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I’m not referring to the college football conference that produces high scoring offenses and exciting fall gridiron action. The big 12 in my book will forever be roaming the drainages and deep cover of Baylor county Texas.
I have hunted quail primarily on my friend’s ranch outside of Seymour, Texas for the past 20 years. Ken has been so kind to me all of these years with gate and barn keys, and a hearty welcome to hunt his ranch. In the beginning I rarely saw a deer at all while walking miles each day behind the bird dogs, but through the years that began to change. I started seeing a doe here and there, then a basket rack buck, then a spike, then a group of 4 or 5 does, then some better bucks. It was obvious that the deer were moving into Ken’s country over time. It was also obvious that the quality of the deer in both body and antler size were improving. I guesstimate several reasons for the increase.
* habitat improvement-the mesquite bottoms and brushy cactus country on Ken’s ranch has grown taller and thicker through the years. Perfect cover.
* plenty of feed available-annual winter wheat, sufficient spring rains.
* a thick, thick, thick deep bottom-about 40 or 50 acres that seldom sees a human and is ideal for loafing/bedding deer
Here’s the bigun though…
* Educated hunters have been hunting more selectively over the past twenty years. Once upon a time, that little basket rack 6 would have been a prize in most hunting circles…draped across the hood of the car, or on display with a lowered tailgate and driven thru town a time or two, with a stop at the café thrown in just to make sure the local boys knew that you had bagged a buck, any buck. Thinking has changed drastically. That basket buck would still be taken today, and still with great pride. The difference would be properly placed enthusiasm. Once the pride was placed on the antlers, it is now placed on herd improvement. You don’t want that buck to pass along his genes to future generations of 5 and 6 year old 6 points with a 13 inch inside spread. Take him out of the reproduction cycle, enjoy his delicious venison and watch offspring from better bucks grow up. Another benefit from educated hunters, and this one is a bit more difficult for many, is properly aging deer before pulling, or not pulling the trigger. There he is, a tall 8! Looks like a 20 inch inside spread! Beautiful!! WAIT!! While he’s giving you a good luck, try and age him. If this great deer is 3 ½ years old, let’s give him another year or three to develop. If he’s 6 ½ or older, he’s reached his peak, should have plenty of offspring nearby and will start to decline so let’s go ahead and harvest this animal. That mindset has helped grow and improve our deer herds across America the past couple of decades, and I surmise that these are the reasons for the big 12 showing up.
I’d never seen him before, as far as I know nobody had. There was no camp talk of him, no game cam pics hanging in the barn. He showed up mid rut at about 7:30am. I saw him coming from a distance and when he hopped the fence and the sun gave me a good look at his crown, I knew immediately that in all of my years on this ranch, I’d never seen anything close to him in comparison. I was in a blind overlooking a feeder that the girls enjoyed on a regular basis. He was on a dead run to see if the girls were at the buffet…they were not. He ran to within 100 yards of me, never stopped. Took a look, no does, and on he went disappearing into the thick cover.
I sat back and exhaled for the first time in about two minutes. Wow…what a deer. Through my binocular, I saw him again at about 9:30am. On the neighbor’s wheat, and he was a good mile from me. He wasn’t far from cover, and didn’t stay exposed very long. I like to crawl in the blind an hour before legal shooting time, and stay all day, or until I make harvest. I did pull the trigger that day just before dark, on what I believe was one of the big 12’s kinfolk. Perfectly symmetrical like the 12, 8 tall and wide points. I went ahead and filled my tag and freezer with the best buck that I’d ever taken on this property, and one of the best I’d ever seen in Baylor County Texas. I still wanted more meat in the freezer and I will never in my days on earth get enough time in God’s perfect creation, so back to the woods I went day after day, studying the deer and with a keen eye out for the 12.
I didn’t see him again for a couple of weeks, but I did see him again, three times more in fact. Baylor is a two buck county, but only the 12 would satisfy my second buck tag, nothing less. On a muddy morning, after an all-night rain I stepped out of the barn/apartment with my coffee just before sunrise. I could see deer feeding in the wheat. Thru my binocular I could see 5 does and one really big buck. Each minute brought better light, and before long I knew that I was looking at the big 12. The rut was full swing and he’d lost control of his protective senses. He had now exposed himself in an open wheat field, ours by the way, and made himself vulnerable. A lot of humans do that too. I ranged him at 276 yards, I’m comfortable with that shot. I was not comfortable with the man standing beside his pickup a half mile behind the deer. I guess his ol’ truck had broken down, or he found the one spot that had cell service…whatever his reason for stopping in the middle of nowhere, I couldn’t shoot. I waited and waited and waited. The pickup didn’t move, but the deer did. The does were moving east and back toward heavy cover, the big 12 travelled with them. I had studied their movement enough to know where they were going.
I immediately moved west and took the long way around to the trail that I knew they were going to use. My plan was perfect, my execution of it was not. I should have stopped 100 yards shy of the trail but I pushed it. I wanted to cross the trail before they got there and catch a better wind. As I popped out of the brush 10 feet from the trail, so did HE! We were face to face for about .0003 of a second and then of course he was gone. I knew I had blown a golden opportunity. I saw him once more on the very last day of the season, a cold windy January day. He was across the fence on the neighbor, about 500 yards away, and all alone, the way he spends most of his year I recon. I watched him for half an hour before he slipped into a depression and disappeared…again. That was two seasons ago and far as I know, he’s still there.
I didn’t harvest the 12, but the chase, the strategy, the hunt and the time is just as big in my memory. Special memory. I’ll carve out a little time to look for him some more this year and share great tales of great adventure with campmates. We’ll eat store bought beans with unfulfilled tags, and backstrap fillets when our shot finds its mark. Happy bow opener to you! Make memories and send me YOUR story and pics along the way. I look forward to that!
SEPTEMBER 30, 2016
Dove season is upon us! The first domino to fall in a chain of fall splendor! Are you ready? Let’s visit about how to be prepared for those 55 mph gray rockets.
First and foremost is not practice, it starts at your favorite sporting goods store. You will see a LOT of shells on sale at unbelievably low prices right now. Be careful! Don’t buy junk. The best shot in the bird field will drop big time in consistency when under-shelled. I like a one ounce load at least, in 7’s or 8’s. Dependable names are good, American made a must. *12/20/410? I'm a 12. I carry a little lightweight 20 o/u while hunting quail and most other upland birds, so why a 12 when dove shooting? Several thoughts...
-I'm usually closer to a covey rise of quail than I am a high flying dove
-The quail shot, 95% of the time, is a straight away shot about 6-12 feet off the ground-dove are at all angles, heights and speeds
-I'm standing still in a single spot most of the time while dove hunting as opposed to walking many miles chasing quail, the lighter 20 is a must for the hike-the added weight of my 12 doesn’t bother me in a still hunting situation-I do have a sling on my 12, allowing my shoulder to bear the weight during lulls
-Camo...don’t go overboard. Camo has become big business and the birds don’t care how stylish you are...find something that matches your terrain as much as possible...that might be a gray t-shirt and shorts...cover up any shiny jewelry...check your local army surplus store for a bargain.
-decoys...again, you really don’t have to buy the most expensive latest and greatest to get a doves attention...an old-time method of mine that works VERY well is inexpensive and effective...a cheap piece of rebar from your local hardware store bent into a U shape...push the ends down into the ground and use cheap clip on dove decoys...I’ve seen birds perch on the rebar with the decoys...that said...I DO LOVE the Mojo motion decoys. I've also seen birds try to land on top of them, while in motion, many times.
There are the basics, now take your GOOD shells to the sporting clays range and shoot a few rounds before the opener. You’ll amaze your under-shelled, under-gunned under-prepared buddies when the real thing rolls around.
If you pick up your empty hulls and discard them, you're much more likely to be invited back to a dove field again. While you're at the hardware store pick up a roofer’s magnet. It’s a magnet on a stick that will collect your hulls without you having to bend over!
AUGUST 5, 2016
Sunjack Portable Solar Charger, You need this!
I am taking some time over the dog days this year to feature some items that will come in handy, or in this case, could be a lifesaver during your next wilderness trip or fishing excursion. While it’s too hot to do very much outside of early morning and very late evening, it’s a great time to “gear up” and get ready for the fall seasons that will begin to unfold soon.
I have been spending some time with the Sunjack Portable Solar Charger of late...and I like it. I like it enough to tell you about it. I won't ever lie to you or invite you to purchase junk. Sunjack is a keeper and like I said, could be a lifesaver...no exaggeration.
More and more, our gadgets are part of our hunting and fishing, birding, boating and hiking. Whether it's keeping up with our favorite football team while spending a day in the blind, keeping up with our remote trail cameras, recording our hunts/fishing trips, or using the phone for business or family concerns, we are forevermore attached to our electronics. At BBKO radio we spend a great deal of time each year in a hunting scenario, or on the boat. When we cover events life the Bassmaster Classic, we're on the water recording and photographing the event and burning up the batteries posting the latest to the social circles of the world. Power has been a problem in the past. That’s why I was thrilled to find out about the Sunjack, and why I was even more thrilled to find out that it does exactly what the folks at Sunjack said it would.
*recharge my devices at wall outlet speed
*fit the small storage areas in my boat and hunting pack
*handle phone/tablet/GPS units/GoPro cameras/etc in short order using only God’s good sunshine.
*durable and dependable time after time after time
It folds to up to a small 9x7 inches. When unzipped and laid out flat in the sunshine, it stretches to 26 inches of sunbathing power plant that works...and works fast!
The unit features two USB ports for multiple charges directly from the solar panels, as well as a separate battery pack for even smaller back up power in your pocket, pack or tackle bag. The separate battery pack also features a small built in L.E.D. flashlight (just in case) and a L.E.D. power level bar that tells you exactly how much power is available.
I have met a lot of folks that hunt off of the grid...waaaaaaay back in the out yonder (I’m talking remote Alaska, Africa, Tajikistan etc.)-Areas that you DO NOT want to hang out for 7 to 10 days without power that can give you a life saving connection to tamer places. Same goes for your boat, you don't want to be on a lake that you know well when the motor stops or that unexpected storm beaches you in a bad spot.
Be ready. I recommend it, Sunjack Portable Solar Charger. Lay it out or hang it up in the sunshine while you're out on the boat or busy hunting, then charge up to eight of your devices while you wait for tomorrow to show up. Remember this one...Sunjack. It Works!
JULY 15, 2016
Somewhere in Chicago, or Philadelphia or Dallas, LA or Atlanta, somebody thought it would be a good idea to spray paint their message on the side of a railcar. Maybe they thought it was art. Maybe they were needing a voice for their frustration. Maybe they were high and don’t even remember their crime. That railcar, along with a whole string of others wearing the same decoration sat there waiting for the power of an engine to propel them further down the line, and they looked so out of place. The background had changed from the industrial background of a working city and railyard to the great Rocky Mountain range in Montana. A herd of elk a mile or so up the foothills enjoying spring grazing. Mule deer in velvet, snow melt running down the ravines and purifying itself over smooth river rock in the creeks below-Nesting birds of all varieties from song singers to waterfowl.
A lot of folks have worked very hard to preserve our pristine countryside creation gifted to us from The Almighty Himself, and now here is a rolling string of eyesore trying its best to scream “look at me” louder than the landscape. This is a scene that repeats itself over and over again as we travel our nation. Some call train tagging a long standing American tradition, some folks appreciate the artwork. I don’t, but rather than sit here and whine, I’ll turn the pointed finger back to myself and ask what I have done to help the cause of our national parks, wetlands and BLMs? I research and respond financially to organizations that actually follow thru and put their money where their mouth is. I’m mindful to leave hunting, camping and fishing spaces at least as clean as they were before my presence. I try. I try to share the conservation message here and on the airwaves. I’m not grandstanding; I’m not the original thinker of these simple ideas; I’m just doing what others before taught me, and that is precisely where I fall short.
As I stare at those railcars and inspect my role in the graffiti, it dawns upon me that I’m not doing enough to share what I have with others. God’s great gift of the outdoors. It’s so so sooooo easy when a day off comes along to hit the lake alone, or with familiar company for a day of fishing. How many kids, vets, lonely, hurting folks will I pass along the road to the lake? How many of them would enjoy learning to gather sustenance from a lake with a string and a hook? How many fished for decades before time and lack of family and fishing friends relegated them to Matlock reruns and three square meals between doctor visits? I fall into a category of stinginess here. I’m stingy with our great gift. I seldom invite new folks along to fish or hunt. There are so many opportunities to teach someone about, or renew an old flame for the outdoors. There are nursing homes within a short drive from my home. There are veteran’s organizations and therapy centers. There are organizations like the Dallas Ecological Foundation, Bass Brigade, Big Brothers Big Sisters and endless others that can introduce me to a youngster that would LOVE to just go fishing. Shame on me, and if you're guilty, shame on you too.
That incredible forest, mountain and river scenery that I spend much of my life in, needs those graffiti painters just as much as the artists themselves need to be swallowed up by vast natural expanse. It’s healthy, and healing for those without opportunity to see, breath and hear nature. For those resources to remain, future conservationists must learn now of their importance. *President Teddy Roosevelt was sickly as a kid. Asthma, near sighted and later heart disease beset him according to many historical accounts. As a young man, it is written that Teddy’s dad said, “Theodore you have the mind but you have not the body, and without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far as it should. I am giving you the tools, but it is up to you to make your body.” Teddy responded positively to dad’s message and changed the conservation world. What will that newcomer that I introduce do with his/her knowledge?
I will make an effort to provide some tools for them. It’s important.
*McKay, Brett and Kate. (2007, December 31). Lessons in Manliness: The Childhood of Theodore Roosevelt. Retreived from http://www.artofmanliness.com/about-2/
JUNE 22, 2016
I'm asked from time to time to speak to different groups. It's always humbling to be invited and to actually stand before these groups. Even though I've been in the radio business and spoken publicly for decades, it also scares the bejeebers out of me. I'm much more comfortable alone on the bow of the boat searching out slab crappie or big bass.
When I do stand before these groups, I can tell of the 8 ponder that I caught last week. Where I found her, what bait I was throwing, water temp, water color, weather conditions and other details that MIGHT help these folks out. I can tell them about the brushpile deep in a body of water that holds mega numbers of crappie this time of year and that MIGHT help them some. I can give some stats, numbers and accounts of how remaining in your stand on guard for big bucks has paid off many times at 1 in the afternoon rather than at daylight or dusk.
But...What I have to say, or anybody else for that matter, is only yesterday's news, or a guess about tomorrow...unless...we are speaking God’s word. THAT is my only confidence. That is the only pure truth, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I'm not a preacher, God didn’t call me to that. I am saved by His incredible grace, and I love to tell the story of Jesus and His love, and that I can speak of with an overwhelming confidence.
There's lots of public speakers out there right now that are talking about walls, gun control, international terrorism, our suffering economy, how the US can be great again and so on and so forth. Yesterday's news and tomorrow's speculation. There is but one way to make America great again. I sure hope you'll call the family in, click on the LINK and listen to "Who is God’s Candidate?" You can have confidence when you base your vote and your daily choices on what God has to say.
JUNE 10, 2016
This is the time of year when even the most ardent land lovers glance at those shiney new boats and start daydreaming about big fish, evening cruises, and family time on the water. The water provides tremendous pleasure, even therapy. It’s a direct contrast to 5mph traffic, constant people contact and as my friend Will Primos put it “this cell phone, laptop, computer infested world”. Your decision to buy a boat or not is very personal and not one to be taken lightly.
Ask yourself this question and give a sincere answer. How often will you truly use a boat? There are 52 weekends in a year. How many of those will be consumed with work/family/duty commitments that keep you away from the water? Do you have 8-10 spare weekends in a year? 10-20? 20-30? If you have limited time but still want to hit the water, consider rentals. Someone else pays for the boat, storage, upkeep, insurance and licensing. You pay an exorbitant fee for a half or full day rental and refuel. But you pay as you go. One-n-done.
If you, like me, LOVE to fish, consider using various guide services. If you can't get to the water as much as you’d like but 1-10 times per year is an option, you don’t have the time to “figure out” the fish and their seasonal habits and travels. The guides do and the fee that you pay a guide is well worth the money for a much much higher catch percentage option.
If you’ve thought it over and decided that you and your family are indeed able to get to the lake more often than not, and you want to take the ownership step...good for you! Before you load a single fishing rod, wakeboard or water ski on that boat give some serious thought to safety. The law requires proper flotation for each passenger on your boat and a fire extinguisher, but...I like to take it a few steps beyond lawful requirements. Here's my short list:
~Weather radio...these are cheap and an absolute must! Buy one that allows you to switch it to alert only. Keep fresh batteries in it, and every time you head out onto the water-pretty day or not-turn it on. It can save your life, the lives of your family and friends, and your boat gear etc with early warning that lightening, big wind, foul weather is approaching.
~A VERY loud noisemaker. Some states actually require a whistle. I carry a whistle, and a compressed air horn. The air horn was designed to get a bear out of your face in the woods, but I promise you it will grab attention in distress from across the lake.
~GPS is waaaaaaay too common, inexpensive and user friendly these days not to have one with you. Mark your boat ramp before you take off on a new lake just in case you lose your bearings. Small handheld units are great, but I prefer to spend a few more bucks and install a unit that includes or can be loaded with lake maps, bottom contours for safe boat travel, local marina and emergency services information etc. I have two Garmin devices on my boat. One of them in red lettering has a man overboard button. If someone falls in, throw a float cushion and hit the red button. It will mark the exact location of the accident in the event that emergency personnel are required.
~Always...leave a plan with someone that will actually miss you if you don’t come back in time. That plan should include: 1) The water body that you will be boating 2) How many others will be in your boat, names, phone numbers 3) The boat ramp/parking area that you will access 4) A description of your vehicle and trailer, along with license plate #’s 5) A time to expect you back 6) A description of your vessel, and registration numbers from the exterior bow of your boat
Have a great summer and we’ll see ya on the water!
JUNE 3, 2016
Turkeys are one of my absolute favorite hunts. They are unpredictable, tough as a rhino, and nervous nelly when it comes to anything that looks or especially moves out of the ordinary. Just when you think you’ve got 'em figured out, they surprise you with a totally different game plan for the day. I hunted turkeys on a ranch near Junction, Texas a few years back. Broke traffic laws for 400 miles to get to the ranch before dark. My goal was to try and locate birds and roost them for the night, giving me a distinct advantage over them the next morning. “Roosting” your birds is simply watching the flock and which tree or trees they choose to sleep in. This happens as the last drops of daylight slip through the hourglass, just before dark. More times than not, they will fly down the next morning in the same direction that they flew up. Slip in pre-dawn and get set up right, and you're in good shape for a wonderful turkey dinner.
Well, I made it in time and stood in wonder, mouth breathing and wide-eyed as I watched the biggest flock of turkeys that I’ll probably ever see go to roost. I estimate 400 to 500 birds. Believe it or not, they flew across a shallow creek that ran along the base of a cliff and filled up the live oak trees halfway up that cliff! It was wonderfully amazing to see. They HAD to fly down to the same open area that they had used as a launching pad. They weren’t going to fly up. They were mine! No escape! Next morning I make the 8-10 mile drive in the dark over rough ranch roads for my rio roundup. I parked a half mile away, an hour and a half before sunrise. I was taking no chances. This was a slam dunk and I didn’t want to mess it up. I walked in by moonlight and settled under a small live oak. The scrub brush around the base of the tree provided a great natural blind. After settling in, I blew the owl hooter to reassure myself that they were still high above me on the cliff. They were. It sounded like hundreds of gobblers answering the locator call. It was a long wait, like the days leading up to Christmas morning for a youngster. Finally I heard soft yelps on this cool clear morning. I mimicked what I heard with my mouth call. Decoys set up and ready at 15-20 yards. Finally! One, two, four and eight at a time they started to fly down. It took twenty minutes for the trees to unload all of those birds. Problem…they chose to fly further than the launch pad to a rough, rocky, boulder riddled area that you’d NEVER suspect they’d use...except for two little hens that did exactly what I wanted the masses to do. These two came down to the soft open launching area and started slowly feeding over towards my decoys while the other 498 birds hit the rocks and headed in the opposite direction. The little hens came within 8 feet of me, circled me and my decoys twice and pinned me down, keeping me from plan B...moving along the creek bottom to get past the birds that were now headed in the wrong direction. Heckle and Jeckle hung around until the flock was gone and then took off trailing behind. Everything was perfect...I had done my work...I had the fool proof plan...then, the unimaginable happened, and I never fired a shot.
Life is that way. We make family, retirement, short term and long term plans, fool proof, every base covered and it's gonna be great. Then life changing news comes our way. That’s when we see how small and insignificant we, and our plans are. In the Bible, Proverbs 23:4 tells us not to trust our own cleverness. The one thing that stands through it all is a never changing God. The same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Full of love and grace for you and me. If you know Him as Lord and Savior, and He is your all in all, life’s curveballs and hard knocks are not nearly as devastating, and hope becomes your most prized possession! He is the only source of true hope!
APRIL 15, 2016
Take me to the woods without a trigger to pull, and I’m just fine, as long as someone else is in charge of the trigger. Same story with a fishing pole...Preferably that someone else is a youngster just beginning their outdoor journey, or maybe a fella that loved hunting and fishing as a kid but career and commitment kept him on concrete for several decades. I love the hunt. Doesn’t matter if I’m hunting deer, turkeys, quail, doves, walleye, smallies...you get the picture. It’s the chase, the hunt, the research, the piecing together of the puzzle, and the smiles and stories that come from fresh eyes and ears.
What a glorious time spring is! It's just February, but it's all about to unfold for antoher trip around the outdoors' calendar. I’ll be in Florida chasing big green bass in a couple of weeks, then on our fertile Texas crappie waters. Turkey hunting with the world in springtime bloom is near and dear to my heart and so is a cool spring night of predator calling. It’ll be time for a South Dakota walley trip before long and then a fall full of axis, elk and whitetails. It's all on the way, and I look forward to every experience, but the 2016 trip that I’m most excited about won't put me behind the gun or flipping a jig into heavy shallow spring cover.
You’ll hopefully hear the show in early April after I venture into the woods with my pastor, his dad and 3 little boys. We plan to shoot a couple of pigs, but we're hunting for something bigger. Real big smiles and lifelong memories for the young’uns is the goal of this hunt. Thanks to my friends, Keith and Barbara at Northern Sky Outfitters for making this trip a possibility complete with cabin, cooking and care while we're on their ranch. They can do this for you too, I recommend it! I’ll take the 22, and the boys can take turns tearing up a target or two, dad and grandpa will do the pig shooting with the boys as witnesses. If the stories start to stretch, maybe the shot gets longer or the pigs grow after death, the boys can straighten that right up.
This is a turn key, comfortable way to persue our now legendary wild pigs in Texas. If you’ve been thinking about it...book it. Spring is a perfect time weather wise to hunt 'em under the stars with hog lights, or spot and stalk em during the daylight...Or both. The ranch will hunt you both ways if you prefer. Take the kids, put the sausage in the freezer, make a lasting memory with a newbie, or maybe with a long time absentee from the hunting environment.
FEBRUARY 5, 2016
Why do some people want you and me to give up our guns? We live in a dangerous time now. We have seen the, once, great America elect corrupt and even evil people to important offices and in the seat of judgement. We have allowed those people to diminish our foundation and spit on the face of our founding fathers, and more importantly God’s Word. We the people have not done the things necessary to assure a safe, strong nation for our kids and their kids.
The Bible is my guide book. I believe that every word is inspired by God Himself and therefore is absolute perfect truth. Our nation once believed that as well. We were stronger then. Over the years we have allowed a squeaking mouse here and there to dictate to the masses that we cannot pray in our schools, we cannot read the Bible in class, we cannot view the 10 Commandments from God in our courthouses or public facilities, we cannot share the good news of salvation thru Jesus Christ in a school. Just like when He walked this earth as human man, Jesus, God Himself in human form, is despised by some, and ignored by many more. The reason is simple...
~We are all...yes, you...and ME sinners...Romans 3:23 For ALL have sinned and fall SHORT of the GLORY of GOD...
~God hates sin and is so holy that it is impossible for Him to associate with it...
~We love our sin...
~God convicts our hearts and His word creates discomfort in our minds and very spirit...
~We want to be comfortable at all times...we demand it...we think our comfort is a RIGHT!! WRONG!!
The consequence’s of sin is death...Romans 6:23
We are afraid of death...that’s why we have “good Ol' boy” funerals now that skirt around the truth of God’s word and celebrate the life of individual.
Call them what you want (while we still have the right to free speech...Amendment 1, U.S. Bill of Rights), but there are people in office that hate the fact that you and I own guns and that we have the right to possess those guns (Amendment 2, U.S. Bill of Rights), and they want them out of our hands...NOW!! These same people that want you unarmed and near helpless in a fight for your life, know that evil people are pouring across our borders with the intent of killing us. Those people that hate your personal protection are also surrounded, 24 hours a day and for the remainder of their lives , by well armed protectors. It is insane to try and grab our guns anytime, but especially while the house is under attack. It is insane to condemn the law abiding, hard working family man or woman that seldom commits a traffic crime, much less a murder as “evil”. But I understand why it's happening...
Isaiah 5:20...Woe to those who call good evil and evil good, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
I wish that like God, I could see into the true heart of those that want America disarmed. They claim that they are afraid for my safety, but I don’t believe for one minute that those folks are concerned about me. In fact I think they despise folks like me. Barak Obama was talking about me directly when he cried out about folks that “cling to their guns and religion”. I have a Bible in one hand and a gun in the proper legal place. I have a C.H.L. on my person at all times. I obey the laws of the land. I worship the loving God that created me and provided eternal salvation to me thru Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. I love my family, my country, my freedom and my church family. I would die to protect these things. Don’t roll me in with the thugs that rape murder and steal.
The good news? John 3:16
JANUARY 1, 2016
I was blessed two and a half decades ago to be exposed to some very talented bird dog men. I was flabbergasted with what God instilled in a bird dog and wanted to sponge up all I could learn. So I asked a lot of questions and listened intently to men like Charlie Henry out of Arkansas, Lester Arnold from east Texas, and the whole lot of trainers that gathered at field trials all across the country. The information was never ending. Tricks of the trade, training aides that actually worked, how to use those aides properly, scenting conditions, young dogs, old dogs, problem dogs, exposing talent...and on and on and on. But what stood out to me as the golden rule was quite simple. I heard it again and again from learned bird dog men all across the country...”Birds make bird dogs.” That will always hold true.
Bear will be fourteen if he makes it to spring. He lays beside me as I write this and travels with a limp in his gate nearly every step that I take. We've been side by side since he was five weeks old. At one year of age when I normally begin formal training with my bird dogs he wasn’t ready to start. I read my dog and was patient. That patience would pay off. By the time he was three, when most dogs are “finished”, he was well into what the others had learned a year ago, but way behind. He did his yard work fine, but transitioning that into the bird field was not a connection that he could make. He insisted on making an effort to do it all by himself. He’d point, then break and flush, then chase. Trying desperately to get that bird in his mouth. That would be his reward. Several folks were asking me if I was ready to give up on him...they thought that he just didn’t have what it takes to be a solid bird dog. But ol' Bear and I trudged on. Then one day, the light came on!
When the “light comes on” with a bird dog, it’s a remarkable thing to watch. It's an "OHHHHH O.K." moment for a young dog when they couple what you have hand taught them with what God instilled in them. For Bear, it was the old windmill pasture down by the river. A small pasture that typically holds lots of birds, and they were in there on this morning. I first turned ol' Joker loose. An older white pointer that was as reliable as grandpa’s watch and had true talent in his nose. Joker pointed, and I scooted up in front of him to flush. Birds kept coming up...and kept coming up...and kept coming up. There were singles scattered all over that 250 acre pasture. I put Joker back in the trailer and pulled Bear out.
We were alone. No other bird dogs in the field with us that morning and these birds were now his to either put it together or blow it completely. Bear was one of the hardest running dogs that I’ve ever witnessed. He totally blew up the “Brittanys are shoe polishers” theory. Destroyed it in fact! After a few minutes of hard running to “blow out”, he started paying attention to his nose. A few short seconds later he slammed to a stop...then flushed and chased...again. After another fruitless effort like that, the light came on. He pointed and didn’t move this time. I didn’t say a word to him. I just stepped in front, flushed the single and shot it. He delivered what would be the first of I don’t know how many wild birds to come to my hand. We did that 14 more times within an hour and a half. When we were finished Bear was a bird dog. I witnessed after only a couple of birds his light coming on. It was like flipping a switch. Bear realized that if he was ever going to get that bird in his mouth, his reward, that he must stand dead still...not disturb the bird...and allow my old over and under to bring the bird to the ground.
I have been blessed to own some mighty talented bird dogs in my life. Dogs that any man would absolutely love to hunt behind for a day and love much more to partner with for life. Bear would become the best hands down that’s ever shared my kennel, and later my home. He won the Lone Star Region N.S.T.R.A. Championship in 2010, defeating a 25 time N.S.T.R.A. and 4 time National Champion in the final hour of the grueling two day endurance format. He won his way into National Championship field trials from coast to coast, but my most precious memories with him will always be in the wild bird field where he was just simply amazing.
A lot of us are just like ol Bear. Hard headed and single minded with no room for God in our day to day lives. For many, entire lifetimes pass by without coming to the saving knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ. But oh how sweet is the journey if we do hear the Word, realize that we are sinners in need of a Savior, and believe in our hearts that Jesus died for our sins, rose again and lives at the right hand of God His Father. Thank You Lord, thank You for Your patience with me, Your slow and steady correction in my life, for never giving up on me and for that precious moment when my light came on.
DECEMBER 15, 2015