5:00am 7:00am 8:00am
1 Hour Texas Show
5:00am 6:00am 1:00pm 2:00pm 6:00pm
2 Hour National Show
Your wife shoots better that you…just the facts.
Robin and I just returned from another Dallas Safari Club S.A.F.E.T.Y event.
DSC along with the Dallas Ecological Foundation host these events twice per year and have for a long long time.
6 stations including bow, rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, pistol and shotgun.
4 mega bus loads of Jr High and Sr High school students
4 mega bus loads of Jr High and Sr High school parents
0 cell phone activity allowed during the day
150 or so DSC/DEF volunteers
1 really, really, REALLY nice west Texas ranch
The kids, most of whom have never touched a bow or a gun receive one on one instruction at each station and have the time of their lives.
The parents, most of which have never touched a bow or a gun receive the same treatment…if time allows after each student takes his/her turn.
I have been blessed to work several S.A.F.E.T.Y. events thru the years and have observed enough to know that your wife shoots better than you.
I teach shotgun at these events and no matter the experience, I teach each student/parent the same thing. Four simple steps…
1-mount the gun properly…
2-lay your cheek on the stock…
3-weight forward…(on the left foot if right-handed shooter/right foot if left-handed shooter)
4-shoot the nose, or leading edge of the target as it flies
You would be amazed how many first-timers break all 6 targets that we throw for them. The students listen and take instruction pretty well. The moms listen and take instruction better. We men…uhh…miss. I will take the first time lady shooter over the first time male shooter every time in a friendly wager.
Women step up to me on the range and eagerly listen. Men step up and, many times, ask me how far to lead the target. I have learned to just say fifty yards and let ‘em have a whack at it. They’re not listening anyway. The women break 4-5-6 targets. The men 2-3-4. Averages. The bottom line? Students, moms, dads, instructor’s all have an incredible day together.
New target shooters and hunters are born at this event, right before our eyes!
Bad thoughts and beliefs about guns disappear right before our eyes!
Hurting family relationships are HEALED right before our eyes!
Meek and mild ladies become sharpshooters right before our eyes!
Male ego’s are in need of a 911 call as they wilt right before our eyes!
I am a hard headed male, so I know of these things. My wife tries to tell me things but she just doesn’t understand. I already know! I’m way ahead of you honey…I’ve got this! Of course I miss the target about 100% of the time when I do that. So the S.A.F.E.T.Y. event is a good reminder to me that my male ego needs to calm some too. It’s a good event, and it’s good for all of us involved.
Please consider volunteering at next Spring’s DSC S.A.F.E.T.Y. event and look into starting an Outdoor Adventures Program in your local schools. The DEF has already written the curriculum, and it is a huge plus in the lives of every kid that participates. It actually replaces P.E. for those that are not involved in athletics and for those who just don’t like P.E…they love the OA class!
Til next time, keep your weight forward and your eye on the beak of the bird…and I can STILL outshoot my wife!
OCTOBER 5, 2016
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
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 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
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
I fried up some crappie a couple of nights ago along with fresh sliced tomatoes, some steamed squash and a few fried potatoes. That’s a meal that never diminishes in excellence. It is always better than I remember, and I remember that fried crappie is pretty dandy! Well, everything was wonderful except those dang tomatoes. The tomato industry should be ashamed of the product they lay out for us. It's kinda like modern day Nashville. They roll out a product that looks good, but is way short on the real reason you bought the product. Tomatoes are a whole nother story. Back to the crappie and how to land them in your grease.
Ahhhh, springtime! Spring is the absolute favorite time of year for most anglers. The various species move to the shallows to spawn and defend the nest against anything that comes within smacking range. You can load up a mess of keeper crappie this time of year, and they are accessible to anglers that don’t fish from a boat. I do fish from a boat, or at least use the vessel to get me in an area that I want to fish. The crappie will look for a hard surface for a spawning area. Hard clay or rocks maybe. The keys to look for are:
I employ several tactics in the springtime. If the fish are spawning on the rocks along a dam or bridge, I will place a float, or bobber about 6-8 inches above my jig, and as I drift or very slowly troll along the rocky bank, I allow the bobber to do the same thing. Very effective method. Another great way to sack em up is to look for shallow flats that are occupied by lots of button willows, or cattails, or stumps. PARK THE BOAT. It's too shallow to get into these flats with most boats anyway. Tie it off so it won't blow away and slip into your waders! Slowly, without disturbing too much water as you go, move from brush to brush to logs to other cover. A 9 to 12 foot lightweight jigging rod is recommended. This will keep you far enough from the fish to not spook them. Only allow about 6-8 inches on line with jig attached to dangle past the tip of the rod. With your free hand, pull the line and jig up snug to the rod tip so that there’s no slack. Ease along, much like a feeding heron does, and slip the tip of your rod at water level, deep into the cover. NEVER turn loose of the line in your free hand. Ease the jig down into the water and wait for the thump. When you feel it, pull the line with your line hand to set the hook and pull the fish up to the rod tip. Back him out of there quickly. Without constant control and contact with your line hand, you will be miserable, losing fish and tangled in brush all day. Stay in control of the line at all times. AND, check the last 2-3 feet of your line regularly. Your fishing in abrasive stuff and line wear occurs often. Re-tie, don’t break off that nice one.
I often see bank fishermen set up in a spot and stay there all day, which can be very productive if the fish favor that spot and the weather hasn’t moved them around or out. But how much more productive could you be with an inexpensive set of waders that help you cover a lot more water. Slip em on, slip out into the water, and slip up on some cover, then slip em into the cornmeal and grease.
A few thoughts:
The majority of crappie that you catch on spawning beds are males. They build the nest, mate with incoming females, then stay and guard the fry against predators. The females will be at the nest only long enough to lay her eggs and move back out. If there are hardwoods or stumps or other cover in nearby deeper water, don’t forget to check them regularly as well. That’s where the big girls are hanging out while not visiting the beds. You’ll more than likely catch your bigger fish here.
When? 62 degree or warmer water seems to be a key factor for the crappie spawn. A string of 60 degree or warmer nights (air temp) are a big deal too. When you have a string of 60 degree nights and a full moon in the forecast, mend the hole in the waders and string up new line on the long pole! Good fishing to you! Send me a picture or two of your success for the BBKO Braggin Board... and a basket full of home grown, vine ripened tomatoes!
MARCH 24, 2017
The seasons can actually change before your eyes when it's fall on the White River. This spring fed trout haven flows through the incredibly beautiful hills and mountains of northern Arkansas. There are more trout than people here...my kind of place. Between 1.7 and 1.8 million hatchery trout are released every year in the stretches of the White and Norfork Rivers. From the Bull Shoals dam to the confluence of the 4 ½ mile Norfork river and well beyond, the federal fish folks make sure that this is one of, if not THE top U.S. destination for trout fishermen. My most recent trip to these waters was in mid September. You definitely needed a jacket to start the day. Temps in the forties and a 20 mph boat ride first thing in the morning combines to put the wind chill somewhere down around “Brrrrr Nellie!” The crystal-clear water is actually warmer this time of day and year than the air temp, causing a ribbon of fog along the top of the river. That makes a great photo op from high atop one of the mountains that line the stream. By 9am, you're shedding the jacket...shorts and t-shirts should be perfect thereafter because the seasons have changed on the river from late fall to summertime again, right before your eyes.
My favorite way to fish the White and Norfork Rivers are on foot with fly rod in hand. I like to walk the river low water and pick little spots apart. “Fishing to a fish”. This trip didn't allow that though. Because of spring flooding, the dams at both Bull Shoals Lake that feeds the White and Norfork Lake that obviously feeds the Norfork, have been releasing a lot of water all summer long-More than usual this year.That’s not a problem; you just fish em differently. In past years, I’ve done it on my own and had success catching fish...lots of fish. A boat rental comes in to play, my fly rod goes back in the tube and the spinning gear comes out. Your line to the side of the boat as you drift your bait towards waiting trout is the ticket. This time around I didn’t mess with a boat rental. I went with a couple of guys that fish this river nearly every day of their lives. Paul and Mike are pros, and I caught a LOT more fish than on my self guided floats. They handle the boat, you set the hook and grin. They make it a very easy day for the fisherman. Visit the guides and outfitters page here on the website for their contact info. By the way, it’s a few bucks more but worth every penny...don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy Paul and Mike’s shore lunch. Your morning catch, prepared on a gravel bank complete with salad, taters and dessert. Yes! There is no additional fee for the bald eagles soaring overhead keeping an eye on your lunch.
My friend Rick Pope, owner and founder of Temple Fork Outfitters not only produces some of the best fly rods on the planet but uses them as well...all over the world. He tells me that this river system is among the very best, if not alone at the top for North American fly waters. He should know. If you want to catch the next world record (that’s happened several times over the years in this neck of the woods) that fish will more than likely come from the Norfork. If you want to catch a load of eaters and still have the opportunity to catch big fish, it’s the White. To complete a White River slam, you must produce to hand a rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook trout in a single day. I was 3 out of 4 on two days of my trip. All I was missing was the brookie. They are in there but are the toughest to put in the boat.Numbers are not as high as the other three species. The river is perfect for world class anglers, and first-time worm drowners. If you decide to go, be sure to leave an afternoon open to take the kids to the Federal Fish Hatchery at the base of the Norfork Dam. They’ll give you a tour...you will be amazed.
OCTOBER 13, 2015