Keep up with all things, outdoors, with Big Billy Kinder...
Its National Boating and Fishing week! That gives us all permission to buy that new down image/side image/sonar/big screen tv for the boat! It’ll make our boating experience safer honey…really! And it really does! All of the great technology that is available to any boat with a battery now is truly incredible and makes our time on the water absolutely safer. You can plot a safe chart to a great point or brush pile without dropping the lower unit of the boat on that hidden hump of rock or just beneath the surface bois d’arc tree. If in trouble, you have exact gps coordinates to relay to rescuers. There is even software available on fish finders that displays an aerial photo of the lake and marinas, channels and boat ramps ahead of you. New water becomes more familiar before you even motor on to it. There is software that helps avoid collisions with other vessels. Kinda like a radar for area boat traffic.
Even with all of the latest and greatest, the lakes are still dangerous for the unprepared and inebriated. The 3 basic rules of safe boating still apply.
1) Take a boater safety course, no matter how long you have been captain of your ship. A brush up on the lap top might make you say “oh yeah” a time or two. Only 12% of the people that died in recreational boating accidents last year did so on vessel’s where the operator had earned a nationally approved boating safety education certificate.
2) Wear it. Life preservers have become smaller, sleeker, less cumbersome and a whole lot more comfortable over the past few years. Invest in something that you can live with wearing all day, and after the unthinkable happens, you’ll more than likely live to tell about it. 78% of boating fatalities are drownings. 84% of those drownings were not wearing a life vest.
3) Don’t drink before or during your outing. You need you reflexes, judgement, alertness and coordination while on the water. The fines from a boating while intoxicated could have bought a nice upgrade in your on the water transportation too. Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. It is the leading factor in nearly one fourth of recreational boating deaths.
Data used is from the U.S. Coast Guard, released May 13, 2015.
So use safe boating and fishing week as your excuse to upgrade the fish finder and go fishing…with your iced tea…and vest…and certificate! See ya on the water!
June 6, 2015
I spent a couple of days earlier this week hunting west Texas quail with a couple of old friends. It was sure great to catch up with those guys, and equally as good working birds with well trained bird dogs. We hunted a ranch that had been left to rest for several years. The quail population hit a big dip and the rancher and I thought it best to just let the birds be, even tho we worked very hard through the years to never over pressure the birds. Bird numbers are back up to a huntable number and so a trip to west TX was in order.
The average lifespan of a bobwhite quail is about 12 months. Every critter under the sun likes to eat quail and quail eggs. Since bobs are ground nesting/roosting birds, they are very vulnerable to predators. Since no one had run a dog or fired a shotgun at a quail in about 4 years, every bird on the nearly 6000 acres was what we call “virgin” birds. Virgin birds will usually sit real tight. They will live up to the name “gentleman bob”. You almost need to stick the toe of your boot into the covey to produce a flush. I was surprised when these birds didn’t act that way. They were spooky. They were getting up in front of the pointed dogs 20-30 yards away, out of shotgun range. After a couple of these long distant rise’s, we remembered one of the first things that we had ever learned about flushing quail. Approach the dog directly into his nose, not his tail. It worked, it always does. Heres why.
1-Spooky birds will usually run from the pointing dog and only take wing as a last resort. Swing around and approach the dogs nose and you trap the birds between yourself and the dogs.
2-When birds are caught in this situation, they will most likely flush higher for safer shots. When you approach the dog from the rear, the escape route for the quail is lower and usually a couple of hard driving bird dogs are chasing. Sometimes just a few feet below the flying birds. Not nearly as safe a shot.
3-You’ve probably spent a lot of time training and tuning your bird dog for this very moment. When you approach him from behind, and pass his head on your way to flush, he will be tempted to go with you. Maybe just a few steps, maybe back ahead of you again. Not what you want. In a field trial that will cost you crucial points, and maybe even get your piece of work discredited completely.
January 1, 2015
Its happened a couple of times….you spend the week before opening day gathering your dove hunting tools, meticulously filtering through the hunting closet, garage, shells, camo and decoys…making sure that everything under your control is perfect for opening day. You load it, you make the drive, you set your decoys in the perfect spot and take cover! Ahhhh, finally, the reward for all of the work! Relax and get ready for the big moment….Thats when you, or maybe your hunting partner, maybe your wife…maybe even your wife named Robin speaks up and says…”I forgot my hunting license.” Here’s a little checklist that I go through before hunting doves that can help head off a few minor headache’s, with some hopefully helpful tips under lined along the way.
*License….Check your regulations, your state more than likely requires a migratory bird stamp and H.I.P. certification as well as a standard hunting license.
*Shells…Don’t buy trash. The average dove hunter kills 3 doves for every box of 25 shells that he/she shoots. We need all of the help that we can get. Look for shot shells with at least one ounce of powder. 1 and 1/8th is even better. Shot size should be (in my humble opinion) 8’s or 9’s. Quality shells will cost you a couple more bucks per box, but when you think about why you are going in the first place, they are worth it.
*Batteries…I always try to get to the dove field in the dark to set up decoys. A headlight or small flashlight that easily tucks away into a vest pocket is essential to me. I also put fresh batteries in the Mojo doves (motion decoys) every year. If you don’t own a Mojo, go get one. Better yet, go get two. They work! The people at Mojo don’t pay me to say that…they simply work! More Mojo in a minute.
*Choke Tubes…keep them handy in the field. Low floating water balloons in the morning get educated very quickly. By afternoon, those balloons have F-16 engines and Apollo “to the moon” height. Or maybe your perfect setup is 10 yards further from the field entrance that the birds prefer. I always start with improved cylinder, and then adjust to the birds if needed.
*Camo…they see you! They have a height advantage. Camo up as much as you can stand in September heat. No matter what your momma said about you, these guys DON’T want to see your shining face. Camo up, try to hunt in the shade with your back to the sun, and use brush or trees to break up your outline. They fly through here regularly and notice subtle differences. Especially shiny ones.
*Cooler…water in the field is usually essential, keeping your dove breasts cool is too.
*Stool or bucket to sit on… They make all kinds of fancy hunting stools and buckets. I once paid (out of desperation) $25 for a five gallon bucket with a rotating seat lid on it. Highway robbery, but I was taking a kid turkey hunting down on the Texas/Mexican border. You just pay em, smile and move on in that country. Heres a tip. I like a taller stool. The added height makes it easier to get up, get up quickly, and get into shooting position with less noticeable motion. I found a neat little black fold away stool at Wal-Mart a few years back for $9 and it works great.
*Toilet Paper…Seldom needed, greatly appreciated when it is!
*Game Shears…for clipping wings/Ziploc Bags…for storing birds/Permanent marker pen…for clearly marking bags with your name. Texas Wardens are writing folks up when they come across a pile of birds that exceed one hunter’s limit. Keep your birds separate from others.
TIP: I always keep a box of quality rubber gloves in my truck for cleaning fish and game. Water is usually scarce in the field and these keep your hands clean while field dressing.
*TIP…visit you local hardware store and pick up a roofers magnet. I call em a magnet on a stick. Roofers drag the lawn for wayward nails after a roofing project. These are great for picking up spent shotgun hulls. Pick em up! It will get you invited back sometime, and it’s just the right thing to do.
*Dog Supplies…water, water, water…and a bowl. Your retriever is going to get hot. I carry a few first aid items like super glue and EMT gel to treat cuts from fences etc…
*Decoys…Like I said earlier, Mojo motion decoys are unreal! I’ve on multiple occasions seen doves try to land on top of them! I incorporate my motion decoys with motionless clip on’s. TIP: while your at the hardware store, buy a single stick of rebar. It can easily be bent into a U shape. Shove the ends into the ground and clip your motionless clip on decoys on top making them more visible to the international bird of peace. I like to place a couple of Mojo motion decoys within 8-10 yards from the rebar setup.
Enjoy your dove season, dove kabob’s for dinner and most importantly, time in the field with your family. It’s precious!
August 1, 2014