Category Archives: Hunting

A Really Big Axis Ram

At Warren Blesh’s, RRR Ranch, , just at dusk this past week, a hunter from Colorado, with his .243, knocked down this huge Axis Ram. The Axis Deer, axis axis, field dressed over 275 pounds and had a horn length of 30 inches. In Texas, exotic game can be hunted throughout the year and aren’t regulated by the State.

Earlier in the afternoon, the hunter had shot a couple of young Axis does and Warren told me, “The Axis were eating him out of house and home and needed thinning out”. Warren owns and runs the ranch in Mills County, Texas, a few miles south of Goldthwaite. He added “I have seen a couple of world class, 40 inchers, back in the cedars, beautiful, big animals!”

Arizona Ducks

In Arizona, Jack Shindler, another Texas boy and I, enjoyed many years of excellent hunting and fishing together. Our search for Quail, arrow heads, Indian artifacts and Bass, led us over the entire state from the beauty of the Mogillion Rim to the starkness of the Sonoran Desert and it also led us to find some, surprise, Ducks.

We found the Ducks by accident, on the McDowell Indian Reservation, not twenty miles from our homes in Paradise Valley. For $5.00 we purchased hunting permits for the several thousand acres of the Reservation. The Verde River bisected the Reservation and we were looking for Quail one afternoon on the flats besides the River, when ahead of us our Brittanys, Candy and Rooster, flushed several Green Head Mallards out of the water. The Ducks flew right over us, and us without Duck Stamps, held our fire.

The Duck Stamp situation was remedied and two days later my bird dog an I are back along the Verde and up come the Ducks, but about sixty yards away and too far to shoot. I notice they jumped from the slack water behind a small island and my mind started clicking. What if I came out here early in the morning and put the decoys out right where the Ducks jumped up? Not a bad idea. Bring my waders, slip in, put out the decoys, make me a quick blind, unlimber my Duck call and I’m in business.

My hunt ended at sundown and starting the two mile drive out, most of it in four wheel drive low, I finally reached the main road (crushed granite) on the reservation. Stopping to put the truck back into two wheel drive for the drive home, I couldn’t get the truck out of four wheel low. I tried rocking it forward and backwards and moving the shift lever. I tried driving slowly and forcing it out of low gear, nothing would work and I couldn’t drive it the twenty odd miles back on a hard top road in four wheel low. I was stuck so I creeped up to the Blue Moon Inn, the local Indian beer joint, and made a call (no cell phones then) for Jack to come and get me.

All ended well. The next day I rented a trailer and “coaxed” some of my salesmen to assist me in recovering my truck. The repair job was minor, a worn shift lever and the
next Saturday morning, daylight found Jack and I on the small island in the Verde River.

He is on the west side and me on the east, about seventy-five yards apart. The twelve plastic decoys are bouncing slowly in the current in front of me, when I hear a Bam, followed by a splash. Jack shot something as I become alert and see him wade out into the main current and pick up a Canadian Goose, a real bonus. He yells at me, “It came in real low, just one.”

As I turn back around, without any warning, two Mallards are hovering over the decoys and raising up, Bam, Bam, splash, splash, my new 20 gauge Beretta, over and under, worked just fine! During the summer of 1971, my trusty 12 gauge pump that I had shot for over twenty years, along with all of my other guns, a new TV, that I won in a sales manager’s contest and my brand new Buick Electra 225, had been stolen while we were out of town. The car was found undamaged the next week but nothing else was ever recovered.

Retrieving one of the Ducks proved to be a challenge. It had fallen on the edge of the current and had drifted down the River getting stuck in a pile of debris. Picking up one Duck and pitching it toward my makeshift blind, I begin wading down the shallow river for the other one. The water isn’t knee deep, but I can feel the cold and the rocks are really slick and me with no “Moses Stick” for balance only my new, over and under.

Balancing as best I can and sliding my wader boots over the rocks, looking up, coming around the bend of the river right at me, are three Mallards. Up comes my gun and down I go, into the shallow water, butt first and the cold water rushes into the back of my waders and I utter some unprintable words! I bounce up quickly, the water pooling in my waders around each foot, but it is too late for a shot. I wonder what scared the Ducks off.

Hearing Jack laughing in the distance, I utter some more unprintables in his direction and let him know I’m ready to go home (and get some dry clothes).

The thieves who broke into my house and stole my stuff were finally caught in 1974, after they had opened a used furniture store on Indian School Road in east Phoenix. They had just committed another robbery, a TV and some guns, and, of all things, the latest victim shows up in their used furniture store looking for a used TV. Spotting one just like his stolen one, he looked a little closer and saw his Social Security number that he had engraved on the back. He left the store without a purchase, went to the Police and thus ended the careers of a vicious gang of thieves. My guns went to Mexico and someone in the Phoenix area got a real good Sony TV.

In 2003, while playing in a National Championship Senior Softball tournament in Phoenix, I had the opportunity to visit the McDowell Indian Reservation again. I took the old stagecoach route over Reata Pass and down the east side of the McDowell mountains. In places the old road comes within a stones throw of the Verde River reasonably close to our Duck spot. The Reservation now is very clean, with many new houses and I’m sure they don’t allow hunting, especially since they have a thriving Casino!

Darrell And Dewayne (pronounced Deewayne) Revisited

Darrell had gone to north Georgia to help one of his girlfriends move to a new trailer park leaving Dwayne (pronounced Deewayne) home at their place between Cartersville and Kennesaw Mountain. During the past week, Dewayne called my hunting partner Chad Harmon, now deceased, and said that he had found a couple more coveys of birds along a creek we had frequented the past season.

Pictured is my Brittany Spaniel, Beechnut’s Rooster Cogburn, or Rooster, who played a part in this drama. A great tireless hunter!

We arrived at the designated “meet” after lunch on the following Saturday, my morning being consumed with coaching my team, the 12 year old, Sandy Springs Saints, to a win over the DeKalb Yellowjackets in a hotly contested Georgia Youth Football game. We held them twice within our 5 yard line in the last quarter, to preserve our 7 to 6 victory.

Ready to shoot some birds, we let out Rooster, my Brittany, and began our hunt along a flowing creek, lined on both sides by harvested Soy Bean fields. Dewayne’s dog, “Old Slick” had been rendered “hors de combat” by a big tom Cat and was unable to hunt with us. We were soon into the first covey and dropped two, fat Quail, the balance of the birds flying into some thick cover on the other side of the field. Dewayne, ever the gentleman, said, “I’ll go root those birds out of the cover. Both you all want to come with me?”

We didn’t find the “flushed” covey, but clearing the thick cover, Dwayne in the lead, there standing before us, looking at us, was a Turkey. No fall season in Georgia, so I yell at Dewayne as I see him raising his shotgun, “Dewayne, don’t sh, Bam, oot! He had just dispatched a domestic, hen Turkey.

Lifting up the bird, he exclaimed, “How about taking a picture for me?” We declined! Two weekends ago his twin brother Darrell had shot a Rooster out of a tree and now Dewayne shoots this Turkey. Dewayne takes the Turkey back to his old truck and we take this opportunity to end our hunt.

Chad or I never went back to hunt with the twins, Darrell and Dewayne (pronounced Deewayne).

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?

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.

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.

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.

Morning Hunt

The following story was written in 2006 by my Grandson, Austin Bryan. Using this blog to tell my stories wasn’t even on the horizon at that time. His Mom and Dad, Randy and Debbie, had the story reproduced and put into a very nice frame and gave it to me as a memento that I will cherish. The young man is off to a good start and I think honoring his effort and posting this to my blog would be something that he would cherish.

Austin was in the fourth grade, ten years old, and the story was his written composition portion of the TAKS test. He received a perfect score and was the only fourth grader in San Marcos ISD to receive a perfect score on this portion of the test.

Besides being a very good student, Austin is a talented athlete playing organized football, baseball and basketball. He lives with his parents, brothers and sister in San Marcos, Texas. He has two younger brothers, Sean and Jeremy, and a younger sister, Rebekah. His Dad, my Son, Randy, is Pastor of The Fellowship Of San Marcos Church.

Morning Hunt
By Austin Thomas Bryan

I groaned wearily as I got up from bed. My expression changed to happy once I got on my suit and selected my gun. I loved to hunt at the ranch, it was swarmed with deer.

I ran to the Jeep with the gun hanging over my shoulder. My grandpa said, “Hand me that gun and get me some bullets.” I sprinted to the gun case to retrieve the bullets. I opened the door and got them, then I ran back to the Jeep. My grandparents own several hundred acres and a few blinds (blinds are small towers). I opened the gate when we stopped. We couldn’t use a car from here or we’d frighten off the deer.

I slung the rifle over my shoulder and put the bullets in my pockets. I was so excited I could barely comprehend it. My grandpa marched ahead and fingered for me to follow him.

We had to trek through running water, endure cactus leaving red marks on our ankles, and my favorite look at the constellations glimmering like pools of diamonds. Which, to me, wasn’t a hardship whatsoever. I began to see faint whispers of the sun. I spotted the blind and climbed the ladder with my grandpa behind me. Once I got to the top I stepped into the blind. “Help me up,” my grandpa whispered. “Sure thing,” I answered softly.

I propped the window open and pointed the barrel of the gun outside. My eyes were propped open farther that the windows. I heard some leaves rustling. I paid even more attention. Suddenly a doe and a buck came out of the forest thicket. “Shoot them,” he said. I clicked the safety off. I aimed but was too excited. I finally got a good shot. “Bang,” went the gun.

The buck fell dead. “Congratulations,” my grandpa said, “Thanks,” I said. A large smile spread across my face. It was all thanks to this magical place.

Canadensis Maxima

In December of 1956 we left West University (then a Houston suburb) well before first light for the 30 minute drive to a rice field that we had permission to hunt on and spending over an hour spreading out our decoys, Wes Reynolds and I were laying along the edge of a levee in a harvested rice field of about eight hundred acres with a mud road bisecting it. Wes, four years younger than me, was a friend and neighbor and had been hunting with my Dad and I for several years. In the far northwest corner of the rice field, probably five thousand Geese had roosted the previous night and they now provided a serious impediment to our decoying efforts.

On the Katy prairie it was cold, with low hanging clouds and a steady north wind blowing, providing Wes and me a day made for Goose hunting. The early morning quiet was broken by the sounds of Geese squawking in the distance and we were doing our best to imitate these sounds and coax the six young Snow Geese to “come on in” and land with the large gaggle of geese, really our decoys, already on the ground, on this side of the large rice field.

Not your normal Goose decoy spread that you see now days with hundreds of large full body, plastic and foam ones, Geese “flying”, wings spinning rapidly, hunters dressed in white overalls packing 10 Gauge, 3 ½” magnum shotguns; but newspapers, old diapers, piles of mud with goose feathers stuck into them and hunters with “early” camo parkas and green waders packing, 12 gauge, pump shotguns with 2 ¾” paper shells. But it worked!

Setting out the decoys wasn’t rocket science. Spread the diapers over clumps of rice, wrap a full sheet of newspaper so it looks like a Goose head and set it on a clump of rice and attach a glob of mud to each in order to hold them so the wind won’t blow them away. The “mud” decoys were the easiest, just make a pile of mud and stick Goose feathers into in, not like a porcupine, but slicked back like a Goose.

Young Geese make mistakes, and these six did, setting their wings and “falling”, looking like leaves drifting down from a tall tree, right into the decoys and bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, four geese tumble to the ground. We pick them up and unceremoniously propped the Goose’s heads up with rice stalks and added them to the decoy spread.

Later in the morning, with two Specklebelly Geese down and added to the spread, Wes and I noticed the large gaggle of Geese in the northwest corner of the field become agitated, some starting to take off, some up and circling and a noisy cacophony of Goose sounds filling the air. We snuggled down behind the levee and waited, and soon were rewarded with the sight of thousands of Geese taking the air, and heading right toward us!

Over the noise of the Geese, I whispered to Wes, “Wait until the leaders have flown past, pick out a bird and shoot him before you get on the next one.” The noise of the approaching

Geese and the numbers of them were astounding to us as closer and closer they came. The leaders passing over us, the sound deafening, I shouted, “Take ‘em,” and we both stood and shouldered our shotguns, we both had two additional shells stuck between the fingers of our left hands, and let go on the Geese.

Picking out a huge Canadian, not over fifteen yards away from me, bigger than any goose I had ever seen, swinging, putting the barrel of the shotgun about 24 inches in front of the giant Goose’s bill and bam, the giant kept flying, quickly shucking another shell into the chamber of the full choked, Winchester, 12 Gauge, Model 12, bam again, nothing. Shortening my lead on the giant, bam again, nothing. Quickly reloading the two “back up” shells, the giant being long gone, I acquired new targets, two Snow Geese stretching out for altitude and dropped them cleanly, probably 40 yard shots. Looking over toward my younger accomplice, who was standing there shaking, I said, “How many did you knock down?” Wes replied, “I shot five shells and never hit a bird. I got excited and shot into the flock on my first three, reloaded and just kinda’ shot at another Goose. Nothing!”

As we picked up our “decoys”, the diapers, newspapers and goose feathers, I remarked, “Eight birds isn’t bad, but you should have seen the one I took three shots at and missed. It was twice as big as the rest of the Geese. I first thought it was a Swan, but it had distinctive Canadian Goose markings. I don’t know how I could have missed it?”

Driving home, we thought our eight Goose day should have counted at least a dozen, but when we got home, my Dad almost lectured us, saying, “Boys, whenever you can go out, on your own and get eight, nice Geese, be thankful of that, and I don’t want to hear anymore grumbling about it!” I said, “But Dad, I really messed up not getting that giant Goose and I still don’t know how I missed three shots at fifteen yards.” My Dad replied, “Boy, that’s easy, at fifteen yards the pattern of your shotgun has probably a six inch diameter and the shot string length is probably ten inches at the most. It’s easy, you led the Goose too much!”

Later that day, Wes and I were talking with a neighbor Dave Miller, who hunted Ducks and Geese regularly with our Dads. He told us, “The giant Canadian Goose that you missed was a Canadian Goose alright, a Canadensis Maxima, the largest of the species and supposedly extinct since1922! However, several sightings of the giants have been reported during the past few years.”

Thinking out loud I replied, “Missing those three shots wasn’t so bad after all.

The Katy Prairie

In the 1950’s the Katy Prairie stretched from Farm Road 1960 west to the Brazos River and from the pine tree line northwest of Houston, south to the farm country around Richmond/Rosenberg, an area of over 400 square miles. The corner of Texas Highway 6 and F.M. 529 was known throughout the area as “Wolf Corner” (today a shopping center) because the trappers and hunters would string the carcasas of red wolves, coyotes, bobcats and foxes from the barbwire fences. “Wolf Corner”, that is F.M. 529 was one of the entry points to the Prairie.

Rice, cattle, oil and gas were the main products of the Prairie, but the sub-product of rice farming was geese and ducks, at one time, hundreds of thousands of them, and the hunters flocked to it. I have hunted with and without permission, as a guest and used my own lease, but finally the urban sprawl of Houston closed down this wonderful enclave. Most of the Prairie now is sub-divisions, schools and shopping centers and the geese and ducks have moved away.

In 1952 I shot three times and missed at the largest Canadian goose I have ever seen, later finding out it was a Canadensis Maxima, thought to be extinct since 1922, however some sightings are still reported. In 1980 I saw an “extinct” red wolf cross a road that ran through my hunting lease. And to top that story, in 1988, while quail hunting near Waller, on the Katy Prairie, I came upon, and my Brittany Spaniel, Gus, pointed two “extinct” red wolves. Gus, me, and the wolves, all froze. Gus and I both held our points, while the wolves trotted away into the thick grass and brush. This ended our quail hunt!

Years ago the State tried to plant pheasants on the Prairie and apparently into the 1980’s people were still running across some. The birds couldn’t cope with all of the winged and fur bearing predators. In 1989, I was quail hunting south of Hockley, on the Prairie, and shot a cock pheasant, pointed by Gus. Maybe that was the last one?

My youngest son, Randy, actively pursued the geese and ducks on the Prairie. Later I came to believe, his main interest was seeing how much mud it took to stick his Blazer. One night I was having dinner with an important client and Randy called and told me he was stuck just off of Barker-Cypress Road, then a narrow two lane track, now a major four lane boulevard.

The client and I stopped eating and headed out, a 20 minute drive, to save Randy. He was stuck in the ditch beside the paved road and says he was forced off of the hard top. Forced, yes, when he turned the wheel into the ditch.

One good thing came out of this, the client and I began a 25 year business and personal relationship that night that lasts to this day!