All posts by Jon Bryan

Haney’s Ranch – A Hog Weekend, Day 2

It was the second day of our hunt and we had collected only one hog.  It was late February and the cold front, ‘norther’ in Texan, hit just before sun up with the wind howling from the north and the temperature dropping like a rock.  We had been dressed and eating breakfast when it hit so this required a quick addition of long johns to our apparel.

Out into the teeth of the storm we went and set up our ambush and waited for the hogs.  Our wait was a short one and the hogs, probably 10 or more, exploded from the bait and scattered, headed toward the northwest, except for one that was headed our way.

Brad and I were about 5 yards apart and here came a hog, a 200 pounder, right at me and I was square in the middle of his path of escape.  Brad couldn’t swing on it for fear of hitting me and all I could do was get ready.  The hog charged closer and I put the sight on its nose, tracked down with its movement and the .223 cal., Boomed and the hog rolled right at my feet!  The shot hit right above the hog’s eyes and thinking back, I would have gotten “rolled up” by him if I had missed!

After another chase, Brad collected a nice one out of the bunch and we called it a day.  With the “norther” howling, we cleaned the 2 and then loaded all three on to the luggage rack of the Suburban, tied them down securely for the almost 300 mile drive to Houston, bid Rick a fond good bye and headed out.

We had a tail wind all the way home, but the cold followed us and turned into sleet and rain by the time we arrived at my northwest Houston home and found to our surprise that our hogs were frozen solid.  Hopefully, we’d process them the next day.

I even had a water pipe freeze that night!

Outdoors Pictures

Knowing about this blog, a lot of folks send me some pretty neat wildlife pictures and I gather them up and post the most interesting. Some recent ones follow.
{Clayton Gist}, a Goldthwaite local, trapped two more Bobcats. That makes 4 he gotten this year. I’m sure he’s a favorite of the goat and sheep ranchers!
My Daughter, Suzanne, sent me this picture of a huge 30+ point buck taken in Wisconsin, supposedly, by a 14 year old Amish boy armed with a homemade longbow!

Dave Lazor, a softball buddy, sent me this picture of a 260 pound, mountain lion, that was hit by a car, west of Aspermont, in the middle of the Texas panhandle. I don’t know who the lucky ‘hunter’, or driver, is, but that’s some lion!

Randy Pfaff sent me this unusual picture of a big, white tail buck on ice in the middle of a river. Also this “shooter” snapped from his back porch.

Comedy Show

As a high schooler, my spare time, when not involved in athletics, hunting or studying (ugh) was spent fishing and most of the time this was around the south Galveston Jetty, either walking the slippery rocks or wading along the Gulf or channel side.                                                One Saturday afternoon in early October, Bobby Baldwin and I were wading along the channel side of the south jetty, casting into a small gut at the base of the rocks. Bobby had a backlash and as he was removing it, his Dixie Jet spoon with a yellow buck tail attached, floated to the sandy bottom.

Pictured is a Dixie Jet Spoon with a yellow buck tail. Getting the snarl out Bobby began retrieving the excess line and when his line came tight, he grumbled, “I must be snagged on the rocks,” just as his line headed east for deep water and he was into a nice fish, what kind, we didn’t know.                                                                                                            After a short, spirited fight, a big Flounder, 2 or 3 pounds, was on the surface. Of course we didn’t have a landing net. That would have been too easy! So Bobby tried to grab the Flounder like a Spec, across his back. It was more like pinching the fish since a Flounder doesn’t have the width or “grabbing” surface that a Speck has. When grabbed, the Fish flopped away, the hook came loose and the fish headed for the bottom.                                                             Sensing something, we cast our spoons toward the rocks, let them settle to the bottom, slowly retrieved them and for the next hour had some terrific fishing, not catching, but fishing! Without a net trying to grab one was next to impossible. We tried hugging them to our chest and they just squirted up, away from us. Trying to use both hands proved fruitless. Anyway we had fun hooking them and trying to “capture” one. We probably hooked 25 or 30 and landed zero!                                                                                                             The tide changed and the fish quit hitting and as we were wading out a man fishing from the rocks yelled at us, “Boys, that was a great show, and it was free!” Being well brought up and taught to respect our elders, we said nothing and walked back to our car.


Since 2006 when the Democrats took control of the House and Senate, our Country has spiraled down a dangerous path; amnesty and immigration, high fuel prices, rising unemployment, bank failures, the completely manufactured ‘housing’ crisis, Government bail outs, and now, the election has become all about The Economy.

Today, the future of our nation as we know it hangs in the balance, and today, we vote and there are so many more crucial items that we should consider before casting our ballot. All of the following are extremely important to me and should be to everyone:

Second Amendment Rights and Gun Control
Halting Illegal Immigration
Reducing Our Reliance On Foreign Energy Sources
The Rights of The Unborn and Partial Birth Abortion
Judicial Appointments Including Supreme Court and Federal Judges
Free Speech and The Reimposing Of The ‘Fairness Doctrine’

Isn’t it strange that these topics were glossed over during the debates? I wonder why. We all know why, that it was because of Obama’s extremely liberal/socialistic/Marxist views of them!

I have already chosen to cling to my gun and my religion and have cast my vote, straight Republican, for McCain/Palin.

Today, please do the same.

The Quarantine Station

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 Seawolf Park. The park’s development, now housing a WWII submarine, “Seawolf” and a destroyer escort, 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 fifty or more yards under the water, still remain. 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 hurricanes and continued yellow fever outbreaks caused it to be moved north, across the harbor, to Pelican Island in 1892, but the great storm 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. During its thirty-five years of operation, the Pelican Island Federal Quarantine Station that closed in 1950 inspected over 30,000 ships that brought an estimated 750,000 legal, immigrants to Texas!

During the late summer of 1966, 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 nine or ten feet. The swivel that the leader, hook and shrimp were secured to, prevented the cork from slipping down on to the shrimp.

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 plug was 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 out from the rocks along the shore. Our first casts were met with solid strikes and then the fun began, three big guys trying to land three good specs, out of a sixteen, foot boat. Having caught a lot of good fish on the first cast, but never three, this was a very unusual happening. Succeeding, we admired the three fish, all four pounders. The tide stopped running in and the fishing shut down, but we ended up with eighteen, good ones, two to four pounds.

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 three years ago, I had already been shown a great place out there! Over the next forty 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!

The Big Country – A Late Riser

Opening morning of quail season, I was driving up to Goldthwaite to pick up my son-in-law, Mike Mitchell, for an afternoon hunt out to my lease in Millersview. This year’s quail season opened up a week before deer season and with no deer hunters around, we’d have the place to ourselves,

Driving west to my lease, our guess was correct, but the quail weren’t responding. We’d already tried a couple of likely places, but our dogs, Sonny and Red, my Brittany spaniels, hadn’t found any quail sign, where were the birds? An hour and a half before sundown, we were worrying that the opener this year would be a bust, but 30 yards ahead, as we bounced along in the jeep, there was a bevy of bobs running down the road.

Quickly stopping the jeep, we both piled out, unsheathed our shotguns, fumbled with the latches on the dog boxes and, the dogs, being as excited as us, bounced out, quickly took care of their business, then took off down the road after the birds. Pushed by the dogs, the covey took wing and me, feeling like Capt. Angora of goat rodeo fame, told Mike that we’d do better if we slowed down and let the dogs do their work.

A hundred yards out, Sonny, a real pro of a bird dog, pointed first, Red, his son, backed as Mike and I hurried up to them, then 3 birds burst from the cover and boom, boom, boom, down they dropped. The dogs, being more interested in going after the rest of the covey, were reluctant to fetch the birds in, but after repeated, “Dead birds”, they complied.

The quail, probably 20 or more, now minus the 3 we just shot, had spread out over a wide area and we let the dogs find them. Up ahead, Red pointed and Mike and I walked in on them, a single got up on my side and, boom, chalk up another. Red didn’t go after the dead bird, but was glued to the spot right off his nose, Mike walked in making a swishing sound and a bob flushed, Mike’s gun boomed, Red brought it in and chalk up another one. Telling him that 5 was enough out of this covey, I whistled in both dogs, we walked back to the jeep and kenneled everybody up.

This was a good start, but we were running out of time, but the next hour scenting conditions would be good and this was prime time for the birds to be moving around. More bouncing along when we came up to a cross road, with some thick cover off to one side, the other side being an old cattle feed lot, then a covey, a big one, thirty birds or more, ran across the road toward the thick stuff, maybe we could head them off!

We unkenneled, unlimbered our shotguns, let the dogs out and hurried to our head off point, where we were in time and as far as we could tell had succeeded in cutting off the birds. This was a big covey and from what we could tell, we knew they hadn’t been busted up, both dogs pointed, this looked like, as Saddam Hussein once said, “The Mother of all coveys!”

Mike and I walked in on the birds, then pandemonium as the quail flushed wildly, most heading west into the setting sun. Six times our guns boomed, four birds fell, the dogs fetched them to us and to let the birds bunch up again, we sat for 10 minutes, precious hunting time, but we sat! As we got up to press on after the rest of the covey, a late riser, a hen, buzzed off, but we let her fly to safety.

As the light faded, we kicked up the remnants of the big covey, downing 5 more, then we called it a day. It turned out to be a nice afternoon hunt, even though I hadn’t been in the field welcoming in the new quail season.

J. H. Bryan Groceries

It was one of those “drippy” winter days, temperature around 40 degrees, Fahrenheit, with an almost fog and a light mist falling, and we had hunted hard that morning with poor results.  We, were, James Walton, Norman Shelter, my friend from Houston who had just been promoted to Atlanta, and myself and had chosen this particular Saturday to go after some quail around Thomaston, Georgia.  James and I had hunted the area the past weekend with fair success, but the farther south we drove on Hwy. 19, from our homes in Sandy Springs, the worse the weather got.

Driving back into Thomaston for lunch, the three of us, and our two dogs, were wet, cold and hungry.  Pulling into town on a farm road, at the edge of town, what do we see ahead, but “J. H. Bryan Groceries”.  With his name the same as mine and my dad’s I think, relatives, but as we pulled up in front of the store we saw it was closed and looked like it has been for a long time.

Forgetting about the cold and mist and being wet, cold and hungry, we got out and walked around the old place and found that was on its “last legs”.  Norman jumped out and snapped the above picture and with me following, back into the warm truck we climbed.

During lunch at the local cafe a strategy arose.  Let’s come back next week when the weather will be better (hopefully) and after our hunt, we will “liberate” the sign from the old building.  It would “make” the great room in my basement.  We headed on home, eagerly looking forward to next weekend’s hunt.  Wouldn’t you know it, more rain, so we made plans for the next Saturday.

Driving into Thomaston, we found where the store was located. Yes, “was located”, because in the past two weeks, it had been demolished and everything, signs and all, were gone.  At least I still had the picture!


The following story is not about a storm, or dramatic weather event that I was involved in, but is about the results of a severe low pressure, system, rainstorm, that struck the upper Gulf coast in 1980.

Bob Baugh had been the first customer I had met when I returned to Houston. On my first meeting with him, I happened to have a picture of the twelve-pound bass I had recently caught which I promptly pulled out and showed to him. He responded by producing a picture of a six hundred pound blue marlin he had just caught.

Shortly after our first meeting, we had Bob and his wife over for dinner and were enjoying a pleasant evening, when the phone rang and it was my son, Randy, calling to let me know he was going to be late for supper, and, and, that he was stuck on our new duck and goose lease and needed help extricating the truck.

Part of the reason he was calling had been caused by a low pressure, system that came ashore between Galveston and Freeport, Texas, hesitated over Alvin and dumped over 24” of rain in a 24 hour, period. This remains a contiguous states record for a 24 hour, period! The low pressure, system also soaked the Katy Prairie, any dirt road travel was limited and additional rains kept the roads “sticky” for a month or more.

The other reason the truck was stuck was because he and his friend Doug would try to see how much mud it would take to get stuck in. Most cases Doug would have his truck and they would alternate pulling each other out of the mire. Not this time because he and Doug had taken advantage of the duck season opener and gone hunting together in my truck!

Randy told me where he was stuck and the call ended. I sat down and filled Bob in on the details and he said, “Let’s go get him!”

We loaded up in Bob’s 4WD, truck and headed out for the short drive to the new lease. Waiting for us at the main entrance was Randy. He and Doug had found the rice farmer and he had pulled them out with his tractor.

Randy, Doug and the new truck were safe and we didn’t have to wade in the mud to get them out. Our evening was interrupted but Bob’s and my friendship was sealed and lasts till this day!

One more note about Randy and Doug. The owner of the local car wash, a nice man and a Deacon in the Baptist Church that we attended, banned both boys from using his facility to wash their trucks because of all the mud they collected. He said that he knew when they had been there because his main drain was always stopped up, with mud, of course!

Haney’s Ranch – The Chase

Bob Baugh and I had driven up to Haney’s ranch to chase some quail and this particular hunt stands out in my memory for a number of reasons.

Our first afternoon, we had enjoyed good hunting and the next day as well. Sonny, my Brittany’s, work finding and retrieving the birds was excellent and we welcomed the steaks cooked over Rick’s “old timey”, fired brick, barbeque pit. After the meal we talked for a long time about hunting, ranching and business and turned in around midnight.

The night was cold and Rick’s old ranch house, built in the 1900’s, was drafty and hard to heat. As usual, Rick was hidden under his covers with his AC running full blast, when I was jolted awake by my door being thrown open and Bob running through my room in his long-johns, .357 Magnum in hand, shouting, “Where is that son of a bitch, I’ll shoot him if I catch him!” He continued his “hunt” for several minutes, bursting into Rick’s room and awakening him, and then, Bob told us his story.

He said, “I woke up and saw someone/something standing at the foot of my bed. Then it ran and opened the door to Jon’s room and I’m sure it ran through his room.” By that time, Bob had armed himself and given pursuit. He added, ”When I chased it into Rick’s room, I “lost” it.” We looked around inside the house and found nothing, no sign of anyone else with us and both outside doors were locked.

Rick went into his patented speech about having to sleep out here often and not wanting to disturb anything. Bob said, “But something was standing by my bed.” Rick laughed, made sure his AC was roaring, got back into his bed, slipped his cap over his ears and covered his head with the covers.

Two years later, Rick “rebuilt” the old ranch house, and even before the stonemason had finished his work, the rock wall on one side of the house developed a serious crack. Rick said, “We put too much load on the rocks.” I answered, “Sounds like something didn’t like it being rebuilt.” The old house burned down during the summer of 2011, the grass fires around Abilene were the cause, and, I guess it chased the ghosts out too!

Bob still doesn’t like to talk about the chase.

Lakewood Forest, Section 5

During the spring of 1979 we moved back to the Houston area and bought a nice home in Cypress in the Lakewood Forest Subdivision. The house was in Section 2, Section 3 was just being developed and, still to go were Sections 4 and 5. In Section 5, as we explored the area, we found numerous ponds and the piney woods abounded with wildlife! Since it was only 5 minutes from our house, Randy, Brad and I quickly took advantage of this situation.

Confining our activities to Section 5, September 1 found us having limit, dove shooting and the birds just seemed to continue to pour in. By November and quail season, my summer and fall, dog training had found several coveys that provided excellent shooting. Wood ducks and mallards frequented the ponds and sloughs near Cypress Creek and we were eagerly awaiting the December opening of duck season.

Brad scored first on a beautiful wood duck, drake that he had mounted and gave to a friend so I thought I’d try my luck on a “woodie”. Two days of rain slowed me down and finally taking off of work early, Rooster and I hit Section 5.

The first pond we snuck was void of ducks and we were slinking on to the next one when, just ahead, Rooster came down hard on point. Looking down and quickly checking the brush and grass for snakes, I spied the telltale holes poked by woodcock, one more step and tweep, tweep, flutter, flutter and two woodcock took to wing. My pump boomed twice ending their escape and Rooster fetched them both in. We cooked them that night and they were wonderful!

These were the only two woodcock to come out of Section 5, because by January 1, 1980, things changed. Access was denied, posted signs were up and cables were strung across the 2 entry roads. The boys and I snuck back in once but we felt very awkward carrying our shotguns through the resident’s backyards.