Alaska Fishing    Texas Doves    Canada Prairie

Sunday March 12th 2005

This was my first chance of the year to try out my new reel and polarized fishing glasses.  The reel is a Daiwa Advantage Super Tuned A153HSTL and the glasses are Costa del Mar Fathom Wave 580s with copper lenses.  The day was spent with Dwayne and Jim Galpin fishing around the pass in Galveston.  I wasn't sure what the weather was gonna do so I brought my breathables and my Kobuk jacket.  Thank god!  It was cold on that water.  Well we get to our first spot and I rig up and soon hang up on some oysters, oh well, put on the waders and get it loose.  We are all in the water and move back up in a gut where I am the closest to the opening and soon land the flounder pictured below.  Jim hooked up soon thereafter but lost it right at his feet and I set the hook on one that soon got off.  Dwayne didn't get a bite, but as he says, he rarely catches flounder, probably due to his speed of retrieve.  Well we try a few more spots and I feel I had one more bite that day and that was it.  Pretty slow, but it was great to get out on the water and to get some sun.

Tuesday April 5th 2005
Damon lease

Well ol' Jason called me that day and asked if I wanted to go giggin' at the lease that night.  I wasn't sure about it at first but after a gut full of Gringos I was ready so we meet there right at dusk.  We park under the trees across from the bee hives and walk over to a little pond right off the road.  Right away we see a big one that Jason lets me try first and I'll be damned, one for one.  We usually go until you miss then you switch turns, so the next one was mine too and I got him as well.  On the backside of that pond we see a big one that I try to get too close and he jumps away before I can get him.  Well we move on to a different pond that has lots of smaller ones and I miss a couple.  I also find a leak in my hip boots at this pond that I will find in the morning that is on the heel of the boot that hopefully Aquaseal fixed up.  We soon move to the back part of the lease where Jason sticks one and is happy so he gives the gig  back to me.  I brought my .357 that night mainly for snakes, and if we happen to run into some hogs or a gator but decide to leave it in the truck.  On the backside of this pond we see a moccasin, damn where is the gun.  Oh well, I have my Buck crosslock so I hit it with the gig and tried to get it on the shore but it got free, probably better anyway.  I think we got one more back in the front and lost a couple more and that was it.  A fun night that earned four frogs for dinner the next day.

Bowstaff skillz

Saturday April 30th 2005
Angleton area

I went shooting skeet with Barrett, bearintex, last Wednesday and he said they want to make a trip out frog hunting this weekend and did I want to go.  Well I was in!  They were gonna go that Friday but didn't end up making that hunt so we met Saturday night at his house in Angleton and I followed him to his buddies crawfish farms.  After a few minutes making sure our guns are still sighted in we loaded all the gear in his truck and were off.  We had five people, one driving, one riding shotgun and three in the back with two spotlights and a couple of .22s.  Well I happen to get first shot and the frog went limp and was floating on the surface.  After a bit of rigging up the net to the telescoping pole I went to net the frog, which turned out to be very much alive.  Hmm... 0/1, not a good start.  Well we took turns shooting and spotlights and netting with one of Barrett's friends Jason putting on the waders, which leaked, to go after the deep water ones.  It was fun but a long night as I didn't get back home till around 6 in the morning.  We ended the hunt with 37 frogs and shot a snake or two.    Hmm... tasty!

Barrett, me, Jason and Jason (L-R)

Look at my striped shirt!

thirty seven

Friday May 6th 2005
Angleton area

Back again with Barrett, this time Cajun joined us and another buddy of Barrett's, Lewis.  We met around 10 PM and drove straight to the ponds, after a 15 minute delay of being pulled over by DPS because Brent was "swerving" in the lanes.  We get there and Lewis is shooting dirt all around the target he was aiming at.  After a box or so of ammo, we were off.  This time Barrett had the GPS and laptop with a map of the place so we could cover some new ground without being lost for hours.  My shooting started off pretty bad this time with Brent and I both missing some easy shots.  I later noticed the scope mount was loose, so that will be fixed when I get back from the slope.  But we were still getting some good numbers racked up.  Barrett was on with his gig, not sure if he missed any that night.  At one pond we stopped to try out the 12 gauge on some frogs, Barrett went out in the pond to get a dead one, and came back with one in the gig, one he caught barehanded and the dead one.  He then said there were lots in the pond and went in with the floating decoy sled and his .22 and a spot light.  I think the total haul for him and that pond was around eight or nine.  Good enough for us to bring waders and bring a sled next time.  Well we finally found a frog close enough to try the 12 gauge on.  We didn't tell poor Lewis and he was a bit "surprised" to hear the shot.  It was kinda mean, but damn funny.  We rounded out the hunt with a few more on the way back and missed some more too but still had a great hunt that ended with 50 frogs for the freezer.  I took home 15 that will be very tasty here soon.

fifty frogs

Opps, missed one

Cajun and I

fifty frogs

Got stingers?

The Frog without a face

Saturday July 2nd 2005
Trinity Bay

Well ol' Dwayne was going out for the weekend and asked me if I wanted to go along.  I hadn't been on the water since March so I was ready.  I got to his house around 5:00 that morning and we left soon thereafter with Keith and met up with Brodie at the boat launch.  The idea was to chase the birds, but the birds had different ideas so we tried a few spots here and there.  Brodie caught a sand trout and he threw it back, little did we know that would be the last fish of the day.    We went all over that bay with no more hookups, man it was just a slow day.  As Dwayne said, the old timers say a West wind kills the fishing, and they were sure right that day.  I got back home that afternoon around noon with a bad headache, an aleve and man I was out for a while.  When I woke up I cleaned the red Keith gave me and cooked it on the half shell, hmm... good.

Sunday July 3rd 2005
Trinity Bay

Dwayne wasn't gonna be licked that easy so he was up for round two, as was I.  Same time same place sans Brodie, but Greg was joining us this time.  So we head out to the same launch and are out again in search of the birds.  Well this time we find them, only they aren't grouping up very long and we don't catch anything.  Well at one point, we can't start the boat, luckily we have McGuyver (Keith) on board so he starts messing with engine and determines its the starter.  D calls a buddy and he is gonna tow us in, while we are waiting Keith starts messing with it again and soon discovers the boat tripped a breaker, reset it and the boat starts and is good to go.  We call off the tow and head back to chase the birds.  Well then another problem, somehow the oil line broke so the motor is not getting oil, so we have to head in for sure now.  Well we try a few things with none working so it has to be held together the whole way back.  I help Keith hold it for a bit but damn its a rough ride and sure it tough to hold it together.  The boat makes it back safely and we trailer it and go in search for an auto parts store.  They find one and get the necessary parts.  While testing the new bulb I get sprayed by oil, fun.  Greg calls it quits so we drop him at his parents and head back to avoid the skunk.  We get launched and back in the bay and find the birds and start throwing soft plastics at them.  I think Keith hooked up first and then Dwayne and brought in some specs along with a few sand trout.  The fishing gods have been keeping track of my backlashes and since I have never had to cut one out before, they made up for it today, half my spool had to be cut out.  Well I put that up and pull up my topwater/spoon setup and throw a saltwater rattle trap at them and soon catch a small sand trout, then a keeper 18" spec.  The sandys would not stay off my rattletrap and I caught several more that day, but no more keeper specs.  The final count was 8 keepers.  I was glad to finally box  a trout for the summer, as it is winding down and I might not have any more chances to get some.

Sunday July 3rd 2005
Angleton area

I was supposed to wake up around 9:00 PM after a much needed nap from being out on the bay all day, pack up my frog gear and then meet up with Barrett for some frog slaying.  My alarm never went off so I instead got up around 9:45 and called Barrett, luckily they were running behind so it worked out pretty good, I actually beat them to the farm.  This is the first time I had a chance to shoot my Ruger after having the bolt worked on by CPC and installing a Power Custom hammer and sear kit.  When I went to the range after installing the kit I wasn't that impressed with the trigger but tonight would be the true test.  Along with Barrett, it was his buddies Greg and Bo.  I got to the farm and saw some lights and figured they were already out, only to have them arrive at the gate a few seconds after I park my truck.  Some other people were out there hunting coons with dogs.  They found us and just asked us to be careful and not shoot their dogs.  If I recall correctly, I took first shot of the night and hit my target.  I was wading wet that night and went in with the net only.  After I get chest deep I see a snake on the far bank, little did I know this would be a sign of things to come.  Ok, so I got the frog and back to the truck.  I'm not sure who shot next but I got the frog 'cause I was already wet, but this time I brought Barrett's Nova.  I saw another snake and this time gave him some medicine, I was not informed that the shotgun was loaded with 3.5" 00 buck.  What?  I can't hear you.  Yea, something like that.  Anyways, the rest of the night reminded me of movies about Vietnam, you were waist deep in water with a shotgun and if anything moved you gave it what for.  It was bad enough that we started going into the water in teams, one with the shotgun and the other with a portable q-beam.  By the end of the night we were so tired of having to worry about snakes, our nerves were pretty much shot and we started passing shots on frogs where we would have to wade, so we called the hunt.  Greg is a cop and he commented about the nice trigger on my .22, so that made me feel better about the trigger work.  In the end, our frog count was close to 33.  I was happy with the work on my gun and learned how to use the new mags I bought for my Ruger.  I think the trick would be to have a truck start at one side of the canal with a john boat with a push pole in the water and just work your way down the levy, the truck spotlight and shoot and the boat gather the frog, and then switch teams afterwards.

Barrett, Bo, Greg

Me, Bo, Greg

Friday July 8th/Saturday July 9th 2005
Lake Ray Roberts

Jason and I had been talking about me coming up and going after Crappie and Striper for a while so this weekend was it.  I got into Dallas Love at 2:30 and after going to his house to get the boat and to drop off my gear, we head to Lake Ray Roberts, commonly know as Ray Bob (good ol' Texans).  We bought some crappie minnows and then headed out with a mess of jigs and bait.  The plan was to try jigging different trees trying to pick up a fish or two and then at night fall we would anchor up for the evening and suspended the aforementioned minnows.  I am happy to say I caught the first keeper crappie on the jigs.  thumbsup  We kept moving around to several different ones and Jason picked up a few and I think I might have got one more before we anchored up.  While at one tree jigging we see the sand bass start schooling and we try to catch a few of them using lures, however I had not rigged up my reel so by the time I got rigged up they were pretty much done, I did hook up with one but lost it.  Damn that would of been fun, lesson learned.  So at dusk we rig up to drown minnows and get the boat ready.  The action for the first 10 minutes was non-stop crappie, we were filling up the ice chest quick and then they just shut off.  We caught sporadic fish throughout the night with a mix of sand bass, crappie, and ol' Jason caught a Gaspergou and a catfish.  Around 2 AM we decided to call it quits and just sleep on the boat so we could get up bright and early and try out luck at some more jigging.  We wake up about 6, shake off the cold and start out in search for more crappie.  It was worth the sleep as we boxed about twelve more crappie and I catch the biggest one of the day on a jig.  After they shutoff, we head back to the dock for the ride home, and sleep.  Nice thing about fishing, you can always cover them in ice and take a nap and then clean them later.  Our final count was 31 crappie and one catfish.

Notice my veins, big fish.

Sunday July 10th 2005
Lake Tawakoni/ Lake Ray Roberts

This morning we got up bright and early, somewhere around 3 AM to leave for Lake Tawakoni to try our hand at some stripers along with Jason's buddy Nick.  This was something new for me as I have never fished for them before.  After we launch the boat, they start catching shad in castnets, which looked a lot what we always called shiners that we used to catch at the bay house when I was a kid.  Well after enough to fill Jason's shad tank, we head out across the lake to some humps and start drifting for stripers.  We give that a try but when no-one else is catching any fish and they all start to leave, we try a different spot, one with a lot of boats but again no luck there.  Next we move to the trees where with the first bait in the water Nick hooks up with a eight pounder and brings it in.  That gets us excited about our prospects.  Unfortunately that was the only striper caught that day.  Jason had one on that gets caught in the timber and breaks the line and I get a few hits but I never could set the hook.  Jason does manage to catch a pretty big sand bass and he also lassos a tree too deep so I get to go for a swim to un-loop it, man that water stunk, so that ends the day on Tawakoni.  Back to Ray Bob that evening for some effort at the crappie.  Same deal, gonna jig the trees in the day time and once the sun sets, drown minnows till we get tired.  I couldn't set the hook on a jig that evening to save my life, Jason caught a few including one monster 16 - 7/16 inches.  At night fall we anchor up and see what we can catch, and what that is, is non-stop sand bass.  We get to the point we were are cussing when the line has any fight to it 'cause we know its not a crappie.  That night ends with 15 keepers.  Once back at Jason's, the fish go on ice and we goto sleep as I fly out at noon and want to visit the new Cabelas before my flight out.  The Cabelas is pretty damn slick, they have tons and tons of cool mounts and some really nice rainbow and golden trout in ponds plus lots of goodies.  Years back my parents got me some Rocky boots for hunting that I only wore a few times each year and back in 2003 the rubber soles just totally disintegrated on them.  For the amount I used them it was absolutely not wear and tear, so I sent them back to Cabelas, they gave me a credit and anyways I wanted to use it to get some new boots for this falls dove season.  I found some Danners I bought that I will test out for the fall season.  All in all it was a great weekend.  thumbsup  Oh, almost forgot, Jason never said to lip these fish and I'm used to my speckled trout and redfish, so I try to grab them around the body, hmm... those damn fins are sharp. 

monster vs 10"

Wednesday July 13th 2005
Kenai, AK

Wow, how do I begin this one?  Ok, let me start off by saying I am extremely grateful to my co-workers Scot Shier (and his wife Summer and daughter Dacia) and Regina Goodwin (and her boyfriend Travis) for putting up with me for six days and letting me crash at their houses', and as Summer said many times, "Brad, MAKE yourself at home."    Ok, so I work in Alaska and work flies me back and forth and if I wanted to come up early, no big deal, as long as I make it to the office for change out, its all good.  So I come up on the 13th of July and fly into Kenai from Anchorage on what I think is the smallest commercial plane I've ever been on, called a Twin Otter.  Hmm... no-one said I wouldn't have overhead storage, oh well, I made it there and back with my laptop and camera so it all worked out.  Anyways, Scot picks me up at the airport around 6 that afternoon (keep in mind AKST is 3 hours behind Houston, so when I left Houston at noon and get into to Kenai at around 6, my body feels like its 9) and we head back to his place along with another co-worker who is staying at Scot's house, John Capen.  A few former Slb guys were in town and they all came over for a BBQ; one being Evan Reilly, whom I knew, and the other was Brandon Boehme, who I had never met before.  Brandon had rented a VERY large RV and he had his wife and her parents with him and they were traveling around Kenai and dip netting for salmon.  Everyone is at Scots for BBQ steak and chicken and to have fun and enjoy the nice weather.  John and I are on the same team (which turns out to be the winningest team of the week) throwing horseshoes (we won that game!) before dinner, and afterwards everyone kinda sits around talking and playing with the four dogs at the house (Scot has two, Angel and Rusty, John brought his, also Rusty, as did Brandon with Shamus).  This goes on till around midnight (3 AM to me) and after a few more beers everyone calls it quits.  This time of year its light till about 2 AM, then its dusk for a few hours before full light again, luckily I was tired enough it didn't matter.  Had a blast but am beat, so when Scot tells me we are getting up at 5:30 AM the next morning to chase kings I'm pumped, but also know I'm gonna be sluggish.  Yea, it took me like four trips to get everything from my bag before I was ready to leave. 

Thursday July 14th 2005
Kenai, AK

So like I said above, it takes me a while to get up and get going after a few too many and not enough sleep, but I finally get my gear and we load up the truck with two king poles and two red poles, waders, camera, etc., all the gear we need to met Scots buddy Cory Morgan, who has a boat, at the Pillars.  Here is a map of the river system.  The king pole is pretty similar to Jason's striper setup of a 6'6" Ugly Stik MH rod and an Abu Garcia 6500.  Cory is in line, as I will soon come to learn is the norm during the summer in Kenai, to launch the boat as we get there, and after we load our gear in his boat we are off along with a buddy of his who just got off work from the night shift.  First things first, pound a bottle of water and an Aleve!  Just like everyone else, we are back trolling and I am using salmon eggs with a spin-n-glo and a Luhr Jensen Jet Diver to keep my eggs down on the bottom, and the rest of the boat was using a Kwikfish with a herring fillet wrapped to it with a Jet Diver.  I think we fished pretty much till 10 AM with no luck and headed in.  We saw people catching fish but the river really started getting crowded and we spent more time moving and avoiding other boats than fishing.  While we are waiting in line to get Cory's boat out we see an older guy park his truck and trailer a little too close and he clips the end of a trailer parked next to him totally destroying the rear taillight.  On the way back, Scot called John who was with Evan and they were going to try flippin' for reds at the river, so I met up with them at Home Depot and went off with them.  Let me just say that I could not master, hell, I couldn't get down the basics of flippin'.  It takes more practice than I have had for damn sure.  We struck out and honestly did not see that many people catching that many, so we headed back to Scots to get cleaned up and rest a bit before we headed to the beach that night.  We took Scot's Raptor, his daughter's little 50cc Polaris, the grill, the horseshoes of course, and all the necessities to BBQ burgers and hotdogs, and the supplies to make smores.  The goal was to get there around 8 and we didn't miss it by much.  Right as we were pulling in Brandon was backing in the RV, we drove past him and parked at the end of the beach right at the top of the dunes and started unloading.  The horseshoes were setup pretty fast and the ATVs were out playing too.  Scot had the grill up and going and got the burgers on and Summer got the fixin's ready.  Sometime before the burgers were put on, Brandon and his group came down to join the party.  John and I lost our first game of horseshoes and Scot and Cory went on to play Brandon/ Evan so John and I took over the grill.  We got the burgers ready and everyone was munching down, when Summer remembered the beans, so what does a good redneck do, put them on the grill, who the hell eats cold Pork n' Beans?  Scot Shier apparently.  No cheese was brought but Even put the cheese dip, which was pretty much shredded cheese and some bits of jalapeņos, on the burgers, damn, mighty tasty.  After burgers the smores were made, I'm not sure who it was, either John or Evan but they never had smores before and it had been a while for me so Summer put on a demonstration and told of Dacia's first experience with smores.  The whole time out there we watched non-stop commercial netting boats come in to port.  It was something else, I think we were there for four hours and constant boats 'till around 11 when they started slowing down.  This was also my first chance to watch dip netters.  In Alaska you are allowed to subsistence fish at certain times, places, and for certain species.  Well when I was there, the reds were in and people were out dip netting them.  Basically, they were wading at the mouth of the Kasilof river with huge nets hoping the fish would just run into them as they are migrating up stream, pretty interesting to watch.  You could tell the commercial guys impact, as most of them were in the dip netters really started catching fish on a regular basis.  Oh well, on to the pictures.

The Morning

its 6:54 AM

its 8:05 AM

The Evening

its 9:08 PM

Friday July 15th 2005
Kenai, AK

I got to sleep in this morning!  Well kinda, Scot and Summer put me up in Dacia's room (I don't want to hear any short jokes about me being the same size as a 9 year old! ) and she had swim practice that morning so I was awoken around 7 I think so Scot could get her swimsuit.  I was soon fast asleep only to awoken by John asking if I wanted to go dip netting, without blinking an eye, I said thanks but no thanks I needed the rest, back counting sheep.  Finally I wake up around 9:30 fully rested to find the Shier family eating donuts and watching TV.  After a protein shake and shower Scot and I head into the Slb office there in town to take care of a few things and for me to pickup a laptop from an employee who left the company (and an excuse to expense the flight down there thumbsup).  I also meet another co-worker who will be on the halibut trip Sunday.  After we get back Scot and I pack up to meet Cory again and try for kings; John is still off with Even, Brandon and his wife netting reds.  Scot and I get to the Pillars and Cory and his buddy Mick are already out fishing.  As Scot and I are waiting for them to pick us up we see some guys with a BIG king that turns out to be 82 pounds, pretty big sucker!  We talk to the guide there who's boat it was caught on and they were all using eggs.  We get launched a bit before 6 and head down to Beaver Creek area where we will bounce eggs along the bottom.  At 6 PM the guides have to be off the river and when we start fishing we are the only ones there, its actually nice and quite for a while.  Well Mick has been researching different brines and and ways to cure the salmon eggs so he had a few different batches he wants each of us to try.  We must of fished for two hours or so with no luck, but we are seeing people catch them around us and fish are jumping out of the water so its still worth staying out there.  Scot has been talking to John throughout the evening and they are doing really well dip netting, so much so that he calls Summer and she and Dacia go fish with John after the rest of the boat has called it quits.  John's wife, Lori has also arrived in town from Anchorage and she (add more from Capen).  We see a couple along with their two young kids pretty close behind us hook up and they jest with us, if their kids go overboard, they are gonna stay with the fish and ask us to get their kids.  Not long after something just nails my line HARD and I set the hook and the fight is on!  This is one strong fish!  The only thing I can compare it to at home is when I used to catch those big alligator gars in the barge canals at Halls with 12# line and a 6'6" medium action rod, if the fish doesn't want it, he ain't comin' in!  The first picture Scot took is time stamped at 8:38 and the first one I took of the fish in the boat is at 8:52.  I think its safe to say he didn't get the camera out right when I caught the fish and I didn't take the picture of the king as soon as it was landed.  My first king salmon, what a treat!  When it first came to the surface, I was kinda shocked how big it was, the mouth on the sucker was huge.  When they went to net it I didn't think the fish was going to fit in the net!  But they got it and we got the fish in the boat, phew!  The pressure is off and I can now breathe again.  Well I had my limit for the day, so I got to sit on the deck and drink beer.  They tried few more minutes bouncing eggs, then went up river where everyone tried for a bit with some kwikfish to no luck.  Back to the dock for pictures and to clean fish and weigh it.  The scale read 41 pounds and a worker at the park said it was off by three or four pounds, so around 45 pounds after it had been out of the water for an hour.  After taking enough pictures to get a good one, Scot went to clean the fish, but some dip netters were hogging the cleaning table with lots of reds and weren't letting Scot jump in, so it was off to his house (after we were able to get a battery jump for Cory's truck) where Summer had burritos ready for dinner.  Once back home I showed off the fish to everyone and then Scot filleted it real quick then on to dinner.  Post dinner Evan stayed the night and we all sat around BSing, of course I posted the pictures of me and my king ASAP , and we made plans for tomorrow.  I was going to go with John, Lori, and Evan in the morning to watch them dip net and help with the boat and fish since I can't legally dip net.

Video #1 Video #2

Saturday July 16th 2005
Kenai, AK

I got a little more rest this morning, I'm not sure how long we slept in as the first picture I took of the day is time stamped at 1:20 PM so I would guess we left the house around 10 or 11 that morning.  Anyways, I went out with John, Lori, and Evan to dip net for reds at the mouth of the Kenai river.  Scot and family went to Soldotna to get some shopping done for the next days halibut charter.  Scot also dropped off my king along with some reds Summer and Dacia caught the day before at Custom Seafood Processors in Soldotna to be processed.  They cut the fish into meal size portions (1.5#) and vacuum packed them at $1 a pound.  The king fillets weighed 18.1 pounds and the reds added up to 12.4 pounds.  Back to dip netting, John had left his boat anchored a hundred or so feet from the shore at the Kenai Dock so we wouldn't have to wait in line to launch it today, and the line was long.  We parked in Lori's car and walked to the ramp where John was able to get a ride out to his boat and pick us up.  Once in the water it was a short ride to the mouth of the Kenai river and we basically just cruised a few feet from the shore with a net on either side of the boat hoping the fish would swim right into the nets.  There must have been thirty boats out there and everyone was catching fish.  You would see zodiacs out there with nets longer than the boats.  I think on the first pass they caught 12 or 13 fish, not bad considering they only needed 35 to fill out their limit for the year.  Five or six passes later they had their limit of fish aboard the boat, all reds.  We saw one boat that caught a nice king in the net.  I think Scot said you are allowed to net one king a year.  Well John and Evan stayed to clean the fish and they dropped off Lori and I who headed back to Scots house.  I disposed of the king's carcass from the day before and had a nice shower.  Lori and I got to talking about outdoors and she has some great stories about growing up in Nome.  Scot, et al. get home with LOTS of groceries for tomorrow so I help them unload all that and we head to the Safeway for beer and ice as they are having a few people (Shelley and Dave Ramsey and Bob Staats and his wife) over for dinner that night.  Just as we return John and Evan get back and they are all ready to hit the road back to Anchorage.  They've been down since Tuesday and are pretty beat.  So I follow them to the processors to get some reds that they don't want, 24.1 pounds of fillets actually.  I pulled out two before they weigh those to BBQ that night and head to Safeway for some Zatarian Creole Seasoning, some butter, and those basting brushes to try Redfish on the Half Shell, with salmon.  It turned out pretty good, I made a little tinfoil bowl for it to keep the butter in and kept brushing it with butter to keep it moist, not bad.  All the times I cook fish, it always happens where one flavor is totally devoured and the other is ignored, I never can find a pattern.  This time the Zatarians was hit and the lemon butter was pretty much ignored.  Bob and his wife leave and head down to Homer in their cab-over-camper for the halibut charter tomorrow and Scot and Dave discuss when and where to meet tomorrow as well as where all the ice chests are going to fit.  Once those details are worked out we pull out the laptops and do a little surfin' and I fix Scot's VPN and then off to pick up another Slb guy that is staying with Scot for the next couple of days, Keith Boyer.  At the airport we ran into the big boss for REW and apparently he was pretty happy with a job they had so he told Boyer to take the guy do did the job on a halibut and salmon trip on Slb, damn, must be nice to have that kind of power.  Once back at home, Scot asks his wife what she is baking, she semi-sarcastically/semi-jokingly replies, your birthday cake.  Wow, that's some good denial to totally forget your birthday. 

Evan, John, Lori (L-R)

red salmon
Lori catching a fish     Evan catching a fish

Sunday July 17th 2005
Homer, AK

Bright and early we awoke to hit the road by 3:30 AM for the drive down to Homer to chase some halibut.  There must have been about eight ice chests loaded between the Volvo we were in and Dave's truck, all for the 20 people that would be aboard the boat.  Fun little ride on the drive down.  Got to see someone who couldn't hold it, bolt from the car to the tree line, unbuckling their belt in record time.    Got to see a couple of whities jamming to some R&B, got to play live action Speed Racer, like I said, a fun little drive down.  Homer has a Boardwalk, that is on the Homer Spit like Kemah does and it has arts and crafts, restaurants, The Salty Dawg Saloon, and lots of fishing charters.  Plus one side is a beach and the other side is the harbor, its actually pretty interesting (map).  Scot setup a trip with Inlet Charters that his boss approved, so everything was gratis for us.  Once everyone is aboard the boat, we setoff for about a two hour run to the first hole, where we were told there wouldn't be a lot of halibut here, but there should be some bigger ones.  Along the way we saw lots of birds I have never seen before, some seals, lots and lots of weird looking jellyfish, and some saw a whale.  By the time I looked they were already back under.  The deckhands starting cutting foot long herring in half to be used as bait, and once the boat was stopped started baiting the lines.  There were 14 rods and 20 of us so we would take turns using them, at first I thought this was going to be a problem but after the first time I reeled in an empty line from 200 foot down, I was glad to pass the rod.  This was my first time to fish for halibut and they told us to drop the two or three pound weight straight to the bottom, then reel in so you could bounce it right off the bottom and when the fish hit it, they would kinda tap it in a rapid series, and then to start reeling.  They said don't jerk it very hard cause the circle hook would set itself and it was easy to jerk it out of their mouths.  Well it wasn't long before I had one, and sure enough, there was the series of taps and I set the hook (old habits die hard) and started reeling.  We were using pretty big reels with braided line with VERY stiff rods, so I had to stop reeling at times and check to see if it was still there.  Scot was pretty close to me and he kept asking me if I was sure I had a fish and not just pulling up the weight, I thought he was giving me hell, but he said he was serious.  Well when I finally got it to the surface I could see why he was asking, it was a little 10 pounder and it kicked my ass, I was ready for a rest.  I don't care what you think, if you have never been fishing like this, you have no idea how tiring it was.  I work out pretty hard and my arms are in good shape, I got tired just like everyone else.  And the worst part was there were no fighting belts, so you kept moving the rod butt to different parts of your body once you wore out one part so you end up with a nice bruise pattern over upper legs and your gut, fun.  Well I passed off the rod and went to look at my camera 'cause I asked some people to take pictures of me and they said it was giving them trouble, damn battery.    The charge indictor went from full to dead with no warning.  I like Scot's Sony much better, it was a actual meter.  Anyways, I will have a second battery for a big trip like this in the future.  So after my first fish, I passed off the reel and made a sandwich and got a beer.  I think my next time I had a fish playing with it and lost my bait, man up.  I think Tommy V. caught the first keeper, a nice one around 50 pounds.  Someone caught a spiny dogfish (dog shark) with a nasty poison barb.  A little later I was on the bow of the boat and just put my line in the water when I see the captain up in the wheel house and he gets a gray box from somewhere and heads to the stern. I think nothing of it and go back to fishing.  Not longer after I hear what sounds like a muffled gunshot.  I must have lost the bait pretty quick or worked my way to the back because of tangled lines 'cause once back there I see a pretty damn big fish and the captain walking back with a Ruger single action.  You know its a big fish when they shoot it before they bring it in the boat.  Since my camera is down we are playing musical cameras with Scots and I get it back around 10 and I see Summer has a fish on, great, I can mess with her and not get hit!  So I do my best Austin Power from the second one and try to make her laugh and take pictures along the way.  Got some pretty good ones.  Well not much later I get a rod and hook up with a nice one.  Not sure the time line but it was much bigger than my first one.  After I finally get it in they guess somewhere around 50 pounds, not bad, I'm happy ... and tired.  Beer me!  Not sure when but Scot hooks up with something that's big, it takes plenty of line and he is able to pull it up for a bit then nothing, it can't move it anymore.  They have to cut the line and he is understandably disappointed.  I hear the deck hands think it might be a big skate or something, but whatever it was, it was big.  Someone else that morning hooked up with a big fish and had the line break on them while pulling it in.  The end was frayed pretty good so they think it might have been a shark.  The fishing really slows down so we move off to a chicken hole to fill the boat as we only have 13 keepers and the boat limit is 40.  A chicken is what they refer to as a small halibut, but in reality the smaller ones are better eating anyways.  Its only 130 feet to bottom here, much nicer.  We also see about 10-15 boats fishing within several hundred yards around us where as we only saw 1 at the other place.  Well it doesn't take long to hook up, and I pull in a nice 25-30 pounder.  After that I'm content to sit back and drink beer, but it seems I'm not the first one with that idea so I get it re-baited and go fishing.  This time when I get one, I let Dacia reel it in as I do the lifting.  That about killed me, keep in mind she is 9, so when I would pull up the fish (lets say x distance), she could only reel up about x/2 slack, so yea, it took a bit to get it in, but hey, its a keeper.  Now I'm REALLY ready to sit back and drink beer, nope, back to fishing, so I hook up again pretty fast and let her do the same thing, this time its a little smaller fish and it goes a little faster.  Sometime around here I managed to fowl hook a halibut, the deckhands were pretty impressed as they said it doesn't happen that often.  That might have been the first one with Dacia that really whooped me.  Oh well, I was glad she had fun.  Beer time.  So I shoot the bull with Scot and get to relax for a bit.  He has to visit the head and asks me to watch his line while he's gone.  As I'm holding it, I feel the tap tap tap of a halibut so I set the hook and start reeling.  This is a big fish!  It starts pulling line and takes a good wrap or two from the reel... then it gets off.    This was much bigger than my 50# fish.  Damn.  That ends my fishing that day as the captain soon says we are limited out and are done.  So now I get to sit and drink and eat on the way back in.  Its warmed up so I sit outside and watch the deckhands clean fish.  Pretty slick, I bet they've done it a time or two.    I know they easily do it in under a minute per fish.  They leave the big fish for pictures and clean the rest.  Once back they weigh the biggest three, 98, 67, and 60.  I think Boyer caught one of those and Tommy caught the big one.  After everyone takes their fish we load up and head back.  I'm not sure when I nodded off but it wasn't long.  I woke up somewhere not too far from Dave and Shelleys when Summer pulled over following Dave.  It was an excuse for me to get some water and stretch a bit.  Dacia had started watching Sweet Home Alabama on the way back and I woke up at the part when they are in the bar and Reece gets pretty drunk.  At the part where they mention surrendering in the Civil War re-enactment , Dacia asks her mom if we surrender, and in a reflex action I mutter, "unfortunately".  I instantly realize my mistake and see Summer give me this look in the rearview mirror... crap, let me out here please, I'll walk back.    Summer goes on to explain a little bit about the war and I do my best to be quiet and stay out of it.  So anyways we get to Dave and Shelleys and after they put the fish inside we put the empty the coolers into the Volvo and I slip over and apologize to Summer, she was pretty cool about it.  Damn, this is a cool chick.  Dave and Shelley have a nice country house.  It reminds me of something you would find west of Austin out on a ranch, very cool.  Once back on the road we stop off at the fish processors to drop off more fish.  My total halibut dropped off is 38.6 pounds.  Not shabby.  On to Scots where I pack up all my stuff from the previous four days and get ready to go to another co-workers to try my hand at reds on the Kenai.  After everything is packed, I say my thank yous and good byes and Scot takes me to find Regina, who is at a friends party near the radio station.







Spiny Dogfish



Summer's Fish

Me fighting



 Monday July 18th 2005
Kenai, AK

Like I said above Scot met up with Regina who was at a buddies house for an afternoon BBQ.  I was pretty beat and trying to stay awake, if I sat down in a chair I'd of fallen asleep in no time.  Once we get back to their house, I shower, show them some of the pictures and crash out.  I wake up just past 10:30 and hurry to get my laptop and cell phone as my department tries to have a weekly conference call at 10 AM, and since this is the day before change out, this is usually an important meeting.  By the time I call in they are already gone, so I call my alternate directly and go over his e-mail of change out notes.  Before I called him I noticed Regina got up and did the dishes, so I assumed she was up, and just letting me sleep.  Yep, she heard me on phone and came down while I was going over change out notes.  Once that was done, we formulated the days plan.  First stop was Hanson's wood shop.  I can't find a webpage but he and his group make lots of different wood carvings, mostly animals, but not all.  He does a lot of the work with a chainsaw and will do demonstrations if you request.  I saw something on him on the travel channel, he does some pretty cool work.  So after that we head to the river to try our hand at some red salmon.  This is pure Kenai flippin', and as I said above, its pretty tough and at the end of the day I still didn't have it down.  I was able to snag one but it got off pretty soon.  We were seeing people all around us catch fish, not very fast, but pretty consistent.  Well finally Regina catches one, slight problem, no net.  Since I'm wearing waders I wait for it to get close to the bank and as it passes me, I grab the line and kinda throw the fish on the bank and cover it as best I can to keep it out of the river.  One down five to go.  I try to hang the fish up in a tree to keep it off the ground and it let it bleed out a bit, but its keeps flopping around and falls off.  A little later she has another one, this time its a nicer fish.  We get it on the shore and it slips away from Regina so I try to block it from the water and step back a bit, I was fishing a ledge that was maybe eight inches deep, well where I step off is about four foot deep, little bit of a shock.  We got the fish and I didn't get wet so it was worth it.  Travis had to stay across the inlet for work so Regina called his parents to see if they wanted to cook some fresh salmon, they did so we left for their place after gutting the two fish.  We stopped at the Fred Meyer in Soldotna to get some beer.  I have never seen a big grocery store with a full size beer department that empty!    There was no Miller Lite in cans at all, and only a handful of longnecks.  Bud Light wasn't much better.  Dinner was fresh grilled salmon with salad and some fixin'.  Hmm... now I'm full and had a few beers, a nap sounds nice, but nope, we give it another shot at the reds.  This time the place is PACKED, so we have to hike down a little farther than before before we found enough room for us, plus now we have three more people.  Well I'm next to these guys who have obviously done this before, because this one guy hooks five or six while I am out there.  I snag one in the tail and it takes off like a scalded ape, nothing but pulling drag.  It would have been a pretty good fight, but it got off.  Well once the bank clears up a bit Regina and a few of them move down to where we were this morning and in a matter of minutes she catches one.  She catches a second one and that's enough to make me move down.  By this time its close to midnight and I'm pretty beat.  Regina does her best to put me on one, but its gonna have to wait 'till next year.  We got back to her house a little after 1 and I hit the shower and crashed out as I needed to get up kinda early tomorrow and pack for the flight at 9:35 to Anchorage, then on to Prudhoe.


The next morning I get my stuff packed and fly up to the slope, so ends my first fishing experience in Alaska and hopefully not my last.  I had a blast and am again thankful for some very good co-workers who showed me their Alaskan hospitality.  All in all I shipped home 36.5 pounds of reds, 18.1 of kings, and 32.8 of halibut.  I fished for five days, had some great times, ate some good cooking and met some new friends and saw some old ones.

Thursday September 1st 2005
Austin, TX

Back in Austin for another season of dove hunting.  I didn't get to hunt here at all last year because of my work schedule in Alaska, so it was time to make up for some lost hunts.  I was on days off till the 13th and planned to hunt from the 1st till the 11th.  I was hunting solo on the 1st so I set out to get there around shooting time and setup at the edge of a plowed field in hope that birds would fly down the line and they would be easy to find.  I was there till 8 AM and I hadn't fired a shot, so I moved up by some trees in hope of getting them as they flew over the top of the hill.  I wasn't there long before I had a double on white-wings.  I ended up knocking down four more and only finding two of those.  There were LOTS and lots of shooting in a nearby field and I went over to watch them the next morning to find them shooting at any and everything that fly over including 50 yard shots on white-wings.

On the way up the night before I followed in some hippy with a bumper sticker that read "Cindy is right, George is wrong."  Wow, it didn't take long for the left to print up propaganda.  After the morning hunt I took my ATV to do a little exploring and I found a field across the way that was full of sunflower seeds and someone had put up a deer feeder and a game camera by an old deer feeder on my Godmothers other field. 

That afternoon I went back out to try to finish my limit and hunted by a tank with the idea of getting them as they came into water that evening; its very dry this year in that part of Austin so it sounded like a good plan.  I was able to fill out the rest of my limit with some pretty good shooting on my part and the last two birds of the day I got two birds with one shot.  Unfortunately, the last two birds I put both down in the tank and with no wind or dog so I had to go in after them.  That was some nice soft mud.  On the drive back I saw lots of the VW vans from the 60's heading out into Dripping Springs.  Kinda sad to see all the Austin hippies moving out into the hill country.



Friday September 2nd 2005
Austin, TX

I started out in a different field this morning in hopes of getting the white-wings as they were leaving Austin to feed.  My first two shots of the morning yielded me a morning and a white-wing dove.  I then missed a low percentage shot that was hittable but not a easy and then missed another shot.  After it slowed down I moved to the end of the field where I could watch the other shooters in the next field over and I picked up another white-wing and should of had one more as they were pretty easy shots.  The birds slowed down so I headed back to the trees I hunted the morning before and was able to pick up two more white-wings and missed some easy shots.

That afternoon I called a guy I know from the 'fuge and he joined me for an afternoon shoot at the same tank I hunted on the evening before.  It started off pretty slow, I think we only had three or four between us, until about 30 minutes before sunset when they started to pile in.  I ended up finishing off my limit and Wes shot 6.  He was able to find two birds I was ready to give up on.  Its nice to have a second set of eyes to help mark and find birds.  He had only shot one white-wing before and was able to get his second one that evening.


Wes (Fester)

Saturday September 3rd 2005
Austin, TX

Andy Puls and Dane Byers drove down for the weekend and my brother was supposed to drive down that night as well but his errands ran long, so he just decided to meet us in the morning straight from CS.  I didn't hunt this field yet and saved it for the weekend in hope of getting everyone some good shooting.  We all setup right near the gate into the sunflower field with Dane being on the far left and me being on the far right.  It started off with a good number of birds flying all around us and Dane decided to move farther up the fence line.  Andy and I were doing pretty good in the middle and we tag teamed on one white-wing.  It was a bit slow for Dane on the left and we suggested he move in a bit closer to us.  I knocked down a bird towards Dane and on my to get it, I knocked down one more, after marking the first one with my cap I moved to look for the second one and knocked down a third bird, not normally something I would do.  With some very good marks from Dane I was able to find all three birds.  I got a nice double (two birds with two shots) that is witnessed by Andy.  My brother showed up and got bored pretty soon so he decides to start walking the sunflowers and then heads up to this one corner with lots of trees and ends up doing pretty well up there.  I get pretty close to a limit and decided to join my brother up at the top of field to finish out my limit.  As I walk towards Dane I make a nice high shot on a white-wing and Dane walks me to it.  My brother and I each pick up a couple more birds towards the left corner then we walk towards the top of the hill where Andrew and I each shoot at the same time and bring down a nice white-wing.  We do a bird count and each have 11.  We see two land in a tree so we try to jump then.  Well I head around the left and he heads to the right.  They flush out the back away from us but give me a good shot and I get them both much to Andrews anguish as its his last bird as well.  We walk back to the truck to get some water and put the birds on ice.  I head over to Dane and am able to back him up on one and get him one closer to his limit (sorry for the hearing loss Dane).  Our final count is 12 for me, 12 for Andrew, around 6 to Dane and 8 or 9 for Andy.  After we get back to Dripping we clean birds and meet my parents at the Salt Lick where we learn OU looses to TCU, wow, what a shocker.  After an hour of stuffing ourselves its off to Cabelas to work off some of the lunch and see the new store.  Once we all spend some money there we go back to Dripping to watch the A&M game and BBQ some sausage and Axis steak.

Andy, Dane, Andrew

Andy, Me, Andrew

Sunday September 4th 2005
Austin, TX

We again go back to the sunflower field but we all decide to head up to the trees and try to get them as they fly to and from the field.  We get off to a late start after a slow job of getting up in the morning and the birds are even later.  It takes a while before the birds start going but we all soon have some in our bags and are warning the others of incoming birds.  I've setup pretty close to my brother and with my full choke I am able to bring down birds before he can get a shot on some of them, leading him to shooting them just after I do.  I have a count of about seven or eight birds before crippleing one into some trees that I go after.  I find blood and feathers but no bird, so I ask Andrew to come help me and he hears one fly out of a tree that I never see.  He leaves and I answer the call of nature.  As I am doing so everyone gets a lot of action and all pickup some more birds.  I picked the worst time of the day to do that.  I get back to my chair and pick up one or two more when we all decided to call it around 11.  As soon as we get to my truck we have about 5 white-wings come right to my truck and I can't get my gun loaded fast enough but Andy drops one.  So we decide to sit there a few minutes more and see what fly our way.  With no more I take my truck and head back to the gate and they are all in the bed incase they see any more flyers.  Right at the end of the corner they all jump out of the bed and bring down one more.  So we then sit there a while and I get one more as it flies over.  We all load up again and are almost to the end when they jump out and Dane brings one down.  Well now we are down at the gate and pack up for the day.  On the drive out Andrew sees one in the field that he gets out to try to get it if it jumps.  Well sure enough, it does and he does.  That ends that hunt with 9 for me, 8 for Andrew and Andy, and 7 for Dane for a total of 32, not counting the pigeon that Andy is the only one of us to bring down during the hunt.

Andrew, Dane

Andrew, Me, Andy

Monday September 5th 2005
Austin, TX

Today I decided to sleep in and clean up around the cabin and then hunt in the afternoon.  I called another guy from the 'fuge to see if he wanted to hunt the tank at Connies.  He had already made plans to hunt with two other guys from the 'fuge and invited me to hunt with them.  So I agreed to meet him at a gas satiation at 183 and 812.  I got a voicemail a few hours later, three voicemails actually, saying that hey the other guys canceled so do I want to hunt at Connies, then one more saying that he had to cancel, then him again saying that he could hunt.  We agreed to meet at the same gas station as soon as I could get there.  Once we meet up we left to go to the field only to find out that the gate combo doesn't work, so he visits the land owners and they come out and try to open the gate with no luck either.  We then just park next to a clearing in the fence and climb over to hunt.  We setup along a tree line and try to knock down some birds as they fly along the field.  After about half an hour we both move where we are seeing more birds on two different sides of the field.  I bring down one and I make the rookie mistake of taking my eyes off the mark and have to call in Andrew with his dog Rusty.  We all looked and found nothing.  Back to our chairs where I brought down one more and Andrew didn't shoot anymore for the day.  We ended the day with 4 birds for me plus the one I lost and three for Andrew with a nice double.

Rusty, Andrew

Me and Rusty

Tuesday September 6th 2005
Austin, TX

I called up Ronnie Ray on Monday and asked him if he wanted to try his hand at some doves, he thought he would be free Tuesday afternoon and after a call that morning I gave him directions to the same place Wes met me at on the previous Friday.  I setup a bit before 5 and had nothing to show when Ronnie showed up about 20 past the hour.  We setup pretty much the same place that Wes and I had and waited for the birds to come into water.  We shot a few early, and Ronnie knocked one down that we both saw go down but were unable to find it.  We teamed up one more that landed near the tank and held tight when we tried to jump it.  There were several more singles that tried shoot the gap between the fence and the tank but I was able to reach out with a 32" full choked barrel and bring most down.  Very close to sundown we had a lot of birds try to come to the tank that were just out of range so we moved right next to the tank by some trees where I immediately put one down that Ronnie and I saw hit hard right next to the water.  He looked like an easy one to find so I waited a few more minutes and sure enough got one more trying to sneak in and I soon added him to the bag.  After a few more minutes I went to look for the first bird with no luck.  I found wet blood and Ronnie looked as well with no bird.  I guess it could have walked off but we both thought it hit dead, so maybe a snake or turtle pulled it under the water.  We ended the hunt with 8 birds, 6 for me and 2 for Ronnie and we each lost one.  I forgot about the fox (I think) I saw during the day.  I was on the phone with Ronnie and saw movement near where we were cleaning birds and what it looked like is a gray fox eating the carcasses of the doves.  I tried to get as close as I could and get some pictures.

Gray Fox

Ronnie Ray

Wednesday September 7th 2005
Austin, TX

I hunted solo today in the same field we did Saturday morning.  I got there a bit early today just on a whim even though the previous few days the birds didn't start showing up till about 30 minutes till sundown.  When I first setup (around 4:40) I didn't like how close my truck was so I moved it and on the way back I had about four doves fly right over my chair, typical.  Didn't take too long for a morning dove to fly over me that I made short work of.  While picking up that one I took a shot at a white-wing and put a pellet in it before it landed by the fence.  I jumped it up and finished it off, a bit too close.  I was able to pick up a few more white-wings and picked up one as it jumped from the field as I was picking up a downed bird.  When I got back to my chair I had seven birds in less than an hour.  I took a long shot at a white-wing and broke its wing.  As I was picking it up, another one jumped up and I took a shot and brought it down.  Hmm... not a good idea with no dog and no-one else to mark.  Well I found the cripple and then I got lucky and picked up the second one.  Now the count is nine.  After around 10 minutes with no more shots I got bored and decided to try to walk up my last three.  I jumped a white-wing pretty soon and as I was picking it up I jumped a group of morning doves and I crippled off one that floated a bit; I was worried I wouldn't find that one.  I made my search for the morning and after giving it up for lost, I found it in a clearing much closer than I expected.  I went back and found the white-wing and then made a walk around the field and got my last bird.  Back to my chair with a limit at 6 PM with 22 shots and no lost birds, one of my better hunts of all time if not my best.

Thursday September 8th 2005
Austin, TX

I made an evening hunt with my dad at the same tank I have been hunting the past few days.  I showed up around 4:40 and was able to pick up one almost immediately.  I then went 0 for the next 3 on shots I should have made.  When my dad showed up he walked to the tank and had a dove land almost on him right next to the water.  He was shooting a Spartan SxS .410 that we had given him for his birthday, well the new gun would have to wait for its first kill as he missed the best shot he would have for the day.  I picked up a few more birds and missed a few more, ending with that I thought was six birds, but when I counted at the tailgate it was only five, sure hope I didn't loose one as I was putting it into my shell vest.

Friday September 9th 2005
Austin, TX

So I thought I would go back to the place I hunted a week ago and see if the birds were flying along the tree line near the top of the hill.  I setup by 7 AM and tried to get them as they are going to the field to eat.  I could see lots of white-wings and pigeons leaving the city and a handful of morning doves flying around but I didn't get my first one until 7:45.  I know the time because it was when I got a call from Brent.  Well one bird down 11 to go.  While I was picking up the first bird I missed a hittable shot a passing by morning dove.  Back at the chair, I had one fly right over me that I never saw until it was too late, even happens to the best of us.  After I got stir-crazy I got up and walked around a bit and took a shot at a bird blazing through the tree tops and pulled LOTS of feathers, but the bird kept going.  I was hoping it would be roosted up in a tree waiting on fate so I went looking.  As I got to the top of the hill I had about 10 morning doves jump out of a dead oak tree and I took a shot at one and again pulled lots of feathers as the dove flew towards my chair.  Well on the way back I see a lone morning dove still sitting in a tree even after I shot, so I hoped it was the one I had first pulled feathers from so I took it with one shot from my 682.  Now to look for the second featherless bird.  Nothing gets up as I walk to my chair, win some, loose some.  Time gets close to 9:30 and I don't have any more shots so I pack up and head towards my truck.  Along the way I drive by a dead tree that was holding a half a dozen birds so I kill the ATV and walk over and see if there was one dumb bird left in there, sure enough, Darwin was right, 4 birds in the bag and off to my truck.  I check the back and see lots of white-wings roosted up in the trees next to Connies house, somehow they always know the sanctuary, what I would give for a pellet gun.  Well I head back to my truck and have several fly where I would have had some shots at them, but its too late and near 100 so I'm looking for the AC.

After some work on the ATV and my trailer I go back to my sunflower field and try to finish out my limit for the day.  As I get to the gate the big gate is open., hmm... so I head back and notice the path is much cleaner like its been brush hogged.  When I finally make it to my sunflower field its no longer a sunflower field, its now a freshly cut field.    I setup near the fence and see lots of birds flying in and around the field but they aren't heading my way.  A few minutes of that and I try to jump some up.  I make a long shot and cripple one off and see it head to a tree where there are many more.  I set off to tree but in a wide circle.  As I get close to the tree I have four birds getup in range.  Two go left and two go right, I swing on the ones to the right only to see they are Inca doves and the two to the left are morning doves.  Damn, not a good start.  When I get to the tree all the birds split but one, so I finish it off and back to my chair.  A bird skits around me and I decide to take a shot and its a clean miss.  A little later two birds land in a tree a ways down the fence line so I head after them.  Along the way I jump a covey of quail that gives me a nice un-needed shock.  When I get to the tree nothing, so I decide to keep going down the fence line and a group of birds getup where I hadn't expected them and I never switched barrels, so I my first shot is a full choke at under 20 yards, direct hit.    Not much left of the young bird, I was hoping I could save the meat because I shot it as it was flying away, I would later come to find out that it was pretty much hamburger, so let this be a lesson, always be aware of what barrel you have selected.  Back at the chair, I take a few more shots but never connect.  Lots of 60+ yard white-wing that I let pass.  It gets close to 7 PM and I call it quits, pretty bad hunt and pretty bad shooting, 1.83 shots per bird at my best now down to 5 shots per bird.  I guess my body is getting worn down and its taking a toll on my shooting.



Saturday September 10th 2005
Austin, TX

I started out a bit early this afternoon so I could leave early and watch the tu vs. OSU game and got to the field around 3:30.  I setup across the field near a dead tree that I saw doves roosting in the day before with the idea that once again they would light in the tree.  I set the mojo out about 60 yards in attempt to pull some birds in just close enough for shot.  Today I brought my SBE2 and cleaned the 682 that morning and put it away.  It didn't take long before three came between the decoy and myself and I picked out the last one and put it down in the ravine behind me, hmm... not a shot I should have taken.  Just as I get up and to get it, the birds circle around the tree and I am able to put one more down in the field by a sunflower, that will be an easy one to find.  Off to the thick crap behind me.  Its about a 10 foot drop and I am just starting to look as a bird lands in a tree near me, well I ain't proud so I take the shot, and guess my aim is a bit low because the limb breaks in half and the bird takes off, my second shot puts it down.  Four shots, three birds, not too bad.  I find this bird pretty easily and then back to find my hulls.  I then see two birds fly down the edge of the field, so I take the shot as it should be pretty easy to find, blank then I connect, not very well but the bird goes down.  I pick up one of those hulls and can't find the other then, so I set off to get bird #4.  He's dead as dead can be so back to the first bird that I'm missing.  I go in at a new part of the ravine and not 15 steps I find the bird, cool, then I pick up the easy one by the sunflower field and I have all my four birds.  The next three I go one for one on and all find them without problem.  Right around 5:30 the rain moves in and runs me off to the truck, time to check football scores on the phone and wait out the rain.  Back out at 6 where I empty my gun on a hittable shot and then take a stupid shot go go from 7/10 to 7/14.  I get one more and that turns out to be the last one of the day when it really shuts down, so I call in some Chinese take-out and head to Dripping to watch the game.

Sunday September 11th 2005
Austin, TX

Damn t-sips, don't they know when to lose?  This is my last hunt before I fly back to Alaska so I get to the place a bit early, around 6:50 and see the field and road is wet and I don't want to risk getting stuck in a two-wheel drive truck, so I take the ATV to the top of the hill where I don't sit for 5 minutes before the sky opens up.  I can outlast the rain but not the lightening, so I pack it up.  Shame too because of the overcast sky the white-wings were flying very low.  Once I get to the truck it REALLY starts to rain hard, so I hurry up and head towards the front gate.  Yea, those roads were nice and slick, my truck was all over the road out.  At one point I guess the trailer tires become slicks and it jackknives and almost takes my back tires into the plowed field which pretty much would have been time to call in a 4x4 tractor.  But I finally make it out with half the mud of the road to head back to Houston to unload, clean, and then pack for my flight to AK.

All said and done it was 110 birds with 272 shots over 13 hunts.  I got to hunt with five 'fugers and my brother and got to eat at the Salt Lick and visit the new Cabelas.  As always, I am thankful for my Godmother from whom without, none of this would be possible.

Friday September 30th 2005
Damon, TX

I got a PM from Barrett Wednesday night about going dove hunting Thursday morning.  I couldn't make that, but I later got one from Jason about hunting Friday afternoon.  I was able to make this one on the way up to College Station for the A&M vs. Baylor game the next day.  I left the house as soon as I got packed and showered back from the gym.  I showed up around 3 PM and parked behind Dane who along with Andy drove down from Spring Branch.  I setup in line with some tall trees that the doves were roosting in over in the next field.  It wasn't long before Andy yelled and I had two EASY shots at doves around 20 yards out that I  never cut a feather.  That was a sign of things to come.  I brought my 391 which I haven't shot since March or April and it turned out to be a big mistake.  I ended up only with 3 birds and should of had close to 9.  When the birds quit flying I walked around to jump some up and had between 9 or 10 birds all hold tight and I only got two birds out of those.  These were VERY easy shots.  Oh well, it was better than being at work.  We ended up with 14 between the four of us.

Jason, Andy, Dane (L-R)

Me, Andy, Jason (L-R)



Thursday October 6th 2005
Near Oyen, Alberta, Canada

Today was my first hunting trip outside of Texas and it was going to be a great one.  A group of us flew left Houston Wednesday morning and flew up to Calgary to hunt with Blackfoot Guide Service in Alberta, Canada.  Mike, Kevin, Jimmy, and myself left from IAH and Blane flew in from Dallas.  Kevin and Jimmy are both on the 'fuge and Mike is Kevin's FIL and Blane is a college buddy.  Once we got to Calgary we had to go through customs and do some paperwork about bringing our guns into the country, it went by really smooth and and easy.  After that it was off to rent cars, which was more waiting than renting.  Kevin got a jeep for them and I got a little 4 door for Jimmy and myself, which was interesting to see 6'4" Jimmy fit in that car.  Next it was to Wal-Mart to get an ice chest and few other necessities, then off to Alsask where we had food and our rooms waiting on us.  The drive was about 203 miles and took around 4 hours, but somehow I was thinking 3 hours and with the damn trip odometer being in kilometers I was way disoriented.  I was thinking we were about 30 minutes away when I looked at the map and saw where weren't even to Hanna yet, which was our halfway point.  Damn kilometers.    Well we finally get there, each pick out a cabin, and by the time we unpack our stuff Brian shows and says follow him to a place for pizza and beer, you don't have to tell us twice.  Brian Schreckenbach is the owner/operator of the guide service and he has three houses in Alsask for the clients.  The bar we end up going to takes about an hour to get us the pizza, so we spend the time trying Canadian beers and asking about the hunting.  After an hour of eating and drinking we are ready for sleep, so we plan to by ready to leave by 5:30 the next morning and head back to the cabins where I fall asleep as soon as I close my eyes.

Thank God for coffee the next morning.  Its right above freezing Thursday morning, so I layer up with Under Armor Cold Gear and my Drake 4 in 1 wading coat and then some fleece pants and Columbia bibs.  I decided to bring both my SBEI with a .675 Terror choke in it and my SBEII with a Trulock LM.  He stops along the way at his scouts house to hook up the trailer with about fifteen dozen bigfoots and a few dozen snows.  Once we get into the field the guides lay out where they want the chairs and the end of the spread and we fill in the gaps.  I've never seen harvesting like they do in Canada.  They cut down most of the stalk with the head still on it and rake it into rows called swath.  Makes for a great place to hide a blind and leaves tons of grain on the ground so I ain't complaining.  After all the decoys are put out, not more than 30 minutes, we each pick a spot, I choose to sit next to Brian for the first morning, and we gather some hay and start covering up the blind and your shell bags, etc.  After that's done, we have gun stakes to keep our barrels up a little and save us some time in the draw, pretty slick.  At our final stages of getting ready we have birds start pouring into the decoys and we still have about 15 minutes before shooting time.  Awesome sight, helluva way to start out our first hunt in Canada.  I honestly don't remember the first shot, I think they were on geese but we had so many ducks and geese in the spread I wouldn't swear to it.  The next hour and a half was a mad house of shots being called and birds falling.  I only clearly remember a few of the shots and one was when we had around seven or eight snow geese on the deck about 15 yards out and we only cut one.    Not sure how that happened, as the group was shooting pretty good.  When it was all said and done we had our limit of ducks, specs, and were only 10 short on Canada geese plus we had 11 snow geese.  Brian's dog Katie, was awesome, she would see a goose sailing out there and would run it down.  She must have made several 100+ yard retrieves.  After all the birds were picked up and decoys back in the trailer we headed to a restaurant for some hot coffee and breakfast.

Morning results

The Spread


(L-R) Blane, Jimmy,
Mike, Kevin, Myself


At the restaurant we discussed what we wanted to do that afternoon, finish off our Canada limit or change huns or sharptails.  After shooting as much as we did in the morning I was ready for a change of pace but was voted down, so it was back to the camp for some rest and then head out that afternoon for some greaters.  I was having an issue of the bolt in my SBEI not fully closing so I worked on my gun for a bit then hung it up and got in about an hour of sleep.  We got to a field with much less cover than before and laid out in pairs with the middle man being solo and the other Brian being behind us.  We were told that the birds probably wouldn't fly until pretty close to dark so I know most of us got a little shuteye waiting for the birds to show up.  When the birds showed up with had some Canada geese come right in low on the deck.  After the shot was called and the smoke cleared we had 5 birds down.  Good way to start.  The next one to come in was right between Blane and I and we shot right at the same time, needless to say that bird didn't escape.  Then two greaters came in alone and everyone fired at them bringing them down.  We got our final two and were done.  Dinner that night was grilled Alberta beef finished on barley, good stuff.

Evening results

Kevin and I

Evening hunt

(L-R) Me, Mike,
Jimmy, Kevin, Blane

Friday October 7th 2005

The next morning we setup near the top of a hill and were told that this would be mainly a goose hunt, no ducks.  Mike and I were on the left, with Jimmy in the middle, and Blane and Kevin on the right.  The previous morning it was safe to say the right hand was getting more of the shooting than the rest.  The first call of the morning was a tougher shot that probably shouldn't been called and I emptied my gun on it but thankfully Mike brought it down on his 3rd and final shot.  The rest of the hunt was kinda a blur, with a few exceptions, Mike shot one goose that would of fallen right on his chest, he had to roll out of its way and as he did, it hit hard and splashed blood over the mesh of the blanket I was looking through.  That same thing happened to Kevin or Blane later in the hunt, the geese wanted some payback.  The shooter was a little more evenly distributed this morning, and Mike and I got in some great shots.  I'm pretty sure I got one, maybe two doubles.  I was shooting my SBE2 today and could notice getting more kills.  Brian said that the first morning is always the worst shooting for most groups.  After it was all said and done we went looking for birds and Brian and I headed down to a pond we thought had a few geese in it.  As he was going in after one he jumped some teal out of it and I took at shot and brought down the only hunts duck, a drake GWT.  We ended up with a full limit of geese plus nine snows and one duck.  We had to VERY nice looking specs, these were good mounting birds.

Morning results

I rode into Oyen with Brian that day while the others guys took a nap to buy some blank CDs and to post up some of the pictures on the Refuge.  We also got some cold medicine for Jimmy and I got some super glue for a cut on my hand were a band-aid was worthless.  Once back we loaded up and headed to a pond that the other Brian said was holding LOTS of ducks and mainly greenheads.  As we pulled into the field the birds jumped, the sky was black with ducks, we were all super pumped.  After a quick sandwich, we grabbed gear and packed in decoys, blankets, and all we would need.  They didn't have many floaters so they put those out with some mallard silhouettes.  It took about 30 minutes before the birds to come back but once they did we had birds in the air just about until dark with maybe five minutes to wait before flocks.  It was a sight to behold, non-stop ducks.  But for some reason they just wouldn't commit other than the occasional teal and widgeon.  We got in a few lucky shots on the mallards and I'm happy to boast that I shot the only two greenheads of the hunt and a couple of baldplates as well.  The swath was thick so I don't think they could see us, more likely as Brian said, the pond has normally 5,000 ducks on it, and our 3 dozen decoys may not have been enough.  I'd of loved to hunt that again with about 200 floaters and see if it made a difference.  The final count was close to twenty ducks for the evening.

Evening results

Jumping the tank


Saturday October 8th 2005

Our last hunt was in the same field but a different spot as our Thursday morning hunt.  This time it was Jimmy and I on the right with the other Brian in the middle with Blane and Mike and Kevin on the left.  With Brian S. in the back with the cameras.  We don't have birds on us like the first day but pretty soon after legal time we have ducks all over us.  The numbers start stacking up.  He calls the shot on a single spec that I am able to hit before anyone else gets up.  I'm glad I made myself do all those sit-ups and core body exercises while working out, its really helped me in shooting from the ground.  We have mallards RIGHT over us and he hasn't called the shot or told us anything and finally someone breaks down and shoots and someone else shoots as well and two birds fall.  It was kinda a cluster cause the guide was trying to get in the geese, but he never told us anything.  Hell, when you can see the toenails on the ducks, you aren't looking around for other birds.  Hindsight we should have waited for the geese 'cause we limited out on ducks, but oh well, live and learn.  Once we get limits on ducks we work on the geese.  There are two greaters on my hard right that he calls as they are close but I am WAY out of position on and don't cut a feather.  Of all the shots of the hunts, I want that one to do again.  I count limit of ducks, 16 dark and 10 snow geese.  We made Kevin sit on the left this time because the right seemed to have more shooting and damn if Kevin didn't have birds right over him.  I asked him after the hunt if he bathed in corn oil or something.

Morning results

me shooting a cripple

Jimmy and I

Local beer

Kevin and I

What a first hunting trip to Canada.  I can promise it won't be my last.  I think the final count was around 248 birds for all three hunts.  We ate some great food, drank some good beer, and have a blast.  I'd recommend it to anyone looking for some waterfowl hunting outside of the states.  Brian put on a good package and I'd go back with them in a heartbeat.  Feel free to ask my any questions if you have any.

Saturday November 5th 2005
Winnie Lease

So starts hunting on a new lease.  I saw Wicked the night before and thought I was going to be pretty tired, so I invited my brother out to hunt with me since Greg wasn't going to be able to make it.  3 AM came early considering I didn't get to bed till around 1.  Load the guns and some cold water and off we left to meet up with Dwayne and Keith at the Jack in the Box by their house.  Not bad on the drive, we see several other trucks with boats and ATVs.  After unloading at the lease and a few trouble with my decoy sled we get to the pond we are hunting.  We were told we could hunt the north or south part, so we use the Q-beams and look them over.  Wow, lots and lots of eyes, the count was around 12 gators.  We decide to go to the south part and I try to drive off into the pond, but I soon give up that idea and get my ATV up on the levy.  With all the gear unloaded we start walking to meet up with Dwayne at a grass clump they too tried to drive too that didn't work out either.  I've never been so glad to be close to another man in my life.  That was a long nervous walk, the entire time getting swarmed by mosquitoes.  Shannons Bug Tamer to the rescue.  But I thought it was going to be colder, so I wore my 3mm neoprene instead of my breathable, damn.  Once at the grass clump, we setup with between one and two dozen gadwall decoys around two mojo decoys.  Then we setup our chairs, that would not get much use, on the opposite side of the grass clump and waited for legal time.  We had ducks all around us, mainly tree ducks and teal.  As soon as Dwayne said it was legal time, it was pretty much non-stop shooting for about 20 minutes.  Mass confusion with people shooting in all direction and birds down all over the water.  We called a cease fire to count birds and ended up three short.  I think Andrew and Keith picked up a few more teal and we were done in 20 minutes with a limit of tree ducks, teal, and two mottled.

Andrew, Dwayne, Keith (L-R)

Me and Andrew

Saturday November 6th 2005
Winnie Lease

Same place, same time for Sunday, but Andrew decided to sleep in so Dwayne called a friend and he was our fourth.  I spent about six hours the day before fixing my sled and getting it ready for the next day, and after watching some football and seeing who all did what on the 'fuge I crashed out.  In the morning I was running a bit late, but I still met up with Dwayne at the right time.  We pretty much knew the drill this time and were ready earlier than on Saturday, despite Dwayne getting us lost (ha, it wasn't me! ).  I wore my breathables today and life was a lot more enjoyable.  After the number of tree ducks we saw the day before and all the reports of the gadwall shot in our area, I decided to pass on teal.  Our first volley was with twenty or so tree ducks right over us only three fell .  From Dwayne,

Originally Posted by Drake 224
I thought we dropped 3 out of the first group, but it was pathetic just the same, that group should have had a huge hole cut out of it! Slow and low and nada to show.

and the next volley was just as bad.  After it slowed down, we decided to take the teal we were passing on early.  I had two in the bag and counted out four more teal.  Only when I went to get them, they were only three to be found.  The day before I would go to pickup a bird and find only a large amount of feathers.  My only guess is gators were getting them.  Everyone finishes out there limit with a few tree ducks and teal.  On the way out, we find a BWT wing that looked pretty fresh, back to thinking about gators.  I think the final count was fifteen tree ducks, five green-winged teal, three blue-winged teal, and one mottled.  Good hunt and pretty good shooting.  My only hope was when I got back from AK, it was cold and not in the 80's.

Thursday November 24th 2005
Winnie Lease

After many phone calls to figure out who's going and who's not, I talked to Dickson who said he would meet us at 5:00 AM at the parking lot and he was solo so Andrew could go.  After getting out all the gear and packing the truck, we went to bed for an early wake up at 3 the next morning.  The night before I got some yard guard fogger to hopefully clean out the blind we could be hunting in of mosquitoes.  We meet up with Dickson, put our gear in the boat and head out to the blind.  As the rest of the Texas, we are low on water so we stop a good 60 yards out from the blind and start putting out decoys, two groups, one left, the other right.  Before we get in the blind I spray it down, I think it just made the mosquitoes mad.  Now we just wait for light and try not to get bitten too much.  It starts off pretty slow, we see birds flying around but none will get us a serious look.  Finally we have a group of bluebills come in right to the decoys and we drop three, all drakes.  One is a cripple that is out running Dickson and he is getting into some deep mud so he decides to put it down so we don't loose it, he does so by taking its head off at a few feet away.    Well at least we don't loose it.  The next bird is a ringneck drake that flies right to left and I bring it down with one shot.  We have a solo bluebill that comes in and someone dumps it.  After that it pretty much shuts down.  The time is getting close to 10 so Dickson gets the boat to pick up the headless bluebill that floated off and when he does, it scares up some birds on the far some of the pond and they fly right to the decoys.  Andrew and I each drop one.  Then comes in a second wave and again we each drop one.  Turns out they are ruddy ducks.  So the final count is nine birds, all divers.


Saturday November 26th 2005
Winnie Lease

We had a mix-up on Friday and I never got the call from Dwayne that he and Greg weren't going.  So Saturday it was me, Dwayne, and Keith.  I met up with them at their house and off we were.  It was supposed to rain pretty good today, so I brought my new Rivers West bucket hat which I hadn't worn yet.  Its made of a waterproof fleece with a wide brim to keep rain off my face and neck.  If anything the bugs were out worse today.  We load up and start off, but Dwayne is having a bit of an issue with the go-devil and swamps the back end.  The back end is pretty much on bottom, luckily we have no water in the marsh, so we sit on the bottom and no more water gets in.  The bilge pump starts and we bail out what water we can with an empty cup.  Once its all gone we start to the other side of the marsh to hunt this point where they have seen birds flying past before.  We have around two dozen driver decoys along with the gadwalls and two mojos.  Once all of them are out, we move back into the trees and get situated.  I forget to bring a chair that day, so I stand by a tree on the far right.  The first bird of the day is a gadwall hen that Dwayne and I shoot at, but he things I hit it.  After that the next few birds come from the left where is where Keith is and he and Dwayne don't let any get to me.  When a large group of GWT come in, my gun jams after the first shot.  Not a good start for me.  Somewhere in the middle of the hunt it starts to rain VERY hard, we watch a group of coot ball up very tight out in the water.  I like the hat, I don't get a drop of rain on me.  A few more singles come in that Keith gets.  Soon thereafter a large group of tree ducks come in and again my gun jams, but luckily we all get one bird.  Dwayne's gun jams also.  After that I spray in some rem-oil that he has and mine seems to be a lot better.  I look at his gun and the carrier is getting stuck, so I work on it a bit and it seems to be better, but a good cleaning is in order.  Keith limits out pretty quick and he moves back into the trees and gives me his chair.  I'm picking up a teal here and there and get within one of my limit and Dwayne is also close to his.  We hear a distinct quack from behind us and before we can call we see a pair of mallards cupped up.  Dwayne and I get ready and I beat him to the draw by a few mili-seconds, the drake is on his way down and Dwayne is kinda stunned for a moment before he brings down the susie.  Keith is already at the boat from getting a far sailing teal before and he heads out to chase down the swimming hen.  He gets her and the drake which came back to life somehow.  Final count, three hunters, eighteen birds, all puddle ducks.

Sunday November 27th 2005
Winnie Lease

Pretty much same setup as yesterday, but they brought a guy on Greg's forum to make it four.  We didn't have any boat problems so we looked at another part of the marsh to setup, but it was WAY too soft to hunt, and after checking a few spots all too soft to hunt, we were running out of time and went back to the same place.  Same setup with the decoys, but we had a few mallard decoys we through out this time.  It was much more overcast this morning, so we had to wait longer before we could see to shoot, but while doing so we heard a humming we couldn't figure out.  Once we had enough lights we saw swarms of mosquitoes.  Literality thousands upon thousands swarming up in the trees.  Never seen that many in a tight ball like that, not a sight you want to see.  A BWT comes in screaming from the left to right and by the time we see it, its already in front of me heading to the right, I take three shots and connect on the last one.  My second shot was right dead center of a little 4" tree.  You couldn't aimed it any better to blow a hole through the tree, kinda weird.  Next we have a good size group of bluebills that come in and the first volley drops two, and I swing on two more that both fall on my next two shots.  The other guy Brian shot at one of them also.  A single bluebill comes in later that someone else gets.  Towards the end, Dwayne and Brian are off behind me and Keith and we hear a quack and here comes a single greenhead.  I hesitate a bit too long and Keith brings it down.    We had one more, a pair of BWT and Dwayne brings down the drake and I miss on the hen and then jam.  I REALLY need to clean my gun when I get home.


So ends the first split for Texas.

Saturday December 3rd 2005
Somewhere in Oklahoma

I have been talking with a buddy from the refuge about coming up to Dallas if he was going to hunt in OK anytime during the Texas split.  I was only in Texas for six days of the first split and I hunted five of them, so time is more important than money and I wanted to hunt.  I also was going to pick up a treadmill from a buddy and this is a good time to kill two birds with one stone.  I talk to Shane on the way up there and he said they found hundreds of mallards in one cove, so I'm excited.  After a long drive to Dallas, we BS and eat till around 11 when we call it quits for a 2 AM wake up the next day.  I forget to get my license, but luckily I can order it online and print it out.  Soon as we do that we are off to pick up a buddy at the Sportsmen Warehouse in Lewisville then off for a long drive to OK.  We stop to get diesel in the closest town to the lake and the wind is really blowing and the temperature is dropping.  From Dallas it was in the mid 60's and it drops to 41 at the lowest.  Once we launch, we soon find it warms up quick and the wind dies.  We have motor trouble along the way and have to change out sparkplugs which puts us into a rush to decide where to setup and the spread.  We decide to put the decoys around a point and put decoys on both sides so we can hopefully pull them in from either way.  There are lots of birds working in the pre-LST minutes and we eagerly wait.  As soon as time comes, it becomes apparent that the birds just don't like something, they look hard at us, but none commit.  Immediately, I wanted to abandon the blind and wade out into the surrounding areas and try to get them as they swing out from the point.  We move to a tall tree to discuss the situation when a greenhead gets a little too close, Shane and I tag team on it to cripple it off.  Off goes his dog to bring it back to us.  I think before that the first bird of the day was a spoonie hen that Gecko has to chase down.  After it slows down a bit, Shane goes to work on his motor and Robby and I stand by the tree when some GWT buzz us, I bring down one with my first shot and Robby kills one clean and then we have two more land and he cripples one that he goes after and I cleanly miss mine.  He finds the cripple and then stays out there by a stump and he blinds in very well, its hard for me to pick him out.  Well Shane comes back and we see two birds cupped up and coming in.  Turns out to be spoonie, luckily I have the anti-spoonie feature on my SBE2 turned on so I fire three times at cupped up birds and miss but Shane gets his.  While out there Robby gets one more spoonie and some fly over us and Shane gets a young drake.  Just as Robbie was heading back a drake gadwall gets too close and Shane and I tag team on it to bring it down.  Its another cripple that Gecko is able to find for us.  That pretty much is the end of that hunt.  They said we didn't see a 10th of the birds we that were there the day before.  Only thing we can think of it got about 20 degrees warmer today and we had no wind while last night they bad plenty.  My first hunt in OK.

Friday December 23rd 2005
Winnie Lease

Today was going to be just me and my brother.  After talking to Dwayne, we decided to hunt the far side of the water.  We loaded our gear in Brent's Go-Devil and headed out to find some good cover on the far side.  The night was very dark and we had some pretty heavy fog so it was hard to see anything very well until it lifted,  so when we found the cover, I couldn't tell the best place to put the decoys.  Turns out I put them in the wrong spot.  Well a few teal, few black ducks, and pintail and my swimmer and we sat back in the grass and waited.  There were a few ducks off in the distance, but it was so foggy there was no chance they could see the decoys.  Finally around 7:15 we had two come in just about perfect, brother shot the one on the left and I shot the one on the right.  Turns out to be two drake woodducks and mine is my first solo bird so he is going on the wall.  A little later I look over to my right at two white birds that are flying low right over us and as soon as I realize they are snow geese I yell at the brother and we shoot pretty much at the same time.  I bring mine down on the first shot and Andrew crushes his on the 3rd shot.  He is shooting my SBE with a .675 Terror and it does a number on that goose.  After that its pretty slow for a while until we start getting buzzed by BWT.  They are going right around the point and back into these pockets to out right.  I finally connected with a hen after a collective 10+ shots.  We discuss the location and move to the right a bit in hopes of getting a little better shot, but as is Murphy's Law, they stop flying.  So Andrew puts on a sneak to the back pockets and brings down one more hen BWT.  Not bad for my birthday, a new duck for the wall.

Saturday December 24th 2005
Near Pierce, TX

Dane called me during the day on Friday and said he has a open spot for tomorrow.  After thinking about it most of the day and my brother not really wanting to go back to the lease, I left Houston around 9 and made it to the lease before 11.  We stayed up much too late, but it was sure nice to sleep in till 5:45 and then head out for a short 5 minute ATV ride.  It was a nice little pond, but the birds kept swinging around behind us and not giving us a good shot.  We adjusted a little later and started connecting on a few.  There were a lot we saw in the area that just didn't take a look at the spread.  All in all, it was a fun hunt.  Nice and easy and not much to clean up.

Monday December 26th 2005
Near Garwood, TX

I posted up on the Refuge if anyone had any open spots near El Campo for Monday morning and Brian Mucks, whom with I had hunted at our lease with, gave me a shout about a combo duck/goose hunt at his lease near Garwood.  So I pull down the ATV and we get to our grandmothers in El Campo around 8 I'd say, maybe later.  After bring some gear inside we crashed.  It was a short 20 minute drive to meet up with them in Garwood and then a few more minutes to the lease where were loaded all the gear in my ATV trailer and I pulled it to the middle of a cut rice field.  We put out several hundred rags, and then headed to a low spot that had a little water in it and waited for the ducks.  We had ducks all over the pond before LST and then once time came, nada for a while.  Finally a few mallards came back and the shot was called.  Two  fell in that first volley and I didn't get any.  My gun hung open after the first shot.  The next group were more mallards and they seemed to work forever, finally they started to sit down on my side of the pond and we cut into them bringing all five.  After that it shutdown and we went into the spread where it didn't take long for a solo snow to come in and he didn't leave.  A bit later another big snow broke off from a group to come in and he hit the ground.  A little later a young sandhill crane came too close to the spread, his last mistake.  The morning was pretty full of singles here and there.  The final count was 4 snows, 1 ross, 3 specs, and the one sandy.  It had been a while since I had seen a sandy and it was nice to see one again. Thanks to Brian and Chuck for letting us hunt with them.

Tuesday December 27th 2005
Winnie Lease

On the way back from El Campo I called an old high school/hunting buddy who was in town for the holidays to see if he was up for a hunt in the AM.  He was, so we left the truck loaded and got ready for another early alarm, even more so this time when I had to go by and pick up Steve.  No problems, nice easy drive to the lease, then I start to unload the ATV and realize no key.  Thankfully Brent's ATV is out there and he had the key with him and they were hunting the marsh so I just had to wait for him to get there.  After years of riding an ATV with independent rear suspension, his strait rear axle one is not fun, it beats walking though.  I dropped off my brother at the boat, tell him to load the gear and go pick up Steve who is walking as fast as he can to avoid the mosquitoes.  Once we are all in the boat, its off to the back of the marsh to hunt on the opposite side from where we did on the 23rd.  We find the place and start putting out decoys.  Andrew puts up the boat and I start arranging the decoys to what I think looks good.  We are all back in the brush and waiting for LST cause we have about 20 tree ducks looking at us.  Well time comes and I wait till the birds are hovering right over the water and then call the shot.  Nine shots and eight birds fall, that's got to be one of the highlights of my hunting career.  Pretty cool.  Andrew shot one that landed in the decoys before we could react to it.  A single comes to the right and Steve dumps him with one shot.  Next up Andrew brings down a teal that falls behind us, and Steve goes to get it.  As he is picking it up, we hear a single quack to our left and I think its a gadwall, Andrew raises up and clicks (he didn't fully close the bolt on my SBE) so I hit it with my first shot and its heading down crippled, but Andrew cycles the action and is able to kill it in the air.   Next up are a group of three teal that come in and we bag them all.  So now we are three short of a limit, and soon thereafter a group of tree ducks come in and we each take one to finish out the limit.  Done by 7:30, smiles all around.


Thursday December 29th 2005
Winnie Lease

After a day of rest, I hunted with Brent, Brandon, and Dickson in the Honey Hole.  The same place we shot the tree ducks on my last hunt.  This time we set up in the back pocket where the teal had been landing and where Brent had been watching tree ducks landing.  We put out a handfull of decoys in front of a pretty thin cattail clump and waited for the birds.  The tree ducks were right on time as usual and right after LST we opened up, four guns and only four birds fell, not very good.  I'm pretty sure none were mine.  Well a bit later three come in and the other guys got them all, I never even swung on one.  A little later a single comes in and they let me dump it.  So now eight birds.  The next birds are a pair of mottleds that turn on a dime to Brent's calling and come right in with no looking over the spread.  It was their last mistake, 10 now.  My teal finally show up, they come straight back to the pocket we are in and land in some pretty think grass.  Not open water like I would have thought.  Hmm... well a single hen is dropped by Brent from the group.  A bit later Dickson and I take a long shot at a nice drake BWT and Brandon has a pretty good spot on him and we are able to find him in some thick stuff.  While going out there I bang down a single snipe.  We decide to call it around 10:30.  As soon as we get the boat back a good size flock of tree ducks goes right we left.

Saturday December 31st 2005
Winnie Lease

Today I hunted with our other member who hadn't been out there any this year.  He wanted to take his son out and I really wanted to test my ATV with maybe a problem it has.  So same time same place as someone else was heading out to the marsh.  I wanted to setup in the same place as we did with Andrew and Steve but in the dark I couldn't find it, and we overshot and hunted the opposite side of where did on the 29th.  So I put out decoys to the side and in front and went to park the boat.  While I was putting away the boat, I saw the tree ducks come in and Paul dropped one with one shot.  I hurry to get back incase more weren't behind them, but they never appeared.  We had groups of teal buzz us all morning and one group of mallards look at us, but none of them committed.  We moved to a place with more brush with the hopes of hiding better, but it was to late.  A scouting trip later showed lots of birds in the marsh and they were supposed to hunt there the next day, but not sure if they did.

Friday January 20th 2006
Winnie Lease

Andrew and I set out on the island with some coot decoys in deeper water and a string of black ducks making a j-hook.  My god the mosquitoes were horrible!  I brought out some quackgrass and set it up on a few t-posts and we waited.  The first bird of the day was a BWT drake that came right in perfect and my first shot knocked him down but not for good and my next two were over.  Brother finished him off.  After that it shutdown in the open water so we went looking for places to hunt tomorrow in the boat and found a few.  We setup in one pocket with just a handfull of decoys for till 10 and got in some good action, but poor shooting.  We added two more BWT to our bag and lost one more and what I think was a GWT.  Hindsight is 20/20, but I sure wish we would have setup there earlier with the wind at our backs.

Saturday January 21st 2006
Winnie Lease

After scouting the marsh we thought we had a good idea of where the birds would be and how to get them.  Also, Paul was gonna hunt so we thought for sure we would keep the birds moving around, not so.  My brother and I setup in blind with my coot off to the left about 60 yards, a group of black ducks to our left, and a large group of gadwall to our right leaving the middle open.  We saw birds and they saw us, but with none decoying so I pulled a bunch of the black ducks leaving only three or four.  That seemed to pull them a little closer and I was able to bring one down, but still no fully committed birds.  Andrew did a little scouting to some of the pockets behind us and said he found a group of gadwall, I think just BWT, but he brought back a BWT hen and claims he lost one more.  Once he got back we had two teal land in a corner near us making it an easy shot for him, yet he missed all three times and I hit my bird on the first shot and when I went to shoot again on the water to finish off the cripple, gun jammed and Andrew didn't understand me to shoot it again.  So he went after it, but it was long gone.  I'm not happy.  I move those decoys to that pocket to hopefully keep the birds out of the and to put them in front of us by the black ducks, but the next group of birds, 4 BWT land right in the closely packed coot decoys.  Some days you just can't win.  When Paul left he kicked up a bunch of ducks and a pair of mottled got a little too close and I was able to bring down a nice drake.

Sunday January 22nd 2006
Damon Lease

I was kinda tired of getting my but kicked by that lease so I went to the other one which the rain had helped fill up the ponds.  We got to one pond a bit late, but it was a nice looking piece of water with a very hard bottom.  I set out two pairs of gadwall while Andrew put up the quack grass and I then went to move the truck.  Right as I was walking back he said two ducks flew over but they didn't even slow down.  Well LST came and went and Andrew went looking for some more ponds and to see if he could see any sandys in the adjacent fields.  While he was gone I had one duck come in and circle and I took a shot on the second swing and missed.  Who knows, it may of come closer, but then again it could just have easily left.  Andrew gets back and we have a teal that comes in perfect that he hits on the first shot, but misses the next and we then shoot at the same time to bring it down.  A little later two mottleds fly over but they don't look very interested.  I quack a few times and they turn around for a second look.  One splits off and comes right in, a mistake as Andrew splashes her.  When he goes to pick her up I wonder if it's not a mottled after all because of the size, looks to me like a yearling.  We had two more teal buzz in and out and I pull Andrew off the shot in hopes that they would come a little closer but they never do.  Well at least it was an easy hunt.  It rained all day and I'm glad I had my Rivers West hat.

Monday January 23nd 2006
Katy area

I had invited Andy down for a hunt at our lease, but after hearing reports from Sunday, I decided to skip it and sleep in.  He called me back and said they had birds and to come up for a hunt.  Easy sale.  I met him at his house and we headed out to meet up with the rest of the group.  Got to love nice easy walks over firm roads.  We put out two spreads incase they went to one pond, we could just pick up and move quickly.  The main spread was rather large for late season, but I was a guest so I kept my mouth shut.  We had teal off to the left and a mix of mallards, widgeon, and pintail on the right.  We then waited for LST as we had birds in the decoys.  Once time came it was a melee for 15 minutes of almost non-stop shooting.  The birds were in and out so fast it was hard to keep track of everything.  No-one really shot good, but ended up with 12 GWT, three hens and the rest drakes.  One teal was hit and fell in a tree and got stuck there.  A little later we heard it moving and looked back to see it come to life and sitting on a limb like any other bird.  It then rockets out of there, we are kinda in shock so it takes a few guns to hit it, but it was pretty amazing to see.  Well worth the trip for that bird alone.  A short time later a mottled comes in a little too close and it was hit going down as I put it down for good.  One of the guys had a dog and it worked pretty good bringing us birds and finding cripples.  After the duck hunt was done, Andy and I went after a few snipe in the next rice field over.  To get there we had to cross a creek that was too deep for Andy's mud boots so he tried to jump it, the phrase "White men can't jump" comes to mind watching the attempt.  Right as he was going to jump he slipped and pretty much fell face first into the creek.  Pretty damn funny.  Well we saw a few snipe but they wouldn't hold very tight so some were long shots and some were just dumb birds that flew right at us.  Andy got 3 and I got 1.  We had some fun.

Friday January 27th 2006
Winnie Lease

Andrew and I decide to give it a shot at a pond I've been too but was told its an easy walk too.  My ATV was in the shop so we took the sleds and walked out there.  There were two ponds we saw and I went and looked at the one on the left but decided it had too many mud clumps so we chose the one on the right with more open water.  There was an old blind that we put all our gear on and put out two pair of gadwall and one duck butt.  Nothing, we didn't even see any ducks.  We shot a few teal and looked at the other blinds in the area but there weren't any ducks to be had.  Andrew and I discussed it and went into town for some food.  I went out afterwards for a snipe hunt and Andrew took a nap.  Then after I got my limit, we setup in the marsh for an evening duck hunt.  They didn't fly much, but we pulled in some that I was able to bring down a nice drake.  It was wall worth but I had to finish it on the water and it had too many broken feathers.  Andrew got bored and left to find some new ponds and picked up a BWT drake along the way that he is going to put on the wall.  That's it for that day.


Saturday January 28th 2006
Winnie Lease

Paul was supposed to meet us out there with this ATVs but he was a no show so Andrew and I went to the marsh in a pocket we had seen teal at.  We jumped six out of the spot and put out two teal and waited... and waited, nothing.  So after I shot a snipe, we moved to the Gadwall hole and were in much better cover, but the only teal that came close never decoyed.  Andrew went out looking for a mottled hole in the boat and every bird he kicked up didn't even look at the spread.  The day ended in two snipe and that's it.

Sunday January 29th 2006
Winnie Lease

The day before Andrew found a pocket in the back that held a few mottleds so we went out there after we dropped off Paul and his son at the island in some of the thickest fog I have ever seen, wow!  I couldn't see more than 20-30 yards.  We get them dropped off and work our way into this pocket as far as the boat would go then bring out the sled and haul the gear the rest of the way.  I thought we setup in a pretty good looking area but the lack of wind and tons of fog really hurt us and it made the mosquitoes much worse.  After an hour of free blood donations, we left and started exploring.  We found quite a few blinds and some nice looking areas.  So ends this season with me not firing a shot.