Scouting For Birds

On a fall morning, just at first light, I lowered the 22 footer into the canal behind our Bayou Vista home, headed down it and chugged, speed limit 5 MPH in the canals, into Highlands Bayou. Opening up the big, outboard I skimmed the back way into the Intercoastal Waterway. This was the same track Randy and I took several years earlier when he collided with a live, oyster reef. See my June 18, 2009 post, “[A Close Call]”.

Having a 11:00 AM meeting with customers, it would be a short trip this morning, but hopefully a productive one. My destination, with the tide coming in and a light southeast wind, was the sand flats that ran from Green’s Cut up to South Deer Island. The target was to find sea gulls (birds) working over feeding specs, the specs driving shrimp toward the surface and the birds gobbling up the shrimp the fish missed. Classic food chain stuff!

Armed with a 7-1/2 foot, popping, rod, 12 pound line spooled on a Shimano Bantam Curado reel, pictured below, rigged with a popping cork over a live shrimp hooked through its horn with a small, treble hook, I was ready for action. The action wasn’t long in coming. Of all things, I noticed several shrimp hopping out of the water and casting right in front of them, bam a big strike.

The fish took off peeling line from the reel, not the circling fight of a 3 or 4 pound trout, not the weight of a big red, then the fish, a skipjack or ladyfish, (Bodianus rufus) cleared the water. They’re real hard fighters, jump a lot, but aren’t good table fare. Many times they will be feeding on shrimp, driving them to the surface where the ever hungry, birds will congregate over them. Landing the skipjack, I released it and continued my scouting for birds.

Two hundred yards away, several birds were sitting on the water, this is a likely sign of a school of fish that has that has cleaned up the shrimp in one area, or of one or two big fish randomly feeding. Pulling up to within 50 yards of the birds, the light wind and incoming tide soon pushed me within casting distance. Letting fly, when the cork and shrimp hit the water, it was one of those rare times when the cork kept going down, almost jerking the rod out of my hand. This was a good one!

Several trips around the boat, I slid the net under a 4 pound spec! Thinking to myself, I’ll keep this one for Layla’s and my supper tonight, then my 11:00 AM meeting flashed into my mind and by the time I motor back, clean the fish, hose out the boat, shower and drive the 45 minutes to my meeting, I’d better be scooting.

My salesman and I made the meeting on time and closed a big deal. Mixing business and pleasure was neat and these quick fishing trips were a big advantage of living right on the water!

More Outdoors Pictures, October 27, 2010

In spite of the heavy winds and full moon, last Sunday evening I went out to the new tripod stand to see if any deer were moving around. Walking toward the stand I almost stepped on these tracks of a big, deer.

Close inspection, to me, because of the depth of the track at the rear, I’ll call it a mature, buck and a nice one! And no, I didn’t see any deer movement.

This series of “shots” from the game cam shows my melanistic, deer, and yes, I have officially classified it as a melanistic. It showed up in the morning, then the rain came through and then it showed up in the afternoon.
This storm, which dropped staggering amounts of rain along I-35 and west of us near San Angelo, spawned tornadoes last Saturday and Monday south of Dallas, one of which near Rice, Texas injured several and was captured on video. It was wild, weather north of us, but we got no tornadoes and only .2 inches of rain which was welcomed! Now the same storm is pounding the mid west.

A Loss

For six years my hunting lease near Brady, Texas, not only provided excellent deer hunting, but also offered equally excellent froggin’, fishing and during the winter months was covered up with all varieties of ducks. In 1990, during the last weekend before deer season opened, my boys and I took the four, plus, hour trip up from Houston to load our feeders, haul up some of our gear and maybe have a go at some frogs and bass.

After we topped off the feeders, the boys decided to go froggin’ in some stock tanks on the backside of the ranch. Opting for bass, I drove up along side of Hwy. 190 and with my spinning rod and trusty Piggy Boat spinner bait, climbed out of my Suburban, went through the fence, walked over the tank damn and began casting out into the two acre tank. Years earlier, before dove season, Bill Priddy and I had scouted out this tank and enjoyed some good fishing, but no doves. The story about our first try at bass fishing in the big tank was my post “[Scouting For Doves]” on August 18, 2010.

Catching and throwing back several two pounders, I worked my way around the tank and along the shore, not fifty feet in front of me, on its side, was a big fish. Walking up to it, it turned out to be a bass, a big one, its gills were barely moving and made no move to escape to deeper water.

Never having seen this before and putting my rod down, I knelt beside the fish. The fish made no effort to escape my grasp as I turned it over. There was no sign of injury on either side, so I edged out into the water and tried to resuscitate the bass by moving it forward, forcing water over its gills. No luck with that try, so I replaced it on its side stepped out of the water and the bass had stopped moving its gills! It was gone and loosing heart for fishing, I left the bass on the edge of the water. The next morning, no bass, I bet it fed some turtles?

If predators don’t get ‘em, bass have the ability to live a long time, 16-20 years. My best guess was that central Texas’ hot weather and low oxygen content of the water could have combined to kill it. For sure, extreme cold didn’t cause this one’s death.

I’ve always wondered if this was the big bass that I had caught several years before?

Service To Our Country

Since Colonial times, during the Revolution and the War of 1812,which actually was an extension of the Revolution, my forefathers answered their call to arms and served their colony and country. In writing a book about my forefathers, I have uncovered some very interesting facts that follow!

In “Colonial Soldiers Of The South, 1732- 1774”, a Poll dated June 13, 1748, Lewis Saunders, my 6G Grandfather served in the Virginia Militia, in Fairfax County, George Mason’s District (Mason is recognized as the father of our Bill of Rights), in Maj. Lawrence Washington’s Company, in Col. George Washington’s Regiment.

Farther south in the Colony of North Carolina, in what is now Onslow County, on Friday October 24, 1754, Colonel John Starkey’s regiment of foot, met for muster and training at Jonathan Milton’s residence on New River. Since the Spaniards had recently attacked Georgia’s outer islands the troops were formed to meet an expected Spanish invasion. John Brinson was a member of Capt. Thomas Hick’s company. John Jarrott was a member of Capt. Richard Ward’s company. All three of these men, Brinson, Jarrott and Ward, were my paternal, 5G Grandfathers. The Spanish invasion never took place!


William Murrill and Richard Ward, my 5Ggrandfathers and Joseph Sanders, my 4G Grandfather, all served in the Revolutionary War. Murrill was in the North Carolina Militia, Ward was an officer in the North Carolina line and Sanders was a regular trooper in Col. Hogan’s, 7th regiment, North Carolina Continental Line.

William Murrill was involved in several actions during the Revolutionary War. One story was very interesting and has been passed down through the family and recorded in the diary of a 2G Uncle of mine, James Buckner “Buck” Barry, and later copyrighted and published as “Buck Barry, Texas Ranger And Frontiersman”, edited by James K. Greer. This story was in my post on July 4, 2009, “[Skirmish]”.

And finally, during the War of 1812, a 3Ggrandfather, Absolum Presnell, from Onslow County, North Carolina, who had been too young to serve in the Revolution, volunteered and served in the First Regiment of U.S. Volunteers. He signed on as a Private and was discharged with the same rank.

Proudly, my family has served during all of our Country’s conflicts!

Deer Watching, October 20, 2010

Leaving the house around 6:00 PM, fifteen minutes later I climbed up into the new, tower blind and sat back and waited for the deer to show. The blind is set in a good place and here’s the main view.

By 6:30, the only thing moving was me sweating and the shadows lengthening, so I sat back and waited. A doe and her yearling showed up first and I waited for a good “shot” that never happened. Then a lone doe showed up and I got this “shot”.

Then another doe showed.

The later it was the more deer moved. Not wanting to risk the flash going off, I didn’t take any more “shots”. The total for the one hour, plus “watch” was 12 deer, one of them being a very nice, big, buck!

More Outdoors Pictures, October 19,2010

My game camera is on the “whack”, the flash isn’t working and the infrared only works sometimes. This week I’ll send it back to the manufacturer in Alabama. Maybe I’ll buy me another one, but I think I’ll be trying another manufacturer?

One of my friends, Paul Nugent, sent me this very, unusual picture taken of the face of Buffalo Bill Damn, near Cody, Wyoming. The pictures show big horn sheep walking across the downstream side of the damn and licking the salt (I hope it’s not leaking) off of it.

My neighbor, James Crumley, sent me this picture of a fishing trip he and his son went on to Rockport, Texas. His son tangled with a big jackfish, or jack crevalle, finally landing it, but breaking his Ugly Stick (sold by the manufacturer as unbreakable). Big jacks will do things like that!

On October 2nd, Ev Sims game camera took this “shot” of a nice Jackson County, Texas buck. Last year on my November 19,2009 post, “[We Got Him]” Ev sent me pictures of a before and after of a real nice buck. We’ll see if he sends one this year too!


When I get to writing, who knows what will come out! A couple of times a year I’ll go back and review the stories and pick out some “zingers”. At least they’re “zingers” to me….

Sometimes I write profound statements

Everyone should always remember that of all the nations we have freed from tyranny, we have only asked one thing – “Just give us the space to bury our dead.”

Sometimes it’s about the weather

As I reached the old windmill on Crumley’s property and looked out over his field, there wasn’t much seeing since the fog was heavy and everything was fogged in!

                                                                                                                                  Sometimes I try to be funny:
We always said, “Rooster was the fastest three legged, dog around!”

This one, (a writin’ spider), the third around the old house, was on the northeast corner and it was real busy writin’.

Sometimes it’s about sports or exercise:

Tuesday’s walk had a little bit of everything, some hasty “shots”, some poor shooting, some excitement, my right knee didn’t hurt and I worked up a good sweat. What a way to start the day!

Sometimes I just get confounded:

I must be getting liberal because it makes me “feel good” too!

If I were more technical I would show the blown up “shot”, but, still, it is a big one!

Sometimes It’s About Reality:

You may know that our State’s Flower is the bluebonnet, but just think about this next time you stray into a bluebonnet patch!

When I was younger, and gasoline was under $.25 per gallon, we thought nothing of driving in one day, half way across our fine, State to watch multiple football games, now I’m watching Grandsons play!


There’s a lot of deer sign around my place. Not droppings, but rubs and scrapes. These sign point to the rut starting very soon, even before the November 6 opening. Still, I haven’t seen any bucks chasing a doe, they’re not there yet.

Before the season starts I always check around the edges of the oak trees for scrapes, the first one this year was an accident on my part. Walking the road around the hay field and checking on how much trimming was needed, I almost stepped on the scrape pictured below.

And, sure enough, there was a leafy branch hanging over the scrape. The buck will make, or visit, the scrape, urinate over his tarsal gland on to the scrape ,while licking and nosing the leafy overhang.

Just like the scrape, I’ve discovered one rub line that runs from just past the shooting range to behind the feedlot. Big, dominate bucks make the first rub lines and I bet this is the same buck that I saw, and didn’t get, last year in my 2009 posts, “[Deer Watching]”, November 15 and “[Deer Sighting]”, December 10.

Pictures of the various rubs follow. Lots of sign!


Morning Walk, October 13, 2010

This week I changed my morning walk routine and walked along the dirt roads and trails on my ranch. Monday, nothing of significance showed up except for the fog along the creek bottom.

Monday afternoon Layla and I raised the Tower Blind. The “instructions” called for four or five men to raise the blind and we’d been waiting on Colton and his football boys to come over and help us. We, both being retired, had no trouble getting it up. Here’s a picture of the blind after we raised it.

And, here’s one of the finished product, but of course, since it was hecho in China, the camo cover was too small!

My morning walk on Tuesday was more exciting. Walking along a trail near the tree stand, I almost walked into a spider web. Closer inspection showed it to be a writin’ spider’s web and the spider, a male, not near as big as a female, was on it. Never having seen a male of this variety, I snapped of a “shot”. He had some writin’ on the web too.

Walking along a little farther, this doe and fawn were standing on the edge of a fallow, field. This is the best “shot” of them.

A good sweat, a “shot” of two deer and best, a male, writin’ spider, not a bad walk

A New Tower Blind

Three weeks ago while over in Temple, Texas to have my right knee examined at Scott & White, I stopped by an outdoors store and acquired a 12’ Tower Blind. My plan was to find a suitable spot on my place and seclude it behind some trees so that I would have a good overlook on deer coming and going.

Last Friday morning, Layla and I finished putting the Tower Blind together and since it weighs almost 200 pounds, we left it on the ground until we could get Colton and a couple of his football boys over and help us raise it.

Sunday afternoon we moved it into position where it could be raised and somewhat hidden and secluded between trees. The spot picked was in a small clearing within the brush line.]

The second picture shows the Tower Blind lined up with the small clearing. And no, the seat back and camo cover hasn’t been installed. I’m waiting until it’s set up and staked in securely. I’ll post pictures of the raising.