Cornbread and Cream Gravy

My wife is kinda shy. She was afraid I would post this story on my blog, but I assured her that I wouldn’t.

But as I sat here tonight, I thought why not? She is really an excellent cook and that Sunday dinner was past good!

Sometimes something real simple turns out to be something great or a real memorable event. I had one occur to me on Sunday, April 22, 2007. The following is a tribute to some real good cooking!

Our son, Brad, had come over to our ranch on Saturday to help me with some chores and get some practice in for a 3 gun target shoot he was participating in the following Saturday. Layla and I thought he would spend the night, as he does many times, and that we would all go out to eat after Church on Sunday, so, for supper, from the freezer, she took out some Venison round steak and black eye peas I had put up the past summer. Supper would be great.

But, Brad told us he would have to decline spending the night since he needed to be at his Church on Sunday morning, so we all decided to go eat at Peabody’s Restaurant in Goldthwaite. After a very good meal Brad headed back to Copperas Cove and as Layla and I drove home, she said, “I’ll fix the peas and Venison tomorrow after we get back from Church. I think I’ll fix some cornbread too.”

After Church, as she was fixing dinner, I was thinking that cornbread and gravy doesn’t sound too good. Now greens and cornbread or a glass of milk with cornbread crumbled up in it would be real tasty, but gravy? She mentioned that she had heard once, long ago, of her relatives talking about cornbread and gravy and I told of hearing about cornbread and tomato gravy, but not cream gravy.

We Blessed the food and helped ourselves. After spooning out a nice portion of black eyes and getting several pieces of fried Venison, I sliced a medium piece of cornbread in half, covered it liberally with a portion of cream gravy and added plenty of black pepper and was about to be surprised. It seems that cornbread and cream gravy were meant for each other and fit in perfectly with the peas and Venison.

After seconds, I excused myself and told Layla what a good choice she made with the cornbread and gravy, how good it was and how I enjoyed myself, but wouldn’t some Peach cobbler just top it all off? She replied, “Count to ten when thinking about desert.”

Dieting and staying in playing shape just became harder. And just think, one more month and we will have fresh, home grown, peaches for our cobbler (to top off our cornbread and gravy).


This story has been passed down through my family for well over 100 years. I have heard it from my Dad and his Brothers and Sisters. Brinson and Fannie Bryan, who were living near Riesel, Texas, McLennan County, were my paternal Great Grandparents and their son, Peyton Bryan, was my paternal Grandfather.

The Dogs were raising a racket outside, waking Brinson Bryan and his wife, Fannie, up from a sound sleep. He figured they had a Possum or ‘Coon treed in the large oak tree near the Hen house. Next thing he knew all eight of his kids were awake and asking him “Papa, what is all the racket with the Dogs.” Fannie was expecting their ninth, and she hoped the last, child the next month, December 1889.

Brinson slipped on his heavy clothes, it was cold for mid November, and lit a coal oil lantern. He was going to “chunk” the “coon out of the tree and not even mess with loading his .44 pistol. With all these kids around, it didn’t pay to leave the old pistol loaded. He handed the lantern to his oldest son, Peyton, slipped on his boots and said to him, “Let’s go run that varmint off.”

Stepping outside and heading the 100 feet to the old, oak tree with the Dogs furiously barking, Peyton held the light up towards the tree and he and his Papa were rewarded by seeing two of the biggest, yellow eyes staring back at them. “Papa, that’s no ‘Coon,” he exclaimed, as he and Brinson edged closer to the tree, plainly making out a very large cat, rather a very large Mountain Lion, crouched on a branch about eight feet off the ground.

This looked like another “tight spot” shaping up. Brinson had had his share of “tight spots” in his life. Joining the Texas Rangers in 1845 he had fought Mexicans and Indians during the Mexican War. After that war he guided wagon trains to California facing more Indians, wild animals and thieves. Next was his three and a half years of service with the Confederate Army of Tennessee and experiencing some of the fiercest battles of that war. He had married Fannie in 1867 and settled into a life of farming, mule trading and raising his family.

Now, he is being stared down by a big Cat and knowing the Dogs will keep the Cat treed, he tells Peyton, “Boy, hold the light on the Cat while I get something to finish it off with!” That “something” happened to be his old Bowie knife, almost two feet of it, which he tied onto a walking stick, or Moses stick. Counting the knife and stick, his “lance” was nearly 6 foot long. He knew if he shot the Cat with his pistol that it would die, but not before it would leap down on he and Peyton.

As Peyton held the light, Brinson shinnied up into the tree and with one thrust shoved the knife into the Cat’s throat and then, with both hands, held tight to the stick as the animal thrashed about, impaled on the knife. After it was over and the Cat lay still on the ground, Brinson thought it funny that his three Dogs could tree the Lion and keep it treed, while the Lion could easily kill the Dogs and also how the light from a coal oil lantern had kept the Cat off of them.

The Dogs had apparently intercepted the Cat before it had gotten into the Hen house. It ended up a very lop sided victory for Brinson and Peyton, no Dogs or Chickens injured, just a little lost sleep.

This may have been the last Mountain Lion killed in McLennan County, Texas.

Spring Turkey Hunt, You Say

As I was running outside and the door slammed shut, the last words I heard my Aunt Myree say to me were, “Jon Howard, you be careful and don’t play with that dog!” “That dog” in question was a Terrier mix and My Aunt and Uncle, Myree and A.C. Turner, had put it on a leash attached to a clothesline in their backyard because it had been acting “funny”. Their backyard was in Huntsville, Texas, one block off of old Highway 75 and my Mom, Dad and I had gone up to spend a weekend with them and their two, young sons, Bill and Roy Peyton, known then as “Bubba”.

Once outside, being five years old, the first thing I did was go right up to the dog and try to play with it and it responded, not very playfully, by jumping up on my chest and biting me! Inside I ran bleeding and crying, not caring about all of the “we told you so’s” heaped on me.

The “biting” event occurred on a Saturday morning and the first thing Monday the dog was euthanized and my Uncle took its head to Austin, and sure enough, the dog was rabid. My family got the results on Thursday and Friday morning found me and my Mom and Dad in Dr. Talley’s offices, in the old Medical Arts Building, in downtown Houston, for the first of fourteen rabies shots, spaced around my navel, timed every other day. It was the biggest needle I had ever seen, and thinking back, it must have had one or two ounces of an unpleasant looking, green serum.

The shots saved my life, but by the third morning, I resisted the shot so bad, that before it could be administered, it took four adults to hold me down. This went on for the next eleven shots and scarred me forever. I now have a terrible case of “white fright” whenever I go into a doctor’s office. My blood pressure goes up twenty to thirty points and my heart rate up twenty beats or more per minute. I have fainted getting a shot in my arm.

I was laughing about this, my “white fright” and my rabies shots, one day while talking to Mickey Donahoo, a softball playing buddy of mine who retired, with his wife Doris, to the Goldthwaite area shortly after I did, and he casually mentioned, “”You know, Jon, I have had rabies shots too,” and then began one of the most bizarre hunting stories I have ever heard!

Mickey and Doris, were spring Turkey hunting on their hunting lease outside of Ozona, Texas, crouched down in a “hide” trying to lure a tom Turkey into range. Mickey had a shotgun and Doris her trusty .243. Mickey had been calling, soft clucks imitating a hen, with no success and they decided to move along a nearby game trail and make a new “hide”.

Walking down the game trail, hearing noise in the brush, Mickey and Doris, were shocked to see a Bobcat running down the trail toward them. Bobcats are shy, mostly nocturnal animals, but this one kept coming and was soon almost on Mickey and as the Cat closed on him, Mickey kicked it as hard as he could, under its chin, knocking it up in the air. Then the Cat surprised them both, while up in the air, before it hit the ground, it spun around and viciously attacked Mickey!

I own a big, house cat, Bo, and some times he will try to grab me around the knee and wrap his paws around my leg, playing of course, but this Bobcat meant business, attacking Mickey’s knee area, wrapping its paws around, and planting its razor sharp claws, firmly into Mickey’s leg and began biting at his knee. When going for a kill on large game, Cats will, almost always, try to disable a leg joint, slowing the animal down, before the kill. Someone famous once said, “If you want to study Lions, but think it may be too dangerous, study small cats first. Cats are Cats.”

Trying to grab the Cat’s throat, Mickey drops his shotgun. Afraid of hitting Mickey, Doris can’t shoot the Cat with her rifle nor can she club it for the same reason. Her next choice is taking off her ball cap and whacking the Cat with it. This whacking and Mickey’s continued pressure on the Bobcat’s throat forced it to let go and retreat into the brush. Mickey and Doris had dropped their guns during the melee and couldn’t retrieve them in time to get off a shot.

Through his shredded pants, along with the blood, he could see, and feel, numerous puncture wounds and they both knew that he needed medical attention quick, the closest being a clinic in Ozona. Driving to the clinic and recounting the attack, they thought it strange that the Bobcat smelled like a skunk and that it had no fear of them. Rabid animals have no fear of humans!

At the clinic Mickey’s wounds were cleaned and bandaged and the Nurse told both of them, “Based on your all’s story, the Bobcat was probably rabid and you can’t take a chance, and should start rabies treatments within seventy-two hours!”

Today, treatment for rabies consists of five shots into a muscle, which he had, just like a normal shot, but in his case, to prevent infection and assist healing, each of his, over one hundred, puncture wounds had to be injected with Gamma Globulin, a thick liquid that doesn’t “spread out” like a normal injection and is painful when injected and remains so for hours. I hate all shots, but having had one Gamma Globulin shot myself, I can only imagine what over one hundred would feel like.

Mickey and Doris have hunted big, dangerous game for years, having made eight trips to Africa after Lion, Cape Buffalo and Elephant, but the encounter with the Bobcat, and the following rabies treatment are etched forever in their memories.

Do you think Mickey has “white fright” now?

I’m Dreaming Of A White Easter

On Wednesday, April 4, the weather forecast was for a front to come in on Friday, with a low temperature in the 40’s. Thursdays forecast for Saturday was for a low of 35°, which changed on Friday to a low of 33° in Waco, with freezing temperatures in the rural areas and a chance of sleet and possibly snow in northwest, Central Texas. By Saturday this possibility became a reality!

Saturday morning, during breakfast, I looked outside and noticed sleet/snow falling. At the time I thought, snow, neat! Layla and I had to go to Copperas Cove for a Grandson’s 18th birthday party and, all the way over, sleet/snow was still falling with some sticking under the trees and on plowed ground. No big deal!

We arrived at ‘Cove at 2:15 PM and by 2:30 PM the sky was falling on us. Huge flakes, the size of silver dollars, were floating down. The festivities ended around 5:00 PM, huge flakes still falling, snow everywhere, as we headed for Goldthwaite.

Bluebonnets and Snow, April 7, 2007

It snowed on us all the way back through Lampassas and Lometa, the flakes just smaller, but a lot of snow on the ground. Getting home around 6:30 PM, it was still snowing and we decided to go out and get some pictures. The Bluebonnets, that I had never seen covered with snow, were beautiful, but the Indian Paint Brushes were bowed down with the white stuff and couldn’t be seen. I think Cactus and snow are very unusual!


Overall, at our house, we had within a half inch of the January, 2007 snow, but all of this was the day before Easter. It ran through my head, “I’m Dreaming Of A White Easter”. Wool slacks will be the order for Church tomorrow. How crazy this is!

My son, Brad, who lives in ‘Cove, lost an entire limb off of a five year old, peach tree, with hundreds of tiny peaches on it, because of the weight of the snow! And, to top it all off, this morning, I heard a noted weatherman say, “I would never had forecasted this much snow on Easter.”

So much for “Global Warming”.

Fourth Quarter And No Time Remaining

The following story was written by one of my friends, Warren Blesh, owner of RRR Feeds in Goldthwaite and RRR Ranch, here in Mills County. He is also a Director of The Texas Wildlife Association.

Fourth Quarter And No Time Remaining

Wow, earlier this month Doris told me “World Famous Horseman” Craig Cameron was on the phone. Craig wanted to bring his son Cole “Linebacker for Arizona Wildcats” hunting when he came home from college for his present. Well, I told Dori, this hunt will be tougher than most. We should have Craig and Cole come next year. She would have nothing to do with that and said, “they are coming and you find them a blackbuck or nice whitetail”.

So, the story begins. Our first morning “first quarter” on the RRR was like most others this time of year. We saw quite a few does early in the morning and a 3 /12 year old buck and action slowed rather quickly as the winter day heated up to short sleeve weather. So, with some reservations, we took a jeep ride and spooked some blackbucks traveling up the mountain and jumped a few more whitetails. That afternoon “second quarter” we tried a drive and sure saw some great animals, but no good shots.

With one morning “third quarter” to go we decided to walk to the blind that morning. We figured the action would be better with a real quiet approach. Action started slow but around 9:00 a monster 8 point buck gave us a real thrill with his brief walk by us that led to what proved to a too tough shot for Cole. Still enthused Craig and Cole suggested I leave them in a different blind the rest of the day. I was to join up with them later.

So, about 3:00 we began the “fourth quarter” of play. I say this because Cole understands football and it is not over till the timer goes off. Around 5:00 we saw whitetail does and a few young bucks. Then, 5:30 came and still no blackbucks. At 5:45 I told Cole the best is yet to come. We were down by 3 with 1 minute on the clock.

At 5:50 a monster trophy blackbuck showed his head coming our way. Cole was pumped after waiting two days for this moment. “Oh no”, I said, he is turning and heading down that ravine. Craig told Cole, take the shot! Cole using my 25.06 put a good one on him at 225 yards. We tracked the antelope into the dark of the night only giving up around 8:00 PM till sunrise. Cole was ready for overtime the next morning.
Craig & Cole Cameron

Morning arrived early as we all could not wait to search for the big trophy. We started in the river bottom and quickly Cole spotted his trophy just down a ways in the pecan bottom.

Excitement flowed as we took photos and headed for the taxidermist. Cole, with no time on the clock had taken his first trophy blackbuck and won in overtime.

Outdoor Odyssey Blog Carnival – April 9, 2007 Edition


Welcome to the April 9, 2007 edition of the Outdoor Odyssey Blog Carnival! This is our FIRST EDITION! Thanks for the great posts! Click Here if you want to be a part of a future edition!

Riversider presents Take A Preston Minibreak posted at Save The Ribble, saying, “Get outdoors – even if it’s just during your lunch hour!”

A good reminder to all of us to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible!

Jon Bryan presents Gig ’em posted at Outdoor Odyssey.

There’s a reason why they have AGGIE jokes!…

Cliff presents Do Deer Lures Lure More Than Deer? posted at Hunting Sense. Interesting, insightful article. Check it out. 

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of outdoor odyssey using our carnival submission form.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Camp Fire Quail

Having been blessed to have hunted all the species of Quail from Arizona to South Carolina, over the years I have had ample opportunity to sample Quail cooked many different ways. Through trial and error I have been able to invent one of my favorite dishes, “Quail Jon”, which I would like to share with you.

The ingredients are Quail legs, however, Dove, Bull Frog, Teal or Woodcock legs can be substituted, but I find large Duck, or Pheasant, legs too tough, and, depending on how many legs, one or two jalapenos, sectioned into 1/8 inch slices, sliced garlic pods or a copious amount of Garlic powder, ½ to one full stick of butter (no margarine!) and lemon/lime juice to taste. Remember, you can’t use too much garlic or jalapenos.

Clean and wash the legs and prepare your ingredients. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after slicing the jalapenos! Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet, and when melted, add all of the ingredients at once and simmer, covering the skillet with a lid, for 15 minutes, then stir and turn the mixture, recover and cook until done. Feeds as many as you have legs for. Small legs are very good served as an appetizer, Frog legs can be the main course. Best if served hot, but be sure and eat all of the ingredients!

The sauce; butter, garlic, lemon/lime, and jalapenos, can also be used with small fillets of any white fleshed fish. Speckled Trout, or “Trout Jon” is very tasty prepared this way, but caution, don’t overcook, the fish being done when the meat flakes.

Both Shrimp and mushrooms are “passed good” when prepared with this sauce.

Art Sheely

This is another story from the book, “Waif Of Times”, written by my Great Uncle, Lee Wallace. He was either the presiding judge or defense attorney in this case. He was know for his oratorical skills and was a self-styled poet, so I favor him being the defense attorney.

Art Sheely was prosecuted on a charge of goat theft. The main witnesses for the State, two trappers running their lines on a cold morning at sunrise, from a high cliff, swore they saw Sheely catch and kill the goat with his knife far down in the canyon below them. That about this time Sheely discovered the witnesses and ran away without the goat and that they immediately reported the matter to the sheriff, who went to the scene, found the dead goat and nearby a bloody open knife. They testified they had seen Sheely a short time before the theft with just such a knife.

At the trial, these two witnesses on cross examination admitted they had lost money as trappers, that they knew there was a standing $500.00 reward offered by the Goat Raisers Association for evidence ‘sufficient and convicting’ anyone guilty of goat theft, that they knew Sheely lived three miles away, that he was a shiftless, lazy non-working kind of fellow.

Defense council placed Moss, Sheely’s nearest neighbor, on the stand who testified that on the day previous to the alleged theft, the weather being cold, he killed his hogs and as a neighborly act the same afternoon carried Sheely a flour sack full of spareribs and backbones; proved by merchants from every town in the county that the knife found near the dead goat was a standard brand and hundreds of customers bought them– that the sheriff himself owned one of the same brand then in his possession bought long before the goat was killed.

Sheely denied any knowledge of the theft, claimed he was home asleep at the time charged. In this connection Counsel for Sheely urged that with Sheely’s aversion for work, and the supply of meat then on hand, there was no occasion for him to steal the goat, especially at that time of day and so far away and in the freezing weather, and that the whole case was a frame-up by the trappers to secure the reward.

Counsel for the defense composed and in closing his argument to the jury recited the following:

The trappers stood on the mountain top,
The shades of night had fled,
They saw the goats beneath the drop,
And this is what they said:

“The skunk and coon no more we’ll trap,
The revenue’s to slow,
For the goatmen we’ll give Art Sheely the “rap”
And then we’ll grab the dough.”

“So we’ll cut the throat of that nanny goat,
And then away we’ll speed
And tell the law Art Sheely we saw
Commit the awful deed.”

“He’s one of the down and out,
He’s got no show to win,
And when we take a swear at him, no doubt,
We’ll land him in the pen.”

Sheely was acquitted!

A First Time For Everything

By the summer of 1946, WW II had ended the previous August and gas rationing had gone away. We celebrated these events by taking a trip to visit my Aunt Lenora and Uncle Pete and their two kids in Temple, Texas. I was excited to see the family, but really excited because Uncle Pete told me that he was going to take me fishing in his boat. Never having fished from a real boat I was wound up tight for the visit.

At the time, Uncle Pete, A.J. Peters, had a Texaco Service Station in Temple and I remember he had a trophy in the station for having the number one Texaco Station in the country. How could a station in Temple be number one? Easy, Ft Hood, with about 50,000 troops stationed there, was about thirty miles away and anyone leaving the post heading east would stop at his station and gas up for around $.15 per gallon, get their tires checked and their windshield washed, all for no charge. Everyone smiled and spoke English then.

The fishing day dawned, but then I learned that Uncle Pete had to work until noon and we would go fishing after that. Eating a quick lunch we, Uncle Pete, my Dad and I loaded up the car and headed out to, I thought, the Temple Country Club Lake, but before we went fishing, I was to encounter another first. We had to go seine some bait and Uncle Pete said the Leon River, southwest of town would be the best place.

Having never seined for bait, or anything else, I assumed I would get to watch, but as we unloaded the net, Uncle Pete told me to wade out into the water for about two feet and try to push the pole into the bottom of the river and hold it there and that he and my Dad would take the other end and make a sweep into the river and when they came even with me I should slide the net up onto the bank.

Following orders to the letter and sliding the net up on the bank, I looked down and the net was teaming with small fish and minnows. Drying off and putting a copious amount of bait into the bait can, we loaded into the car and headed to the Country Club Lake.

Uncle Pete’s boat was in a boathouse and the twelve foot wooden boat looked huge to me. I was assigned to the middle seat by the bait well and was delighted to be going fishing, but as we pushed out, my Dad said, “Boy, put those oars into the sockets and start rowing across the lake toward those trees down in the water.” Another first for me as Uncle Pete nodded his concurrence and I huffed across the lake.

We anchored just out from the trees down in the water and I was handed a five foot metal casting rod with a Shakespeare Criterion reel attached. I knew how to cast and bait up so I was soon fishing and my cork went straight down toward the bottom! Rearing back for all I was worth, while holding my thumb against the spool (no drag on this reel), the hook pulled out and went flying above us, and, hook, line and sinker, settled down on my shoulders.

“Boy, watch what you’re doing. Don’t horse these fish,” my Dad exclaimed and Uncle Pete said, “Here son, let me show you how to set the hook on these fish.” My Dad and Uncle Pete then explained to me that the White Perch, or “Crappie”, we were fishing for had “soft” mouths and just to exert a firm upward pressure on the rod and the fish would hook himself. A lesson learned for me that I have followed all my life!

We probably caught a dozen, nice Crappie and as we called it a day, I “got” to row back across the lake. We took the fish to a cleaning table and Uncle Pete handed me a de-scaling tool and said, “Son, get to scraping the fish and I will gut them.” Another first.

When we got home the grease was hot and the fish were quickly fried, some were done extra crisp for Uncle Pete and he made short order of them. My Dad asked him, “A.J. how can you eat bones, fins and all?” He answered, smiling at my Dad, “Fry ‘em crisp and they go down easy!”

Not a bad day for me, four firsts and a life long lesson learned.

Bits and Pieces from Jon H Bryan…