Category Archives: Hunting

The Ducks Obliged

By the third year we were on our McCulloch County hunting lease I had walked over almost all of the 2,000 plus acres. Either hunting quail or still hunting, deer, I kept flushing ducks off of the stock tanks and sometimes, in season of course, would pop one or two.

Noticing one particular spring fed, stock tank, almost a full acre, with a tall dam on one end, that was nearly impossible to sneak was where I had chosen to hunt some ducks. This stock tank was long and narrow, and the end I would hunt was only one to two feet deep with a rock bottom. Since the water was so shallow, I wouldn’t even need to take Gus to retrieve the ducks and “he could sleep in”. There were several mesquite trees around its edge and if I could make me a rough blind, almost under one of the mesquites, I could use my twelve, plastic decoys and I bet, could have some excellent shooting.

In the dark, using dead mesquite limbs, I hastily threw together a rough blind and set the decoys in two groups. Placing one group of four decoys on my right and the other eight on my left, leaving a space between the groups for the ducks to land in, they poured in!

My twelve plastic decoys were bouncing on the ripples as shooting time commenced and never had I had such a terrific duck hunt. With a minimum of calling, the ducks piled in and I thinned them out, being able to clearly identify the drakes of the various species – mallards, pintails, widgeon and gadwall and passing on some beautiful green wing teal.

Just shooting drakes, I was elated getting my limit in forty-five minutes, shooting eight with ten shots, having to shoot two twice. But, bad news, picking up my decoys, I carried four to the bank, laid them down next to my toe sack and returned to the water for four more. The next thing I knew, here came a cow, stepped on a decoy and smashed it beyond repair. Now I only had eleven plastic decoys. I should have carried my sack out with me and only made one trip.

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

The Big Country – The Emus

A rancher friend told our rancher that he had had good luck using emus to check the coyotes. His rancher friend also told him they were tough on bobcats, badgers and coons and, by eliminating these predators, it would help to insure good quail and turkey hatches.

Other benefits were that emus would be self-sustaining and their meat was delicious! His “friend” had 15 of the large birds and told him that he could have them for no cost! Our rancher couldn’t pass up that deal.

Opening morning of quail season found me and 2 other lease members, trailing 2 of our dogs as they tried to locate a covey. Thinking nothing of it, we saw an emu about 400 yards to our front as the dogs worked 75 yards out. Before we knew it, the emu was charging and an emu at top speed is a sight to behold! Whistling our dogs to come in, they responded and we grabbed them as the emu stopped about 50 yards away and looked “daggers” at us. We retreated to our Jeep, loaded the dogs and found an emu free spot to hunt.

During the following week, another one of our hunters was hunting alone with his 2 dogs and was attacked by two emus. They killed one of his pointers and he shot one emu, killing it. The visibly shaken hunter made tracks to the main ranch house and told the rancher of the events. Soon the predator controllers, the emus, became the hunted.

Next trip up the rancher warned us of the emu menace and said to go ahead and kill as many as we could. His son had dropped 3 this past week!

We began our hunt around the stock tank and sure enough, an emu spotted our dogs and charged. We whistled the dogs in, reloaded our shotguns with #4 lead shot and waited for the emu to challenge us. It did, we unloaded on him at 45 yards and scratch one emu. Breasting it yielded 2 ham size pieces of dark meat that I took home for Layla to cook like a roast. It smelled very, good, in the oven, sliced well with a sharp knife, but was uneatable, being too tough to chew. So much for emu’s food value!

The rancher told me shortly after the last emu was lured in and shot, “Jon, I worried about those birds from the start. I had never worked with any creature that literally fought me the entire time I was loading them into the trailer. They were awful to deal with! Good riddance!”


The next weekend, after signing up on our new Deer lease in McCulloch County, my sons, Brad and Randy, and I headed right back and begin construction of two sturdy tree blinds. The boys have the blinds since I prefer to hunt birds, but, eight years later, by the time we left the lease, I will be hooked on deer hunting.

Brad’s blind, later named “The McCulloch County Hilton”, was a two level affair by a cross fence of the back trap, as the rancher called each pasture, right beside a big, rock, water trough. Randy’s blind was less spacious, but set near the property’s back fence. From their elevated positions, both boys could see each others blind.

Early in the morning the day before deer season opened, my boys and I rushed, as much as you can with a fifty-five miles per hour speed limit (another bad idea forced upon us by a politically correct government), up to our lease and began the annual ritual of making sure the deer feeders were full, checking equipment and sighting in the guns. We finished by late afternoon and began helping with the communal dinner, when the last two hunters arrived.

Mac handled the introductions and my boys and I met the Taub brothers, Ralph and Dennis. Ralph, the oldest seemed like a good guy, but brother Dennis seemed like a jerk. It is funny how first impressions are, so many times, correct.

Supper, steaks, potatoes and green chilies, hits the spot and after dark we retired to the side porch to swap lies, when we saw headlights moving down the road by the railroad tracks that bound the east side of the property. Then from the vehicle we saw a spotlight searching out over our east trap – poachers!

Brad has an M-1A, a predecessor of the M-14, and Jerry Thrash, a lawyer and private eye, came up out of his kit with three .308 Cal. Tracer rounds. I loaded them into the M-1A and prepared to welcome the poachers to our lease, when the legal uproar began.

“Don’t shoot,” “You may hit them,” “We may be arrested,” (do they think we were shooting at law officers), “We may get sued,” Bam, Bam, Bam, I let loose with the tracers, three rounds over the poachers heads.

Results were immediate. As the reddish/orange tracer rounds arced over their car, the spot light went off, their car lights went off, they did a quick uwey and sped off for safer poaching grounds. Poachers never bothered us again for the eight years we were on the lease!

The legal uproar continued, but my boys and I went on to bed.

Bekah’s Big Buck

My grand daughter, Beckah, (Rebeccah), scored on a big buck on November 9th, she was watching the buck for about 10 minutes then she shot him, with Randy’s old rifle, a Remington 660.  We bought this gun at Oshman’s in Atlanta, Ga.; he has shot 36 deer with it.  See my post, [Buck Fever], of July 24th, 2008.

There was a lot of activity around the thick stuff, turkeys were gobbling, doe and bucks were moving, then Bekah saw her opportunity and nailed him, about 50 yards from MaMaw’s blind.

Yes, MaMaw’s blind.  She had gone out with her dad and they had gone to MaMaw’s blind, because Randy had good luck there in the past seasons.  I had planned on going to Sunday School, but that wish was cut short when Randy called to let me know that Beckah had shot a nice one, so I took the tractor down to pick it up, however we did make Church!

The buck was fat, had 10 points (almost 11) and scored 130 raw on Boone and Crockett!

Just Taking Pictures

Having gone out to just take pictures of some bucks on opening day, I climbed up into MaMaw’s blind, she always said, “Big bucks are shot from my blind”!   Being more into bucks chasing doe, I was more interested in pictures.  Not wanting to shoot a buck, I was surprised when I saw a doe and following close behind her was a buck, definitely a shooter!  This one had a tall rack, 8 or 9 points and was definitely, definitely a shooter!

I had carried along my .270 I really wasn’t looking to shoot a buck this A.M. being more interested in pictures.  But what the heck, centering the crosshairs behind the shoulder, I fired, the buck hopped took one step and fell dead!

He was 5-1/2 years old, he made it this far by being cautious, but chasing a doe got him in big trouble. This was the same buck that had challenged the buck I shot two years ago.  The pic shows him kicking up dust, (we have a lot of that around here).

He scored 134 4/8 B&C, I was surprised he scored so low, but weighed around 135-150.

Cinco Ranch

In 1953, the early November opening of goose and duck season was hailed by hunters for the rain and high winds that back, to back, to back, weather systems fostered. Blow from the southeast for two days, then blow from the northwest for a few days, the cycle repeating it self continuously. Me, and my group of hunters, using the term loosely, “sneakers” would better apply, took full advantage of the weather to try the patience of many of the rice farmers and our parents.

The area west of Highway 6, along FM 1091, all the way to Fulshear on the Brazos River was prime goose country, part of the Katy prairie. All of this area now is subdivisions and shopping malls and the geese have vacated it. Back then, after a driver passed Post Oak Rd. street signs changed from Westheimer to FM 1091. Now, Westheimer extends for miles, out past Highway 6 and is the center of commerce for west Houston!

Four of us were heading home around 11:00 AM from a reasonably successful goose hunt, success being measured by; a vehicle not being stuck beyond retrieval, not one of the hunters injured, not being stopped by the law and, maybe, even, a few geese. We were coming in, heading east, on FM 1091 and wishing we could get permission to hunt on Cinco Ranch, a large ranch, twenty sections or more, laying north of 1091, all the way to Highway 6. The ranch now sports country clubs, shooting ranges and some very, large, ritzy, subdivisions.

Probably four hundred yards north of the road, inside the fences of Cinco Ranch, we spotted a huge gaggle of geese. Immediately, one of our group said that we should sneak ‘em. A quick uwey and we stopped on the soggy shoulder, donned our hip boots, hooded parkas and grabbed our shotguns. Going over the barbwire fence, hitting the ground, we started our sneak.

Four hundred yards is long crawl, shotguns cradled in our arms, military style. Keeping our heads down we inched along with each inch the noise of the geese grew louder. No alarm calls so we were doing OK. Inches turned into feet and feet into yards as we reached the hundred-yard mark, only sixty or so, more to go. Then raise up and let fly!

Hearing a strange peeping sound, I knew it wasn’t a rattler, then, the whirring of twenty or more quail bursting into the air startled me so much that I leaped to my feet and shouted a few choice expletives! That’s all it took for the thousands of geese to spook and get airborne. Standing, we could only watch as they gained altitude and “honked” their way to safety.

That was our first, and last, “sneak” on Cinco Ranch!

More Outdoors Pictures, October 21, 2014

Here are 2 more bucks that showed up at the corner feeder, it’s funny they were chasing doe around the feeder, but really, they were not interested in them.  Wait for a couple of weeks!  The first buck is a really good 8 pointer, you’ve seen him before, but here’s a good “shot” of him.

Another buck dropped by and he was a really good 10 pointer, but he and the 8 pointer, don’t have swollen necks.  When they start fighting, they will!

You can see this buck has 2 points on his brow tine, the same as the one I shot last year that won the “Mill’s County Big Buck Contest”! This one is heavier on the horns than last year’s.

More Outdoors Pictures, October 15, 2014

The bucks haven’t been coming around the feeders since there is too many acorns. Too many acorns means a buck doesn’t have to move around very much and they don’t have to come around feeders!

However, there’s a few good “shots” of some pretty good one’s, also the bucks are out of their velvet.  First is a good buck, an 8 pointer, with big brow tines, definitely a shooter!

Then, there’s a cull buck, a big bodied, 7, pointer, that should be shot this season.

Then, in the background, an “iffy” one, maybe just outside of his ears, if he makes it through the season he’ll be a good one next year!

A Shot I Shoulda’ Made

Having just signed up on a new hunting lease near Millersview, during the last part dove season standing by myself, with my twenty gauge pump, in the shade of a mesquite tree, the sun on my right and a half 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 my tank.

One hour later, here came the doves! Beginning with just a trickle, I knocked down the first two and they both fell right on the tank damn, just in front of me. Picking my shots, being careful not to splash one into the tank, the doves kept falling and I stopped for a minute and counted up. Eleven birds, then I counted my shots, eleven shots. Never having gone straight on a limit of doves, thinking back, I had run over a hundred and fifty straight on clay birds in trap and downed fifteen 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, down it dropped 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, still not bad and the new lease only got better.

Another Beautiful Day In Paradise

It could be said that the weather in the Phoenix area is always hot and bright. Even if it is cool, the sun is out most of the time and Jake Schorder and I, both of us being good ole’ Texas boys, remembered plenty of rain and clouds, and would joke around with each other and say “Ho hum, another beautiful day in paradise.” One day, for me, paradise turned ugly!

In 1972, Bill Randall and I were both managers with a large computer company and both shared the same love for hunting. During the last portion of dove season, we left work early, sales calls you know, and I picked him up in my Bronco and off we went to a spot he had found north of Gilbert, Arizona.

It was a large grain field that had just been harvested. Arizona is strange. It is hot and dry, but if you can get water to a crop, it will grow, and, along its east side a large irrigation canal supplied the water to this field. We up and downed through the canal, thankfully it was dry, and scrambled out of the truck and began our hunt, paying no attention to a large thunderhead southeast of us.

Bill and I were the only ones in the field and were literally “covered up” in birds. We held off of the mourning doves and concentrated on the larger white wing doves. Nearing our limits of birds, we noticed that the thunderhead was moving towards us and causing a small sandstorm. No problem, when it gets close we’ll load up and go.

It got close real quick and the next thing we knew there was a wall of sand coming closer and closer, until it engulfed us. Hurrying to the truck, it started getting darker and by the time we closed the truck doors, it was like night had fallen 4 hours early. As the wind picked up, large drops of rain were smacking into the truck and Bill said, “Jon, we are in trouble. I bet this is a tornado and we got no place for shelter.” I said, “We could lay down in the canal and hope for the best.” And he replied, “Just drive the truck into it.”

We pulled over one of the berms and turned left into the canal and stopped, lightning popping all around, the wind and rain buffeting us and then we heard it. A train bearing down on us, but no tracks around here and we looked at each other and said, “Tornado!”

We could feel the force of the wind shaking us and trying to lift the truck up into the storm, but for some reason, we kept settling back down into the canal. In the darkness, terrifying minutes passed until the big wind and the roaring passed. It remained cloudy, the sky brightening, the wind dropping to an estimated 50 MPH, and the big drops of rain being replaced by a normal shower, and soon, the big storm was breaking up before it ever reached a populated area.

No mention of the tornado on the 10:00 PM news, so I guess Bill and I were the only witnesses. Also, the Chamber of Commerce thinks it is bad for tourism if there is talk of tornadoes in Arizona.