Tuesday September 1st 2009
Austin, TX

Another opening day in Austin.  This year I got back to Houston the night before and by the time I got packed up and such, I didn't get to Luling till around 1 AM.  I went there because my ATV was there.  Connie had warned me she really had not been seeing many birds, but I thought she just hadn't been outside or looking for them.  Nope, there weren't many there.  Collin met me at Connie's and we setup near the small tank, which was completely dry.  I bought a Easy Tree for the decoys, as the year before, it would of come in handy to get the mojo above all the tall grass.  Well this year, it wasn't needed, since there was no grass.  Collin and I were setup first and just waiting for the birds when the retard Jason showed up and drove his truck and parked it on the fence line near us.  We moved a little, but we still had to avoid certain shots or we would hit the truck and we got peppered a few times.  Not a good start to dove season.  After we left there, I worked on my ATV and we decided to just go down to the tank there in Luling and were able to pickup a few more birds.

Wednesday September 2nd 2009
Austin, TX

Today, we thought we'd try a different field that you had to walk too, or drive an ATV too.  I know they wouldn't be there, so we went there.  Wow, it was even worse than the day before.  We did not get any set up where we were and both started walking some to try and jump up some birds.  I picked up two.  We decided to move near the tank where I picked up one more bird before calling it quits.  A total of three birds for me.  That afternoon we setup at the top of a sunflower field in some trees as cover.  The birds were flying better, but we had to be careful to not shoot near the road.  I shot eight that afternoon.

Thursday September 3rd 2009
Austin, TX

With the ass kicking I had been taking the past two days, I just couldn't justify to myself to keep hunting.  So both Collin and I packed up and would hunt pretty early in the afternoon and leave from the field.  Plus I had all the things to do at the house I was thinking about while not shooting doves.  I shot pretty bad and only ended up getting four birds that afternoon.  A video Collin shot of it.

Saturday September 12th 2009
Lissie, TX

Opening day of teal season once again.  Just like last year, we scouted beforehand and found the only spot that had water, it was a nice and easy spot to get to as well.  In a weeks time we got a LOT of rain, so now everywhere had water, but our spot was still the best and had the most open water.  So Trey and Steve got there early to make sure we got the spot and we rolled in around 5:45 with five people, two ATV's and two mojos.  Matthew pulled up about the same time we did.  It didn't take lot with eight guys to put out about five dozen decoys and three mojos.  We were done and ready by 6:37, but it was so dark at LST we waited a good 10 or 15 minutes before we started shooting.  I brought the Cordoba to shoot today.  Brandon and I were on the far right side and both of us could have shot better, but the group was done by 7:45 with an eight man limit.  The best part about being done early, Vincek's still had kolaches!  The vampires weren't that bad, but the birds really didn't finish all that well either.  The highlight was dropping six birds in one volley.  A few more pictures here.

Sunday September 13th 2009
Lissie, TX

Same drill different day.  Everyone was back except for Jeff who had tickets to the Texans game.  We got there a bit earlier this time and the vampires knew it; they were much worse.  We also had a good shower dump on us right as we got there and it made getting dressed a muddy and wet ordeal.  Next time the older guy advises to get dressed at Shell under the covered part, do it.  The wind was a bit different today, so we went out on a levy and sat there.  I'm so glad I brought one of those bucket lid seats to sit on.  While everyone else kind of sank into the mud, I was high and dry.  The birds worked much better today and earlier too.  Brandon was on the far left and he was done by 7:01.  It would of been before that if we found one cripple.  I was shooting the SBE2 today and shot much better.  I was done around 7:17.  If it weren't for some bad shooting on the right side, we would have been done by 7:25, but we finished at 7:38.  A few more pictures here.

Monday September 14th 2009
Lissie, TX

My last day.  It was just four of us, Steve and Jeff, and me and Andrew.  Steve again got there early and got our spot, but we didn't see any other groups out there; better safe than sorry.  The wind was like our first day, so we were back on the road.  With it being a small group, I brought the 20 gauge.  The birds were sort of finishing at an angle to the road so I moved down to the far right in hopes of getting a more "in your face" shot.  It was still too dark to shoot at LST, and we almost got out the flashlights to "spot light" teal.  I still think that would of been cool to do.  Anyways, once it was light and the birds started to fly we saw more than on Sunday and they decoyed well; damn vampires were worse though.  I shot pretty well and was done by 7:04 and the group was done by 7:10.  A pretty good teal season for me.  Easy hunts and no ATV to spend hours on to clean.  A few more pictures here.

Thursday October 8th 2009
Hanna, Alberta, Canada

My third trip to Canada with Blackfoot.  This year it was me, Andy, Ross, some of his buddies, and his dad.  Brian had been telling me the weather was very weird, but a front was coming and should push the birds down.  Plus, another guide we know was killing them up north, so I felt that the time we got there, we would have birds.  Wrong.  Our first hunt was near a roost pond that held a few thousand specs and a mix of snows and Canadas.  We setup a few hundred yards from there with one of the farmers using GHG decoys, a few outlaw silhouettes, and some SS snows.  X-Landír blinds were set out and we grassed them up a little and got ready.  From the get go, you could tell the specs weren't acting right.  It didn't help we had no wind either.  A group of snows decoyed perfectly and the group of seven guns dropped 11 birds.  I was pretty impressed with that.  We were able to pick up a spec here and there, but then Brian had us move the blinds around to try and get the specs as they came at us, but they saw something they didn't like.  When we were facing the other direction as first setup, the birds would fly over us pretty low.  Hindsight, we should of taken the shots as they flew over us.  The high point of the hunt was having a group of swans that wanted in VERY bad.  It was cool to see them work.  Just as we finished picking up the decoys a COLD front blew in.  The field was covered in snow by the time we left and the wind was blowing!

That afternoon we busted ice on the only place around there that had ducks on it.  There were over 100 ducks on there and some greaters when we got there, we hoped they would come back closer to dark.  We all hid in a tree clump near the edge and took turns shooting, or so was the idea.  It was so cold and windy, no-one really wanted to be exposed too much and there really weren't a lot of birds flying.  I think the day ended with four ducks.

Friday October 9th 2009
Hanna, Alberta, Canada

The wind was blowing steady 20+ all night and we felt confident heading into the field that we would have new birds and plenty of them.  Wrong again.  We setup using snow covers for the blinds due to everything being covered in snow, grassed them up a little and got ready.  Andy and I were over on the right and we had a pair of specs come in perfect to us, Brian called the shot and for some weird reason, we shot each others birds.  Ie, I was on the right and shot the left bird, and he shot the right bird.  A little later some snows got a bit too close and we dropped four out of that bunch and a single spec came in range on the left and it was dropped.  Seven birds for the AM.

That afternoon we went to a field that was holding some greaters.  The blinds were laid out in pairs in the swath and we put out only silo decoys.  After the decoys were setup and the blinds grassed, we talked and BS'ed for about an hour until we finally saw birds on the horizon.  Then it was a Mexican fire drill to get in the blinds, load the guns and get ready.  When the shot was called, I believe five greaters were down.  Not a bad start.  Next up we had some high ones that didn't quite finish, but we dropped two out of those.  Then all the birds in the area got up at once, which is never a good thing, they all came and looked at us, but didn't finish.  One smaller group finished right between the far left and center pairs and they dropped five.  We finished the day with 13 greaters and 1 lessor.

Saturday October 10th 2009
Hanna, Alberta, Canada

After finding no birds scouting the previous night, they decided to try a snow hunt with e-caller in a field near where we hunted the first day.  The farmer said there were several thousand snow geese the previous day, so we put out all the SS and the e-caller, grassed up the blinds and waited... and waited.  Early into the hunt there was a spec that got close, but didn't finish and the shot wasn't called.  Turns out that was it for the day.  We saw no other birds.  Guess the snows bugged out over night.  Back at the hotel we ate some breakfast, packed up, and hit the road for Calgary where we hung out at a sports bar, watched some college football and ate chicken wings for a while.

The expression, 3rd times the charm, got it backwards on this hunt, unless it was the charm for the birds.  Wow, talk about a busted hunt.  We had good time and it was a good group, but damn, there were just no birds.

Saturday October 31st 2009
Francitas, TX

This year we got on a new lease near Francitas off of CR111.  Its pasture land with a couple of DU projects on it and some pit blinds; not a lot of land, but its in a good area and should have plenty of big ducks.  I didn't hunt it during teal season, but Andrew and Dane had good things to say about it.  One nice thing about the lease is, its only 20 minutes away from our family bay house on Carancahua.  I got to the bay around 5 on Friday and helped my brother rig up decoys by melting down old strap weights and cast them for Texas rigging decoys with my Flat Bank Sinker mold.  Our cousin Terry has a place down the way and he came over to BS and ended up helping Andrew with rigging up decoys, while I worked on Andrew's trailer.  That night we went over for dinner at Terry's, he cooked chicken fried nilgai.  Damn that was good.  Too many nights of eating there and I'll need new clothes.  Dane showed up a little later and after figuring out the game plan for the day finally got some sleep around midnight.

We got up around 5:30 and after a cup of coffee, hit the road.  Andrew knew some route that was all back roads, I have no clue how we got there.  Finally at the gate, I get out to open it only to find our lock has been locked out.  Uh oh...  A few calls to the lease manager with no luck, so we decided to drive over to his place and see if he is still there.  Again, no luck, so we either call the hunt or try to find him.  We unload Andrew's ATV and Dane hauls ass looking for Frank.  After 10 or so minutes our hope starts to fade, but Dane hauls ass back to the trailer with the combo.  By this time its almost shooting time so we unload ASAP and head to the pits.  Andrew is first and says the #2 pit is flooded, so we can either go to the other pit or hunt the levy.  We choose wrong.  Pit #1 was not flooded, but it had no cover and was full of ants; we found the ants after we were already setup.  I'll skip to the end of the hunt where Andrew left the blind because he was getting attacked by the ants and he was having a pretty bad allergic reaction, and Dane and I took some high shots just to shoot.  Wow, what a cluster.

Sunday November 1st 2009
Lissie, TX

Andrew went back to Houston for Halloween, but I decided to stay at the bay and figure out my next move, nap.  Andrew talked to the guys on the other lease and they got a quick four man limit, damn, just our luck.  Well I decide to meet them there and leave from the bay.  Craig and Scott are gonna hunt Francitas.  Saturday night I went out with Terry to his fishing lease.  His sister and BIL came over for dinner that night and we met them on the way out and Tim joined us.  No keepers were caught, but damn there were a lot of 18-19" reds caught.  After watching them do that for an hour I put on a paddle tail on my spinner and caught one for myself, same size as the others.

Dinner that night was fried fish, fried shrimp, grilled shrimp, and bacon wrapped asparagus.  Hmm... good stuff.  Ok, so I planned to leave at 4 the next AM, but never once did it occur to me to look at the map.  I had planned to get to the lease like I was coming from Houston.  Good thing Andrew called me and told me to go another route.  I ended up being late anyways, but I parked the ATV and ran to the levy right at shooting time.

Wow, I was doing good!  I was making shots left and right and ones way over my back after everyone else quit shooting.  It wasn't long before I had five teal and was waiting for some big ducks.  I tag teamed on two gadwalls that others claimed, fine with me.  On one of my last birds, I folded one cleanly and another one crippled overhead.  Andrew went to look for the cripple and I went to the dead bird.  When I got to it, I saw a reddish head/body and bright blue patches on the wing.  I knew what it was, but was surprised/shocked.  I yelled over to Trey and described the bird and asked who else had shot, Brandon said he had too.  Trey sprinted over to me and then went to Andrew to find that bird incase it was the same.  First time I've ever seen a cinnamon teal in the wild.  I saw one at Halls many years ago that someone had shot and put in the freezer to be mounted there.  We ended the hunt with a four man limit, teal, two gadwall, and two spoonies.  Sad thing is that was the only area in the lease that had water and the farmer pulled the boards to drain it and cut rice.  So now after he cuts it, we need A LOT of rain.


Tuesday November 3rd 2009
Francitas, TX

I really wanted to get some specs before I went back to AK, but with no cut rice at Lissie, we didn't have the chance.  So when Andrew said he wanted to go out to the new place, I was up for it, even though it was gonna be an long day.  Andrew wanted to leave his house at 4 AM for the lease, so I set my alarm for 2:50 and went to bed 99% packed.  I got on the road pretty quick and got to his place just as he texted me asking if I was awake; good thing too.  When he went to start his ATV he realized he left it on and the battery was dead.  So we decided to jump it from his Harley and let it run a while.  It ran idle for about 10-20 minutes, before we decided to load it up and hit the road.  We made it to the front gate with about 10 minutes to spare before LST.

Andrew put out his decoys and I put together the mojo's and then the rig 'em right jerk string rig.  Its a jerk string complete with anchor and four clips for fast setup.  I have six GHG magnum pintails I use just with the jerk string.  I rigged up 3 and 3 as Andrew had his jerk string as well.  Right as we were setting up we had some teal look at us, but we were still in the decoys.  Then we hid the ATV's, we got under the camo blankets and wait for the birds.  A little later, we have a redhead drake and pintail hen come in as a pair and land before we could react.  We both get ready and try to flush the drake, but he was just sitting there while the hen took off.  She got a free pass, but when he finally took off, Andrew took the shot and dropped him.  Next up was a group of pintails.  I whistle at them and we both pull on the jerk string and the birds turn to look at us.  We worked them for about eight or nine passes before they finally bugged out.  Damn.  A group of gadwall were next they worked us closer and Andrew called the shot just outside of the decoys.  It was a bit long of a shot for IC and #4s and I didn't drop any, but he brought down a drake.  I changed to LM after that.  And then our final birds of the day were another bigger group of gadwalls that worked better.  We called the shot when I thought we both had easy doubles.  I pull feathers off of two birds that kept flying, while two different birds go down.  Andrew swears we knocked down three, but we could not find the last bird.  The hunt ends with four big ducks, not too bad.  Just as we were looking for the missing bird and picking up a group of widgeon look at the spread; figures.

Saturday November 21st 2009
Francitas, TX

My next hunt was the day after I got back from the slope.  My original plan was to get in and head for the bay that night.  Didn't happen.  I got in and ran some errands and developed a huge headache and spent most of that night in bed; I woke up around 11 and started packing.  We were hunting on the levy and the ground was pretty dry, so we just brought my brothers ATV.  Scott and Craig were also hunting with us that day and Craig had a good location to hunt.  With the wind that day, we would have a right-to-left shot, so we setup a j-hook right in front of a big tree we could hunt under.  This was also the first time I got to see my brother's duck butts in action.  Pretty slick way to create movement in the decoys.  Anyways, it wasn't long before we had birds starting to work.  I think our first ones were some widgeon or gadwall, but next up looked like a big group of teal, and I chose to pass on those; no-one else did.  Three guys shot six or seven ring-necks.  Pretty impressive shooting.  Not long there after we finished a group of 10+ widgeon and only knocked down two or three.  Damn.  The rest of the hunt was a mix of singles and pairs.  Everyone got their pintials and a single mallard hen came in that got shot.  I shot a drake pintail that either had an accident or his bill was deformed.  Four man limit with eight different species, not too shabby at all.

Sunday November 22nd 2009
Francitas, TX

Saturday night we went to an AFI concert, but still wanted to hunt on Sunday; turns out it was just us.  Andrew also had to go to a bachelor party that night, so I ended up driving down there and he went straight from the party to the lease.  We hunted at the same place and setup pretty much the same way.  Just past LST we had a couple of birds hangup outside the decoys and I shot the one on the right and Andrew on the left.  A nice drake gadwall for me and the hen for Andrew.  We shot four more ducks that day, two gadwall, one widgeon and one GWT.  The low part of the hunt was finished about 12 gadwall and only cutting two.

Thursday November 26th 2009
Francitas, TX

Mike was off today and wanted to hunt and I wasn't going to pass up a chance to hunt.  Scott and his son wanted to hunt as well.  Mike wanted to hunt by a dead tree on the south levee.  Its a good spot if you are only hiding two people and have sun and no wind.  The sun creates a good shadow that hides you pretty well... if there are only two.  There were four of us today, so Scott and his son sat near some berry vines right down from us.  Pretty early into the hunt we had a two drake mallards and a hen work us and both drakes went down.  Even after that the hen kept circling and wanting to land on the mojo.  We shot a few widgeon, gadwall, teal, and I picked out a drake pintail.  The highlight of the hunt was working three green heads and getting two of them.  Really good for a cool clear day with no wind and no clouds.

Saturday November 28th 2009
Francitas, TX

I left the house at 3 that AM and drove straight to the lease via 35 where I was going to meet my brother and Dane.  Well I was really early, so I didn't think much of being first, I just took my time and got out to spot and still no headlights in the dark.  Hmm... I call my brother, he over slept and he said Dane bailed on him that AM.  Solo hunt.  Damn good thing I brought decoys.  I had plenty of teal in the decoys at LST and big ducks I couldn't ID, so I waited a while before it was good and light to start shooting.  I started out great, one shot, one drake gadwall, then it went downhill, and fast.  My next two ducks were spoonie hens and I had to chase each one of them down.  I had lots of pintails work a little before bugging out and I never could get a good shot.  A few other big ducks, just wouldn't commit.  My last bird was a long shot on a widgeon I shot right off the water and killed him clean.  Not a great hunt, but not bad either.  Maybe its good no-one else showed up.

Sunday November 29th 2009
Francitas, TX

Sunday was the opposite.  Even with my mediocre report, everyone wanted to show up.  It was me, Andrew, Mike, and Scott.  We hunted the levy that Mike likes, which wasn't really the best spot for the number of hunters we had.  There were good numbers of teal flying, but I really don't like shooting near a dog and Fancy would break and run right in front of me, so I pulled off a few of the teal, otherwise I think we would have added a few more birds to the group.  A hen wood duck was shot that day, I think that was the only one of the season out there.  We ended up with 6 birds.

Saturday December 19th 2009
Francitas, TX

Andrew and Dane hunted the Wednesday before and said there were birds pilling into an area that was reticently flooded by the rain we had been getting for almost a week.  Problem is there is no cover and no way to hunt it... for most people.  We have NeoTubs for our finishers.  Think of a giant rubber (neoprene) booty that goes under the blind and lets you hunt in water up to about six inches.  Neither of us had ever used them before, so we got there a bit early to put out the spread and since we were hunting close to the field, we put our my SS cranes and some of Andrew's spec decoys.  Pulling up salt grass with bare hands wasn't the best idea.  After the tubs were grassed up, it was time to get in the blinds.  It very much reminded me of a waterbed.  This hunt was also the first chance to try out my new Final Approach Layout Blind Bag.  This is a pretty cool bag that unclips to become a skinny narrow bag that is great for fitting inside of layout blinds next to you.  Today was one of those hunts you could re-live over and over.  The pintails were in your face by the hundred.  After we got ours, I filmed some working the blinds.  It was also when we really started seeing the widgeon showing up in large numbers.  That day I shot two widgeon and three gadwall and my pinny.  Andrew shot three widgeon.  I shot pretty well and got my limit pretty quick and waiting for Andrew to finish his.  At one point while he was up for a bathroom break, I'm pretty sure a drake mallard came in on his side and would of been an easy shot.  On the way out of the place we saw a cripple ross goose and Andrew chased it down to add some color to the pictures.

Sunday December 20th 2009
Francitas, TX

With no-one else on the lease having the equipment to hunt with us, or not wanting to get soaking wet, Andrew called Brandon who owned a finisher and neotub and he was happy to join us.  Weather conditions were about the same, so we hunted in the same place with pretty much the same setup.  It was a little faster with three people and Andrew and my blinds were already grassed, so we helped Brandon get his done.  I think right after LST some cranes flew over us and we called the shot and one fell.  Sweet.  It wasn't long after that when a spec flew kinda close and we called the shot.  Brandon got it before the rest of us even got our guns up.  The pintail didn't work as well as the day before, but Brandon and I each shot nice ones.  I think mine had one of the longest sprigs I've ever shot.  Andrew and Brandon were shooting a little off today and I finished early and backed them up.  I ended another good limit with two gadwall, three widgeons and a bull drake sprig.  Brandon and I were done and we were waiting on Andrew and his last bird.  Two big birds came in but didn't finish and he took a long shot and he it well, but it sailed towards the fence.  We saw it go down into the trees before the fence, so Brandon and Andrew went after it and I got the ATV and started picking up stuff.  They got back and Andrew was carrying a drake mottled duck.  Finally.  He has been gunning one for a long while to put on the wall.


Tuesday December 22nd 2009
Garwood, TX

My buddy Brett called me while I was cutting down trees in the house about joining him for a goose hunt the next day.  My brother had also been talking about drive to Luling for a pond hunt (three hours each way).  Our lease had no geese and I really wanted to get into some geese, so I told Brent I was in.  I met him at his place near Garwood.  They have a trailer on the same tract of land they hunt.  Pretty cool.  The field was a bit wet so we put most of the gear on my ATV and carried it out there.  Brett has a mix of SS and deadly's and I put out my sandhill cranes in the back.  Hindsight, I would have been the cranes to the right of us, but who knows where they are going to come from.  Weather SUCKED for goose hunting until around 10-11 AM.  We pretty much no clouds and even though we did get some geese to look at us, they just would not finish.  If conditions were just a little bit better, we'd of had some geese.  Ducks were trading back and forth between two bodies of water on each side of us and we were able to drop a mixed bag of teal, spoonies, and pintails.  The one time we got geese to work us, a group of Canada's got within range, but we called the shot a big late and made the angle tougher for us and we whiffed.  I'm pretty sure if we shot earlier, we'd of dropped them all.  Oh well, that's hunting.

Wednesday December 23rd 2009
East Bernard, TX

Craig called my brother and I to invite us on a hunt at his place.  He said they have been seeing a good number of ducks and Canadas hanging around.  It was also covered in water, so it was gonna be a bog hunt.  Yes, yes it was.  We meet at the McDonald's in EB and as soon as Scott gets there we head out.  My brother just brought his ATV, so it took us a while to get all the gear out there; crane SS, spec SS, duck and goose floaters, four layout blinds and two neotubs.  Before LST we have ducks work us.  Always a good way to start a hunt by landing a few pintail in the decoys.  Into the AM we got our pintails, but the geese just weren't finishing.  Again as the day before, if I had known where the birds were coming from, I would have moved the cranes.  Not sure if it hurt us, but who knows.  The snows don't have anything to do with us and the specs just won't quite get close enough.  My brother drills one with some BC and Craig gets one.  I cause one to sail, but we can't find it.  And as usual with most hunts, as soon as you are picking up here come the birds.  Sure enough, I was stuck out in the back part of the spread with no gun and two giant snow shells in my hand.  I do the only thing I could and hide and move them around some to try and look realistic as possible.  Well it works good enough as my brother brings down a snow.

Saturday December 26th 2009
Francitas, TX

After Christmas dinner and all the presents were open, Ginger and I loaded up and headed towards the bay.  Andrew was on the road as well but ahead of us.  It was pretty late so Ginger and I just crashed.  I even left all my gear on my truck instead of putting it on Andrew's.  No-one else was hunting at the lease and Terry, Mary Ann, and their girls were at their place, so we invited Terry to hunt with us.  He didn't have waders, just hip boots, but that is one good thing about the neotubs, you don't need them.  We setup in the same place and the same was as we did last weekend.  Unlike the previous weekend, we had a prefect wind for our location and cloud cover, so I was expecting a heck of a shoot.  So instead of shooting first, I filmed Terry and Andrew shooting some widgeon.  Turns out, that was the best group to finish of the day.  Damn.  Pretty early on during the hunt two cranes fly over and I think everyone shot at the on the right as it fell, but we should of knocked down both.  We had plenty of birds act like they were going to commit, only to slide off at about 60-70 yards to my left.  I was the closest one, but the shots weren't easy ones and I didn't want to cripple birds.  My cousin made some great shots at 40+ yards, but couldn't hit the easy decoying shots; funny how that goes at times.  Took us a while, but we ended up getting our limit.  (There are only 14 ducks in the pict, but Andrew kept two for taxidermy.)

Sunday December 27th 2009
Francitas, TX

Andrew and I went back to the same spot and Mike and Craig hunted as well.  They setup under the big tree and they later said they moved down closer towards the corner of the levy.  I was curious to see if having another party on the water would affect the birds much; short answer, no.  As with the day before, the weather was great, but the birds just didn't do it.  We had to take longer shots and the birds didn't give us many chances.  Right at LST my brother called in a spec and take me take the shot.  I pulled up and rolled it with #4 within 20 yards.  Not impressed with what #4s did to the goose.  Last weekend the pintail were so thick you could just pick yours out.  This weekend we didn't get any.  But we did tag team up a nice drake mallard.  Add a few widgeon and teal, and we had a good shoot and a bonus spec.

Saturday January 2nd 2010
Lubbock, TX

To make up for the aforementioned Canada hunt, Blackfoot took us on a hunt in Lubbock.  We picked any weekend and this was it.  Everyone could make it but Ross's dad, so he asked if Andrew wanted to go.  The flights were pretty expensive, but I gave him an early Christmas present and bought his ticket with miles.  Andy, Andrew, and I were all on the same flight, so we picked up Andy and hit the road.  Its been a LONG time since I flew out of the B concourse in IAH and I was pleasantly surprised by how fast we got through security and checked in the guns.  We landed, found the rental car, and got to the hotel with no issues.  So on the hotel, I just bid on one from priceline, not really thinking it was the day after new years and it was a ghost town.  Turns out it was a sweet hotel with a living room, oven, dish washer even in the room.  Very sweet.  Ross and Andy were driving in and Ty lived there.  We meet at a burger place, enjoyed some beer and watched football.  The restaurant served Julio chips; pretty cool.

Plans were to meet Brian at a gas station at 5:30 the next day.  He said we were hunting close to town so we didn't have to worry about a long drive.  Cool.  Wake up time came and upon looking outside... uh oh.  Fog, pea soup fog.  Not good.  We went to the gas station, got some coffee and waited on the group.  From there we followed Brian to the field, he was right, it wasn't far at all.  There was a slight wind, so we were hoping the sun would burn off the fog.  We put out a lot of full body Canada decoys and the layout blinds.  The worse part was brushing them in 25 degree weather with ice on the ground.  Shooting time came and we waited, and waited.  We could hear geese in the distance, but with really heavy fog, the birds just didn't get off the roost.  We had some fly over us, but they came from behind us and you would have to be facing that way to try pass shooting them.  So we switched directions only to have birds finish into the decoys, crap.  So back around and sure enough, more birds came from behind us.  We were damned either way.  We did get some birds, but it was obvious the hunt was a bust.  We called it around 11 and went to a local place for lunch.  Oh, and for most of the hunt it was cold and the ground was frozen and hard.  Well that changed, turning it into nasty sticky red mud that stuck to everything.  I spent about an hour that night cleaning my gear in the hotel.  The fog was just lifting as we were done eating.

After lunch we went back to the hotel to get our dove gear and then over to a place Brian had leased to shoot doves.  They split us up, me, Andrew, and Andy on one place, Ross, Andy, and Ty on the other.  We started out shooting a couple of morning doves and one or two white wings, but the other field sounded like a war zone.  I talked to them to suggest bringing us over and one of Brian's helpers picked us up and took us over there.  But by the time we got there, the hunt was pretty much over.  We shoot at one or two Eurasian doves before the police shut us down.  One of the local land owners was pissed we were there, although we were completely legal.  Instead of fighting it out with the cops, we just packed up and went to a different field.  Brian called his attorney later to verify the regs, so next time he can send the cops away.  At the other field we only picked up one or two more birds.  I'd saw we shot 10 or so, while they shot close to 70 or 80.  It was a bad day for the Houston boys.  That night we went to watch UFC108 at Fox and the Hound.  It was a LONG night of fights and that meant a LOT of Guinness.  Ouch.

Sunday January 3rd 2010
Lubbock, TX

Day number 2.  Brian called me at the fight the night before and said we were going to meet around 5 and we were hunting a place around some water.  He used to lease this place from a guy, but now only day leases it.  We drove into this field and around down to a tank that was holding around 5 acres of water.  Brian had us load up the edge of the tank with full body honker decoys, then use the blankets and get back 20 or 30 yards and wait.  And we didn't have to wait long.  The birds were roosting here and we kicked them off coming into the field.  The group shot full limits of Canada geese and a few ducks as well with two really nice drake pintails.

Brian had us scheduled for a pigeon hunt in the afternoon and unfortunately Ross and Andy M. had to leave and missed out on what turned out to be a total blast!  The five of us drove out to a peanut field and kicked up lots of birds on our drive in.  Brian had two mojo dove decoys and two dozen SS pigeon decoys (mainly for people hunting Wood Pigeons in England.)  Once we were setup, it didn't take long for us to realize we didn't have enough ammo.  Luckily Andrew went to get another case for us.  I can't say enough how much fun this was.  The birds decoyed well and there was no short supply of them.  When it was slow, Andrew and I went out to jump some that were landing on the other side of the field and brought back over 20 more.  The final count was 127 retrieved birds and I KNOW if we had some heavier loads we'd of shot over 150 easily.  I lost count of how many birds I'd hit twice only to have them fly away.  More pictures.

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Friday January 22nd 2010
Francitas, TX

It was closing weekend and Andrew and I wanted to get to the lease early and try our hand at an afternoon crane hunt.  It would be an easy hunt on dry ground with not many decoys.  Well packing took a lot longer than I expected and we got off later than we wanted too.  We arrived at the lease with less than an hour of light left, so we hurried to set out my two dozen SS crane decoys, about 30 crane rags and then laid down in some brush clumps and covered up with rancho safari blankets.  We could hear cranes in the distance and a short while after we laid down here come some.  I brought some Kent Pheasant loads to use as crane ammo and this was my first time to use it.  I found out later that there was a grass clump blocking my brothers view to his left.  A group of 10+ fully committed and I watched two land back to our left; close enough to ground swat and get both with one shot.  Andrew says get ready and I am thinking he means the ones that landed and I call take 'em and as I sit up to shoot I see the ones he means, 5 yards off the deck about 30 yards out.  Damn.  Well I crush one on my first shot, miss on the second and the heavy 1-3/8 oz. load hangs up.  Andrew gets one too.  We are pumped even with our SNAFU.  A short time later some come at us, but don't decoy near as well and I'll cripple one that sails to the tree line and Andrew doesn't get any.  That's it for the night.  We go looking for mine and find it pretty easy.  Sweet, 3 out of 4 cranes.

Saturday January 23rd 2010
Francitas, TX

There are four of us hunting for ducks this AM and we set up near the big oak tree.  As we are setting up the wind is REALLY blow and the decoys look great.  The birds should finish right to left for us.  Then just as we finish setting up the decoys the wind died, and I mean it goes from 10+ to ZERO.  With no wind, it got hot and the mosquitoes came out and just sucked us dry.  We shot some birds, but it could of been better if we had wind.

That evening we went back out for cranes again.  We moved a little bit from the previous night in hopes of getting under the flight path more.  Well I think the flight path changed.  We had several groups fly to our left and we never took a shot.  They were all flying low over the tree lines, so we decided to try to pass shoot them before the sunset.  Andrew went one way and I went another.  I missed an easy limit and wound up with a juvie crane.  If he had stayed with me I'm pretty sure Andrew would have shot his limit.

Sunday January 24th 2010
Francitas, TX

This would turn out to be our last hunt at the lease.  The owners got offered a LOT of money to let their jackass neighbor lease it and not hunt it, so it wouldn't interfere with his deer hunting; we ended it with a bang though.  It was just Andrew and I for this hunt and we decided to hunt a patch of siene bean trees.  Good thing I went to HD before the trip and picked up a pair of clippers as we were able to cut some cover, but too bad I left the chairs and had no where to sit.  Like the day before, the wind was pumping, and luckily, it didn't die at sunup.  We assembled our little blind and sat on our knees waiting for birds.  Both of us shot our limit and got a drake pintail and a gadwall, and I shot a bonus ross goose.  It wasn't pretty, but it sure beat the day before, oh and I found where my waders are leaking; it was cold too.