Keep up with all things, outdoors, with Big Billy Kinder...
I hear that song about My Favorite Things around Christmas time each year. Some ol’ boy named Richard Rodgers wrote it back in the 50’s, then Julie Andrews made it famous in “The Sound of Music”, which I am proud to say I’ve never seen. I have, though, turned the volume up on the radio and listened to the lyrics of the song. That part about crisp apple strudel always conjures up a picture for me. I’m not a Broadway guy. Not much of a movie guy. I probably can’t name 5 show tunes with any confidence and that they actually came out of a show. In fact, I’m having trouble getting to two right now. But, ”My Favorite Things” kinda got me to thinking. We all have favorite things or situations that we cling to a little too much or dwell on while we should be thinking of more productive efforts. But what the heck, it’s okay to idle away a few minutes here and there I guess. You’re doing it right now, so, in no particular order...
The thump that you feel in the cork handle of a good crappie rod. The force with which a crappie sucks in a small jig is actually strong enough from 18-20 feet deep to send a vibration up the line to the rod tip and then to your hand that triggers a reaction in the brain, to send the thump back down the line and set the hook in ol spec’s mouth. All of this takes place in about 1 second. The thump is absolutely one of my favorite things.
Good dogs on point and birds that hold tight. It is amazing to watch what God put into a bird dog. The indwelling drive to hunt game birds. I’ve watched ‘em for years running at ¾ speed through dusty, windy, dry, rainy, thick cover. Meadowlarks, sparrows and chee-chee birds of all sorts popping up and flitting away as the dog runs, but he gives them none of his attention...none! Not even a glance, but 1 single molecule of scent from a quail, pheasant or grouse makes the dog flip back-end over front and land with a hard stop! Head and tail high, smoking the pipe. The dog breaths scent in with his nose, exhaling with his mouth which in turn makes his cheeks puff out and back in...giving the impression of a pipe smoker. Many times, a covey of bobwhite quail will hold tight on a snowy morning, so will early season young birds that have never met a birddog before. Walking up to that view will always be a favorite.
A big bass jig swimming from that shallow little pocket that you threw it in to. You know it didn’t come to life and start swimming on its own. No, a bass has that jig in her mouth and she’s headed for deeper water with her prey much like a dog will seek out a private spot to enjoy a treat. You “catch up” to her with your reel, then set the hook like your name is Klein, Brauer or Evers! Oh, what a feeling and favorite.
Any fish on a topwater bait. Matters not if its sunfish on a little popper delivered by your fly rod or a big 6 inch walking-bait targeting bass. When the lightning fast explosion occurs, that very second is on my favorites list. You want to see it again and again, the feeling never grows old! You could do this all day, but the sun climbs higher and the topwater bite dies off. Special moments reserved mostly for short periods of time and then left to bounce around in your mind while you should be listening to the preacher.
Pre sunrise in the pasture or on the lake. The temperature drops another degree or two as if the night is tightening its grip on your world not wanting to let go. The first birds of the morning, outside of chuck willows will or an old owl, start to make their presence known. Faint light begins to creep into your surroundings like water seeping into a marsh. The sun’s not officially up yet but is steadily working on it and is precisely on time, the same today as it was on that first morning when God put it in motion. The world is waking up around you. Barely visible are a couple of deer. How did they get there! I’ve been watching so closely, every second! It’s like they grew straight up out of the ground. Unseen turkeys lightly yelp from the roost and get more vocal as they fly down. In the stillness of pre-dawn you clearly hear the flapping of their wings and they depart the tree limb for breakfast. The slow gentle ride across quiet water to a favorite fishing hole with red and green lights leading the way. Trying not to spill your coffee as you go, you have just enough light to see “feeding rings” on top of the water, raising your expectations and thinking about that trusty old “Pop R” that you tied on last night.
Two-lane blacktops and worn dirt roads, especially those that you’ve never travelled before. Wonder and excitement, looking at new country and looking deeply for the flash of a white tail or a summer herd of elk. Snow topped high places in June. Ripe Montana choke cherries growing wild along a public right of way or wild West Texas sand plums in a pasture, ready for picking and making jelly. An old dry goods/grocery store from a bygone era that somehow manages enough business from area farm families and wide-eyed adventurers to keep the lights on. A winding Ozark farm to market road that leads toward the farm, not the market. As it leads you across the creek for the 3rd time, you catch a glimpse of a flock of eastern turkeys running up into the thick southern woods.
A crackling fire. The fireplace on a chilly winter’s evening, reading old Gene Hill stories for the 15th time. Maybe it’s a hot bed of coals with fresh logs popping on top, circled by satisfied hunters after a day in the field. Some facing the fire with glowing faces and cold hands extended, palms out, others warming their backsides with hands stretched backwards. Someone’s telling a story. You’ve heard it before and know the ending well, but the moment is so agreeable that you in quiet eagerness give it your full attention. The story is good, but so is the thick blanket of quiet that follows that laughter.
Smells...fresh gunpowder in the air on a clear blue morning, fish on your hands, spring flowers in the turkey haunts, smoke from the last pipe that exists in deer camp.
Time, places, experiences, tools of the trade, some people, well-mannered dogs. What was that?? Sounds. Peach pie in summer and my old Ruger Red Label 20 gauge. Just a few of my favorite things.
February 6, 2020
It has always kinda baffled me. A guy that LOVES to hunt whitetails, waits all year for it! Time in the woods is bigger than the shot. He/she loves everything about hunting but…they totally ignore the turkeys. What a treasure these birds are and absolutely delicious on the table. I truly have never eaten a pen raised bird from the grocery store that can hold a candle to a wild turkey. I think, in my humble opinion, that as the once plentiful turkey in North America plummeted in numbers during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, we went several generations without hunting them and passing those skills and recipes down. Now turkey numbers are good, turkey hunter populations are low.
The bird, native to America, was found to be dang tasty to early settlers pushing westward-so tasty that we nearly ate all of them. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that turkey restoration was noted as successful and working. In 1991 turkey seasons finally were open in all of the 49 states that hold wild turkeys. We all have turkeys outside of Alaska. The great frozen tundra is the only state without turkeys. Yes, you can hunt them in Hawaii! 1960 and 1991 are just a blink in time back from now. That’s not a lot of time to re-establish turkey hunters. A generation is generally thought to be 30 years. If turkey hunting was all but totally shut down in the 19-early’s, that puts between 3 and 4 generations between the 1st North American turkey hunters and the youngster that wants to hunt today. We simply have a nation of folks that didn’t grow up hunting turkeys, don’t know where to start or how to go about it. It’s easier than you think. Turkeys are an exciting and rewarding hunt and a pretty inexpensive way to round up a great meal. So let’s get started, and this spring will be the time to do that. You will need a place to hunt...
• A lot of land owners don’t hunt turkeys and wouldn’t mind you hunting them. Ask! Maybe you have a deer lease and simply haven’t explored what it takes to kill a turkey. Turkey hunters require only a few acres as opposed to the quail hunter that needs thousands of acres or the deer hunter that prefers hundreds. Do your homework. You will need a place that holds turkeys; preferably they roost there on that property at night. Tall trees and creek bottoms are prime places to look for wild turkeys.
• You’ll need camo; turkeys have incredible eyesight. Blend into your surroundings, break up your outline and BE STILL. They will see movement at great distances. This sounds crazy but even with this tremendous eyesight, they don’t mind a pop-up blind. I don’t know if they relate it to a bale of hay or a bush or what, but if you’re regularly seeing turkeys at your deer feeder or know where they likely will fly down from the roost, set up a pop-up blind. When you set up a new blind in an area, the deer typically will shy away for a week or two until they realize it’s immobile and safe. Turkeys on the other hand will walk right into an area with a new blind setup that wasn’t there an hour ago. If you want to take the youngsters, buy a pop-up to conceal movement. You can find them for under a hundred bucks these days. You can actually stand up inside and walk your pop-up blind closer to the turkeys, and it won’t rattle them. Try it when they hang up out there and won’t come any closer.
• You need a shotgun and heavy loads. I prefer a 12 gauge with an extended “turkey” choke and 3 ½ inch turkey shells. These heavy-feathered birds are tough, and I like to throw a powerful punch. Plenty of turkeys have been taken with a 20 and even a 410, but my goal is to kill a turkey, and I place the odds in my favor here. I also enjoy hunting them with a bow. That’s a whole nuther subject and probably not the right choice for the new turkey hunter.
• Spring means love to the tom turkey, so learn to speak the language. You don’t need a vest full of calls to have success hunting turkeys, but after you call in that 1st one and shoot him, you will be hooked and buying an assortment of calls and goodies! To break this down to its simplest form: (1) buy a slate call or box call. These two are easy to use and they won’t require a ton of practice time. (2) Visit the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) website and listen to the recordings of actual birds. The NWTF site is a trove of great information!
Take advantage of that small family owned parcel of land, or that deer lease that gets locked down in late winter and not used again till fall. You will not believe the rush of excitement that a gobbling tom turkey brings at 10 yards!
Remove and thoroughly clean the 2 breasts from your wild turkey. Cut the breasts into strips approximately 2 inches wide. Use an egg wash, then bread them good in flour, salt and pepper. I double coat by using this process twice on each strip of meat. Deep or skillet fry at 350 degrees. Hint: I like Kentucky Colonel seasoned flour for chicken fried turkey breast, and it also makes great cream gravy! The recipe is on the box as white sauce. But its cream gravy.
This is simply a beginner’s guide to the thrill of hunting turkeys. Give it a try! If you enjoy the sights and sounds of a fall deer stand, just wait ‘til you watch spring bloom right before your eyes, and Mr. Tom comes running to your call, stops, gobbles and goes full fan right in front of you!! THAT is when you invite him over for dinner!
January 31, 2020
Has common sense completely evaporated?
To assume that the more than 17 million conceal carry permit holders in the U.S. and the millions more gun owners that don’t have a permit are a threat to society and should be restricted in our freedom to come and go as we please is simply fuel for a bigger agenda. It’s an agenda that seeks great power. Power that those pushing gun confiscation know isn’t possible if solid citizens are armed. That is why we have a 2nd Amendment.
“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined…”
~President George Washington to Congress in 1790
Common sense tells us, and President Washington knew, that it is the undisciplined criminal and not the gun owner that murders people.
“The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
~Thomas Jefferson quoting criminologist Cesare Beccaria, Commonplace Book.
Walmart announced this week that they would prefer you be an unarmed person when you enter their stores. They didn’t make that decision for your safety in my opinion, but to appease anti-gun politicians and media. The official word from CEO Doug McMillon was “…we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores or Sam’s Clubs in states where open carry is permitted-unless they are authorized law enforcement officers.” Walmart says that once the existing inventory of pistol and short barreled rifle ammo is sold, they will stock no more. Walmart has also decided that folks in Alaska don’t need a handgun. That’s the same decision they made for me at my local Wally World and the other 49 states back in the 90’s. I understand that Walmart leadership had to say something. I get it. Walmart has been in the news a lot lately because nut cases have chosen to murder there. But, these decisions were made based on image, not sound logic.
It would thrill me to hear a major CEO in our nation stand up on his/her hind legs and quote Jefferson or Washington or maybe Benjamin Franklin when he said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.” (Historical Review of Pennsylvania 1759) How great would it be to hear a bigwig state that America is made up, for the most part, by hard-working, tax-paying citizens that are our greatest resource in economy, charity and safety. That the armed citizen is welcome here openly armed or concealed. To punish the millions of folks that do the right thing day after day because of the actions of a murderer is insane. If a big boss would encourage true freedom, he/she would have the safest shop in town.
Rattlesnakes hang out near deer feeders because they know the meek little mouse likes corn too and doesn’t carry a 44 mag. Is this a good game plan for such a strong, honest and armed nation? Leave the 44 behind, make it known through the media that XYZ company doesn’t allow personal protection, then show up at XYZ with your loved ones? Not according to smart guys like Franklin, Washington and Jefferson. Walmart’s decision this week wasn’t earth shattering. They didn’t say NO FIREARMS may be carried in our stores. But it was a sip of lukewarm coffee. No good. And it’s pushed me to rethink things a bit.
I plan to be a smarter shopper in the future. I will spend a little more time in this evil and dangerous world considering where I will spend my hard earned pay. Where I will spend time with my family and friends. I will worship, shop, work and play in areas where the world’s largest army, the armed U.S. Citizen is welcomed. I haven’t made this decision because of anger at folks like Dick’s Sporting Goods or AMC theatres or Chuck E Cheese or Jack in the Box. It’s America, and those folks can choose who to invite over, just as I can choose where to eat, watch a movie, or eat a meal. It’s just good common sense. Take your family to safe environments, and American citizens well-armed are safe. It’s so simple to web search retailer rules on personal protection.
Retailers with anti 2nd Amendment rules assume every day that the vast majority of us would never harm another. In assuming that we are all pretty safe folks, they, in wrong thinking, decide that only the rattlesnake poised by the deer feeder should be armed. Where is the common sense in that?
September 4, 2019
Her name is spelled Xayden. It's pronounced Zayden. Don’t ask me. All I know is that she’s 3, adorable, a pain in the butt at times, more fun than a pickup bed full of monkeys, and she’s my granddaughter. We find very little common ground inside the house. I have no interest in those two pups she’s glued to on TV, and I hear that dreaded Mickey Mouse song in my head at night. Let me be clear, I do not give a solitary hoot where "Toodles" is. Yes, I play along with the stuffed animal parade, the endless desire for me to put down the latest copy of Bassmaster magazine and pick up a story book...again. I’m kinda shocked that by now we haven’t erased the words from the pages with our eyeballs simply by reading and re-reading. There is constantly a miniscule bug on the floor, under her chest of drawers, in total darkness where Pappaw has to lay face down on the floor with a flashlight to see. It is uncanny how she spots these things, but none get past her! Walking through the pasture with enough visual happening around us to overwhelm and amaze, she spots a dung beetle in a dark shady spot. God given gift of insecta-vision!
And THERE is my common ground with my Xady lady. We are hunters! It is outdoors where we enjoy our best playtime together! My heart grows younger out there, and she grows up faster. We meet in the middle with a butterfly net, a five gallon bucket and a feverish hunt for bugs to drop in the bucket. Mayflies were her quarry of choice earlier this spring, and she was very good at catching all of them that were at about 32 inches or lower. The natural course of things has moved us from mayfly season to her favorite...The roly poly. It's part of her big 5. I assure you that you’ve never seen a grown man grinning with an 8 pound bass in his hand any happier or more excited than Xady with a poly. When the weather warmed a bit more and the poly parade started in the cool mornings, she was ready. Yes, sadly some polys made the ultimate sacrifice during their time in poly compound. Over-handling, I believe the cause. Even tho death came calling for some of the weaker little insect versions of the armadillo, they still counted towards her tally. Near 20 on that particular safari. It was a tremendously successful outing.
Trips to the ranch are a big deal. She knows that the first stop for supplies is Buccee’s. Corn for the deer, hogs, birds, coons and coconut fudge for us. Once we pass through the ranch gate, it’s out of the car seat and riding shotgun with her head hanging out the window like a fella’s favorite hound. While I hoist the corn for distribution, she hunts. Everything is a wonder! Like the rock that she picked up and asked me about. I explained that it was actually a world record cow patty...true Boone and Crockett material... a dandy. “Don’t eat it.” I teach her these important things, and without her even trying or knowing, she reminds me that the blessing of time in the field, the boat, a conservation area, BLM, National Park or old deer feeder is very very special.
How callused and spoiled am I? Would I be happy for a couple of hours in the floor of the boat with a box of night crawlers? No, but to see her pure joy in that reminds and refreshes my roots with critters and the places they wander. Poly safari in the front yard, poop safari in the pasture…a precious little one’s squeal of pure joy as a night crawler slithers thru her fingers. Safari is a journey, an expedition, a mindset that anticipates with great eagerness what lies ahead. It’s the stop for fudge along the way, the ride through the pasture, the moment when the turtle first lumbers into sight. It’s sunrise in Cordoba when more doves than you ever imagined start lifting from the roost, or sunset on top of Going to the Sun Road.
Pre-dawn when it’s just light enough to see that yes, that’s the big boy I’ve hunted for three years. In a wink he’s gone, but safari still has had its full effect on your heart. Thank you Lord! There is a 3 year old inside of you. Turn her loose, send her on safari near and far. And if you net a poly that’s 3/8ths inches or more, call ol' Roy at Truelife Taxidermy.
May 24, 2019
Contact: Billy Kinder
Kinder Productions, Inc.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 2019-DALLAS, TX—On Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 4pm (ET) a small family business made in America will see its ten years of sweat and tears prove graduated as its product, outdoor talk radio show Big Billy Kinder Outdoors, joins the satellite signal of SiriusXM. From humble beginnings on one radio station in Dallas/Fort Worth, BBKO Radio will become a part of the Salem family of programming on Family Talk SiriusXM 131. Dallas Safari Club (DSC), with a mission to educate youth and the general public about conservation in the outdoors comes on as the Title Sponsor. “We are thrilled to be a part of Big Billy Kinder Outdoors expanding to SiriusXM. Billy has been a strong and leading voice for the outdoors for a decade, and DSC is proud to see that expanding to inform and engage new audiences.” Corey Mason, Executive Director-DSC. After thirty years of being a voice on the airwaves in DFW, Billy will now share his on air talent along with his life-long passion and experience in the great outdoors hunting and fishing with an ever-growing audience. Big Billy Kinder Outdoors currently airs on WBAP-820AM (Flagship), 14 other North Texas radio stations and over 116 radio stations in 28 states distributed by the Salem Radio Network. Our show pros include outdoor icons such as Larry Weishuhn, Gary Klein, Tom Dokken, Kelly Jordan, Wally Marshall-“Mr. Crappie” & MORE. Celebrity guests such as T. Boone Pickens, General Chuck Yeager, Nolan Ryan, Jim Shockey, Jason Robertson, Jim Zumbo and others frequent the camp-house to discuss, not their business, but their PASSION…the great outdoors. Listeners can tune in to any of the local radio stations, SiriusXM-Channel 131 OR 24/7 to enjoy the podcasts. Podcasts can be enjoyed from iTunes, the bbkoradio.com website or other podcast providers. SiriusXM’s recent acquisition of Pandora, created the world’s largest audio entertainment company and the potential for even more growth is in the future. This new partnership between DSC and Big Billy Kinder Outdoors will ensure that the important message of conserving wildlife and wild places, protecting rights to hunt and fish and educating our next generations in our outdoor heritage will reach even more ears and hearts. BBKO Radio is a great way to enjoy a long day in the blind (with earphones of course) or a long day on the water. “When we’re not in the great outdoors, we’re thinkin’ about it.”
More information is available regarding the show online, www.BBKOradio.com
If you have questions, or to schedule an interview, call Billy Kinder (817) 360-8090
It's not a place that I’d ever been, nor would even consider. Heck, this place would not interest or occupy my mind at all if it weren’t for a beautiful blonde headed grand girl. Ever heard of American Girl? It’s Barbie on mega growth hormone. Barbie had a doll house and a convertible; American Girl has it's own free standing two story building outside the Dallas Galleria filled with every race, lifestyle and interest doll that you can think up. There’s camping girl, astronaut girl, singer girl, skateboard girl, beach girl...hey, they even had a banjo pickin girl. It’s an amazing place. All of these before mentioned girls, have an endless line of accessories too. All very life-like, all greatly overpriced. It’s a place I can’t afford to go, but I do...I’ve got a beautiful blonde headed grand girl. I’m sure that somewhere in this doll house is a whole troop of vacuum girls that go around sucking up the money from glazed over grandpas like me. I was pleased though, when blondie chose camping gear for her American Girl.
When I stepped in the front door, my view was overwhelming. No, not wall to wall dolls, but the strongest voice in 2nd Amendment support on planet earth. Turns out that Wayne LaPierre has a granddaughter too. There was Wayne in his sweats and tenny shoes. A ball cap and wallet rounded out his attire. This is all that he and I would need on this day. Armed with credit cards and dressed in stuff that would allow us to keep up with the little darlings. Here we were, a guy that loves and understands that without Amendment 2, I would not have American Girl freedom. My trusted 270 would by now be an Obama plow share with Hillary riding guard to make sure I didn’t have any others laying around. And there’s the other guy, Executive VP of the NRA and my voice many times in cocktail conversations that I’m not invited to. We could have shared like-minded conversation that covered the hours of doll frenzy, but we had smaller fish to fry. Young’uns that need our nurturing and support now, so they’ll know how to do it later.
So, Wayne and I ooo’ed and awe’d and kept our eye rolling to a minimum. We watched joyfully as we overpaid for mini hairdos for the dolls which we had overpaid. Heck, if Wayne and I had hair enough to work with, we’d have had ours done too. There were overpriced tea parties with the dolls, constant trips from 1st floor to 2nd and then back down. There was laughter, and wide eyes. There were thank yous and hugs...there were happy little girls and grown men with names like papaw, gramps, big daddy and pops. There was, right before our eyes, every reason that our 2nd Amendment exists, and every reason it must stay iron clad strong! Neither Wayne nor I had to say it; we were both living it. Our girls were having a great time, and American Girl at that moment was one of the safest places on earth. Nice seein ya Wayne!
Are you a member of the NRA? If not...why not? Oh, I get it if you're scared of guns to the point that you think no one should possess them. I understand that. You’ve just never been around them. Know what? Chances are very high that if we went to the range together, you would not only change your opinion but have the time of your life. That’s a safe bet for me because I’ve seen it too many times already. As part of the Dallas Safari Club and Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation, I’ve had the great pleasure to assist at the annual S.A.F.E.T.Y event.
At these events, kids and one of their parents learn to shoot bow, pistol, shotgun, rifle and muzzle loader. I teach shotgun. At EVERY annual event, even though the shooting and teaching is intended for the kids, mom and dad get involved. They want to try it, and when they do...a new shooter is born. I’ve seen it first hand and heard the stories time and again. Folks that were scared of guns beforehand, purchasing them and kicking off a life-time of target shooting and or hunting afterwards. There are folks full of hatred on the far left that dream of a Stalin society or something that will never be good for the U.S. They know that we must be disarmed for their dreams to come true. There are folks to the right and folks in the middle. I’m convinced though that our founders were God-inspired in their formation of government and that grandpas that respect both God and government have and will continue to protect those precious young’uns with that 2nd Amendment right. They protect your foul mouth too lefty.
January 26, 2018
I would really love to know how many miles I’ve traveled, walking behind my bird dogs over the years. These days you can do that. Garmin, and other companies, have products that count your steps, heartbeats, blood pressure and probably even the hairs on your head. Back when I started, beeper collars were the latest and greatest technology. You would charge it up, or in most cases, install fresh batteries, strap it around your pointing dog’s neck along with his training collar and off they would go. A shrill beeping sound would echo thru the West Texas mesquite flats and Montana coulees, giving you an approximate location of your hunting dog. It was pretty neat tech really. It would beep maybe every five seconds or so while the dog was running, and every one second when the dog stopped to point or pass along the leftovers from last night’s dinner. Someone got real tricky and designed a collar that would beep while the dog was running, and screech like a hawk when the dog was pointing. Game birds don’t like to get airborne when a predator with sharp claws and eyes, and Air Force jet speed is nearby. So, the hawk screech was meant to fool the birds into holding tight on the ground until you could catch up with your pointing dog to make the flush.
The desire of a bird dog to hunt and point upland birds is so strong, that after a few short minutes of obtrusive noise, just inches behind their ears, they seemed to totally ignore it all together. After the first beeper collar hunt, it was always welcomed by the dogs. The collar was a sign to them that once they were fitted with their jewelry, it was time to hunt. My friend, Ted Gartner with the Garmin company is an avid bird dog man. He and a few techie types made the old beeper obsolete. Once on a hunt, Ted wondered around the camp-fire one night if he could duct take a GPS unit to one of his dog's training collars and take the first step towards a quiet dog locating collar. The Astro was born from that evening of pondering and red-necking around with GPS technology and duct tape. Astro, now several generations older, shows you where your dog is and what he is doing at all times.
Waaaay back...before the battery powered beeper collar was the simple little brass bell. Obviously making noise while the dog runs, and falling silent when the dog locates birds and points. Purely from nostalgia, I held on to that old bell method. Yes, I always had and primarily used the latest and greatest technology, but could easily step back in time by removing the tech collar and replacing it with a simple bell. I especially enjoyed this practice when hunting alone, working a smaller patch, and partnering with only one dog on the ground as opposed to two, three or even four. If I saw little Button, or ol’ Jill disappear into a plum thicket and the bell jingled no more, it brought an instant smile. Birds!
I still have those old bells that carried the jingle of fall, and the collars from many of my dogs. I can look at a particular collar and tell you about the dog that wore it. I can tell you in detail about how they liked to hunt, how hard they ran, how far or close they felt necessary to hold birds, and how I loved each one. When you step into the fields of fall, behind a well trained bird dog, it's magical. Matters not the technology or lack of. Enjoy your bird season and throw ol' Nose an extra treat tonight. They will give you every ounce of heart that they can muster tomorrow as they jingle off into the plum thicket.
October 12, 2017
The fourth Saturday in September each year is, as proclaimed by our esteemed leadership in Washington, D.C. back in 1972, National Hunting and Fishing Day. A day that celebrates several things. Not the least of which is...
NHF Day also celebrates...
We can blame a lot of things, not the least of which is technology advancement in the past 20 years...Instant entertainment right at our fingertips that has stolen a whole generation’s attention. Virtual whatever, replacing actual hands on skills from field to table. We can blame the usual suspects like lack of public hunting property, high cost of carrying out our hunting traditions (hunting trip related expenses rose 15% 2011-2016) and a shamefully high divorce rate. Yes all of these factors contribute to the decline and decay of wonderful heritage and tradition, but ultimately, we must horseshoe the pointing finger back around to ourselves. No matter how many dollars we spent at the DU banquet, or how many bass baits we bought last year, or contributions to great conservation efforts, if we didn’t spend at least one day taking and teaching someone new, we failed ourselves and drove a nail in the American hunters coffin.
I like the leadership that we now see from U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke. He is part of our heritage; he gets it and he’s working to make things easier for the next bunch coming along. He's attacking the Obama administration’s senseless, science-less attack on lead ammunition by punching holes thru the regulations that prevent us all from accessing many of OUR public lands. OURS! We can sit comfortably in our warm deer camps, enjoying God's blessings, creation and protein (keeping it to ourselves and grinning in our self satisfying little bubble), or we can actually do something to impact our grandkid's hunting and fishing opportunities.
Spend the money! Guided trips, product, essentials to hunting and fishing. It keeps the wild places wild when you do. Teach someone! It won’t take long. They will love it. You will too, and hopefully you will instill in them the desire to teach others as they move down life’s road. Vote! Educate yourself responsibly, and let's “drain the swamp”, as a famous billionaire has said, of those that hate the fact that you and I follow God's plan to be the head of the animal kingdom.
Enjoy YOUR National Hunting and Fishing Day! We are still the strongest voice and best friend that the wild things and places in America will ever know.
*U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Survey Preliminary Findings
Se[tember 21, 2017
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!
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.
June 9, 2017