Keep up with all things, outdoors, with Big Billy Kinder...
The most recent deer season just wasn’t what we dream of. The previous year was. Last year, on opening morning it was perfect! Robin and I had made the drive on a bright cool and sunny November day and enjoyed precious and rare relax time for an afternoon, a good meal and a solid night’s sleep at the hotel. I rose early in search of venison! It was opening day and that same excitement that I felt as a young teen is still exactly the same now, decades later! I had a couple of sausages and biscuits, coffee and more coffee and made my way 6 miles north of town on the blacktop and then 8 more down the caliche road to the ranch gate. Thru the gate, up the hill, slow rolling past the thick oak and mesquite to the area that I park, then a quarter of a mile walk to my spot. It’s still about an hour and a half until legal shooting time. I like to settle in with plenty of time for the area to be at ease with the surroundings. You can legally harvest deer at 30 minutes prior to official sunrise. Sunrise would be about 7:50 am, meaning that I could legally shoot at 7:20am.
I killed a nice buck at appx 7:30. Tag gone, easy as pie and the sun hasn’t crested the horizon yet on opening day. This most recent season? Total opposite. Deer season (1st Saturday in November thru the first Sunday in January) came and went without much activity at all. They just weren’t active and in my area during daylight. I saw and passed on a few young bucks. The does were not using my little area of the world nearly as much this year either. Deer season expired without me pulling the trigger. That means a shortage in the Kinder freezer. Fortunately the Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists keep a close eye on our deer numbers in Texas county by county. Those numbers say that good management means taking some does and spikes out of circulation. To do that, much of Texas enjoys an extended doe and spike season, two extra weeks after the official close of the whitetail season.
I had hunted hard at every opportunity for two months and seen no dependable pattern in the deer movement that would build excitement. But, taco meat and German sausage and backstraps on open fires are wonderful, so...I loaded up on patience and carried on into the extended doe/spike season. My final day to hunt would be Saturday the 16th. I had church duties on the final day to hunt, Sunday the 17th. The sun set on my deer season without a cervid in my freezer for the first time in I don’t know when. It was eating on me when I woke up at 2am Sunday morning. I figured in the drive time etc and discovered that I could hunt for 2 hours and still make it to church on time! So, up at 2am, 80 plus mile drive, blacktop, caliche, oaks, mesquite, quarter mile walk and in place plenty of time prior to first light. With 30 minutes left until the absolute end of my deer season, three does popped out. I know that doesn’t sound like much but this year it was huge! I loaded two in in the bed of the truck. Glorious joy! Weeks and months of slow burning patience, 10 minutes of deer hunting thrill, one year’s supply of very good and healthy things to eat in out freezer. Patience!
July 15, 2021
The weatherman lied…again! The wind, they said, would be gentle-northerly at about 5 mph. After I made the 90 mile drive and launched the boat in the dark, the breeze picked up a bit, more like 15 to 20. It was one of those days where the waves would lift the front end of the boat so high that the trolling motor would spin in the air before plunging deeper than I wanted in the water. The north wind carried cold temps too. I woke up to calm and 62, and by 8am it was knee-knocking shivers with a wind chill in the 20’s. I did throw in the insulated rain jacket and that helped out a bit. The shorts that I wore did not. It was April and the crappie spawn should have been in full swing. Under typical conditions, I would have eased the boat around in 4 to 6 foot water, vertically jigging standing timber and caught my limit of 25 crappie within a couple of hours. These cold blasts just kept coming in the spring of 2021-one per week. Perfect spawning water and conditions for 3 days, north wind and cold moisture for the next 3. The fish never really “patterned”. They just kinda went with the flow of things. I’m sure that some spawned out in 10-14 foot water and others in less than a foot.
On this particular day, the north wind didn’t kill the bite, but I certainly had to work for my fish. The bois’ d’arc tree jungle gave up one fish in 6 foot water. A trusted brush pile in 12 feet of water yielded a few more. The bridge was holding some fish in 12 to 14 foot depths. Moving the boat was cold, wet and time consuming. I caught my 25 keepers but not in a couple of hours. This took all of the morning and half of the afternoon. Patience was the key.
I love the part of fishing that requires some thinking...trying to figure out where they are and how to get them to bite. Now I’d rather not do it with numb hands and cold tears running from my eyes, but it worked out. It would have been a lot more comfortable to load the boat at 7:30am and head out for a hot breakfast and home, but the fish fry wouldn’t have been nearly as good. I’m not patting myself on the back or saying ”look at me”. I’m simply pointing out the fact that many times, the guy in deer camp that comes back with the venison is not necessarily the best hunter in camp, but the one that will be patient and wait it out longer.
My wife, Robin, and I were fly fishing a beautiful stream some years back. This place was loaded with rainbows. She studied a short, shaded stretch of the little creek and spotted 6 trout. She patiently worked the less than eager fish for what seems now like half a day. Robin never spooked them and patiently delivered her fly to each individual fish again and again until she had held each one in her gentle hand. I don’t remember what her fly was that day, but the magic ingredient was patience.
They say that patience is a virtue. Ol' Daniel Webster says that a virtue is “a beneficial quality”. Yep. If our kids learn to possess the power of patience, not only will they experience better hunting and fishing successs but better relationships, careers and lives too. Ecclesiastes Chp 7 Verse 8 says, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, likewise, patience is better than pride.” God, in His grace, is the definition of patience. As He watches (and He is) this sinful world circle round and round, He patiently waits to hold us, one by one, in His gentle hand.
May 26, 2021
JCR Fat GirlHey, if you're a dedicated bird hunter, you've been behind good bird dogs all of your life. You will NOT be disappointed with the dogs at Joshua Creek Ranch. It's so special to see a well-trained setter on point, head and tail high, setter feathers waving in the breeze.
AND THEN...They turn the "Fat Girl" loose!
Her real name is Stella. She stands maybe 14 inches tall, and she enjoys her meals. She carries a few extra pounds therefore she's earned the name "Fat Girl". She loves to hunt as much as she loves to eat. And when you turn this little English Cocker loose, there's no down time. She takes no breaks. And even though the cover is three times taller than her, she somehow, with the miracle of God's creation that HE put into a Cocker and bird dogs in general, tunnels through this thick cover unable to see the game being played. It's all nose and instinct that leads her to that bird that she promptly puts in the air and then retrieves to hand. The smile on her face that you can visibly see will put joy in your heart and a smile on your face.
There are lots of "Stellas" at Joshua Creek Ranch. They employ the little English Cockers to do the flushing and much of the retrieving. Most of the little Cockers are much more dainty then Stella; all work equally as hard. You're gonna want to take one home. I promise! (That's not a maybe) AND...from time to time, they do have litters available. Check with the folks at the ranch about that.
January 15, 2021