Category Archives: Weather


Getting up yesterday morning and “putting another log on the fire”, I looked outside and noticed moisture, sleet/rain, was falling and the temperature was 31 degrees. Locally, for the past 4 months, we’ve been without any significant rain, so this steady fall was a blessing! Having to drive over to Brownwood, 33 miles west of Goldthwaite, on my trip over and back, there was ice all over my truck and I noticed patches of ice on the highway that held my speed to under 55 MPH. It rained and sleeted all day and the temperature never exceeded 32. Not a good day for any outside work.

Opening up my e-mail, Randy Pfaff sent me a picture of the snow at his place in southwestern Colorado.

This reminded me that we had snow here in Goldthwaite on Easter day of 2007 and Layla and I went out and took some pictures of the blue bonnets and Spanish daggers. That year our bluebonnets, the State flower of Texas, were beautiful! In 2008, no rain in the fall and no bluebonnets!

This picture shows our tractor ‘marooned’ in the snow. Layla’s batting practice, pitching screen is in the background. At that time, we were already 3 tournaments into our 2007 softball season, so this snow caught us off guard!
Snow is a lot ‘more funner and prettier’ that sleet and ice!

Road Closed

In December, 1972, during the second half of a boring NFL game, I looked over at Jake Schroder and said, “This isn’t much fun! Let’s go four wheelin’.” That’s all it took for our families to go on the most bizarre and dangerous four wheel, trip that we ever took.

Since it was mid afternoon, around 2:00 PM, we decided to drive up to Bartlett Damn on the Verde River, cross the river there and then take a four wheel drive only, road over to Punkin Center and back home. From our houses in Paradise Valley, Arizona, looking at the map, this appeared to be an uneventful two, plus hour trip, but we’d get to see some new country.

We loaded our wives and 3 kids (each) in, my 1968 Ford Bronco and Jake’s, brand new, 1972, Toyota Land Cruiser and headed out Scottsdale road to Carefree and then on to Bartlett Damn. We drove down the dirt road leading to the low water river crossing and to our surprise, water was being let out of Bartlett Lake and we didn’t know if we could cross or not. The low water crossing certainly didn’t look very low.

Locking our hubs and shifting into 4WD Low, the Bronco was first to cross and I thought we’d be swept away. Water came in under the doors and the steering pulled heavily to the right, down river, but we made the 100, foot crossing successfully. The kids thought this was “neat”! Jake followed and since his Land Cruiser was heavier he chugged right across.

Climbing up out of the river bottom we started out on the four, wheel drive only, road to Punkin Center. As we kept climbing up into the low hills, we noticed that it had become cloudy and gotten cooler but we thought nothing of it. We did notice that this road, even by four wheelin’ standards, was very bad.

Creeping slowly along, the road had turned rocky and on outside curves, it leaned dangerously, “down the hill”. We came to one stretch, that years back, had been filled in over a small, creek and the road was so narrow, Jake got out to scout and when he did he noticed the mist and called out, “Beech, it’s misting and it’s gotten much cooler”. He guided me across and then I got out in the mist and guided him across. There was no margin for error. We thought of turning around, but hadn’t found a place where this could be accomplished. This road was bad!

The clouds kept us from seeing, what we knew, was a beautiful sunset and the mist had turned into a light rain, and above the windshield wipers, I noticed an accumulation of ice! Everyone asked, “Where did this storm come from?” From the kids, “Daddy, will it snow?” Now, there’s rain, ice, no turn around and a terrible road, leaving us only one choice, soldier on!

Being 4 hours into our 2, plus, hour trip, where was Punkin Center? We continued creeping and came to another “fill”. Jake jumped out into the icy, rain, flashlight in hand, stuck his head inside my truck and said, laughingly, “Women and children out of the truck!” My family complied and he guided me over. I knew that I was going to slide off and I didn’t even know how far down, that down was! We made it but the wheelbase on Jake’s truck was slightly wider than the Bronco’s. His family jumped out and I guided him slowly over to safety. His big tires saved the day!

It had been dark for over an hour and we hadn’t seen a single light, only our headlights, reflecting on the rain/sleet. The kids were wet and cold now, “Daddy, I’m wet and cold,” they echoed, as I turned the heat/defrost up higher. We creeped on around a hill, with the truck tilting dangerously to the left and when we reached the top we could see the car lights on Beeline Highway and we knew that Punkin Center was close by.

Inching down the hill, as we neared the highway, we noticed a sign beside our, what may be called, road, that read “Road Closed”. That explained a lot! We crept on into the small hamlet of Punkin Center and the one store, was closed, so we cranked up and drove on down Beeline to Shea and turned right and headed home. Six hours from our start, I pulled into our cul de sac and the kids were all sound asleep.

I still wonder why there was no “Road Closed” sign at the Bartlett Damn end of the road?

What, No Pot Of Gold

Friday afternoon Layla and I headed to Temple to watch Copperas Cove open their district play against the Temple Wildcats and Sara cheer her team on to victory. As we were nearing the Goldthwaite city limits, we encountered a very heavy thunderstorm. Of course, the weatherman didn’t predict any rain for our area. There was rain, a total of 1.6’ and .9 of that fell in 15 minutes! We even drove through ‘OO’ buckshot, size hail!
We noticed two rainbows forming, one right behind our local, livestock sale barn and I stopped to take this picture. The rainbow had formed, but there was no leprechaun or ‘pot                                                  of gold’. Well, better luck next time!

We arrived in Temple and watched, as Sara and her friend, Alicia, cheered and the, number 12 State ranked, Dawgs demolished Temple, 56-14. Next week, I’m off to Houston to play in a one day Senior Softball tournament, while Cove, for their first real test, plays a solid team from Bryan and Goldthwaite opens their district play against Evant.

Two Eyes, Tropical Storm Allison

My life has been blessed with many different events; some rewarding, some terrifying, many dangerous, many stimulating, but none remain with me like Allison, the tropical storm that flooded and devastated not only Texas and Louisiana, but also the Southeast and Eastern United States.

Damage estimates were over six billion dollars. Texas and Louisiana led the list, with third place in damage, of all things, Pennsylvania! Over forty people were killed by the storm, twenty-three in Texas alone, and Allison dumped over forty inches of rain on southeast Texas, which was the fourth highest amount of any storm in recorded history

Allison began as a tropical wave off the coast of Africa, moved west and crossed upper, South America into the Pacific, then moved over Mexico back into the Gulf of Mexico and wandered north, made landfall between Freeport and Galveston Island, with the eyes, yes two eyes, passing over Bayou Vista. It hit Houston and moved not over 100 miles north and stalled, then moved south back into the Gulf Of Mexico, pounding the entire Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard and finally sputtering out in Massachusetts where it produced a tornado and flooding. It was the costliest tropical storm in history and the only one that has had its name retired!

Houston experienced over seven inches of rain in one hour and over twenty-eight inches in twelve hours and that is where my Allison story begins.

Allison’s rain was pounding us and around 2:00 PM, my partner, Bob Baugh, said he thought I should head on down to Bayou Vista and make sure my house was OK. My experiences on Interstate 45 between Houston and Galveston, told me that it would be a long, difficult and possibly dangerous drive down there.

Layla was working part-time, in far north Houston, for a national softball organization and I headed out, called her and said that she should start home right away. We had just sold our home in Cypress, Texas and were living full time in Bayou Vista. The next day we were planning on driving to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where Layla was running a senior softball tournament and I was playing in it.

Starting out around 3:00 PM, traffic was building. Our local media was wearing their rain suits inside of their studios and telling us to brace for a tropical storm with fifty mile per hour winds. Overkill, I thought. Traffic on I-45 was awful, not thinning out until past the NASA exit and when the traffic thinned, here came the rain. It poured buckets on us, slowing speeds to around forty miles per hour. It poured for the next ten miles and when I reached the Dickinson exit, the rain stopped and the skies lightened up. I looked to my right, west, and saw, not five miles away, a funnel cloud hanging down nearly to the ground. It was heading north, so no immediate danger to me.

I turned up the radio and heard that the eye of Allison had just passed over Galveston Island. Wow, I thought, I must be in the eye right now. That makes three for me! The next ten miles down to Bayou Vista were fairly nice, light rain and not much wind. I pulled into my driveway and my neighbor, Jack Bustos, was standing in his driveway and says to me, “Hey, the eye just passed over here! Come on in for a drink.” “OK,” I accepted. We were chatting about what a strange storm this was when it started raining again and I cut our visit short and ran home. Then it really started to rain!

During my travel south, Layla was trying to get down to Bayou Vista to, but was hung up in the traffic and rain. Freeways were being closed and she made it no farther than West Belt and Westheimer, where, because of the rain and flooding, she decided to get a room in a motel and meet up with me in the morning. My company’s offices were right across the street from her motel, but Bubba and the staff had already gone home, and she was too late for them to help her. She called me and we decided she would be safe to stay where she was.

It rained and rained and rained, with a constant wind of thirty-five to forty-five miles per hour, a steady hard wind, and the water in the canal started rising not from the heavy rain but from the expected five foot tidal surge that Allison packed. I had raised my twenty- two, foot boat as high as I could in the boat shed, so I should have plenty of clearance between my boat’s hull and the water.

The water had risen three feet and was already over the bulkheads and washing into my yard, so I went into the garage and made sure everything was up off of the concrete, floor. If we actually had a five, foot surge, water would be in the garage. My property was nine feet above sea level and the street was eleven feet, which meant we could still get out if need be.

It was raining hard, wind blowing and then it stopped. I went out onto my deck just as Jack, my neighbor came out and yelled over to me, “Looks like another eye, that’s real strange. How about another drink?” “No thanks,” I replied, thinking that when the storm on the backside of the eye picked back up, I could be stranded next door. This made the fourth storm-eye I had been in. That’s enough for anyone!

The night passed with more rain and wind and the tidal surge didn’t make it into the garage, just up to the patio. Not much storm when I awoke and called Layla and said for
her to be ready over at my office and I would pick her up in two hours. She told me what to pack for her for our trip to Arkansas and I was on my way.

Houston was flooded, but the freeways were open with not much traffic and I buzzed on in. We loaded up, parked her Suburban in a secure area behind my office, and headed north up I-45 in my 4WD Suburban.. Water everywhere and a light rain falling on us until we passed Huntsville, sixty miles north of Houston, when the rain hit us. By “the rain”, I mean the main rains of Allison.

The storm had stopped north of Houston and was dumping rain over the countryside. We were forced to slow down, blinkers flashing, to thirty miles per hour for the next fifty miles. By the time we had driven to Fairfield we had passed through the heart of Allison, but no “eyes” for me this time. We drove on to Hot Springs, with a light mist and rain all of the way, with the weather clearing the next day.

We followed the storm closely on radio and TV and the tournament proceeded as scheduled and my team won our classification and qualified for the Nationals in Plano in September. Allison was another story.

The storm made landfall in Texas, on June 4, 2001, passed through Houston, stopped around Buffalo, north of Houston, turned back into the Gulf of Mexico and slammed into Louisiana, then skipped down the north shore of the Gulf, turned northeast along the Georgia/Florida line, up the East Coast and finally, on June 18, turned out into the North Atlantic Ocean. So ended Allison, the most expensive, damaging and dangerous tropical storm on record and I was able to experience all of her fury as she pounded into Texas!

The Eye Of The Storm

In August of 1941, my family and I had recently moved into our newly constructed home in a brand new, incorporated, subdivision, several miles outside of Houston’s western boundary. Being west of Rice Institute (now University), the subdivision was aptly named West University. ‘West U’ as we called it had, and still has, its own fire, police and water departments.

Houston’s urban sprawl now has encircled ‘West U’ and driven prices sky-high! Our 3, bed room, frame, house and lot, had cost $3,900. Today lots are over $100K and homes over $400K. Back then, drainage ditches lined the streets that were ‘paved’ with oyster shell. When new shell was applied to the streets, on calm and still days, the smell was overpowering! Now ‘West U’ is a model, pricey, yuppie haven, not the almost country place of my youth.

The radio had alerted us of a storm thrashing around in the Gulf of Mexico and apparently headed for landfall on the upper Texas coast. It hit between Galveston and Freeport and unknown to us, was headed our way. Now, with satellites and radar we can tell within miles of where one of these monsters will hit. Back then it was just an educated guess. To me, not yet 6 years old, it sounded like a lot of fun! Looking back, I just don’t know how we survived without the TV weather folks telling us what to do, how to pack our survival items and not to drive our cars into the deep water!

The storm made landfall and bored inland. ‘West U’ is about 60 miles as the ‘crow flies’ from the coast and we received almost the full fury of the storm! The rain was first, beginning in mid morning, then the wind, strengthening and making noises that I had never heard before. By early evening the lights went out, the telephone was dead and we had lost all power. Lightning flashed, thunder roared, the rain came down in sheets, but our new house held together! Then everything stopped!

The hurricane’s eye was passing right over us my Mom and Dad explained to my sister, H.R., and me, as they took us outside for a quick look around. It was dark but we could tell that there were no clouds above us, the stars were out and there was no storm, wind, rain or lightning. Our parents hurried us back inside and we waited for the onslaught to begin again, and it did with a vengeance! More wind and heavy, rain, not as much thunder and lightning, but the storm pounded us until morning.

The hurricane had moved away and following my Dad outside, we both heard a tiny “Mew” and looked under the edge of our house (it was built on a block foundation and raised about 18” above ground level) and found that the source of the “mew” was a tiny, yellow kitten. I picked him, I discovered later, up and ran back inside, yelling, “Mother, can we keep it?” She replied, “If your Dad says so.” He was easy on this one and ‘Tom’ lived with us for the next 14 years.

Not knowing it then, but we had a much bigger and deadlier ‘storm’ coming our way on December 7, 1941!

The Chase

Jim Buck and I were fishing in lower West Galveston Bay, having good luck on Specks, with some 5 or 6 pound, Gaff topsail Catfish, (Gaff tops), thrown in. Gaff tops are slimy, slimy, but offer an excellent fight, and when fried, offer excellent table fare. After each Gaff top we caught, we had to clean the slime off of our line and leader and if we kept one to eat, we ended up with a major chore cleaning our cooler.

We noticed a storm forming west of us but, as usual, thought nothing of it and continued to catch fish. Soon, common sense overtook our desire to catch fish, and we headed back to the east and the safe harbor, at Jamaica Beach. We were making 35 MPH in my boat, but it seemed, that the faster we went, the storm went faster.

Running along the shore from Snake Island and taking the sharp turn into the Jamaica Beach, channel, I cut the engines and coasted up to the dock. One boat was loading and we were next. The wind was blowing at least 60 MPH, slamming things around, but thank goodness, the loading ramp, at water level, offered about 4 feet of protection. If we raised up, the blowing sand and spray was like needles.

Peeping over the edge of my boat’s deck, looking north toward the mainland, I saw a small boat, fighting the storm and heading our way. Nothing unusual, a small boat heading in, but as I looked closer, I saw a waterspout right behind him. He was going about 25 and the waterspout was keeping up with him, not catching him, but staying about 100 yards to his rear.

The small boat cleared the north end of Karankawa Reef and made a hard right, at full speed, across the bay, toward the Jamaica Beach channel. Lucky for him the waterspout continued east towards Green’s Cut. Soon the back edge of the storm passed over us and we successfully loaded our boat on the trailer.

We then helped the lone fisherman in the small boat that the waterspout chased. He was wet, scared and glad to be ashore and away from the waterspout. He said, “I thought it had me and I was afraid to turn because I thought it would follow me.”

We never saw him again. I bet he took up a safer hobby!

The Storm NOAA Missed

The summer of 1987 was the calmest weather I can remember. Back then, we could plan an offshore trip a week ahead, and the weather would cooperate so Bob Baugh and I planned a trip one week ahead, and sure enough, ended up sixty miles out of Freeport, Texas, in his Formula, the “Bill Collector”, at a rig in one hundred and ten feet of water.

We cruised around the rig checking for bait- fish and noticed not five feet under the surface some small Amberjack, so I cast out a Cigar Minnow and a bigger Amberjack quickly darted in and snatched the bait, and the fight was on. I finally subdued the fish and we netted and released it, a 20 pounder.

After we tied up to the rig, we really got a workout from several sixty to eighty-pound Amberjacks, members of the Tuna family, and pound for pound, they are the hardest fighting fish in the Gulf. We were using eighty-pound class tackle and after each bout with a big ‘jack we would take a five or ten minute break.

During one of these breaks I got out a new bay rod that I wanted to try out and baited up with a Cigar Minnow and cast it out behind the boat and let the bait drift with the current. We noticed a squall line looming to our east but didn’t worry about it since NOAA was predicting calm, storm free, weather.

For every five big, Amberjack we hooked, we may have landed one. If, they get their head pointing down, you’re done for and he’d cut you off in the rig. After loosing another one, I was re-rigging and I happened to look up and noticed the squall line getting closer. “Bob, should we worry about the weather?” I asked. He replied, “Naw, doesn’t look like a problem.” We laughed later, over his reply.

Just then, my new rod bent nearly double and the line was peeling off at a rapid rate. Bob says, “I told you that new rod was too light for these big fish out here!” As I set the hook I was rewarded by a big, Bull Dolphin, that cleared the water by about ten feet and took off in passing gear!


What a fight this bruiser put on!

Jump, jump, jump, while running away from the boat, the Dolphin was “turned on”, each jump silhouetting the neon, green/blue/gold fish against the approaching dark blue squall line. If I was an artist, it would have made a beautiful picture. Captain Bly (Bob) spoiled it saying, “We better git, that storm looks like a good one.”

“Horsing” the fish in wasn’t an option. I would get him near the boat and jump, jump, run! We finally got the Bull Dolphin subdued and into the boat and the wind changed from south and hot to northeast and cool. Oh, oh, I’ve been down this road before. We quickly whacked the Dolphin on the head, put him into the big cooler, un-looped the rope from the rig and Bob backed away.

Then Bob did something funny. He reached into the boat storage area, got out a motorcycle helmet and slipped it on. He wore very heavy glasses (this was before he had corrective laser eye surgery) and he used the helmet and visor to keep the rain out. He wiped the clear visor with a towel and told me, “We’re going to get wet, so find you a place and hold on.”

We headed directly into the storm and broached each wave crest, probably eight footers, the rain, worse than when I was caught in a severe storm in 1982, and like then, this storm was between us, and the shore. Wind was about forty miles per hour and no lightning, but the rain almost obscured the bow of the boat, ten feet in front of us.

All we could do was trust the LORAN, this was before GPS, and keep going for forty miles. The easy one hour run took us two and a half hours. The last twenty miles were in relative calm seas and the last five miles were spent in a race with a twenty-four foot Proline. Our speed on the LORAN was fifty-two miles per hour. We won!

The Bull Dolphin weighed thirty-one pounds.

NOAA never said anything about the storm that never was.

A Big, Scary Storm

Having lived on the Texas coast for many years, I have enjoyed my share of storms, tornadoes, waterspouts and hurricanes. This 2 part, story, “A Big, Scary Storm” and “Young Lady, Just Who Are Those Men”, tells the story about an exciting night and the next day’s successful fishing trip.

A Big, Scary Storm

April had been unseasonably warm and the Gulf currents had come in early and raised the water temperatures to over seventy-two degrees, and with the warm water came the pelagic species of fish Kings, Spanish Mackerel and Cobia (Ling).

I had promised Suzanne, my daughter, and Mike, my son in law, an offshore trip since the past season. The timing was good for all of us and we picked a Friday in late April to try and get out and catch some big Kingfish. The big ones come in first and spawn in the shallow water just out from the beachfront and they were our targets.

We had planned to spend the night at my beach house in Bayou Vista and get an early start. Mike and Dick Riley, a fine young man and one of Mike’s lifelong friends, showed up first, followed shortly by Suzanne and we all stayed up to catch the TV news and weather.
The TV weather announced strong line of thunderstorms would move into the Houston area and pass through before sunrise. We then listened to the NOAA weather report on my boat’s radio and there was no mention made of the storms. We were fifty miles southeast of Houston, so we figured, that if the storms hit us it would be about the same time. We were right.
A loud crash of thunder jolted me awake and I sat straight up in bed. Lightning flashed and another loud crash! Lightning ripping the sky, another crash! Here’s the storm I thought while looking at my watch and seeing it is 5:30 AM. I jumped out of bed and slipped on my Wranglers and boat shoes and headed into the main room and found Mike, Dick and Suzanne all dressed and watching the storm.

The rain was pounding the house, the wind was howling at fifty or sixty miles per hour, lightning was constantly flashing and thunder roaring. Our electricity had been knocked out and we were in the dark. At 6:00 AM we heard the Bayou Vista VFD’s alarm sound and wondered why. The alarm sounded again and I said, “We better get to the fire station, they may be trying to signal a tornado.”

Out into the storm we rushed and as we walked down the outside stairs the wind and rain, hit us with terrific force. We can’t be heard over the racket so we plowed on to the Suburban and got in, four wet folks. The wind rocked the truck as we drove the one-mile to the fire station no one there, but we see a crowd gathering at the convenience store on the corner. We drove up, parked and sat with everyone else. This was not a smart thing to do because if a tornado caught us out in the open like this, it would be curtains.

Back at the beach house, around 7:00 AM the storm let up and the skies started to clear. The wind was blowing lightly, maybe a sign it would lay and things would smooth out. We listened to NOAA weather and got a good report, so we decided to go fishing.

Haney’s Ranch – Snow Storm

Sonny, on my back porch. Notice that he is predominantly white.

Having a free weekend, we, the we being myself and Sonny, my Brittany Spaniel, hurried up to Rick’s ranch Friday afternoon, for a go at the Quail. Hurried because a severe, cold front, a “norther” in Texican, was supposed to hit the Abilene area Sunday afternoon, and by then, we should be on our way home with a good tail wind!

Low clouds greeted us Saturday morning along with a medium, south wind offering wonderful scenting conditions. Rick and I scored heavily all day, even though we took a break to watch a good college football game.

Instead of our usual steak cooked over mesquite logs on Rick’s “old timey”, fired brick, bar-b-que pit, we grilled 8 Quail halves. They were spiced up with a half of jalapeno pepper, then both wrapped with a piece of bacon and grilled until the bacon was done. Add a baked potato, along with chopped, green, Ortega, chilies and onions and we had a feast!

We were up early on Sunday, Rick going to church, and Sonny and I were greeted by more low clouds and a steady, light northwest wind and it looked like the “norther” had arrived early, beating the forecast. One hour later, we were hunting into a strong northwest wind and large flakes of snow were swirling down. Sonny, being predominately white, with a few reddish brown spots, was getting hard to see as he worked fifty yards to our front.

We soldiered on for the next hour, fighting the wind, snow and poor visibility, until we were “whited out”. No Sonny out in front, one mesquite tree, out of the thousands on the ranch, close by, nothing but white, up, down and around me! Stopping in my tracks, I whistled Sonny to come in and then surveyed my situation.

Sonny and I huddled together for nearly 10 minutes, as I debated my options. That 10 minutes of debate and indecision, along with never having, or dreaming, that I would be caught in a situation like this caused my feelings to race from panic, to fear, until logical thought took over. Then I used my head for something other than a hat rack, and figured out what to do.

No compass, of course, since I was ONLY hunting on Rick’s ranch. I knew northwest was to the front, since since I had been hunting into the wind. I knew the ranch road, where I had left the Suburban, was behind me. So, I decided to try to walk back to the truck.

Always carrying a check cord for the Dog, I snapped it on to his collar and he “heeled” along, and keeping the wind to my back, carefully walked the mile back to the ranch road, turned right (hopefully) and within 200 yards found the truck.

Before heading back to Houston, I waited for over an hour for the snow storm to break, then for the next eight hours (normally an easy 6 hours) slowly drove home. All of my life I have tried to beat nature and weather forecasts, and I lost again!

On this trip there was not a single incident of “thumping” or any “funny” occurrences!

The Pheasant Hunt

Brad and I had planned to open our State’s Pheasant season with our friend Rusty Williams in the Canyon, Texas area, on December 1. Brad’s cancer changed those plans and December 1 found him just finishing his first round of chemo, so we changed the date of the hunt to December 22.

Our drive up Highway 84 to Roscoe where we connected with I-27 to Canyon was uneventful and only marred by the miles of wind farms around Abilene.

The picture, taken from my Suburban west of Abilene, shows almost 20 windmills, all pumping out electricity. We saw hundreds of thousand Geese and Ducks on the trip but none around the windmills. But don’t worry, “experts” tell us they have no effect on wildlife. If you believe that, I have a bridge I’d like to sell to you!

Shirtsleeve weather greets us at 5:00 PM when we rolled into Rusty’s drive way. His smile of greeting changed to a frown when he told us, “Boys, we’ve got some weather coming in tomorrow. Maybe it’ll miss us over in Friona!” We had noticed a winter storm that had formed in the 4 corners area and was moving east. Maybe it would miss!

Saturday morning as we headed toward Friona and before we passed through Hereford, as the sign would announce, “The Cowboy Capital of the World”, the full fury of the winter storm slammed into us. Winds 45 MPH and gusting higher, blowing snow, 24 degrees temperature and ice, 4 degrees wind chill, but we are going Pheasant hunting!

Beside a playa lake, originally formed centuries ago as a “Buffalo wallow” by huge herds of American Bison wallowing in the mud, eight fools, er ”hunters, climbed out of snow covered 4WD trucks and volunteered to be either walkers or blockers. Brad wisely choose the role as a blocker.

We headed into the cut grain field and pressed on. Bundled up so much, I was still colder than I have ever been. I was trying to figure out how I would raise my shotgun to shoot, but our first walk only produced one hen and one Coyote that Brad “passed” on figuring a long shot with #5’s, and with the wind and snow, his chances of a hit were small.

After our first half-mile walk, we were all frozen and met behind one of the trucks and all agreed that it was just too cold to continue and that we should all go back to the local cafe and await better weather. The vote was unanimous!

Ordering coffee, chips, hot sauce and chili con queso and enjoying the warmth, soon the snow stopped and the wind “let up” to around 30. In less less than an hour, we were headed to another playa , this one deeper with some heavier cover and good natural, prairie grass. As the picture below shows, much of the snow had blown away.


We would set up the blockers and cover a swath of the playa, move the blockers and cover another. The hunting conditions weren’t that bad, 28 degrees and 30 MPH wind. and, as long as we didn’t walk directly into the wind, we were OK. By 1:30 PM we had covered the entire playa and had only one shot at a rooster. We saw 25 or 30 hens and held out fire and several roosters flushed wildly, way out in front of us.

Our host, Rusty, said on opening day his group had limited out in this playa, but now, we should call it a day, and plan on being back on December 1, 2008. Brad and I accepted his kind invitation on the spot!

Rusty Williams (6’4″), below, and I enjoy a break from the wind. Rusty, a Texas panhandle native and former cowboy, was in the Army with Brad and they have remained in friends and have stayed in contact over the years.


Brad held up fine and we thoroughly enjoyed the hunt, but I have never been as cold as I was in the first 30 minutes. Four degrees wind chill and snow, was almost too much for me!

Anyway, as my Dad once told me, “Boy, if you got your limit each time out, it would be called shooting instead of hunting!”