Blog Carnival – Outdoor Odyssey


Welcome to the home page of the “Outdoor Odyssey” blog carnival. Each week, I will publish articles that showcase the best Hunting, Fishing, and Outdoors Stories. Submit your articles now and share your best insights. Plus, you should see increased traffic to your blog! You can submit your article at using this link.

‘Gator Bait

World War II had ended in August, 1945 and by the summer of 1946, military surplus stores were thriving. Eliminating the middleman, one of my industrious Uncles, Austin Bryan, who was in the U. S. Navy Sea Bees had come across a two man, inflatable life raft. This one was “lost” from a Catalina flying boat. It had never been used so Uncle Austin made a plywood box for it and shipped it back to the ‘States, to his Brother, my Dad. We now had a “fishing boat” and me, being young, thought pumping it up was neat.

Our first trip was with our neighbor, Dave Miller, a WW II veteran and former student at Texas A & M College (now University) and his son Benny, to an oxbow lake off of the Brazos River, south of Richmond, Texas. This was a very “private” lake being on a large State Prison Farm.

Another Uncle of mine, A. C. Turner, Uncle Ace, had returned from the war and was back working for the Texas Prison System and had arranged for us to fish on this lake. He was Rehabilitation Director and, at that time, the Texas Prison System was self sufficient and even showed a profit. Drugs, illegal immigration and our Federal Courts fixed that! Uncle Ace went on to become Warden of The Walls unit in Huntsville, then to the State Parole Board, rising to its President.

This was my second trip to a Prison Farm. Here, on the Brazos River, the inmates seemed happy and waved and spoke to us. My first was to the German Concentration Camp in Temple, now the site of the V. A. Hospital. These were “hard” guys, Afrika Corps troopers. They were sullen and took immense glee that when a plane flew over them, they would raise their shovels and rakes and pretend to shoot at it, then congratulate themselves on a “hit”!

We drove to the lake, inflated the boat and then “took turns” fishing out of the life raft. Benny and I went first and learned quickly the art of paddling a life raft. Our first attempt resulted in an inglorious circle! Our fishing results were better, several small Bass, which we put on our communal stringer and we headed to the shore and turned the raft over to our Dads.

Left on the bank while our Dads were working on the Bass, Benny and I caught some grasshoppers and went to bait fishing for Bream and Perch. Not much wind, a real nice afternoon and we noticed a snag drifting near our spot. It drifted up and stopped and quit drifting. Being 9 and 11 years old we thought nothing of it and kept fishing.

Our Dads were headed back our way with a couple of more Bass on the communal stringer and Dave Miller yelled to us, “What’s that in the water out from you?” Being young we answered, “Where?” My Dad said, “Boys, watch where I cast,” as he cast a wooden, Lucky 13 plug, toward us and across our “snag”.

He twitched his rod tip and reeled one turn at a time, “Walking The Dog” back over the “snag” and the water exploded and a big, it seemed five or six foot long, Alligator, our “snag”, clears the water in a twisting, mouth open, teeth showing jump, makes a great splash as it returns and then takes off, at top speed, pulling the life raft behind it. My dad’s Calcutta rod is dangerously bent, he is yelling because the “Gator is stripping the line from his reel, and having no drag system, only his thumb, which is being blistered, to put pressure on the line and try and stop the run. The ‘Gator jumps again, the plug pulls loose and comes flying back toward my Dad and, a ducking Dave and settles on the water behind them. “Whoopee” exclaims Dave, followed by a “Damn” from my Dad, as both anglers paddle back toward us.

Laughingly, my Dad told us “ ‘Gators like to eat little boys if they can catch one and this one was sizing both you all up for a dinner.” Silently we packed up the raft in its plywood box and we did not enjoy his attempt at humor!

In a picture box display, in the main hall of my ranch house, are all of my Dad’s old fishing plugs, including the tooth scarred, wooden, Lucky 13 that he “Walked” over the ‘Gator.

The Alligator

The summer of 1964 found me still working multiple jobs with little spare time. My dad had made friends with a Telephone Co. contractor from Philadelphia, Miss. Looking back now I can see that he was a “redneck’s, redneck”. He was a market hunter for ducks in the fall, had absolutely no respect for game laws, but he was the man who had introduced us to The Trinity River bottom.

In past years he had spent time in north Louisiana and had made several successful float trips down the head waters of the Calcasieu River. Easy trips of four to six hours, floating and fishing about five miles of river. Put in and take out at State boat ramps. Easy, no problem. The object of these trips was to catch Smallmouth Bass not really the cold water variety but Spotted Bass, common to moving water in the south and southwest.

My Dad, who was nearing retirement, and I had arranged for a weekend off in mid September, so off we go to north Louisiana. Our “headquarters” was a motel in Alexandria and we arrived at the jumping off point at first light on a bright, clear, Indian Summer day. Four of us were going on the float trip, my Dad and I in one jon boat and his contractor friend and one of his relatives, who “knew the river” and would “guide” us, in the other boat. His relative saying “We got a few falls (fallen trees spanning or down in the river) to go over or under, but outside of that, it will be easy. I have since learned that if I hear the word, easy, prepare for the worst.

Where we put in, the Calcasieu River was slow moving, clear as tap water, about seventy-five feet wide and for our whole trip didn’t exceed that width. The banks were lined with tall pine and oak trees. Pretty. Pretty now, but we all would be cursing them by midnight!

We drift about fifty yards from the boat ramp, I put a hand full of Beechnut chewing tobacco in the side of my mouth, and my first cast with a yellow Piggy Boat and, bam, a solid strike from a one pound spotted bass, the fish is taking line, running, not jumping like a regular bass. My dad hooks up and soon we have two nice bass on our stringer. Looks like a good day starting. I’ll ask myself later “Why did we keep these bass?”

We ease under our first fall, a tree down from bank to bank, and up ahead we see one resting in the water. We drift up to it and, in the water we go, and pull the jon boat over it. The little “dip” was refreshing. This is repeated several times during the first half-mile of our “easy” float. We come to hundred yard stretch with no falls and casting right up to the bank, retrieving for two reel cranks, I have a savage strike. This fish is fighting hard, running and now jumping. What a pretty sight. I land him and onto the stringer he goes, a four-pound Spotted Bass! My dad takes another and we are amassing a really good stringer of fish.

More falls, it seems one every thirty or forty yards. It is now noon and I bet in the last four plus hours, we haven’t made two miles. I ask the relative and he says, “A few more falls than I remember, but we don’t have that far to go.” Later I think, “Who is this guy who supposedly knows the river?”

The fishing remains great! Whenever we can we make a cast, at least half of them are rewarded with a solid hit. However, it seems we are spending more time slipping under or pulling over trees, than fishing. We catch several more nice, three and four pound bass. Our stringer is getting heavy. We slip under a fall and blankety-blank, my dad lets out a line “blue streakers”, and slaps the top of his head, smushing a red wasp which has popped him. Over he goes into the water and I think, “Oh no, he’s had a heart attack,” but he comes up out of the water smiling and says, “Boy, when wasps get after you, it’s better to go into the water than run.” As if he could have run anywhere. He asks for my chew of tobacco and places it on the sting and soon the sting just a memory.

More falls! Over them, under them, drag the boat, we’re both soaked, so are our other fishing mates, it’s close to 5:00 PM and no relief in sight! The intrepid relative says, “There sure is a lot of these falls!” We echo his sentiments!

Here is something new, two trees down at the same place, a longer drag, almost a portage. My Dad jumps onto the logs pulling the boat sideways so I can also get out. We pull the bow of the boat up on the logs and he jumps into the water and the water explodes! He has jumped down on to an Alligator! Ride ‘em cowboy! “Alligator, look out!” the fearless relative shouts. A six foot ‘gator is airborne as my Dad scrambles back up onto the logs. The ‘gator is long gone but here come the “blue streakers”, blankety-blank-blank, from my Dad. He is soaking, again, really mad and ready to choke our “guide”, the relative. He says in a firm voice, “Get me out of this blankety-blank place. The relative says, “We still got a ways to go.”

He was right, it’s nearly dark and we seem no closer to the take out ramp than we were two hours ago. Something is wrong here. We pull over to the side and ask the relative, what’s the deal. He replies, “Best I can figure, the hurricane that came through here last year just tore up these woods and knocked all of these trees down. But don’t worry it’s an easy walk out’a here.” There’s that word, easy, again.

At near dark, probably 7:00 PM, we tie up the boats to a convenient (they are all convenient) fall. The “relative” can worry about his boats later. We start “out”, carrying our rods, luckily we didn’t bring any tackle boxes, fish on the stringers and water, today’s lunch being all gone. Our “guide”, the relative leads off. We guess we have to walk two to three miles to the road, then north on the road for another mile to the State ramp and our vehicles.

The darkening sky finds us walking somewhat north, through very thick underbrush and trees everywhere, carrying our rods, the stringer of fish and our water. Down and up through a dry creek bed and slipping down the “up side” of the bank I remark “This is more like a forced march than an easy walk.” No reply from our “guide”.

We trudge on for an hour and go down a creek bank and climb up the other side and I see my slide marks. We have walked in a circle! “Stop” I cry out and our weary procession slows to a halt. “We’ve walked in a circle”, showing them my slide marks. I say, “This deal stops right now and I’m walking in front and am going to get us out of this damn place!” I look to the sky and find the Big Dipper and follow its bottom two stars to the North Star. That will be my mark to keep us on line. Our “guide” is silent.

With me in the lead we head north. After about another hour we all decide to drop our stringers of fish and leave them for the varmints. Why did we keep those fish? We finish the water and drop the water bags to the ground. Pressing on, we hear the artillery at Ft. Polk, north of us, begin booming. I think, “The booming will be a good guide.”

As we head north we see a light ahead, six hundred yards later it turns out to be a Coleman Lantern hanging in a tree. We see three men sitting around a low fire. “Hello, the camp!” I exclaim. The three men jump up, startled, and look around. Seeing us, four apparitions coming out of the dark with no lamps or flashlights, out comes their guns!

“Stop right there, who are you.” We explain our plight, still standing outside of the circle of light and finally our “guide” remarks that he is the brother in law of “so-in-so” a deputy sheriff. The guns comes down and they ask, “What do you want.” I reply, “A drink of water and a ride to our cars parked at the State ramp.” Mumbled conversation and a reply, “Pay for the gas and we’ll take you to your car, but no water.” “Thanks” I say, then mumbling under my breath, “You sons of bitches!”

Back at our cars, my Dad’s contractor friend is quiet, not having said much for the last six or seven hours and his relative, our “guide, only says “It was a tougher float than I thought it would be.” Saying our good byes, Daddy and I got into his car. He looks at his watch and says, “It’s almost midnight. Quite a day!” I rolled down the window, and fished out a Pall Mall and lit up, blowing the smoke out of the window. My Dad had smoked for forty years but had quit smoking ten years past and hated for me to smoke. He said to me, “Boy give me one of those.” I never saw my Dad’s contractor friend again. And, I never saw my Dad smoke another cigarette.

Ham Bailey, By Lee Wallace

The following is a story by my Great Uncle, Lee Wallace, published and copyrighted in 1946. Apparently, he was involved in this case, probably the Judge.

Ham Bailey

Ham always had a tear in his voice. He was on trial charged with assault to murder one Stark by cutting him with a knife.

Placed on the stand as witness for himself and after identifications he was told by his attorney to tell the Jury everything done and said by Stark and himself to and concerning each other the day of the alleged assault. The following is Ham’s direct testimony: “Hit wuz on the 4th of July. I wuz working out at the Fair Grounds for the Fair Managers. Hit wuz just when the hosses and waggins wuz a goin’ out and the automobiles wuz a comin’ in. The hosses wuz scared of the automobiles. I wuz showin’ the folks where to put the waggins and the hosses away from the automobiles. I had never seen that feller (indicating Stark) before. He come to where I wuz and said he heard I wuz a bad man and he said he wuz a bad man, too; and we wuz a goin’ to find out right there which of us wuz the baddest. I told him somebody had told a story on me. I wuz not a bad man. I was a workin’ man trying to make a livin’ without stealin’. About that time the sheriff come along and told him to leave me alone and he left. I did not see him anymore until I went to town after the Fair broke up.”

“I worked all day. I didn’t git no dinner. When the Fair broke up I started to town on foot. When I got to Town Creek, Shell Lawrence overtuck me and I got in his hack and rode to town. I got out at the bush-arbor by the side of the saloon where George Heiman had coffee and hamburgers. I hadn’t had no dinner. I wuz blowin’ on my coffee to cool it, and Mr. Stark come and set on the bench by me with his back to the table. He didn’t say nothin’. But roostered me, (indicating with his right elbow). That sloshed the hot coffee all over my hand, scalded my hand”.

Here the witness paused and his attorney asked, “Mr. Bailey, then what did you say or do if anything?” To which the witness answered, “I didn’t say nothin’. I cut his throat. I didn’t have no pistol.”

Lee’s Note:

Just another case of where a fellow was hunting rabbits and squirrels and jumped a twelve-foot mountain lion.

Four Wheel Drive And A Hand winch

The period of my life from 1959 to 1964 was spent finishing up my Army duty, working three jobs and welcoming my first child, Brad. All of this left precious little time for any outdoor activities.

Several times during this period I did have the opportunity to spend a day hunting and fishing in the Trinity River bottoms, between Dayton and Liberty, Texas. We would enter “The Bottoms”, as we called it, at a remote place near Dayton, at the Kennefic Fire Tower, then proceed down seven miles of probably the worst road in the United States. This road was always flooded, mud axel deep on a jeep, deceiving ruts that covered bogs and the home of the largest mosquitoes on the Gulf Coast.

The road was only part of the challenge. The leaseholder of the land, I never knew his name, would come by several times during the week to check on his cattle and hogs and to scare poachers out. He even chased us out one time mounted on a horse! When the river was up and out of its banks you couldn’t possibly get in. But if you could get to the river, the creeks and sloughs provided some of the best bass fishing and duck and squirrel hunting to be found.

My brother-in-law, Jim Buck, was desperate to get down to “The Bottoms”. He had heard my Dad and I talk of the fabulous hunting and fishing opportunities. Just a month before my Dad and I had a very enjoyable afternoon fishing there, in one of the many sloughs, catching one to two pound bass.

My Dad had an “employee” and friend, a telephone company contractor who worked for him and had first taken us to “The Bottoms”. The friend had a jeep with mud grip tires and a “new” Warn winch mounted on its front bumper. If we got stuck, hook up to a tree and let the winch pull us out. That was the way to conquer “The Bottoms”.

Well, Jim found, for $500.00, a 1947 Jeepster Station Wagon, four wheel drive, a rusted green color, but mechanically sound, which he promptly purchased “Bottom” here we come! “Jimmy, we need a winch. Did you get one for the front bumper?” I Asked him. He replied, “No, I have something better, a hand winch which we can use front or back.” At that time, I had a very elementary knowledge of mechanics and uses of a hand winch so I thought we were fine. “Bottom” here we come!

The new, old, Jeepster made the trip to the Kennific Fire Tower with no problems. It turned out it ran very well on a smooth road. Pulling up to the gate in the not light, early morning, it was unlocked, but we also knew where the key was hidden, and there was no sign of the leaseholder. Many times during the day to come I had wished for the evil leaseholder to show us up and “help” us out of this infernal place. “Bottom” here we come.

We navigated the first six hundred yards and came to the first boggy spot. The Jeepster, and its skinny road tires, we never thought about mud grips, plowed gamely through the muck and deposited us safely onto solid ground. “Piece of cake”, we thought. Another low spot, spinning tires, mud flying everywhere, stuck! No problem we have our hand winch. There is a tree close by in front of us, very convenient, and we hook on and begin cranking the winch and the vehicle moves, all of six inches. (My mind flashes back to a duck hunt that turned sour, where, in a boat, me and two of my friends had to scoot across the mud flats twelve to eighteen inches at a time to get back to our launch area.) Twenty minutes of cranking and we are out of the mud and sailing down the “road”.

Winching through three more bogs we notice the sun is up, its hot and humid and the mosquitoes are out in force. We missed the sunrise fishing we had planned on. No worry, so little fishing pressure where were going the bass will hit all day.

More bogs, more winching. We are both wet and covered head to toe in mud and its getting close to noon, we won’t have much time to fish. We gamely “soldier on”. We hit this one spot which I had worried about on the way in a fifty foot run through bog, mud and water and we splash in, four wheels spinning and making no progress. Stuck again. No tree close by, so I volunteer to push. Maybe that will help. It did for five feet. Still, no tree near, and we are really stuck! Finding small logs and branches to give our street tires some traction, we inch forward until we can reach a tree with our winch line. Crank, six inches. Crank, six inches. Crank, six inches. This ceases to be fun. Crank, six inches. Solid ground and we break for a late lunch.

We assess our situation. Over the past seven hours we estimate we have made about three miles. We are almost out of water. We have been stuck twelve times. If the Jeepster doesn’t break, at this rate we will get to our fishing spot about dark. Maybe we don’t have the right equipment. We can always blame the Jeepster no mud grip tires. We can blame the weather that last big rain really made a mess of the bad road? We can blame the leaseholder maybe he came in with a Dodge Power Wagon and deliberately ruined the road. Admitting a tactical defeat, we turned around and headed out. “Bottom” you won.

However, there were some good things to come out of this ill-fated trip. We only got stuck seven times coming out. We got out just before dark. I did not have to push. We “made” the leaseholder some new road. We had no fish to clean. And, best of all, we dried out before we got home!

Inquiry, By Lee Wallace

Before the turn of the 20th century, Lee Was looking for a location to open up his legal practice. This response is a funny!

“Early in 1896, as a young attorney, I was casting about for a new location somewhere in the great southwest. Among other inquiries made by letter, one was directed to the Justice Of the Peace At Hondo, Texas, giving some details about myself and asking some. I told him I was a young attorney, unmarried, somewhat nervous because of temporary health impairment, asking the price of board, number of local attorneys, number of population of the County, and expressing my preference to board with some quiet family without children, if suitable place could be found.

The following is copy of reply to my inquiry:

Hondo City, Jan’y 30th, 1896

Lee Wallace, Esq.

Canton, Texas

Dear Sir:

Your letter of inquiry of date Jan’y 24th has been duly rec’d and contents prayerfully and carefully considered. You say you are a young attorney, but neglected to state how young. All our attorneys consider themselves young, though there is not one who has passed the half-century post. You say you are unmarried. Bless you, my boy, come here and we can so soon marry you off. Our female population is largely in excess of the male.

You won’t be unmarried long. Come right off.

Board can be had from $25.00 per week to $2.50 per month, according to where you board and how you can chaw hash.

We have no quiet families here. Every family is well provided with howling, yelling kids, and besides the head of the family gets home about 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., well tanked up, and the old woman and he have a hell of a time until day. But come and marry and establish a quiet family of your own.

There are five regular attorneys here, but about 45 curbstone lawyers, the latter get the business and the former are engaged in hunting lost mines. But come here, we’ll marry you off and you can help us in the way of increasing the population and looking dignified. The population of this county is about 5000, but this being an election year, it will run up to about 7500.

Hoping to see you soon,
I am very truly yours,

A. M. Lamm
J. P. Pr. 1, Medina Co.
Hondo City, Texas.”

Lee choose Kerrville!

Stories By My Great Uncle

When I created this Blog I had mentioned in “About The Author” that this past summer I edited a collection of short stories, “Waif Of The Times”, by Lee Wallace, a Great Uncle of mine. Lee was my Grandfather, Dr. Harmon Wallace’s, younger brother.

I just finished re-reading the stories, for I don’t know how many times, and still found them enjoyable, and they fit well in my “Hill Country Happenings”. Kerrville, Texas, where many of these stories took place, is one of the many beautiful areas in our Texas Hill Country!

From time to time I plan on posting a story of Lee’s. They were copyrighted in 1946 and published by the author. So, I believe it is fitting to offer a brief bio of Lee Wallace.

Lee Wallace was born in Van Zandt County in “deep” East Texas in 1868, a Civil War baby boomer. The 1880 census lists Lee as “working on farm”. He was all of 12. His father, Shaw Wallace, was my Maternal Great-Grandfather. Shaw, was a Confederate veteran, born in Northern Ireland in 1819 and died of pneumonia in Ben Wheeler, Texas, in 1906 . Shaw’s life and times are another good story.

I met Lee Wallace one time in 1950 when I was 14. Lee had just been diagnosed with stomach cancer and since he was my Mom’s favorite Uncle. She wanted to visit him before he became too ill. Lee died July 2, 1953.

He was a lawyer and judge. He attended Sam Houston College in Huntsville, Texas. but did not attend law school. He was twice married but had no children. Lee came to Kerrville in 1896 and he told me he arrived there with “a bull whip and a Bible”. A number of years ago, a friend of mine from Kerrville told me that Judge Wallace was “a tough old guy”. I have been told he was a Protégé of Captain Charles Schreiner, a very prominent resident of Kerr County and Kerrville and that later in his career was appointed a District Judge and served in that position until he retired, due to poor health, in 1936.

Lee was known for his wit and oratorical skill and his most famous quote was “I have never forgotten a friend nor forgiven an enemy.” In later years he modified this as follows, “It is too much trouble to have an enemy, since you have to work to dislike someone and you have to keep remembering a grudge.”

Gig ’em

All day long I had been trying to get a hold of my Son, Randy, to help me with a sticky problem on my Blog. Finally, in the evening he called me, very frustrated. He had “snuck” off and gone fishing, a noble achievement, and as we say, “I resemble that remark.”

He was frustrated because he had lost several nice Bass, because he had made a mistake of epic proportions. He forgot to put the hook on the, new H and H Spinner Bait, he had just bought at a large sporting goods store. This particular product comes from the manufacturer in a plastic bag and the fisherman must add the hook to the spinner bait before using it. In Randy’s excitement and impatience to get to the fishing at hand, he had neglected to attach the hook.

As I laughed at his omission, my thoughts went back almost fifty years to a hastily planned fishing trip that I went on with my Uncle Gus, George Alvin Pyland. He like my Dad was from Marlin, Texas. That particular summer I was working on another of my Uncles, Shelton Gafford’s ranch outside of Marlin. My chores were finished early and I went into town to make a purchase at the local sporting goods store, which happened to be owned by Sam Pyland, uncle Gus’ brother.

When I walked into the store, surprise, there was Uncle Gus talking with his brother. We hugged and shook hands and exchanged some small talk, and one of our favorite subjects, fishing, came up. Mentioning that Uncle Shelton had gotten me permission to fish in a stock tank, unfished by it’s owner, and planted with Bass by the state five years ago and that I was on my way out there as soon as I picked me up a couple of yellow Piggy Boats, Uncle Gus volunteered to go with me. He was in town for a short visit and would be happy to “help” me thin out the Bass in this tank.

I don’t know who made Piggy Boats Spinner Baits, I guess the Piggy Boat Company, but I do know that the company that made Piggy Boats was sold to H and H, the current manufacturer and H and H now has been sold to a large retailer. But, whoever the owner, this particular Spinner Bait remains one of the best baits for stock tank, small lake and stream fishing for bass. In saltwater I have even caught Red Fish and Speckled trout with them. Then, like now, they were sold in a small plastic bag with the hook not attached.

Uncle Gus had no tackle, but I had an extra rod and reel with me, so telling his brother goodbye, he purchased two Piggy Boats with yellow skirts and we headed out to catch some Bass. Arriving at the stock tank which was in the middle of a one hundred acre field covered with Red Buffalo Grass, I got out of my Uncle Shelton’s truck, walked to the edge of the water and made a cast and was into a nice Bass immediately. Uncle Gus said, “Wait for me Jon Howard” as he hurriedly attached the Piggy Boat to his line.

Uncle Gus looped a cast along the bank near us and had a strike that almost jerked the rod from his hands, the Bass ran toward the center of the tank, jumped, mouth open and the Piggy Boat came flying back towards us. Uncle Gus was a salt water fisherman of great skill and perseverance, but muttered, “Dang, that’s funny, the hook didn’t get set good even with that hard strike.” as he prepared for another cast.

Another cast, another jolting strike, another lost fish caused him to mutter, “Jon Howard, these Bass are harder to hook than Specs.” He was a great uncle to me, and a good Christian man, but when he lost his third Bass I was afraid my rod and reel were going into the water. Before that happened I asked him, “Why don’t you bring your rig over and let me check the hooks?” “What hooks?” he replied. I tried hard not to laugh, but in his haste and excitement he had forgotten to attach the hooks to his spinner bait.

Slipping the hooks on his lure, he cast out and, whamo, another hard hit, but this one was hooked good and soon landed and put on a stringer. We both got to the business of catching Bass, along with a couple of Goggle Eye Pearch, and ended up with a nice mess of fish.

The story ended well, but after Randy’s “hook” problem, it got me to thinking. You know, both Randy and Uncle Gus were former students at Texas A & M!

The Way I See Things

Once my Dad told me, “Boy, don’t worry about today’s bad hunt. Just remember, if it was easy each time out, it would be called “shooting” instead of “hunting”.

I have enjoyably hunted and fished for well over sixty years and have tried to pass on to my sons and daughters, now to my grandchildren, that it is not the shooting or killing, but the chance to be out of doors and enjoy all of the creatures that God has placed on our planet.

I was surprised, having heard of Spikes coming in to “rattling”, but had not seen it before. I can only hope that I don’t rattle up a big cat!

We tried not to take “pilgrims” offshore fishing.

We’re going to beat this storm in to the launch ramp.

Now dressed as locals, Wrangler Jeans, cowboy boots and ball caps we should fit right in.

Another bad idea forced upon us by a politically correct government.

It is funny how first impressions are, so many times, correct.

Two hunting lease rules; one, if you are getting on a new hunting lease, you should know all of the members and, two, the rules should be clearly spelled out!

Sometimes we do things that get in the way of really important things like fishing.

Wow, I thought, I must be in the eye of the hurricane right now. That makes three for me!

My fourth ground zero, introduction to a tornado. This one was too close!

When you’re shooting at rising birds with a shotgun always allow them time gain some space from you. Don’t be “greedy” and take close “easy” shots.

My boss told me that in the summer he thought my car smelled like old softball clothes and in the winter, like rice field mud.

When a large number of birds will fly over you, pick out a one and shoot him, before you get on the next one. Don’t shoot randomly into the “pack”.

Think of the freedom, we sometimes take for granted, to have the time and resources to be able to travel and enjoy our great outdoors! What a great country!

When saltwater fishing, never tie, always loop.

There were so many birds the answer was more hunters, not over limit shooting.

A while back, that gas well blew up and rearranged everything. We call it the Blow Out Hole now. Good fishing in the winter. I thought, So that’s why I never saw another boat fishing there.

Sometimes I am a slow learner, and once again tried to out run a big storm and failed.

If state records interest you, most times the state will keep the fish, and you can’t eat it.

No orange sauce for this Texas boy, we bar-b-qued all of the ducks that night, with a spicy, hot sauce and they were wonderful!

Who ever thought of Bull Frogs on a Deer lease?

I’m really lucky that the Cow didn’t step on all four of the decoys!

I am sure that while writing about Deer hunting, I will feel compelled to add a recipe for fried Duck breast.

An Unusual Hunt

Deciding to retire on May 1, 2005, to my ranch in Goldthwaite, Texas, had not been the difficult decision that I had expected. My son, Brad, had returned from his tour in Iraq and was looking forward to a safer tour of duty in Colorado. Months before my retirement I even planted some peach trees and I had just put in my garden, one of my “gifts” being a very green thumb!

In 2005, spring Turkey season opened on April 2, and not having the time in the past to indulge in this spring sport on my ranch, and since I was retiring on May 1, and especially, since my ranch lies in the middle of some fine Turkey country, I decided that I would try to get me one.

The alarm went off at 6:00 AM and up I jump, pull up my Wranglers, slip on some socks and my work boots, and tucking in my camo tee shirt, head out to my jeep. I wanted to get a good “start” on the Turkeys. I stepped out of our side door and, whoa, where am I? It is freezing and I go back and look at our inside/outside thermometer and see it is thirty-two degrees. It was in the mid sixties when we went to bed last night and the evening weather report did not include freezing temperatures.

Quickly my plans change. If it hasn’t already, I know there will be a frost and my peach trees and tomatoes are blooming. Covering them up is out of the question, so the only thing left is to water them and hope that the water will freeze over the blooms and prevent them from freezing.

Out of my work boots and on with my insulated boots and quickly putting on my insulated overalls I head out to the garden and apply a liberal dose of water to the peach trees and tomato plants. I will know soon if this works. Now on to the Turkeys, dawn is breaking crisp and clear, and I’m behind schedule.

After my hunt, I laughingly say I pulled a “Randy” and drove and parked the Jeep directly under the elevated blind. Randy, my son, has been known to do just this when he’s late to a hunt. Getting out of the Jeep, I sling my rifle a Ruger, Model 77, .22 caliber, magnum, with a 3 X 9 power, Weaver scope and climb up into the blind.

Laying the rifle down, I survey the blind. The windows are frosted and I can’t see out but I have disturbed two angry red wasps that found shelter from the cold in the blind. I open one window and out flies one of the wasps, while the other takes exception at my having disturbed him and attacks me. I parry his first attack with a handy seat cushion, then whack him a good one and down he goes, and “smush”, under foot he succumbs. Now hopefully, down to turkey hunting. I clean the frost off of the windows and open all of them to try and balance the temperature.

I sit down and load my rifle, thinking that no self-respecting Turkey would come within a mile of this blind with all the racket that I’ve made. Fifty yards in front of the blind is a food plot which I had just planted and some excess seeds were scattered about it, and to my surprise, out walks a Turkey hen and begins to make “hen sounds”, soft clucks, and starts picking up the seeds. I didn’t have a camera with me, but I have some great “mind pictures” of her.

She clucks and nibbles for almost fifteen minutes and I’m thinking to myself “I guess no tom is going to come along,” when the silence is broken by the loudest Gobble, Gobble, Gobble, Gobble, I have ever heard. There, right next to the Jeep is a beautiful, multi colored, tom Turkey, in full strut, his wing tips touching the ground, slowly moseying toward the hen.

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble, Gobble, as he walks and struts right up to her, and making a fatal mistake, he turns away from me, and my scope comes to rest right in the middle of his back and, Bam! He jumps about five feet, straight up, feathers fly, and he walks off, the hen following. I quickly ejected the spent cartridge and quickly loaded and ejected another round before I caught myself. Nerves had hit me. I didn’t get a second shot.

Closing the windows, I unloaded my rifle and climbed down out of the blind and stepped off forty yards to where the Turkey had been standing, then heading off in the direction he took, I found him down, in a creek bottom, forty yards from where he was hit.

Once back at our ranch house, Spike, our miniature Dachshund, posed for pictures with me and the Turkey. Spike, who tracks and finds deer when we shoot one, took possession of the bird and guarded it until I loaded it into my truck and headed to a taxidermist in Lampassas.

The first, spring Turkey shot on my ranch is displayed in a flying mount, on a wall in the great room of our ranch house. I did save the tomatoes, having a “bumper” crop, which lasted until Thanksgiving! But the peaches were a different story. Off of four trees, I only harvested twelve of them.

Bits and Pieces from Jon H Bryan…