More Outdoors Pictures, August 29, 2012

Starting today’s post off with a young deer that hasn’t show up before.  The young buck doesn’t have any brow tines, but he has good genes, he’s only 2-1/2, so give him 2 more years.

Meep, meep, it’s the roadrunner again getting a drink.  We had rain showers last Monday .4 inches so it has cooled off considerably, the temp was “only” 87, but the humidity was over 80.  Digressing, being from the Houston area and living in Galveston for 6 years, here in Goldthwaite we haven’t had a 90 square day, that’s a day when the temp and humidity are both over 90, since I’ve retired up here.

The young 5 pointer we’ve seen before, a young one, 1-1/2 years old is seen with 2 doe, one’s his sister, but she’ll run him off when she goes into estrus.  Colton took their mom last year.
Next, ever seen a deer biting another?  Here’s a “shot” of the very thing.  This buck, a 3-1/2 year old, 8 pointer, is obviously saying to the fawn, “Stay away when I’m eating.”

Here’s the spike that I took a pic of last week, only he’s with 8 other doe and fawns, this qualifies as a herd of deer, also, the batteries ran out on the game cam and I didn’t know I had to reset the date!


During my business career, except for my start with the large computer company, I always had people work for me and I got used to giving orders and having them obeyed.  This one time it was given back to me in spades!

Layla, and I arrived at our lease in McColloch County, Texas in mid afternoon, after the 4, plus, hour drive from Houston, and found that we were the only folks there that day.  We changed from our business executive clothes, she was a VP at a large rice company, then slipped into jeans and camo shirts and quickly headed out to my favorite place to hunt dove, a “secret” stock tank.  Following is the picture of the house we used at our lease.

After the long drive, Gus, our Brittany, was anxious to get to hunting.  We let him out and on the walk to the stock tank he took care of his business, then happily trotted beside us.   The stock tank was spring fed and tucked behind a butte, or small mesa, way off the beaten path, as the picture shows.

About an hour before sunset, the mourning doves started coming into water.  Our set up was ideal.  The tank had a rocky, gravelly bank all around, a couple of dead mesquites at one end and several live mesquites that we used for shade and concealment at the other end

The birds came in singularly and in groups and were met with our bam, bam, bamming and soon we had neared our limits.  It was great sport, great shooting and a plus getting to watch Gus retrieve birds that fell into the water.

Finally he rebelled.  After 7 or 8 retrieves, he walked over beside me and shook himself vigorously, liberally dousing me, and ploped down at my side as I knocked another one down into the water.  “Fetch him up, Gus”” I commanded, and he didn’t move.  “Gus, fetch the bird” more forcefully as he looked up at me and rolled over on his back!  Gus was “done” for the day!  Trying get Layla to retrieve the last dove for me, I asked her nicely, but she declined also.

It was left for me to chunk rocks and cow patties at the bird to wash them close to the shore, where I unceremoniously waded out and picked them up.  So much for delegating!

More Outdoors Pictures, August 23, 2012

The weather, although hot, is not as hot as the past few weeks; we’ve had showers as the small front came through, now we’re in the mid 90’s rather than the mid 100’s of late July and early August.  The cool weather really brought out the deer and over the past few days I’ve been able to take some photos of a lot of doe and their fawns.

This first picture is of 2 young deer, doe and buck, he’s only a spike now, but they are brother and sister and have run together the past year, this year she’ll only let him run with her for a few more months, then he’ll be dumped!  The fawn shown is not hers, she hasn’t dropped one yet, it’ll be around September 1st.

More deer photos:



More Outdoors Pictures, August 20, 2012

This is a very “blah” time of the year, 10 more days and dove season opens, 25 more and early teal season opens, but nothing much is happening right now.  It rained last Thursday, we got a half-inch, then it rained Friday night and Goldthwaite’s football scrimmage against Sonora was a wet one, at the ranch we got .2 inch, so overall, we got .7 inches, not a drought breaker, but the rain was the “big deal” this past week!  Keep it coming Lord!

The batteries went out on the game cam at the water trough so not many “shots” there, but a “new” 6 pointer showed up, one of the doe was even looking him over.

The comedy crew made an appearance, 5 originally counting the mother, now only 3.

At the feeder Layla and turned on last Sunday, look closely and a fox is visible in the grass.

Then, at the feeder at MaMaw’s blind, these 2 doe appear to be sparring, but, I bet they’re trying to get at the corn.

More Outdoors Pictures, August 17, 2012

This past Sunday afternoon, August 12th, Layla and I “turned on” another corn/protein feeder this one’s in a corner of the ranch and is the same one that Randy shot his big buck last December.  See my post on November 27th, [Deer Season (Perseverance)] and my post on November 29th, [Deer Season].  Both posts have some good pictures taken on the spot and tell the story of an overnight deer find.

The first deer to show up at this “new” feeder was this nice doe and this feeder will get a lot of deer traffic, because it’s about a half mile from the feeder at MaMaw’s blind.

Then, before light on Tuesday morning, this buck, with a damaged rack, showed up and, I bet, I know where he injured it.  Three weeks ago, coming home from San Saba, the night was cool(er) than the day, it was 105 that afternoon, and when I turned off on to the dirt road, two bucks ran in front of me.  Slamming on my brakes, one buck jumped the fence and the other slammed, bam, into the fence then backing up, jumped over it.  Thinking at the time, I bet the second buck hurt his antlers, this may be that buck?
Compared to a really good buck, this “shot” was taken on the 9th, it’s apparent that age, probably a 3 year old, versus a 4-1/2 and filled out size are the differences.

More Outdoors Pictures, August 14, 2012

The past 3 days, doe and fawns have been very active.  All I had to do was go out on the back porch and start taking pictures, but a real high point for the month was that Sunday night we had a .5 inch rain and a great lightning show!  This doe and her fawn were browsing along when I took this picture.

Algerita bushes are common to the south Texas plains and the Edwards Plateau and Mills County lies on the northern portion of the plateau.  What do algerita bushes have anything to do with outdoors pictures.  The answer to this is, the holly like leaves are an outstanding deer browse and like everything else in Texas, they either stick, (the algeritas case), sting or bite a person, but the deer on the ranch are definitely taking advantage of it! Cattle, goats, sheep and humans can eat the young, tender leaves and wine and jelly can be made out of the berries, plus the wood and roots make a yellow dye that the Indians used.

The first picture is of a doe with its head stuck into one of our many algerita bushes.  The second picture is of 2 doe and their fawns working on the same bush, look closely because one fawn is hidden in the grass below a doe and the other is just below the doe’s neck.
One of our many algerita bushes is pictured below, the second one shows the fruit of the bush.  Prior to December 2011, the end of our crippling drought, the deer had stripped off most of the leaves of all our algeritas!
Early yesterday morning this doe and her fawn were headed in the direction of the same algerita bush, but the flash scared them and they went back into the tall grass, so I kept on with my breakfast and only took this one picture.

Catching Instead Of Fishing

Starting off with a little history, the Houston Ship Channel, all 50 miles of it, was begun in 1875 and not really completed until 1914.  In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s it was widened to over 500 feet, with a depth of 45.  Even for Texas, it is an engineering feat!

The month of August is probably the hottest one along the upper Texas coast with the water in the shallow bays, East and West Galveston Bay and Christmas Bay, heating up to the mid 80’s causing the big trout and redfish to seek cooler water.  The cooler water we were heading out to this mid August morning in 1968 was along the Houston Ship Channel.  The weather forecast was good light winds with the tide coming in, scattered thunder storms, in the afternoon, but our plan was to finish up by lunch, so we didn’t anticipate any bad weather or problems.

In my 17 foot, deep vee, pictured above, we, my dad and uncle, Alvin Pyland, better known as Unkie, launched at the bait camp at San Leon and made the short run out to the ship channel.   We went about 200 yards on the Smith’s Point side of the ship channel and started our drift.

Our tackle was 6-1/2 foot popping rods, red, Ambassaduer reels filled with 15 pound, mono line.  We used a popping cork with a 3, foot, leader, a light weight and a small treble hook.  Our bait was live shrimp.  We’d cast out, pop the cork, reel up the slack, repeat the process until we either had a strike or we retrieved the rig back to the boat, then, if no hit, cast back out and repeat the process.

Unkie and Dad cast out and hadn’t made one or two “pops” when they both had big strikes, both fish were good ones, taking line and circling the boat, a sure sign of a big trout!  Netting Unkies fish first, a real nice 5 pounder, my dad’s fish put on a show around the boat for us and we could see that is was a little bigger than Unkies.  Finally I cast out, popped the cork once and “bam” had a big strike.  A 20, yard, first run, highlighted this fight, along with two circles of the boat, with a lot of wallows on top before Dad slipped the net under the spec, a twin of his.

We were probably 15 or 20 miles up from the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel, the Galveston Jetties, and in the distance, south of us, the morning’s first big tanker was heading our way.  My dad said, “Boy, you’ve never seen the wake these big ships throw up, have you?”  “What wakes?” was my answer, then Unkie chimed in, “Six or 7 footers, that’s what and we’d better get everything in the boat squared away!”  This got my attention quick.  We quit fishing and knowing that if you’re in heavy seas, you head into them and don’t get caught broad side, I started the engine and here the came the wake.

Looking at the wake, it came toward us, obliquely, in a long line, soon it was only 50 feet from us then, here it was!  The deep vee in my boat’s hull cut smoothly through the 7, foot wake, rode up and down it and it would have swamped us if we’d been broadside to.

Encouraged by our recent success at catching over a dozen large speckled trout along the Channel, we decided to try our luck at the same approximate spot the following Monday. Before sun up, with a light wind blowing out of the southeast and the tide forecast was for it to be coming in all morning, we left Unkie’s house, near Hobby Airport, maybe another “haul”?  By the time we drove down to San Leon and got the boat ready for launching, the wind had shifted to the south and was blowing near 15 MPH, not the light breeze that we woke up to!  Our memory of the ideal conditions of the past week faded as the bay was already showing scattered white caps as Unkie, the eternal optimist, said, “Maybe it will smooth out before too long?”

The boat handled the cross chop very well as we sped across the ship channel, slowed down and started to literally bounce across the waves. To slow our drift, I deployed a 3, foot drag sleeve that smoothed us out a lot and made it possible for us to cast and keep our balance.  Baiting up we cast out and began our popping routine, pop the cork, reel up the slack, pop and repeat the process.  Our corks would get behind a wave and we’d loose sight of them and have to fish by feel, no problem if we kept our lines tight.

Several casts later, Dad had a good strike and as the fish took off he said, “Whoa big fella!”, he exclaimed.  “This is a good one and it’s not fighting like a spec!”  Good one it was, after 2 big runs against the light tackle and several wallows around the boat, I slipped the net under a nice redfish that weighed, on the bait camp scales, over 8 pounds!

More casts, more popping and as Unkie’s cork slipped behind a wave he reared back, setting the hook in a good fish.  Not the fight of a big red, but a determined pull and soon the fish started circling the boat, a sure sign of a good spec.  Netting the trout, a 6 pounder, I looked up and coming up the ship channel was our first tanker of the morning, pushing out a big wake.

We got the drag sleeve in, getting wet in the process, cranked up the boat’s engine and headed towards the wake.  This one looked huge, but probably was another 7 footer.  It seemed to be going faster that the one last week soon it was on us and up and over the boat handled it perfectly.  No other tankers were in sight so we putted back to our approximate location, deployed the drag sleeve, baited up and started casting out again.

Adding another 5 pounder, I looked up and on the horizon, could see 3 more tankers coming up the channel, probably heading up to the big refineries of Shell and Humble Oil, (in 1972 Humble’s name was changed to Exon.)  We couldn’t beat the first one across the channel so we rode over its wake without a problem, safely getting to the west side of the channel.   The second one presented us a much different situation we couldn’t beat it to the launch ramp so we had to turn around and head into it, slide over, then follow the wake up towards the ramp.

After filleting the fish, as we stowed everything in the boat and my dad remarked, “Not a bad day considering the heavy south wind.  You know, if every time we had a meat haul like last week, this would be called catching, instead of fishing!”

Shooting, August 8, 2012

It’s still hot in central Texas and we were dressed accordingly!  Late yesterday morning we went our and shot my .380 pistol, the pistol has a built in laser sight that we used extensively and it really improved our accuracy.

Suz and her boys came down for a stay, they went home yesterday, but before they started traveling back to Paris, Texas that is, she, Wesley and I went out to try out a new, for her, pistol, my .380 carry gun and of course I have a CHL license.  From this brief trial, just think, her husband Paul, now will have to shell out and get her one like this!

We started out shooting from 10 paces, she’s a very good shot, but sprayed a couple, then I turned on the laser and of course, her scores improved dramatically!  It is amazing how you center the little red dot and the gun responds, as if by magic!

Once Suz had shot enough, she turned the pistol over to me and I cut loose too

The target we used shows the accuracy, the high and low shots were without the laser.

Of course Wesley wanted to know all about the .380 and below I’m showing him.

That reminds me of a story Brad brought back from Iraq.  They were a blocking force one night and a car sped toward them, they stopped the car, Brad whipped out his laser pointer, the Iraqis, thinking it was attached to a rifle or pistol became very docile as he centered the little red dot on each of the vehicles occupant’s forehead.  Needless to say, they were “bad guys” and never found out they were captured by a laser pointer.

More Outdoors Pictures, August 5, 2012

Sorry, but I have to relay some bad news.  You may remember the “Comedy Group”, originally there were 4 baby coons and the mother.  Fate has intervened and now there are 2 babies and the mother, the 4th being lost early and 2 days ago I found the remains of the 3rd.  Those remains were not 25 feet from the water trough and from their looks the felon was probably a bobcat!  Below is the last “shot” of them at the corn feeder on the night of July 11.  Now there are 2!

On a lighter note, Randy Pfaff from southern Colorado sent me this picture he took on one of his excursions, a picture of a group of big horn sheep, really nice ones!

Another friend from the Austin area, Billy Hill, sent me these 2 pictures of coyotes coming into water.
You know, it’s funny that I have no “shots” of bobcats or coyotes coming into the water trough, but with the closest water being over 3/4ths of a mile away, maybe they’re using it?

A Question

The sun was almost up as Bill Priddy cast the silver Rebel fishing plug about 36 inches out from the bank and was greeted by a solid strike, with the bass immediately taking to the air.  Looks like this stock tank had been stocked with bass before, the rancher didn’t know for sure and Bill and I were checking it out.  Bill slid the 3, pounder on to the sandy bank, unhooked it and slid it back into the water, commenting, “What a way to answer the rancher’s question.”

This trip to our newly acquired McCulloch County hunting lease was set up to scout for dove, the season opened in 2 weeks, but the rancher “insisted” that we check out this 2 acre stock tank, so mixing scouting and fishing, we “killed 2 birds with one stone”!

My bait of choice was a yellow Piggy Boat, pictured to the left, an early “safety pin” spinning bait, almost snag less if the hooks were installed properly, almost weed less and a proven “killer” for small lake and stock tank fishing, but his success cast a knawing doubt, if this was the right choice of baits.   Several casts later my doubts increased, so I thought Four more casts and I’ll switch to a Rebel.

At the same time, in my peripheral vision, I noticed movement to my left.  Turning toward the movement, along came this brightly colored snake, a big one, almost 5 foot long, dark, red bands, with black, yellow and black rings.  First thing that came to my mind was the old saying “Red and yellow kills a fellow. Red and black is safe for Jack.” Letting it slide on past, I thought it was some kind of a king snake, but later after consulting “Bing”, I determined that it was a Mexican milk snake, pictured below from Wikipedia.

More casts, no hits, as Bill plugged away, out scoring me with his Rebel.  Casting down, parallel to the bank, about 2 feet out from the shore, my Piggy Boat stopped, thinking I was fouled on some unseen, underwater obstruction, pulled on the object until the reel clicked as the drag paid out, but this wasn’t a “foul up”, it was a fish!

The fish headed away from the shore for deep water, taking line, more like a redfish, then it came to the surface clearing the water and I saw it was a big, big bass.  More runs, more jumps, the splashes attracting Bill as he walked over to me, but I was winning this “fight” and soon I slipped the big, bass up onto the bank.  Lipping it, unhooking the plug from the corner of its mouth, I held it up for us to admire.  He had a Deliar in his pocket and we weighed the bass, 8 pounds, 12 ounces, not a 12 pounder, my personal best, Bill was with me when I caught that one too, see my August 6, 2007 post, [“A Really Big Bass”], but still, this was a nice one too!

Keeping on fishing, we didn’t notice any doves coming into this tank and as the morning heated up, still no doves, the bass stopped too.  It turned out, the doves weren’t watering at this tank, but we found 2 more that afternoon that they were using and had wonderful shooting, 2 weeks later.

Years later, my son’s and I went up to the lease to fill our corn feeders, after this chore was taken care of, we had some time, the boys choose to go after some bull frogs and I opted 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 2 acre tank.  Years earlier, before dove season, Bill Priddy and I had scouted out this tank and enjoyed some good fishing, catching several almost whoppers, me adding an 8 plus pounder, but didn’t see any doves that morning.

Catching and throwing back several 2 pounders, I worked my way around the tank and along the shore, not 50 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 effort 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?