Trials And Tribulations

Coming of shooting and hunting age during WW II and with gas rationing and ammunition shortages, my opportunities to shoot and hunt were limited.   During this time period my dad drilled into me gun safety and proper rifle shooting and started me out with his 20 Gauge, shotgun.  He was a former Marine and since all Marines are trained as riflemen, teaching me gun handling and safety was a natural for him.  I was an eager pupil and it turned out, I became an excellent shot with both a .22 rifle and shotgun.

My first hunts were for doves at my uncle Shelton Gafford’s, ranch outside of Marlin, Falls County, Texas and I soon found out that the doves were not the least bit impressed with my shooting skills!  Being allowed to take only wing shots, my dad emphasized not to shoot a sitting bird.  My scores were around 1 bird for 10, plus, shots, then, as now, unacceptable to me.

After 2 futile sessions, my dad explained “leads” and shot patterns to me and my scores improved somewhat.  I didn’t know then, but now I know that one of the most difficult of game birds to bag are doves, twisting and turning in a moderate wind!

One trip, my dad and I were sitting in the shade of a mesquite tree, by a stock tank and the doves were zipping in and I was missing with regularity.  Being 13 or 14, I was boiling with my poor shooting, then my dad explained to me again about follow through and keeping my head down on the gun stock and it “took” this time and my shooting improved dramatically!

We took great care in preparing the birds we shot, picking, singeing off the small feathers, cleaning and thoroughly washing them, the hardest were ducks!  My mom would make a fried chicken batter, dip the doves in it and fry them until done, then make gravy with the grease and “fryins” and add mashed potatoes.  It was unbeatable!

The many stock tanks on Uncle Shelly’s ranch provided me with an opportunity to “go frogging” and to test my .22 rifle skills.  In the evening, with my cousin Dan, we would slowly walk around a tank and shine a light into the edge of the water and up into the weeds and “shine” the frog.  The light hypnotized the frog and, pop, with a .22, and if you hit it in the head it didn’t jump into the water, a poor shot and the chances of recovery were minimized.

The best thing about “frogging” was the eating.  Skin and clean the legs, roll them in seasoned, corn meal and fry them just like chicken.  Add fried onion rings and you have a feast!

All of this started me on my life long hunting quest!

Gobbler And Jake

This gobbler and a jake are looking for something, the gobbler for a hen and the jake , he’s just learning what to do!  These pics were taken from my kitchen window, but I had stepped back to not alarm the birds. You can see the trees and the field behind the birds.

The gobbler was struttin’ away, but then I snapped a better pic of the gobbler in full strut!

He’s got 1 inch spurs!
We had a 1.6 inch rain over the weekend, but I was in San Marcos with Bradley to go to Church there. We had a real good rain here in Goldthwaite, the tanks, rivers and lakes are filling up.  While I was in San Marcos they had a flood there and Randy was flooded out, he had to spend the night in his truck with Jeremy, because their tent leaked!  It was raining real good all over the State!


Gobblers, Trying to Make a Decision

Yesterday, I was treated to a real show! Two gobblers, on opposite sides of the fence, were trying to get on the other side, to fight the opposing gobbler.  I took these pictures with my camera, I had several more shots, but they weren’t worthy to depict this almost “fight”!  Their brain is walnut sized, considering they are alerted to movement, I snapped these within the house and they weren’t alerted.  You can see the back fence separating them.


Finally, they gave up and went about their way.  They could have just flown over the fence, but considering the size of their brain, they didn’t and just went on their way!


We hardly ever have crows come into feeders, but this one was worth it!  They are not bound to short flights, like turkey, but they can fly free, anywhere they want. These two crows came into the feeder by MaMaw’s blind and started feeding!

It’s times like this when you’re glad to have game cams and “shot” like this!

The Spring Run, 1978

Winter was loosening its grip on the mid Georgia area, the dogwood trees were blooming, a sure sign of spring, and farther south, along the Florida coast, the fishing was warming up too! Stories of some fantastic catches had reached us all the way up in Atlanta and one of my friends, Jerry O’Neil, owned a condo in Destin, Florida and he invited me to bring my boat, and my ex-wife, down and we’d try and get in on the early run of king mackerel.

We, my ex and I, left Atlanta early in the morning and driving south we ran into spring just before we crossed under I-10 and everything really greened up the closer we got to Destin.  We arrived, unloaded the truck at the condo and then drove to the launch ramp.  There we launched the boat, bought some bait, cigar minnows, and cruised out under the bridge, into the Gulf of Mexico.  After about 2 miles, we put out 3 lines.  Our baits were colored jigs, because these fish had teeth they were attached to wire leaders with good sized, hooks, with a cigar minnow threaded on to the hook.  Our tackle was medium weight, rods, heavy duty red reels, reels, loaded with 20, pound line.

Trolling at 1,000 RPM’s, not over 30 minutes after we had started, simultaneously we had strikes.   Each of us grabbed a rod, set to enjoy the kings first blazing run, but as the king struck my exe’s bait, before it took off, it arced up out of the water.  Kings jump like this occasionally, their eyes being above their mid line, they lay in wait for prey, looking up, many feet below the surface, then attack the bait with force on an upward angle and their momentum carries them above the surface in spectacular leaps, but once they have the bait, off they go!

Both fish, 12 pounders, quickly succumbed to the rods pressure, we gaffed and boxed them, rebaited and resumed trolling.  Another strike, this time, no acrobatics, just a long run, then a couple of short ones, then into the box.  We caught 2 more kings all were smokers, not over 15 pounds and as the sun was going down, the wind, now cooler, started blowing a little harder.  Our jackets felt good as we picked up the lines and headed back in.

Not a bad haul for just under, 3 hours of fishing and once ashore, I cleaned the kings, filleting one and taking care to completely cut out the bloodline.  We cooked the fillets that night with crab boil and surprisingly they tasted like lobster.

We went to bed thinking that according to tomorrow’s weather forecast, Saturday would be a great day to fish, but, as usually happens, when we got up the next morning, we were greeted by winds howling over 20 and white caps stretching out to the horizon.  Unfavorable conditions for an 18, foot boat, our fishing day was cut short, so we headed back north, but, at least, we caught some fish.


Gobblers, Doe And Hens

Last week I took a “shot” of deer, gobblers and hens, this “shot” wasn’t for the quality, it was pretty good, but was for the quantity! To get a picture like this, of the most things we go after as hunters, is really good!

Turkey season is here, right now and I’ll be after them!