Category Archives: Hunting

We Got Him

On November 6th, in my post “More Outdoor Pictures, November 6, 2009”, there were two pictures sent to me by one of my softball teammates, Everett Sims, of a ten point, buck. In July the buck was still in velvet.


The other picture showed the ten pointer with another nice buck, an eight pointer.

Last month while we were playing softball in Phoenix, he told me about this buck and that he and his son were going to get it when the season opened and, sure enough, his boast became a true statement this past weekend. When I received the pictures of the deer, I e-mailed him for confirmation that this was the ten pointer and his reply was, “We got him!”

Ev’s Son poses with his very nice, buck. A definite high fiver.

The Big Country – A Record On Doves

In the late 1990’s, the town of Millersview, Texas consisted of a one pump, gas station/feed store, a Post Office and a WW II memorial.  Millersview is in the part of west Texas known as “The Big Country”. It’s on Farm/Market Road 765, in Concho County, 55 miles west of Goldthwaite and 40 miles east of San Angelo and the closest town, Eden, is 20 miles away.

Back then, 3 miles outside of Millersview, I was on a 2,000 acre, quail/deer lease with plenty of mesquite and prickly pear cactus.  Lease rules were positively no shooting of turkeys and a minimum of 10 points on a buck. There was a nice camp house with running water and indoor facilities and the place was loaded with game, including big deer and “mucho” quail.

Having just signed up on a the new hunting lease near Millersview, the opening of dove season found me standing by myself, in the shade of a mesquite tree, the sun on my right and a 1/2 acre stock tank to my front.  The banks of the tank were sandy/gravelly, just right for doves to use.

Arriving at the tank around 4:00 PM, too early for the birds to water, I sat real still and watched the songbirds and, of all things, the deer, eight or ten doe came into the water.  There was a lot of shooting that I guessed was about a mile away on a bordering ranch and I was hoping that the birds would come into the tank that I was guarding.

One hour later, here came the doves!  Beginning with a trickle, I knocked down the first two and they both fell just in front of me, right on the tank damn,.  Picking my shots, being careful not to splash one into the water, the doves kept falling and I stopped for a minute and counted up.  Eleven birds, then I counted my empty shells, eleven shots.  Counting the empty shells was easy, because we always picked up the fired hulls for 1, reloading and 2, because the cows would try to eat them.

Thinking back, I had never having gone straight on a limit of doves, I had run over a hundred and fifty straight on clay birds in trap and downed twenty straight Mearns quail, but not the diving, twisting and turning doves.

Here came number twelve, right at me, and easy head on shot.  Covering the bird, for some reason, I raised my head and missed!  The dove veered to the right and pow, my second shot dropped it right into the tank.  Chunking rocks and cow chips at the bird, the waves brought it to the bank and then it was in my bag.

Twelve for thirteen is still not bad and the new lease got only got better.



Shortly after our first meeting, we, me and my ex, had Bob Baugh, one of my customers and his wife out to dinner and were enjoying a pleasant evening, when the phone rang.   It was Randy, now a Baptist Pastor, and he was calling to let us know he was going to be late for supper, and that he was stuck on our new duck and goose lease and needed help extricating the truck.

Part of the reason Randy was calling had been caused by a low pressure, system that came ashore between Galveston and Freeport, hesitated over Alvin and dumped over 24” of rain in a 24 hours on that small town.  This remains a contiguous states record for a 24 hour, period!  The low pressure, system also soaked the Katy Prairie and any dirt road travel was limited and additional rains had 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 times, 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 early Teal season 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 our Baptist Church, 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, Katy Prairie mud, of course!


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!

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!

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!

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!

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.