those Russian subs?

We’ll never know, but we’ll always wonder, what was that?

Bee Cave Bob

Our State Senate decided that since Pennsylvania is so far north, besides being a Yankee State, that if Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow or not, our weather would be different. So, our Senate named Bee Cave Bob, an armadillo, as the State of Texas’ official weather prognosticator.

On February 2nd, Bee Cave Bob made his prediction, judged by three cowboys. This year it was determined by Bee Cave Bob that the our sovereign State Of Texas would have three more weeks of winter and a cool spell before Easter. Bee Cave Bob was almost right, because twenty-one days after his prognostication, it snowed as far south as Austin, but beginning March 1st we have had beautiful weather!

The temp has been in the seventies for the past week, the grass is green and growing and yesterday, as I was preparing to mow my two acre, yard, I noticed that my peach trees were blooming. For some reason my peach trees almost always bloom early, then get a good frost or freeze and have no crop in late May? But, if Bee Cave Bob is only predicting a cool spell before Easter, then my peaches will be OK!

In central Texas spring is almost here, cool mornings with warm afternoons, a bumper bluebonnet crop predicted, the senior softball season starts next week, spring turkey season kicks off on April 3 and our mesquite trees are getting ready to bloom. I’m thinking twice about buying a snow shovel!

We Forgot To Tell The Hogs

This past Saturday, Tim Albee and I were invited to hunt hogs at a friends place outside of Mullin, Texas. Mullin is in Mills County, ten miles west of Goldthwaite. Tim is an E-7 on active duty in the Army and was a close friend of Brad’s. He served in C Troop, 7th Cavalry with Brad for a number of years and was with him for their deployment to Iraq in 2004/5.

After introductions, my friend drove Tim and I through his ranch, a beautiful place with full stock tanks and water running in all the creeks. Several spots clearly showed hog depredations.

This is one of the two hog traps we saw.

Stopping, before a spot where the creek had washed out the road, our host told us to cross the creek and then walk several hundred yards up the creek. After we passed a deer blind start looking for hog sign – droppings and rootings, then pick a spot with a good field of fire.

He added the hogs would come quickly down the creek, almost a natural funnel or mini canyon, and, as it turned out, our choice of 12 gauge shotguns for the job, would be just the trick, since the thick foliage and natural terrain would limit our shots to fifty or sixty yards. Tim was using 00 buck and I had chosen number 1 buck.

Here, Tim’s getting ready and loading up.

By 5:00 PM we were walking up the creek and finding a lot of hog droppings, we picked out our “hides”. Facing east, into the wind, we burrowed into the thick stuff and waited for the hogs to come by. The hogs would be heading south, down the creek and my friend had assured me that the hogs used this trail regularly.

Looking out over my field of fire, pictured, the creek is back by the green stuff and the hogs should come down from left to right, in and along the edge of the cover. But, by 6:00 PM no hogs, by 6:20, with dark approaching, we called it quits and in the twilight, walked back to the truck.

Saturday evening the hogs didn’t chose the trail where we prepared our ambush. No ambush this time out, but, there will be other times when we score big, anyway, if we shot something every time out, they’d call it shooting instead of hunting!