Smilin’ And Drivin’

In 1969, a close friend and I went in together on a 250, acre, duck/goose lease 4 miles north of Katy, Texas, right in the middle of the [Katy Prairie], see my post of January 29, 2007. This was my first hunting lease and for the next several years provided my family, friends and me with a world of enjoyment.  At 5:00 AM, using the back roads, it was a 25, minute drive to the lease from my home in Sharpstown, in southwest Houston.

The first hunt on the new lease found me hosting one of my employees, Norman Shelter.  Norman had considerable experience hunting the Anahuac area, east of Houston.  Norman and I arrived well before sun up and set out our decoys.  At shooting time, we were covered up with ducks, our calling skills weren’t even tested, and we had our limits by 7:45 AM, well before the first flights of geese.  We loaded up everything, took the ducks to a processing house in Katy, then changed into our business clothes and went on in to work.  This was almost too easy, but it gave me an idea.

Always getting into work very early, what harm would it do if for one or two days I got in around 9:00 AM?  If I took my business clothes with me, I could hunt until around 8:30, change clothes and head on in to work, also missing what I thought then, was the heavy traffic on I-10.  Even now with 12 lanes and HOV lanes, the traffic is unbearable and the drive from Katy to the Medical Center, where my office was at the time, takes over an hour!

Implementing my plan, not two weeks later, after a successful early morning hunt I was driving into the office on I-10 and tying my tie in the rear view mirror, when I heard a horn honk right beside me.  Looking over, I saw the new Cadillac, and oh no, I was caught, my boss, Tommy Walker, waving, smiling and driving along.  Tommy and another manager, John Maddley were smiling and waving to me, but I knew that when I got into work, I’d had it.  My drive on in to work was a nightmare, what was I going to do, lie, no way, I’ll just take my medicine.

Wouldn’t you know it, they parked right beside me and the first words out of Tommy’s mouth were, “Jon, did you move.  I thought you lived in Sharpstown?”  Jim laughed and said, “Maybe he’s got a girl friend out west?  Just kidding.”  Replying, “ No guys, to tell the truth, I’ve been duck hunting this morning and changed in the car while I was driving in.”  Tommy asked, “How’d you do?”

Nothing else was ever said about my early morning hunts, but on several occasions Tommy teased me about the way my car smelled.  In the summer he said it smelled like old softball clothes and in the winter, like rice field mud.

Authors note:  This is the same Tommy Walker that was shot in the eyes during a quail hunt 4 years later in central Arizona.  See my posts on January 13 and 15, 2010, “[Walking Wounded]” and “[Part 2 of Walking Wounded]”.