More Outdoors Pictures, July 30, 2012

We got lots of fawns around here!  The doe have, and are still, dropping fawns, but that should end soon.  One thing though, we are in a drought situation, we had a small rain shower last Friday, maybe 8 or 10 drops in the rain gauge and our forecast for the next 10 days is zero rain and zero percent chance!  Who knows about fawn survival? Hearing on Fox News today that 55 percent of the country is in a severe drought, mostly in the heartland, means woe for our pocketbooks, grocery prices and especially corn prices will go up, up and up and we still have to feed the deer!

But, we still got a lot of fawns this year.  Day before yesterday evening, Layla and I were sitting out on the back porch (in 95 degree weather), musing about the heat, when the doe and their fawns started coming out, so I ran into the house and got my camera and took these pictures.

First out, a doe and her 2 fawns and the doe looked like she could have 2 more, really she’s the oldest doe on the ranch, she’s a wild one and if we get a shot, we’ll get her this hunting season.   Notice these came out by some mesquite trees.

The 2 more fawns showed up, by an oak motte, along with another deer, a young one, probably last years crop of fawns and their doe was hanging out in the thick stuff.

As it got darker, a single fawn and its mom were grazing along the fence

Almost dark, then 2 more fawns showed up and their mother doe was coming up right behind them.  At that distance, the lens wasn’t wide enough to get both the fawns and the doe in one picture.


No bucks showed up this afternoon, they’re quite camera shy, but there’s some real good ones!  This “one buck only” game law and the horns must be outside of its ears, have done wonders for the quality of the bucks.


Whitetail deer molt 2 times a year and the first on the ranch that started this summer was this nice 10 pointer that got a jumpstart on his winter coat.  It began on his head, moved down his neck, to where in the “shots”, it’s almost to his shoulders.  At first I didn’t understand what was happening to him, I thought he had some type of chronic wasting disease, but since he’s almost 4-1/2 and, obviously, he’s quite mature, and naturally he’d be molting.

These other 2 “shots” show the 10 pointer on the 19th and then again on the 23rd, both times showing that molting had started.  The 8 he’s running with, a very nice 3-1/2 year old, hasn’t started yet.


Looking this change up on “Bing”, I found a real good article written by the Forest Resources group at the University of Georgia that appeared on Tinks blog, Tinks supplies different kinds of deer scents and the article readily identifies the different stages of the molt.

Summarizing the article, whitetails keep their summer coat for about 4-5 months before they shed again into their winter coats. While the summer coat provides protection from the sun and helps keep the deer cool, the function of the winter coat, with it’s hollow hair, is to insulate against the cold.  It’s a fact that the insulation will provide such good protection against the cold that snow can accumulate on a deer’s back without melting.  Although the coarse, hollow guard hairs of the winter coat provide good insulation, it is the finer, wooly underfur that provides the greatest insulation, these shorter, finer, twisting hairs trap layers of warm air close to the skin.

The buck’s thick winter coat keeps him warm and to help keep dry, deer manufacture their own water repellent. Associated with each hair follicle is a small gland called a sebaceous gland that secretes an oily or greasy material called sebum. This oil then coats the hair to keep it from becoming brittle and also help shed water.

Now you know all that I know about deer molting, frankly I’ve not had the game cams on the feeders except during the fall and winter, but will be interesting to see how the deer herd begins their molt and changes to their winter coat.  Just think, soon, the bucks will start loosing the velvet on their horns and soon deer season will roll around!

My Third Boat

This boat was purchased in July 1970 and was an 18-foot, tri hull, with 2, 60-horse motors and it had 2 internal 24-gallon gas tanks.  Loaded out, with full tanks it would cruise at 25, had an over 50-mile range and topped out at over 30.  It was a nice one for our growing family, would comfortably fish 4 and gas at the time was only 25 cents a gallon!  Fishing the boat a lot during the first summer, one memorable trip was when we loaded it up with big speckled trout see my post “[He’ll Have To Wait]” of June 9, 2011.

Moving to Arizona in January of 1971, the large computer company moved the boat and all of our gear out there and as summer drew near my friends asked me if I was going to take it down to Rocky Point to try out the fishing.  My answer was a deafening “Yes!”  The first trip down we fished and caught fish, nothing special except the fish were a different brand, not specs and reds we usually caught, but sea bass, grouper and cabrilla.  In 1973 I even won a category of a tournament with a 10-pound queen trigger fish and another time we even cruised up to within 5 yards of a 50-foot whale!

The first time out, while returning to the camp, I called the proprietor as instructed before we left. In broken English, he replied, “Beeg, wide Texas boat?” and the name stuck.  On future trips everyone called it the “Beeg Wide Texas Boat”!

This boat was a fishing boat, but while in Arizona, my friends and customers, real threatening like, made me take them water skiing,.  The lake of choice was Lake Pleasant, not 20 miles up I-17 from Phoenix now the town has encircled it see my post of May 25, 2012, “[White Bass In The Desert]”.   Most summer days were calm and many afternoons were spent at the lake, the boat was a delight to ski out of and the motors would jerk you right out of the water, even on one ski!

Then came the move to Atlanta, a promotion for me, but as they say, “I left claw marks on the floor when they drug me out!”  The boat, all 18 feet of it, was just too big to economically trailer down to Destin or Suwanne and definitely too big to trailer all the way to the Texas coast, gas, with Nixon’s embargo, was now 50 cents per gallon.  So, as with all things, this ended too and after 4 years, on a trip back to Houston, I sold the boat to a man in Bellville and never saw it again.

More Outdoors Pictures, July 21, 2012

The comedy group is still with us, but one of the group is not around.  Who knows what happened, but right now, one is missing, maybe cats, or a coyote or even another coon?
Fawns, right now I have a bunch, but it’s hard to pair up a fawn with a doe, so I’ll just group the “shots” together.  You know, a doe will bond with another doe’s fawn and take over mothering.  Another thing that I’ve noticed, mature doe are only having a single fawn this year, because of last year’s record drought.  Doe that came into estrus during the first cycle, the time of the drought, are only having one fawn.  By the time of the second cycle, mid December, the weather pattern had changed and we got the much needed, rain.



The last “shot” on the 16th shows a fawn “getting a drink”, while the doe she’s nursing looks like she’ll have another one, could this be a “bonding” issue?

The Water Trough, July 18, 2012

This deer season, 2012, is shaping up to be a winner!  Around here, Mills County, Texas it will be a good “horn” year, there has been a good fawn crop and all of last year’s doe and fawns made it to this year.  Last year, until late December and its rain, we were facing an epic drought, not only Mills County, but all across our State and the southwest.  Conditions are much better now, good rains through the spring, but we could stand a couple of “gully washers”!

Last week, we had gone to Auburn, Alabama to play in a Senior Softball tournament, but the game cams kept “shooting” away.  Bucks are grouping up and will keep doing this until deer season as this “shot” of  5 bucks coming to water shows.

Two days later, 2 more, one a nice one, came in.

The next day, a 7 and 8 pointer came in, followed later by this really good 10 pointer!
Two days later this big deer that I’d not seen before came to water, he was a new one and quite camera shy and later these bucks, a 9, 8, 8, and 8 pointers came in.


Then, early the next morning, a doe, spike, a 4 pointer and a pretty good 8 came in followed by a real nice 8.
Looks like deer season will be a good ‘un!

Slip Corks

During the late summer of 1966, on the first fishing trip out in my new, second boat was a memorable one.  We, Gary Anderson, now deceased and Vic Hayes, now lost to me, headed out to the Quarantine Station for a go at some specs.  Our tackle was basic stuff, direct drive reels, six and a half foot, popping rods, and something a little different, slip corks above our bait of choice, a live shrimp.  The slip cork was easy to rig, you just tied a knot in you line at the depth you wanted to fish and the cork, complete with a hole running the length of the stem, when cast out would slip up the line until it met the knot, and there you were, in our case fishing at a depth of 9 or 10 feet.

In the 1960’s, one of the best places to catch speckled trout, wading or from a boat was around the tip of Pelican Island, known then as the Galveston Quarantine Station, now known as Sea Wolf Park.  The park’s development, now housing a WWII submarine the USS Cavalla, that sank a Japanese aircraft carrier on one of its missions and the destroyer escort, USS Stewart, caused the complete remaking of the end of Pelican Island, but, and a big but, the huge granite stones that lined the tip of the island and extended out 50 or more yards under the water, still remained and, this spot, during the hot summer months, on an incoming tide, fishing for trout around the point, could be fabulous!

The first station was built in 1839, but in 1892 hurricanes and continued yellow fever outbreaks caused it to be moved north, across the harbor, to Pelican Island, but the great hurricane of 1900 completely destroyed the buildings.  In 1902 the State of Texas built its last station on the southeastern tip of Pelican Island and in 1919 merged with Federal, port operations.   Closing in 1950, but during its 35 years of operation, the Pelican Island Federal Quarantine Station inspected over 30,000 ships that brought an estimated 750,000 legal, immigrants to Texas!

Enough history, my new, second boat had a feature that was way ahead of its time, a live bait well, but you had to be careful that when moving out to your fishing spot, or changing, spots, a plugs were applied to the drains.  If this wasn’t done, dead shrimp was the bait of choice for the day!  We remembered on this trip.

We launched the boat at Pleasure Island Fish and Bait, motored under both sides of the Galveston Causeway, through upper west bay, passed under the Pelican Island Bridge, through the harbor with its ships from many countries and finally to the old Quarantine Station, where we anchored about 50 or 60 feet out from the rocks along the shore.  Our first casts were met with solid strikes and then the fun began, 3 big guys trying to land 3 good specs, out of a 16-foot boat.  Having caught a lot of good fish on the first cast, but never 3, this was a very unusual happening and introduced us a local dance, the West Bay Shuffle.  Circling the boat several times, then succeeding and netting the trout, we admired the 3 fish, all 4 pounders.  We ended up with 18, good ones, 2 to 4 pounds, but the tide stopped running in and the fishing shut down.

On the way back in, passing through Galveston Harbor, it dawned on me that on calm days, this boat would be great for running around the end of the jetties and fishing on the Gulf sides, then it dawned on me that 3 years ago, I had already been shown a great place out there!  Over the next 40 years, I would grow from a “jetty novice” to a “jetty pro”, but on those good days we’d always stop for a few casts around The Quarantine Station!

This old picture of the State Quarantine Station is from the John P. McGovern Historical Collection and Research Center, Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library, Galveston, Texas.

Business Comes First

Many times during the summer we cleared the Galveston Jetty’s before the sun was up. This was one of those times and in the dark we had stopped by our friendly, German bait camp operator, the same one that was the star of “Invasion” on my post of July 8, 2010, picked up bait and ice, and found out from him just where the shrimp boats were anchoring up and culling. This would be a quick trip out and back, because all 3 of us, Max, Dewey and I had business to take care of back in Houston, we were all 3 top salesman with the same large computer company and business comes first, you know!

Dewey Stringer and I had conjured up this fishing trip on the spur of the moment, picking a Friday morning since we had a bad case of cabin fever, because it was too hot to work (ha-ha), we had conned another of our king chasers, Max Weber, to go along. We decided that we would leave early, before the sun came up, find some shrimpers culling their nights catch, then, load up on the kings and be back before 9:30 AM, that would fit in real good with our schedules.

Max spent the night with Dewey at his Tiki Island place and I stayed at my Bayou Vista canal home and all of us were up way before the sun, loaded up Dewey’s boat, a 23 footer with a 200 horse outboard, and headed for the Intercoastal Waterway. Hand held spotlights blazing, we planed out his boat and sped under the bridges of the Galveston Causeway, under Pelican Island Bridge, through Galveston Harbor then turned right between the jetties and on out into the gulf.

We had picked a beautiful morning for our jaunt offshore, very light wind out of the southeast, slick seas with virtually no swells and at first light, sure enough, 20 miles out, we found 3 shrimpers tied together, culling their nights catch! We pulled up beside the 3 and made the almost, obligatory trade of beer for shrimp, packed the fresh shrimp in the big cooler, then set to catching some kings.

Max was first in the water and his line had barely settled when a hungry fish gobbled it up and took off. The long run against the lightweight tackle, assured us that it was probably a king, it was and after a lively tussle was gaffed and into the cooler it went. Our lines hadn’t even settled good when both Dewey and I had big strikes, 2 more long runs and soon we had the 2 kings up alongside the boat and gaffed them too. We were 3 for 3 on kings and soon we’d have the big cooler filled up!

Dewey had a big hit and off the fish took, but it wasn’t fighting like a king. Shorter runs and a grudging, not give an inch pull on his line. It was a jackfish, jack crevelle, not edible, but what fighters! On the light tackle Dewey was struggling with the jack, the fight took over 20 minutes, for just after sun up with no wind, Dewey commented, “I’m working up a sweat”. Max said, “I’ll fix that” and with one swoop of a handy, bucket, filled it and deposited the contents over Dewey’s head and shoulders. The 84 degree water was cooling and after that, as we were fighting fish, one of us would anoint the other. Believe it or not, it was cooling and refreshing.

By 9:30 we had limited out and filled the big, cooler with kings, but before we started in, we anointed each other one more time and took off. The big, 200 had us skimming over the flat seas at a record pace, we retraced our way in and were back unloading the boat by 11:00 AM. We iced down the kings and would clean them tonight, but anyway it was a great trip, even with the heat and all 3 of us made our appointments on time!

More Outdoors Pictures, July 9, 2012

Checking the game cam on July 3rd, around the feeder, it appeared that one of the comedy group, a little one, had met its demise, coon versus bobcat equals dead and eaten coon.  But then, on July 7, at the water trough, what showed up, but the momma coon and 4 little ones.
Meanwhile, back at the water trough, we’ve been going through a prolonged dry spell, rains on the way, but the wildlife is congregating around the water.  The doe are regularly dropping their fawns now and this “shot” shows 2 doe, 2 fawns, a spike and another doe, either getting a drink or getting ready to.

This “shot” is of a roadrunner and what looks like a spike to be, the spike to be being hesitant to water, but the bird acts as if he owns the place!

Finally, late in the evening of the 7th, the bucks showed up.  The first “shot” is of a nice 6 pointer already well outside of its ears.  What’s bad about this one, he was a 6 last year, a 6 this year and it’s my guess he’ll be a 6 next year, survival is questionable! In the background of the first “shot” a real good 8 is hovering around and he finally comes up after the other bucks have moved off.  He’s outside of his ears too and a much bigger deer than the 6, he’s probably 4 years old, will be 4-1/2 by winter and shootable!


Changing Baits

Houston was hot, hot and more hotter, humidity and all, when Richard Foster called me one evening and said we should go out to Lake Houston, rent us a boat and try and catch some bass. A little background, the next week, the summer of 1958, I would be going to ROTC summer camp and the week after that, Richard, a newly commissioned 2/Lt. would be reporting to a basic training company at Ft. Hood.

In Richard’s jeep, the next morning, before the sun was up, we pulled into the parking lot of the main bait camp at the lake. For $2.00, a princely sum then, we rented a 14-foot boat, then attached my 5-horse motor, loaded our gear and were off. Just as the sun was coming up, our first stop was at a likely looking point and dragging our artificials, we were using Bomber baits, the first bait that under the water would crawl down a slope.

Richard connected first, a 2 pounder that jumped twice and it wasn’t long until I duplicated his feat. Lake Houston, at the time a 5, year old impoundment on the San Jacinto River, northeast of Houston, was the city’s primary water supply, now this has been supplanted by Lake Livingston. Lake Houston was about 15 miles, as the crow flies, from San Jacinto Battleground, where Sam Houston and his small band of Texians whipped Santa Anna. More casts and no luck, so we moved along to another likely looking place.

This one was along a bank that we could drift down, we hadn’t thought about a trolling motor back then and changing baits to a Pico Perch, an under water bait that you could vary the retrieve and it would change depths. We were using a medium retrieve that would run the bait at about 2-3 feet and we hit the fish here. Connecting first, I landed an estimated 3 pounder and on to my stringer it went, then Richard nailed another 2 pounder. Several fish later, the action stopped.

The sun was well up, probably around 8:30, so we switched baits to yellow, Piggy Boats, this spinner bait has been around since I started bass fishing in 1950. The company was bought out by H & H Company, but is now owned by Academy, a regional sporting goods company. This change of baits worked well for us and we picked up 4 more bass.

It was getting steamy so we motored on in, cleaned the fish and headed back home toward southwest Houston. Back then, we didn’t have fish finders, trolling motors, live wells to keep the fish in, fancy baits that would run at certain depths, but we still caught fish. In fact, TV was still in its infancy, no PC’s, no cell phones, no internet, no freeways, but we still made do!

More Outdoors Pictures, July 3, 2012

This doe in the background is irritated about something, who knows what?  Maybe the other doe is a stranger?  Maybe she’s eating out of turn? Maybe, maybe maybe, but who knows?

Switching to the water trough, everything needs a drink and this bobcat starts it off.  You know it’s funny that when goats and sheep start dropping their young, bobcats show up, the same with doe, they’re all dropping fawns now and the bobs know it.

Right after the bobcat, up shows the comedy group, a coon and her young, all the animals are reproducing their species now!

Later in the afternoon that day what shows up, but a buzzard.  You never think of them needing water, but they must.

The big bucks are growing their horns!  The first one will be an 8 at least and the second a wide 6, maybe both will add some points when they fill out?
And finally, of all things, a snake, unknown variety, shows up and probably makes this very pregnant doe hesitant to get water.  This is the first “shot” of a snake getting water and I know that the last 2 weeks have been extremely hot, but we had showers the last 2 days, cooling things off, but a snake getting a drink, that’s a first!