Easy Shoot

The large computer company that I worked for had promoted me to their center in Atlanta, Georgia and, before that, had sent me to Endicott, New York for further “training”. While in Endicott I had become violently ill with some type of flu, was in bed for 3 days and finally flew back to Phoenix, although I barely remember the flight back.

Back in Phoenix with time on my hands, while my family was visiting in Houston, it dawned on me that dove season will still on. There was one spot, a stock tank just off the intersection of 7th Street and Deer Valley Rd. that we’d never hunted before. Back then in the mid 70’s this was still cattle country and cows need water, hence the stock tank. So I decided quickly that I’d just go out there and try my luck on the mourning dove.

That afternoon, after the short drive from my house, I arrived at the spot, parked my truck under a big ironwood tree, climbed through the barbwire fence that kept the cows inside and walked the short distance to the stock tank. There were no posted signs, so hunters could use it, since most of the land in Arizona, at that time, was Government land.

At the tank, about a quarter of an acre, I picked a dappled, shady spot under a mesquite, squatted down on my haunches and waited for, I hoped, a good flight of dove. My wait wasn’t long as 2 mourners, from my left, zipped past me, made a circle and landed for a drink. Stepping out of the shadows, the dove sprang up, stretching for altitude, but my 20, gauge pump, barked twice and they crumpled, this was just like shooting doubles at trap!

As the dove came piling in, this was one of those days, I’d used only 11 shots and had bagged 9 birds, one away from my limit. The last dove came loafing by, over the tank and my shot dropped it right into the water, using cow chips and sticks, I “chunked” it toward the bank where I waded out and retrieved it. A limit of shooting in just a little over an hour!

This was a good spot and I’ll have to come back and bring the family, then I remembered that I had to be in Atlanta with my family very soon, no coming back to this spot, but it’ll be hard to forget the easy shoot I enjoyed here!

The Corn Feeder, September 26, 2011

Last weekend I moved the game cam to another feeder, because no good bucks were feeding there, lots of doe and spikes, but no good bucks.  The move was rewarding because right away, good bucks started showing up.  It started on the morning of the 21st when a wide 6 pointer with small brow tines posed for a “shot”.  With him was a small 6 and a spike.  Shortly after that, a big spike showed up, he’s been “shot” at the other feeder too.

The next morning another wide 6 with long brow tines, two other deer and a cottontail posed.  Twenty minutes later a 7, a 6 and two others were feeding.
Not 10 minutes later, bingo, up walked up a real good 8 pointer, from his “falling” chest, he’s probably 5-1/2 years old.  With him were two 6’s and as the big 8 was leaving, he posed for this “shot”.
Friday morning I swapped memory cards and the only “shot” on it were these 4 dove.

We’re still mired in our drought, in fact the whole southwest of our country is.  Racks on our bucks aren’t well developed, on my place, one 8 pointer and a 9 have good spreads, with some mass, but the palmated 8 in my post, “[The Water Trough], September 15, 2011” is the best buck seen to date.

More Outdoors Pictures, September 23, 2011

A softball friend living in an upscale area near Austin, Texas, sent me these “shots” from his back yard game camera.  Stop and think, these “shots” are taken within 10 miles of our State capitol, a major metropolitan area!   The first is of a dog (male) coyote, a big one and the second is of a coon, almost as big as the coyote.
Two weeks later, what looks to be a bitch (female) coyote showed up at his water bucket.

Nine days later, a nice 8 pointer showed up, then a different coyote, smaller and probably a female showed itself.
Randy Pfaff, Pastor of the Crossroads Cowboy Church in southern Colorado sent me these 2 pictures, one of 2 mule deer, bucks, both in velvet and the other of one of his friends smiling and sporting a nice big horn ram!  I’d smile too!


I’d Rather Be Lucky Than Good

Having always said, “I’d rather be lucky than good!” this hunting/fishing trip convinced me.  Back in the 50’s and 60’s, dove season in Texas was afternoon shooting only. There were lots of birds and the thinking was, let the birds rest, feed and it will keep some of the pressure off them.  Today, with all day hunting, that thinking is history because now we have an overabundance of dove, mourning, white wing and ring necks.

This particular hunt, or better a fishing trip, took place in Falls County, Texas where my dad and I had enjoyed some fabulous afternoon, water hole, shooting for mourning doves.  My uncle Shelly, Shelton Gafford, had directed us to a couple of stock tanks where there were an abundance of doves and we were rewarded with some good action.

Our mornings were free, so Shelton told us about another place where we could fish, but the rancher allowed no guns or hunting.  This was no problem for us!  Uncle Shelly was careful with his instructions on how to get there, he told us to take Hwy. 7, east out of Marlin, cross the Big Creek Bridge, and turn right at the second gap, or wire gate in the fence, and follow the road to the stock tank.

Following the instructions, the second gap was almost to Kosse, Texas, and ignoring the “Posted” sign, opened it and followed the dirt road until we came to an old, rock quarry that was no longer in use.  Not a stock tank, but looking into the very, clear water, it was easy to see bass milling around, plus several large bream beds.

Keeping the sun in our face, we stood several feet away from the water and whipped our Piggy Boat spinner baits toward the fish.  Immediately, we were both rewarded with two sharp strikes and soon landed two scrappy, 12 inch bass.  They were unusual looking little fish with large mouths and small bodies and we guessed, correctly, they were stunted and for the ferocity of their strikes, probably undernourished.

We kept on casting, catching and stringing the little fish.  We added several, good sized, goggle eye perch, fish that looked somewhat like a bream, but slimmer with their eyes protruding from their heads.  Goggle eyes are good fighters on light tackle and very tasty when fried!

We returned all of the really small ones, but ended up with 15 keepers.  We iced them down and retraced our route off of the property and headed back to Shelton’s ranch for lunch.  Lunch was the big meal of the day and as we loaded up, we reviewed our morning trip with him.

He smiled and shook his head and asked, “You went right through the “Posted” sign?  Did they catch both of you all?”  “Who’s they?” my dad answered.  He replied, “Mr. so-in-so or his Foreman.  They have some expensive bulls on the place, besides there’s a lot of quail and they don’t allow anyone but family out there!”  Answering him, I said, “Uncle Shelly, we didn’t see a soul all morning!”  He just smiled and shook his head.

As he headed into his den, he looked back, smiled and said to both of us, “You shoulda’ turned left at the second gap!”

The Water Trough, September 17, 2011

Beside big bucks, a lot of other animals and birds came up and used the water trough. Early in the morning of the 8th, 2 gray foxes used the facilities.

Then on the afternoon of the 8th a squirrel and a doe came to water, followed later that evening, by 2, six point bucks, but it’s hard to tell if they’re still in velvet.
On the afternoon of the 9th a 7 appeared, probably 3 or 4 years old, still in velvet, scraggly, but may be good next year if we break this drought!  The results of this drought are apparent with this 8, he came in early in the evening of the 9th, one side is good and the other is squshed up, both of these deer show vivid results of the extended drought!
On the morning of the 12th, a spike and a doe come in to water and our roadrunner made an appearance too!

Then, the most unusual “shots” show a sharp shinned hawk (I believe) taking a bath, but the unusual part is the second “shot” after it had flown across the water trough, got all of its feathers wet and was drying off.


The Water Trough, September 15, 2011

During the past week, some new, big deer moved into the area.  The first to show was this hefty, 9 pointer, a nice deer with a fine rack even though we’re in a crippling drought, probably 5 or 6 years old!
Then a portly 8 showed up.  This is probably the same one as in my post of [August 20th], “The Water Trough”.  He hasn’t been around for a while, but it looks like his other source of water dried up.

On the 10th, here’s the big 9 walking up while a spotted fawn gets a drink.

Then, early in the morning of the 11th, this 7 or 8 came up.  This is a new deer, it appears to have a palmated rack on both sides and hasn’t been around before, but he’s showing his age, a nice little pot belly and his back is beginning to get a “sway” in it.

Then on the morning of the 12th, this 7 or 8 came in to water.  He’s a different one from the palmated buck. His rack on the right is a little squshed in, obviously a victim of the protracted drought and from his position at the trough, it’s hard to get a count on it.

The Wrong Turn

There were worlds of mourning dove coming in to feed on the grain field stubble, in a field, on an Indian reservation in the Phoenix area. This particular reservation allowed hunting in the grain fields, but we had to be careful not to go into the “No Trespassing” areas that were well marked with signs.

My family, Brad, my ex wife and I, were fast into knocking down these twisty fliers, Randy and Suzanne were doing the retrieving and our bird count was rising. This afternoon, we were the only hunters out so we were hunkered down, a hundred yards apart, along an irrigation ditch, now dry. Many of the birds flew over us as they came into the field to feed, providing some easy overhead shots. We took a break to count up our birds and our tally indicated that we had knocked down 31, five short of our combined limits. Shooting time was just about over so we let Brad, who was an excellent shot with a shotgun and the reigning Arizona, junior state champion trap shooter, finish out the string.

We set to breasting out the dove, leaving both wings on and dusk was settling in by the time we finished. Rinsing our hands, we loaded everything up into the camper, kenneled up the kids and drove off the reservation, we thought. Coming to a cross road, we turned, we thought, the correct way because there weren’t any signs. The next thing we knew, through the dust, here came a pickup barreling toward us, loaded with Indians and as they came closer, we saw they were all armed!

As the truck pulled to head us off, all the Indians were shouting and waving their firearms, we looked to be in deep stuff, but didn’t know of any tribal laws we had broken. One, possibly the headman, yelled over to us, “You’re on private, no trespassing, property and are under arrest! Been hunting, too, we’ll get all of you for shooting after hours?” This really looked serious now.

The year before, we had a run in with an Apache Policeman, he confiscated our .22 pistols and was going to ticket us for carrying firearms on the reservation, until he calmed down some and I told him that I was friends with the Tribal Chairman and named him. He relented, but told us “Friends with the Tribal Chairman or not, if he caught us on reservation with loaded firearms again, we be in big trouble!” Luckily, we never saw this policeman again!

Back to our immediate plight, the Indians were really heating up and I started fearing for my family. My ex had the, formerly confiscated, .22 pistol on her hip and she slipped it over to me, one pistol, 6 shots against a truck full, bad odds, before another Little Big Horn, I’ve got to get the headman talking. Telling him we thought we were headed out toward Baseline Road, he settled down a little and told us we took the wrong turn and were heading deeper into the reservation. He added, “Over the past weeks, we’ve had an increase in grave robberies, but to me, it looks like you just took the wrong turn.” The occupants in the truck were still yelling until he told them to be quiet and told us, “Just turn around and we’ll follow you out.”

Grave robberies meant that folks were sneaking on to the reservation, not robbing the graves of recently buried people, but rooting around in the desert trying to find graves a hundred to two hundred years old. This definitely wasn’t part of our program!

This was to close a call, so during our remaining years in Phoenix, we never went back to that reservation. That truck full of Indians really scared us off!

The Water Trough, September 10, 2011

After almost 2 months of taking “shots” of the bucks using the water trough, the period of September 1st through the 5th helped me to categorize them much better. There is one buck that’s real good, the 8 pointer, however there are several more that have 6 or 7 points that are acceptable, considering the drought conditions that we are under.

In the early morning of the 1st, it was only fitting that the big 8 showed up for a drink and along with him was a young 6.

That evening another 6 and a young 10 appeared, then minutes later two 7’s showed up.
Now it’s starting to get interesting because on the evening of the 2nd, here came 6 big deer, a 7, a wide 6, one that is undeterminable, a spike and two doe and I believe all of these deer are different, maybe the 7 is the same as earlier.  The next night, up came two different bucks a 6 with one crooked horn and probably a 7.  Both of these bucks are shooters, however I’d let ‘em go and hope they’d get better horns next year, but  folks around here will pop them if they get a chance!
On the early morning of the 4th, this grey fox is just sittin’ and mindin’ his own business as this big, fat buck, a 6 or 7, walks away from the trough.  This is probably the pot bellied buck.

Here’s another big buck, good size, wide spread, but he’s a little lop sided, his left side horns aren’t as long as his right.  The norther (cool front) just hit, so notice the temp 65, first time it’s been this low in about 2 months!

Here’s a gray fox running by the trough, but look at the temp 59, probably a record for the day around here.


Sun up Saturday morning found Mickey Donahoo and I again in the field north of San Saba, awaiting the early morning dove flight, but this time we had equalizers, one was my 12 year old grandson, Wesley, pictured, visiting from Paris, Texas, who’d run down the doves and the other was a motorized, dove decoy, pictured below.

This device worked wonders with both white wings and mourners, but no ring necks came around.  We still had the problem of doves sneaking in on us, catching us unawares and then, us putting a few holes in the sky as they departed.

Our overall score for the morning was 6 mourning and 4 white wing dove.  The picture below shows nine birds, but I had already breasted one.

By a long shot, ten birds for a two, hour hunt isn’t up to previous years scores, but this year’s heat drove us in early.  Anyway, we all had to be back to Goldthwaite by 10:00 AM.


No this isn’t about the Indian chief name Scar in the movie “The Searchers”, but as I was going through the pictures of deer from my game cam at the corn and protein feeder, yes I’ve added protein to the deer’s diet, I kept coming across one young doe with some sort of scar on the front of her right thigh.  She comes to the feeder regularly and a closer look at the scar, makes you think that a bobcat or mountain lion grabbed at it, locked on for a while, but lost it’s grip, then the young doe escaped.  Whether feeding at night, or during daylight, she’s never alone and always with one or more deer, in fact, she’s had company in all of the pictures.

Now last year, not 2 miles from my ranch, on the afternoon of September 1, 2010, I was driving south on Texas Highway 16 towards San Saba for an afternoon dove hunt, when several deer, running full out, flashed across the road a hundred yards ahead of me.  Not 10 seconds behind them, a mountain lion ran across the road in full chase, I thought Wow, the first one I’ve seen in the wild!  Two years before, a deer hunter shot a mountain lion not 20 miles from my place, so they are here.  Dutifully reporting the event to the local Texas Game Warden, he notified me that this year, (2010), big cats had been reported around Mullin, 10 miles north of Goldthwaite and their range can encompass several hundred square miles!

This “shot” best shows the scar.  My thought is that if a mountain lion had a hold of a young deer, it would be curtains for the deer and supper for the lion, so I believe that a bobcat grabbed a hold of this doe when it was just a fawn, but for some reason couldn’t hold on.  We do have bobcats around here and I shot one and posted the story on January 3, 2010, “[Wesley Breaks The Ice]”, so that’s my story and I’ll let the reader guess whether a lion or bobcat.