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Keep up with all things "Big Billy Kinder Outdoors"


Dad didn’t hunt. I never saw him shoot a gun. In fact, the only time that I ever saw him hold a gun was when he took me to Whites Auto in downtown Mineral Wells, Texas after school one day. I guess I was about 10, and he knew that I had a strong hunting bone! God put it in me. Dad didn’t teach me, and the 3 channels we pulled in with the TV antenna didn’t show much hunting activity. It had to be built into my genes when the good Lord formed me.

Dad didn’t say anything on our way to Whites. He seldom said anything at all; he was a very quiet man. He had simple perfected. I sat next to him, full of nerves on the evening of my first date. I didn’t know what to say to a girl. I just knew she smelled good, and I had asked her out to dinner. “Dad, what do I talk to her about?” “Tell her about your dog” he immediately replied. I did, and it was the perfect thing to fill awkward quiet moments. He’d obviously made arrangements with the guys at the store, because when we walked in they immediately reached under the counter and pulled out a single shot Stevens 12 gauge and a few boxes of shells. I thought “WOW”! Dad bought himself a shotgun! Does this mean that maybe he’ll let me tag along on a hunt or two? Maybe even fetch his birds for him? It was a standout moment in my life, even before he turned and handed the treasure to me. I was beyond stunned, and happy!

Dad loved to fish, particularly for crappie. We didn’t have a boat, so sometimes the wait on the bank between bites was hours. I never got bored with it. I can still see him squatting, fishing pole in hand, bobber afloat, waiting. He taught me a lot about hunting without even knowing it. “Crappie like cover”, he said, “and edges”. Turns out all critters do, you and I are no exception. “They will likely be around shad or some other food”...same as deer, elk, bear, turkeys, me, all. The crappie hole was special to me, because most of the time it was just me and dad. That was my private time with him. I cherish it now, and miss him so.

I had broken the Stevens down and cleaned it several times before we actually had a chance to go shoot it, but after what seemed a lifetime, the day came. I still remember my first shot. A meadowlark in flight. I downed the song bird. Immediate remorse weighed heavy. I’d killed this lark for the wrong reason. I would not eat it. Dad watched in silence. I’ve never shot another non game bird.

He taught through living. I picked up some of it and wish I’d learned more. Thanks Dad for the time on the creek banks, the love of critters and creation, respect for others both 2 and 4 legged, and the great gift of time. I will hug his neck in heaven. He heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he believed it in his heart. He asked God to forgive him of his sin and save him. God did. That’s the greatest gift that a dad can give his son, even better than a brand new Stevens.

Happy Father's Day!

Fondly,
Billy Kinder
BBKOradio.com

June 15, 2017


I’ve spent my fair share of nights sleeping in uncomfortable situations. Pickup beds, rotted out farm houses and dilapidated old travel trailers, and of course the cold hard ground. I can remember a deer hunt that was so cold and wet that my hunting partner and I zipped our sleeping bags together to fend off the frost bite. On another trip, I dumped the lump out of my pillow case. The lump was a field rat. I awoke one morning so stiff from the pickup bed I’d used for a mattress, that reaching down to tie my boots seemed impossible. I’d do it all again too!

Our passion for this hunting and fishing heritage that we live can lead to some tough places and times, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve also been spoiled with some fine lodging, dining and terrific hunting and fishing opportunities. Robin and I have spent the past week at one of the absolute finest resort hunt/fish destinations that I’ve ever, yes I used the ever word, visited. Joshua Creek Ranch has the credentials. Two Tridents from Beretta, ORVIS Endorsed, heck, George Strait even visits for a little wing shooting from time to time. Everything, and I mean every detail at JCR is tended too. Your mattress, your view, your meals, your linens, your lodging, your everything will be the finest offered. It’s flying first class, and it's good! This is our third trip to this wonderful ranch located about an hour northwest of San Antonio, Texas.

The same detail that’s woven into your lodge experience is applied to the habitat on this near 1,400 acre ranch as well...Two decades plus of back breaking work by the Kercheville family. Years of cedar removal, planting, pond building, etc have produced perfect habitat for the wildlife that love this place. IT'S LOW FENCE. The critters have a choice where they spend time browsing, loafing and raising babies. That’s the best testament to this conservation project-an endorsement from the wildlife on this free range ranch in the Texas Hill Country region.

I’m here to hunt my favorite protein-Axis deer. Axis are found free ranging in very few places across North America-Florida, Hawaii and here in the Hill Country of Texas primarily. They love it here; I guess the country is very similar to their original home in Sri Lanka. Everything about an Axis is good! They are beautiful critters with an orangish brown coat accented by snow white spots just like a whitetail fawn. God must have favored the Axis a little more than the whitetail, because He allows them to keep their spots for life. Axis are bigger than most whitetails too...Up to 250 pounds for the bigger bucks, or "bulls", your choice. They are more closely aligned to elk than whitetail deer. Typical males will grow three points on each side-main beam, a couple of impressive brow tines and secondary points about halfway up the main beam. Thirty inches and longer is considered trophy. They are gorgeous animals and fine, fine, fine dining! That’s 3 fines from the red neck that has consumed a lot of wild game. No wang, no wild taste, better than beef! Axis are a challenging hunt as well. They are spookier than whitetails. If you bang or booger something up in their neighborhood, you might as well move along. They did. Unlike the whitetail rut where single males cruise the country, axis stay in groups most all of the time. Lots of eyes to spot you. They will flock to feeders. If that is legal in your state, jump on it. One of the coolest reasons to hunt axis deer is non-typical hunting times. Axis are considered exotic game in Texas, and can be hunted year round. It's June, and it feels great to be in the deer blind!

My most regrettable miss with rifle came about five years ago right here on JCR. I had a nice 30 plus inch axis in my sights after three days of hard, HOT hunting...Shot right under his belly at 135 yards. The bullet made a cloud of dust, and I’ve watched him run off in my head over and over again...Again this week, three days of hard, not quite as hot hunting with no meat to show for the effort. There are probably 25 to 30 blind locations on this ranch. We have hunted daylight to dark most of the time and visited maybe 10-12 of those blinds. We have glassed a lot of Axis deer too. Several hundred I’d say, searching for the right buck. About 1:30 yesterday afternoon, we made a move to a blind that we’d not hunted yet on this trip. When we rounded the corner in the road, I knew instantly that this was the exact spot in my reoccurring nightmare miss. I had been here before in person and many more times in bad memory. We spotted a small herd of Axis back in the thick cedar brush and one of them was a hard horned buck. I was hunting with Billy Torkildson, JCR guide, who can take a 5 second look at an axis buck and tell you how long he is to within a half inch of antler.

At about 4pm, the herd made a move, and out he stepped. Five seconds of analysis, and Billy T said, “shoot him”. I was situated in the same blind, taking aim from the same window, with a 30 plus inch Axis standing about 30 yards behind the missed shot from five years ago. I put that old memory behind me and collected my breathing and focus. Does were milling about, and I had to hold my shot for a couple of minutes, waiting for them to clear. When the opportunity opened, I was ready, and he fell in his tracks. 30 inches on his right side, 31.5 on his left, heavy bodied and beautiful! The ghosts were gone. Billy T had no idea that I had missed from this exact location before, or that this was my birthday. When I finally had my hands on this magnificent animal, I shared the story with him. Back at the lodge, I would enjoy a hot shower, delicious pan seared Axis steaks prepared by Chef Holden and an incredible mattress for the first full eight hours of sleep in several days. This time though, the dream was different!

If you go...
Axis can shed, be hard horned or in velvet at any time of the year, however, late May to September are the most active rutting and hard horned times. Take plenty of gun. These animals are extremely tough, and probably bigger than the whitetails you’ve been hunting. My setup: Weatherby Vanguard in .270/Winchester ballistic silvertip 130 grain. If you normally hunt with something smaller (.243) I’d step up a bit. The 300’s are good choices. Dress cool! Talk to your outfitter before you go. Will you be stalking or blind hunting. Stalking these critters is very difficult since they run in herds. If you are still/blind hunting, shorts, t-shirts etc. Light, cool clothing. Stay in the blind. Yes, they are active at the most popular times, dawn and dusk, but, you will see them meandering mid-day as well. Patience has killed more critters than Tarzan. Range finder. Great tool. In the rolling terrain that Axis favor, depth can be deceptive. Naked eye would tell you that my shot would be 120-130 yards. The laser reported differently-169 yards. Depending on bullet rifle combo, that’s enough distance to affect trajectory.

Fondly,
Billy Kinder
BBKOradio.com

June 9, 2017


I lost one of the best and most loyal friends I’ll ever have on this earth a little over a month ago. I didn’t write about it then because it was too raw. I never thought that I could mourn the loss of a dog so much, but I cried. I wailed. Bear’s talent was above that of most bird dogs. I am qualified to make that call, because I have had many hunting partners throughout the years and know what I speak of. I’ve had some slow learners, and many average students. I’ve also been blessed to partner with some dogs that would produce a little better than others in the wild bird fields and win a field trial here and there. BUT...I’ve only had one Bear.

His nose was impeccable. I remember a hunt when he was about two. He locked down hard on some West Texas scrub, and a rabbit flushed from under his nose. The guy that I was hunting with that day broke open his gun and laughed out loud. His dog was backing ol' Bear...again, by the way. While he was bad mouthing my little Brittany, I noticed that Bear hadn’t moved a muscle. Still rock-hard rigid. Eyes and snoot focused on the tangles ahead of him, smoking the pipe, as my writer friend Ray Sasser would say...taking in bird scent through the nose...venting through the mouth. You’ve seen your dogs do that. The covey of bobs scared my cynical friend when they flushed right up our britches' legs. I killed two and said nothing. Bear had done my talking.

Bear came from good stock. Directly out of Nolan Huffman’s Buddy (Nolan’s Last Bullet), and tracing back to Rick Smith's fine line. I’d always had pointers and setters which I still dearly love, but these guys were breeding "Brits" that would destroy the “shoe polisher” image. I noticed that these dogs were running big, running hard and running tough! I watched Buddy at a championship trial in Indiana retrieve a bird that had fallen on the far side of a goat wire fence. I wondered why in the world Nolan would shoot that bird, knowing that it would fall on the far side where his dog couldn’t reach it, and he could lose his retrieve score. Turns out, he knew that Buddy would find a way, somehow, to bring that bird to hand. And he did. He found a hole in the fence, just big enough to squeeze through, gather the bird, and squeeze back into the playing field. I decided that morning that I would have some of that in my kennel, and one year later at 5 weeks of age, I did. On day one, my wife Robin said the pup looked like a "little Baylor Bear", her alma mater. That’s how he got his name.

One of Bear's litter mates, Bull, and Bulls’ partner Nolan came to Texas to hunt with me back in 2005. It was a great year for the birds; they were thick and the coveys were big. Nolan and I turned the pair loose on the south end of a pasture and had the time of our lives watching them tear up the ground in bird finding fury. One would point, the other would back and vice versa all the way up to the north fence where we picked em up. When we did, the two brothers had pointed 26 coveys of bob white quail. Nolan told me, “That’s the best quail hunt I’ve ever been a part of.” Bear had the smarts too. He had become a big country pleasure. The little dog could roll! He eagerly covered big West Texas and Montana country and in a hurry. I took him to South Dakota for pheasants. We were hunting strips and shelter belts. He figured it out in short order and never hunted beyond 25-30 yards ahead of me. He worked pheasants that day like he’d done it his whole life, and these were the first ones he’d ever seen.

When the economy ate my job up in 2009, Bear went to work with me entertaining and teaching at various events and sporting goods dealers in the Dallas-Ft Worth area. He easily converted from the wide open spaces, to arena floors and huge tents. Everyone that met him at these events fell in love. The folks especially loved it when I would ask a kiddo to go hide Bear's Dokken dummy someplace. I would tell Bear to "hunt dead", and he’d climb through boats and expo booths, crowds and funnel cake vendors to find it and bring it back to me. I needed him to help me at that time, and he did. He wasn’t trying to be a showman, simply trying to please me, and in the process was indeed something to see. He even made it into a national Ad for Forti Flora with all of the Smith boys. Surgery had me on a walker for over a year, and I couldn’t take him hunting, or so I thought. I wondered if he would adapt to retrieving doves...he did. Sat by my side like a lab.

If I walked out of a door, he was lying beside it when I came back through. You could bet money on that. I start work many times at 3 or 4 am. There was no way to sneak out of the bedroom without him. Off to work with me he’d go. Every day. When friends and family betrayed trust, he didn’t. Not once. You know, you’ve been there too. His talent was great, his nose was unreal, his heart was bigger, and that’s what set him apart. I borrowed a line from Winnie the Pooh when I thanked God for giving me something I loved so much, that it hurt this bad to lose it. I hope that I haven’t bored you with my story. I hope that I have brought back fond remembrance of your “Bear”. Bear died just 3 weeks before his fifteenth birthday. I still cry.

Fondly,
Billy Kinder
BBKOradio.com

May 26, 2017


As we move from school days to pool days, and cool mornings to hot days, it’s not too early to start thinking about fall. For bow hunters, you could be in the stand and packing meat out of the field in just 19 weeks. Dove hunters will be trying to down those fast darting doves in less time than that. Field trailers will start campaigning again in September too. It’s easy to hit the AC and not depart from it ‘til summers in the rear view, but if you use your time wisely and take advantage of the cooler parts of the morning and evening, you can keep your edge.

My friend and pro dog trainer Ronnie Smith and his training partner/wife Susanna Love, will start their day about 3am during the dog days of summer, and finish roading (exercising) dogs by 9am or so. By 9am in Big Cabin, Oklahoma in July, it’s HOT! Tom Dokken’s Kennel is in Minnesota, and he does the same thing. That kind of effort is what sets trainers like Tom and Ronnie apart from many others without that kind of drive.

A round of sporting clays once a week is a great way to keep your dove shooting on par. Keep plenty of water handy and walk the course for your legs, heart and lungs. The same goes for outdoor 3-D archery courses. My friend Joe Mussachio at Cinnamon Creek Archery in Ft Worth, Texas has several outdoor courses to keep you on your toes and ensuring the best shot that you can be in September. Swimming is great hot weather aerobics too. Take your dog along. He can’t sweat and any outdoor activity in the summertime requires that you at least keep his head wet and cool as possible.

Here’s to a great summer, and like the old song says…See You in September!

Fondly,
Billy Kinder
BBKOradio.com

May 18, 2017


I may lose a few friends over this one. It’s a hot topic with many folks. Fences. High fences, low fences no fences. Hunting within the confines of a fenced area. Is it ethical? Depends on who you visit with. Many hard core public land (d.i.y.) hunters will tell you absolutely not! True free range is the ONLY pursuit that’s fair and ethical. The deer farmer will tell you that there is no disgrace in hunting an animal behind an 8 foot fence. The low fence guy, well, he’s proud of the fact that his herd can slip over to the neighbor and back again as they please.

I have hunted on occasion all three areas but not before some careful thought and reasoning. Back in 2010, I suffered an injury that would keep me on crutches and a walker for a year and a half...7 surgeries and 42 skin grafts...locked up in the house, with the exception of hospital and doctor visits for well over a year. I didn’t care who thought what of me when I finally had an opportunity to climb back in a stand, even tho it was on a high fence place. I had a ton of medical apparatuses in tow but made it up the ladder and into the blind on that cold December morning.

The fine, tall 8 point that I put down that day hangs on my wall, and I am as proud of him as any spot and stalk, low fence/no fence big country critter that I’ve ever hunted. Even though I had a clear medical reason for hunting behind a fence, I still needed more before feeling totally comfortable with it. God gave me the answer, as He always does, in the book of Genesis. He was speaking to Noah, and laying out how things would be after the great flood.

God told Noah in Chapter 9 Verses 2 and 3:

2 “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; and into your hand are they delivered.”

3 “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” Notice the Lord never said “except those behind a fence” or “no fish from a small farm pond” or under any other conditions. That is good enough for me. If it's okay with God, then it's good with me.

Ethics do come in to play. He also gave us a conscience, and when He placed us above the animals, fowl and fish, as He showed Noah when he cared for the critters 2 X 2 on the ark, we are to care for them. America has been the worldwide leader in that conservation effort for the past 100 years. It is that God given ability to think, that allows us to make our own decisions. Problem is, after we have sorted it out and decided what is ethical hunting for ourselves, we often want to frown upon other methods and the folks that take part in them. Example: We've all heard the age old arguments between bow hunters and rifle hunters.

Figure it out for yourself.
Is it legal?
Will it bother me to harvest an animal on fenced property, be it 300 acres or 300,000?
Do I believe that God exists?
Do I believe what He said in His word?
Once you work it out, get out. Go and be in the woods. If you have to stop and unlock the gate on the way in, more power to you!
If you pack your way into the National Forest for a day and a half, excellent! Ya’ll grill your backstraps up side by side. They're gonna taste the same cause God Himself made them each and said put them on the dinner table.

Fondly,
Billy Kinder
BBKOradio.com

FEBRUARY 17, 2017


My childhood was so wonderful! I didn’t know it then, but I do now. I guess that happens to lots of folks after they melt a b’day cake with fifty plus candles. I grew up in a house that faced a pasture. That pasture was called “Jones” pasture. In that pasture was a pond. Yep, “Jones" pond. I can't tell you how many meetings I scheduled with childhood buddies at Jones pond.

It was full of bluegill and bass. If you caught a 2 pound bass, you were king of the pond. That pasture held deer and quail, and I had a single shot Stevens in 12 gauge. Quail were so plentiful in Jones pasture that at 10 years of age I could take that Stevens, walk up to whistling birds and kill a mess for the family without the luxury of a pointing dog. Most days I spent daylight to dark in Jones pasture, and most times alone. I couldn’t understand why other kids preferred the bowling alley, city swimming pool or whatever was showing at the Grand Theater.

There was always adventure in Jones pasture, and I wasn’t going to miss it. In my high school years I actually tried to mow a football field for the guys in the middle of it. The rock and cactus made it impossible, but a young man can dream. Dad wasn’t pleased with my decision to take his push mower out there and I don’t blame him. I forever changed that mower. Intense drama played out in Jones pasture. We were all about 7 or 8 when Joe Canterberry got too close to some kid casting a cane pole and took a hook clean thru the eyebrow…smooth thru from bottom to top…just below his flat top haircut…worm intact. He squalled like an alley cat. After we held him still for a few minutes so that we could all get a good look at that eyebrow, #2 eagle claw hook, red wiggler combo, Joe thought it was best to go see his momma. We agreed, but weren’t smart enough to clip the line to the hook, so some kid, cane pole in hand led Joe through Jones pasture like a dog on a leash, all the way home. That leaves an impression on a fella. It did me anyway.

Another time as I made my dash from the house to the magical pasture I stabbed myself. It was when I threw myself between the 2nd and 3rd wires on that old rusty barbed wire fence. I had run the knife thru my belt loop and when I lifted my leg to jump thru the fence, it entered my upper thigh in one spot and exited another. I just kept on going and know now that it was God that protected me from infection.

The worst episode is when I deceived my mom. It was pouring rain and I was told to stay in the house…but I couldn’t stand it. I was in Jones pasture when out of nowhere mom appeared, and she appeared mad. Stomping thru the mud, high heels in hand, blue dress soaked, and her hair that she made weekly appointments to keep perfectly puffed up was now hanging down like I’d never seen. I was scared, so scared that all I knew to do was run, she chased, she caught me…It was the only time that I ever ran from mom and I never lied to her again. I never met Mr. Jones, and I’m quite sure that he has passed now, but I’d like to run into him in Heaven and tell him thanks. His pasture, his pond, his willingness to allow an ol' Palo Pinto county kid to grow up within his cedar fence posts absolutely changed my life.

Fondly,
Billy Kinder
BBKOradio.com

FEBRUARY 3, 2017


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.

S-Shooting

A-Archery

F-Field

E-Excellency

T-Trials for

Y-Youth

DSC along with the Dallas Ecological Foundation host these events twice per year and have for a long long time.

Ingredients are:

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!

Fondly,
Billy Kinder
BBKOradio.com

OCTOBER 5, 2016


roaming the drainages and deep coverI’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!

Fondly,
Billy Kinder
BBKOradio.com

SEPTEMBER 30, 2016


Dove SeasonDove 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

ALSO...

-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!

Fondly,
Billy Kinder
BBKOradio.com

AUGUST 5, 2016


/Morani River Ranch Turkey Hunt 2014Turkeys 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!

Fondly,
Billy Kinder
BBKOradio.com

APRIL 15, 2016