Monday, December 10, 2012

Pigeons - The Feral Hogs of the Sky

Pigeons, Rock Pigeons, Sky Rats.... a variety of names are used for these winged vermin.  Dinner might be another to add to the list.

And like other creatures with their eyes on the sides of their heads, they have become part of an interesting predator - prey relationship.

Much like a great white shark stalking a seal... or a 50 year old Nile Croc eyeing a wildebeest... or a pride of lions taking down a zebra....  it looks like the pigeons have met their match.

Cue the cello!


A Man in the Woods

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Subtle Things That Make a Hunt Memorable

I had the pleasure of being invited on a last minute duck hunt this past weekend with my buddy Robert.  Unlike me, Robert knows a great deal about waterfowl, ducks, geese, decoys, decoy spreads, hunting dogs, calls, quacks and whistles.

The hunt was overall great with 4 hunters taking 18 birds.  There are already meals planned as a result.

But two things really, truly stood out in my mind.  Watching ducks respond to calls, circle the spread a few times while you hold you breath, afraid to move and then finally commit to landing with cupped wings as they glide through the crisp, cool air was truly mesmerizing.  Several times I caught myself stating out loud how beautiful the entire chain of events was.

The other thing which was beautiful to watch was Robert's dog Milo.  Robert has obviously worked a great deal with Milo and it was truly impressive to see the two interact with each other.  Milo's enthusiasm for his role and response to whistles and hand signals helped me forget I did not wear enough clothing for the weather.

It was simply a wonderful day to be alive and with like minded folks.

Milo the Swamp Hound in action!

A Man in the Woods (and sometimes in a rice field)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Reasons to be Afraid of the Dark

I used to tell myself (and still tell my kids)... "There is no reason to be afraid of the dark. There is nothing in the dark that isn't there in the light".  Of course, there ARE things that ARE there in the light which SHOULD genuinely scare you.  The dark only hides them better.

This past Saturday I had the great fortune to be in the woods before sun up, deer hunting.  The air was cool, the woods were quiet.  It really does not get much better than this.  As usual, I parked the 4-wheeler about 300 yards away from my stand and slowly, quietly walked in.  Usually, I'll place some scent or other attractants around the stand depending on the conditions, wind direction, etc.

This particular stand sits at a 3-way intersection.  After placing my gear in the stand, I walked north to place some scent in that direction and started to head east past the stand for a final scent marking.  The sun was just coming up and it was just light enough to see without a flashlight so I was "running dark", barely able to make out the path.  About 20 yards past the stand, another 30 yards ahead of me, I noticed something that just did not seem quite right.  I thought to myself... "I don't remember there being a big stump right there". 

And then the stump moved.

Quicker than a politician back-peddling on a lie, I did an abrupt aboutface and hauled my carcass into the safety of the stand.  A few minutes later, with enough light to see, the stump had morphed into several stumps.  There was a group of feral hogs milling around, eating acorns generally being pigs.  I reviewed the menu options, looking for a perfect sized meat-hog for the cooler when something else moved into view.  There, at the back of the sounder was a much bigger pig.  It was a boar.  A really big boar.

I mentally switched from meat haul to eradication mode.  The hogs moved a bit closer and finally, at about 30 yards, I had a clear shot of the boar.  Unfortunately, I forgot that a hog's cervical spine (i.e. neck) dips down when I aimed.  The bullet hit him high, paralyzing but not killing him.

I should have shot again immediately but I was, after all, deer hunting and did not want to make any additional noise.  He was down and bleeding.  I waited, assuming he would bleed out soon and it would all be over.  Some time later though, he would still occasionally move a leg or his head.

Brandishing the largest knife I owned, I slowly climbed down from the stand (with my rifle over my shoulder) and slowly crept up on the boar who was facing away from me.  I'd seen this done dozens of times before on the Discovery Channel...  I'd just slip up, insert the knife between his ribs and finish him off.  He was, after all, very near dead.  

Apparently, this boar was NOT a fan of the Discovery Channel and had not read the same script.  Instead of laying there nearly dead, when he heard my footsteps about about 8 feet, he whipped his head around, looked me in the eyes and LOUDLY started snapping his jaws and flashing his tusks, trying to scare me.

And I'm not too proud to admit... it worked.  

The last 3 sounds the boar heard were (i) urine running down my leg, (ii) my thumb nail breaking as I switched off the safety and (iii) the muzzle blast of a .270 at point blank range.  I'm pretty sure he did not hear the shaking that started afterwards.

I've not decided yet if I need to find a closer parking spot for future hunts.


A Man in the Woods

Friday, October 19, 2012

Why Some Bucks Don't Participate in the Rut

As mentioned previously, we live on the extreme outskirts of Houston, TX.  (My wife refers to it as the "country" but she also refers to a yellow, 1969 Corvette with black racing stripes as just "a car", proof she is not always right.)  Our neighborhood is surrounded by large tracts of undeveloped land so it is not uncommon to see deer in the neighborhood at night.

The other night I was driving home at dusk.  The headlights illuminated (lit-up if you are from East Texas) several deer feeding in a yard.  There were the usual groups of does, young fawns and a goofy looking young spike.  There were also 2 other deer.... 2 really big deer..... 2 large, good looking bucks with heads full of antlers and shoulders like linebackers.

One buck, the slightly thinner, leaner one (I'd guess to be 2.5 - 3.5 years old) was in unstoppable pursuit of a hot doe.  He simply would not leave her alone.  She was obviously at or near her "breeding window" and the buck was relentless.  (Yes, by the way, I stop, block traffic and watch these sorts of things when I can.)  He'd chase her across the street, back to the other deer, into another yard and then back across another street.  What was interesting is the obviously older, heavier, more mature buck was completely and totally uninterested in this doe.

What was so appealing that he would forgo the possibility of sex/breeding???

Acorns.  Lots and lots of acorns.

The old-man buck was sucking down acorns faster than Rosie O'Donnell can inhale a sleeve of Rolos.  He almost seemed panicked.

It then hit me how much animals and humans are alike.  Similar to dog-years, I think deer age the equivalent of 10 years per human year (i.e. deer years... not to be confused with deer miles from Lesson #8).  The 2.5 year old buck (human equivalent of a 25 year old testosterone driven male) was interested in one thing and it was not food.  The old-man buck, the equivalent of a 70 year old man with a bad back, was having no part of it and looked ready for a nap.

It seems the libido slowly but steadily transitions into the li-cheeto in deer, just like with us humans.


A Man in the Woods

Monday, October 8, 2012

Even more proof Pigs are Evil...

Authorities believe Oregon farmer eaten by his hogs

Carnivore = eater of meat
Herbivore = eater of plants
Omnivore = eater of anything not nailed down


A Man in the Woods

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Squirrels: The Next Big Game

In general, I'm into "big" game.  Its what I think about, its what I read, its what I dream about.  Fishing is fun as is bird hunting but a rod and reel or shotgun has never excited me nearly as much as a rifle.  Maybe it is the precision required to make a good, solid shot.  Maybe it is the appreciation for a finely tuned rifle or the adrenaline rush when you slip off the safety in the field after making a good stalk.  Perhaps this is why I like baseball better than football or basketball.  I find intense spikes in activity more enjoyable than lots of action...

There is a problem though.  With the exception of chasing the much hated feral hogs, big game hunting is a rather limited affair.  Depending on where you live and how you hunt, deer season is usually 2-3 months long.  If travel to another place is required, your window of opportunity might be narrowed down to a few weeks or even a few days with the associated budget being inversely proportional to the time in the field.  (If you are from East Texas, that means it gets more expensive even though you are spending less time doing it.)

Even though it IS hunting, most small game hunting has not interested me as much either.  I think part of this is the "body count" factor and lack of a way to compare animals or share a good tale.  Ask a deer or elk hunter how they did or what they saw and you'll hear comments about points, and racks and mass and scores of the bucks and bulls they saw or killed.  You might hear a comment like "I didn't see anything this morning but ol' Jim killed a dandy buck.  Looks like it'll score over 140".  Ask a bear hunter and they will talk about the size or weight of a bear or the score of the skull.  Ask a rabbit or a squirrel hunter how he did and he'll say something like... "Got 3".  Not exactly material for legendary story telling around a camp fire.

This is a shame.  The time has come to elevate the status of certain small game.  What is needed is a scoring system so non-big animals' attributes can be compared.  Like the Boone and Crockett system for scoring a buck deer, bull elk, bear, walrus or musk ox (yes, they have a scale for those too), what is sorely missing in the shooting world is a scoring system for squirrels.  (Yes, he said squirrels.)

As I've come to fully appreciate in just the past few years, and as un-politically correct as it is in some circles to shoot, kill and eat small furry things with big, cute eyes, squirrel hunting is an absolute blast.  When you limit yourself to head shots only, it is shockingly challenging to sneak up on and cleanly kill one.  Countless neck injuries have occurred over the years in hunters who spent 30 minutes looking up into the canopy of a tree for a squirrel that simply disappeared.  It is both exhilarating yet very, very frustrating.  AND, unlike most big game hunting, you can do it more often and will likely have several opportunities for shots over the course of a day or season.

So, what would the Nut and Chatter Squirrel Scoring system look like?  Perhaps a review of other established scoring systems is in order.  All following images are taken from various B&C publications:






Musk Ox

As should be painfully obvious, typical scoring systems focus on the head of the animal.  Being a trained biologist, I have a unique observation which may have been missed by some of my fellow woodsmen which I will share now:  "buck" squirrels do not typically have antlers, horns or teeth which usually set them apart from other male squirrels.

This leaves us with a conundrum (problem if you are from East Texas).

After careful anatomical observations of living and dead squirrels, it seems there is but one obvious choice.  While this might make some people uncomfortable, it seems the best, most consistent way to compare the trophy quality of buck squirrels would include testicular mass or circumference.

Yes, testes.., testicles.., "the boys".., cojones.., 'nads... along with a variety of other colorful names, testicles seem to be the unique characteristic on which we should focus.

Now I realize the fine folks at Boone and Crockett might need to have a professional artist update the following sketch but the diagram shows how the Nut and Chatter scale works.

A = length of buck squirrel, forehead to tip of tail (mm*)
B = length of head, behind the ears to the tip of the nose (mm)
C = testicular circumference (mm)

A + B + C = your squirrel's Nut and Chatter score

*Yes, I know millimeters are a sissy way to measure anything except some bullet diameters but it will allow for a combined manly score in the hundreds versus in the teens.

A big squirrel might be 16 inches or ~400mm long, have a head length of 80mm and a testicular circumference of 80mm and would generate a score over 550.  A monster would exceed 600.  I suggest a score of 530 to be considered a "book" (record book) squirrel.

So now, a squirrel hunter does not have to hang his head in shame or answer "Got 3" to the inevitable question about his day in the field, he can proudly tell a story leading up to the taking of his trophy.

"There I was, sneaking along the edge of Cedar Creek... when I heard him.  First it was a little scurrying in the leaves but then I could literally feel his scampering on the forest floor.  I eased a bit closer and slid the safety off my rifle, not knowing what to expect.  When I peeked around this gigantic live oak... there he was.. ol' Bushy, legend of the woods.  This squirrel had out foxed me for 3 years now but today the tide was about to turn.  I continued my stalk until I was about 40 yards away.  His head snapped in my direction and for several moments, I thought I was busted.  Frozen in mid-step, sweat trickled down my nose.  A mosquito landed, filled her tank and took off in a stupor but I dared not move.  The minutes crawled by before Bushy turned back to his digging.  Through a small opening in the brush, I had a tight, unobstructed window and threaded a 22 grain bullet home.  I knew he was big but when I picked him up, I started shaking.  I honestly think he'll go 600... maybe 610."

A Man in the Woods

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Another Reason to Hate Feral Hogs

Reason #643 of Why Feral Hogs are a Menace to Society

That just ain't right...


A Man in the Woods

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Urination in the Woods

As I've written before, my wife and I are blessed with 3 beautiful children.  One of the many benefits of having children, besides the love and semi-reluctant help with chores around the house, is they are highly entertaining.

My 7-year old daughter is a perfect example.  At least once a week, she will share some pearl of wisdom or unique observation which is often very wise but more frequently, hilarious.  This seems to stem from limited knowledge, vocabulary or life experiences so she just pieces together what she can and just "goes with it".

This past weekend, she and I were in the woods for some quality father-daughter time involving food plots, protein feeders, tripod stands, dead trees and chiggers.  After we loaded up materials and implements of destruction but before we started riding the 4 wheeler, I told her I needed to go the bathroom.  (Helpful Hunter Hint:  Full bladders and 4.4 mile rides through the woods are a bad combination.)  As required on page 117 in The Deer Camp Etiquette Manual, I proceeded a short distance in front of the truck away from the other people to a small brush pile to relieve myself before the ride.  The short but telling conversation which took place is typical of exchanges in our house.

Dad:  "Alright, looks like we are ready.  I'm going to go to the bathroom before we leave."

(Dad walks to front of truck to brush pile)

7-year old (climbing into the back of truck for absolutely no reason other than it is there):  "OK"

(soothing sound of tricking water and urological relief...... several seconds pass)

7-year old (yelling from back of truck):  "Dad, I have a napkin if you need it."

Dad (smiling to himself):  "That's OK honey.  Boys don't need one like little girls."

7-years old (irritated that her dad is somehow thick and doesn't 'get it'):  "No Dad!... in case you get a drop on your finger."

As is often the case, I'm not sure why but this made me feel stupid.

A Man in the Woods

Friday, July 20, 2012

Feral Hogs: Scourge of the Forest

(Alternative Title:  Shoot 'em All)
There are a number of reasons I hunt yet generally despise feral hogs.  On the positive side, they are quite tasty if of the right size and well prepared.  Unfortunately, the "negative" side of the equation is long and ugly.

Hog damage to a field
Being omnivores, they eat just about anything.  Most of the time, they simply tear up the ground eating roots and grubs in addition to causing millions of dollars in crop damage each year.  They very actively compete with other native species for hard and soft masts crops (acorns, fruits, ...)  Feral hogs have wiped out turkey and quail populations in many places since these birds nest on the ground.  Stomach content surveys show an individual hog might eat dozens of frogs, toads and snakes in just a few days.  Talk about an impact on a wetlands ecosystem.

Unfortunately, there is increasing evidence of them actively predating on other small mammals too.  I've heard stories of people witnessing hogs chasing a rabbit and then digging it out of a burrow and eating it.  You could imagine a pack of hogs prowling a field where lambs or other small creatures are beginning to drop.  Coyotes might be the least of the concerns.

Recently, I received the following picture from a friend.  It shows a feral hog carrying a very dead whitetail fawn in its mouth.

I did a bit of research and found the following series of photos.  There were several game-cam photos of a doe giving birth right in front of the camera.  Very cool. The fawn is clearly seen at 3:23AM.  ~ 45 minutes later, he would be dead.

A couple of the neighborhood thugs show up...

And nature's cleaning crew cleans up what is left.

Source for above photos:

Apparently, the rancher found a small patch of fawn skin and part of the skull.

I showed the first photo to my wife and voiced my general disgust / hatred for these animals.  She asked if I thought it was ironic that I personally have no issues with killing a deer myself but get angry with a feral hog doing the same thing.

No.... as a matter of fact, I don't see any irony in this at all.  I learn of or see a deer that was killed by coyotes (a native species), it makes me think of the circle of life and start humming the theme song from The Lion King.  I see evidence of a hog doing the same thing and it makes me mad.   They are not native and do a great deal to upset the balance of things.

Now... if the hogs start only killing deer of a certain age, at a certain time of the year and after buying a hunting license and taking a hunter education course, we can talk…

A Man in the Woods

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

71-Year Old Guy, 2 : Gutless Thugs, 0

I love this video.  While the old-guy would probably do better with a two-handed grip, he did succeed in stopping the situation.  

There are several life lessons here for thugs:

1.  People carry guns.
2.  In general, people who carry guns know how to use them.
2.  Like in rock-paper-scissors, pistol beats baseball bat every time.
3.  Your thug running buddy (i.e. homie) WILL, in fact, run you over while trying to get out of the door at the same time you are while an old guy with a half-empty clip is coming your way.

A Man in the Woods

Friday, July 6, 2012

Man Impales Himself on Buffalo Horn

Once upon a time, when I was around 9 or 10 years old, my family was visiting a state or federal park near Meers, Oklahoma.  (How I can remember that and not the names of my kids at times is beyond me.  I also remember the hamburgers were really, really good and about the size of a dinner plate.  4 people had to split one.... but I digress).

This park was known for having the largest, free roaming buffalo herd (at the time).  As luck would have it, the buffalo were conveniently found in the middle of a prairie dog "town" which was next to a large parking area.  There were dozens of people milling around the parking lot looking at the buffalo with a few venturing out into the flea ba... errr... I mean prairie dog field (which was 100s of acres in size).

I was desperately trying to get a good look at a prairie dog and contract bubonic plague when all of a sudden, there was a huge commotion.  There were people yelling, people running, dust flying, and people, well... one person, flying.

The flying lady came down hard  and the nearby photographer helped her limp to the parking lot.  She had been gored through the thigh.  (Perhaps I now realize why I remember all the details!)

Apparently, she and the photographer had ventured into the buffalo-containing field to take some photos of the beasts.  I can't image the thought process or conversation which took place but I assume it was something like the following:

Bob (with his camera):  Let's get you standing in front of the herd with the hills in the background...  
Susie:  Hey, hold on.  There's a baby buffalo over there.  Isn't it cute?  Follow me.
Bob:  Sure thing.  How could this go wrong?  This is gonna make a great Christmas card photo.
Susie:  Man, these things smell. 
(Susie reaches out and literally puts her hand on the buffalo calf.  THIS part actually happened!!!)
Bob:  That is great.  Smile.  Wait a second... darn lens cover... just a little closer...OK, ready..1...2...
Mama Buffalo (weighing in at a lean 1,400lbs in full stride):  AUUURRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!
(bone-jarring thud; fade to black)
Yes, this lady not only approached but touched a buffalo calf... a wild buffalo calf with its wild, protective, buffalo mother within goring distance.  The stupidity of this act still shocks me today and made a big impression on me as a small child.

I was reminded of this entire episode when a friend sent me a link to a story entitled "Tourist gored, flung by bison in Yellowstone National Park", the text of which is found below:

Officials in Yellowstone National Park say a Massachusetts man was gored by a bull bison that threw him 10 feet in the air and then pinned him to the ground. 
The man, who is in his mid-50s, suffered a broken collarbone, shoulder blade, several ribs and a groin injury in Saturday's encounter near the Norris campground. He was airlifted to an Idaho Falls, Idaho hospital and is expected to recover. His name was not released.
Park officials say the man was not taunting the animal, but let the bull approach within a few feet of where he was sitting.
Park rules require visitors to stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards away from all other animals. If an animal approaches, it is the visitor's responsibility to move a safe distance away.
This make me wonder if the animals know the "Park Rules" too?  (FYI, a bear or wolf could be on top of you with a few seconds starting flat-footed at 100 yards.  You'd barely have time to scream.)

One word comes to mind to describe people who do not appreciate wild animals for what they are.... wild:    completeandtotalmoron.

A Man in the Woods

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Helpful Hunter Hint: Food Preparation Secrets

When preparing the succulent, marinaded, seared backstraps from a free-range, protein-fed pig (i.e. a feral hog) for your family you really, really, really need to take your time in washing the meat after it has been brought in from the field.  While useful when made into paint brushes, "pig bristles" do not go well with mashed potatoes (but might be useful as a toothpick after the fact).

A Man in the Woods

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Helpful Hunter Hint: Pre-flight your 4 Wheeler before Take-off

When you pick up your 2005 Honda Rancher ATV (that has a parts fetish) from the mechanic and leave it locked inside your truck's bed overnight so you can get an early start headed to the woods the following morning, UNLOCK IT before backing down the ramp.

If you don't, the fillings in your teeth may become loose when the mechanical limitations of the cable are tested.
I'm just sayin'....

A Man in the Woods

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hunting with Craig Boddington

A friend and I had a chat the other day about.... shocker.... hunting.  I made some comment about how much I enjoyed Craig Boddington's articles and that he seemed pretty down-to-earth considering he might be the coolest guy on the planet.  (I'll be the first to admit, I might have a man-crush on him.)

It seems most writers are not willing or comfortable talking about poor judgement, missed shots, getting buck-fever or getting scared... but Craig is more than willing to do so.

The conversation led to us sorta laughing about how it would actually be hard to share a hunting camp with him since he would ALWAYS have a cooler, better, or more danger-filled story than anyone else around the camp fire.  No, its never about a competition but it would be challenging to want to share anything since you are sitting right there next to CRAIG BODDINGTON!!!!  I could just see it now:

You have a story about a really nice shot you made on a squirrel last Fall.  He has a story about an Asiatic jungle cat. Your buddy tells a story about twisting an ankle on an elk hunt that really hurt.  Craig shares a story about killing a Marco Polo sheep while nursing a broken leg.  You talk about the time a few years back you were so cold and shaking so hard that you were not sure you could shoot even if you had to.  Craig tells a tale about killing a musk ox and having to sleep in its body cavity that night so as not to freeze to death.

You can imagine how long this would go on before it got really, really quiet...

A Man in the Woods

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gender Specific Views of "Hunting Profits"

As I've mentioned many times before, my wife is one of the smartest people I know.  She works in finance at a large software company and is generally pretty "good" with all that fancy math and "edumacation" we both acquired in the 1990s.

She is brutally familiar with all things related to Gross Profits, Gross Margins, Operating Income, Net Income, Run Rates, Software Cap, Revenue Recognition, Unwinding off the balance sheet, etc.  What she is NOT familiar with is the extremely important financial concept of Net Hunting Profits.

We have always kept different checking and savings accounts.  This was not by design but is just "the way" our marriage evolved in the early years and it has worked for 19 years so far.  She has bills and responsibilities as do I.  Yes, we considering everything "our money" and are listed on each other's accounts but rarely talk about the nitty gritty details.  We each have a small about of "fun money" built into the budget and never (OK, rarely) question the other on personal purchases in this category.

For example, at the end of last year I bought and later sold an older, used .22 magnum rifle through  This rifle was bought for ~$190 and later sold for ~$230.  The details are not important.  All the dear reader needs to know is it was bought for $X and later sold for something greater than $X generating a Net Hunting Profit of ~$40 in the process.  For no real reason, this was not discussed and never really came up in everyday conversations around the house.  She has never asked me about rifles in the past; I never ask her about shoes.  Life was good.  Life was simple.  Life was nice and compartmentalized.  I simply considered this Net Hunting Profit as an extension of the "fun money" budget for Larry.  How could it be viewed any differently?

Recently, my buddy and I who purchased a small piece of land 8-9 years ago, sold it.  While this particular transaction would not be considered giant in anyone's book, the net proceeds were a bit more than $40.  Nothing life changing but a nice "chunk of change".

I viewed the "hunting land proceeds" in the EXACT same light as the rifle transaction from just a few shorts months ago.  I was the one who made payments on the land.  I was the one who helped "improve" the property.  As a matter of fact, she never once set foot on the property having little desire to spend quality time getting eaten alive by chiggers and mosquitoes or freezing to death.  We paid $X, sold it for something greater than $X and had generated some modest Net Hunting Profit.  Exactly like the rifle sale from months before.

But as the transaction neared completion, she, like a power-hungry Democrat wanting to spend money faster than it comes in the door, started to talk about non-hunting uses of the Net Hunting Profits.  What...?  But...?  How could this be?  These are HUNTING Profits.  It actually includes the word in the NAME!!!  She started talking about responsible uses like college educations, putting it in the bank or paying down on the house.  I was contemplating equally responsible uses such as a caribou or mountain goat hunt or seeding a trip to Africa.

Upon the realization of our incompatible plans for the funds, a variety of spirited discussions ensued.  As you can image, I did not fare too well being outgunned mentally, verbally and intellectually.

I'm currently exploring selling my weaker kidney to the highest bidder to generate Net Africa Funds, a term I plan to MUCH more thoroughly define upfront before she uses some of her fancy mind-control tricks like 'reason' and 'logic' on me.


A Man in the Woods (and not in Africa.... yet  ;-)   )

Friday, May 4, 2012

Helpful Hunter Hint: Mirrors

Helpful Hunter Hint #11:

If you are driving to the woods with a rearview-mirror-blocking-4 wheeler in the back of your truck to do a bit of hunting before some work on a food plot and you back up to give an 18 wheeler more room to make his turn, CHECK YOUR SIDE MIRRORS before putting your truck in reverse and hitting the gas.  The lady driving the Lexus behind you might appreciate it.

I'm happy to report my 2" trailer ball was unhurt.

A Man in the Woods

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Native Peoples of the Texas Gulf Coast

One of the lesser known coastal tribes, the Surfsidias subsisted on turtle eggs, raw oysters, seaweed and juice boxes.  

A Man in the Woods (and sometimes on the beach)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

If you are fat, you better be quick...

Wild Water Buffalo Charges Hunter While Spear Hunting

Seriously, this dude is brave (and pretty quick).

A Man in the Woods

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hunter Humor #71

Now, if we could just teach feral hogs to read....

A Man in the Woods

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A note from our Sponsor

Some loyal readers have pondered "Where has the Man in the Woods been lately? Have you given up hunting? Taken up knitting? Or worse, become a metrosexual?

No, just busy with a new, shockingly interesting job.

There are dozens of ideas and pending posts around the corner....I promise. I'm particularly excited about "How to Put in a Food Plot and acquire Malaria in 3 Easy Steps" and "How to Tell the Difference between Sticks used for Kindling and a Copperhead".

A Man in the Woods

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Helpful Hunter Hint: Food Plots and Snakes

When you are clearing brush, cutting down / hauling off dead trees and assorted forest floor debris in preparation of putting in a WICKED food plot / persimmon tree farm that is technically too big for your limited time and manual labor skills, be VERY aware that gigantic snakes might in fact be living in one of the logs you have driven over 112 times.

This guy snuck up behind me for one final scare before heading home.  (The oak behind him is at least 2' in diameter.)

A Man in the Woods

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to Complain for Approximately $250 per Hour

Loyal readers of A Man in the Woods might find it shocking but I can be, on the rarest of occasions,  a bit sarcastic.  Yes, yes, I know, hard to believe but it is true.

The following is an exchange which took place in the month of November with a customer service representative at Toto Toilets.  "Toilets" you might ask?  How is this related to A Man in the Woods?  Why is this not a post on "how to cook a crow" or some other typical nonsense?

I'm not entirely sure... but when my choices on a weekend are to either (1) blow $540 and kill an entire day removing and replacing previously perfectly functioning commodes, (2) pay a plumber even more to do the same or (3) do something fun with my family; head to the woods with a rifle; or blow $540 on a new rifle, I'll choose Door #3 each time.

The exchange is generally self-contained and it is only provided for your reading pleasure and entertainment.  I have a great deal of respect for Toto and how they handled this situtation since I was fully expecting to be told to go "pound sand".  Assuming the problems I had with their products were the results of a "bad batch", I'd definitely buy their products again.  Here we go...

SUBJECT:  Tale of the Three Cracked Tanks

Hello Toto,

I wish I had more positive news to share with you.  Unfortunately, I'm a shockingly displeased customer.

Long story short:

Our house is ~8 years old.  It has 4 toilets.  Within the past year, three (3) of the tanks on our Toto toilets have cracked.  All on the left side, all resulting in water leaking.

The first one (toilet #1) cracked about a year ago.  I woke up to the soothing sounds of rushing water.  Great if you are in a Japanese garden, not so great if it is coming from the second story, through the ceiling and out a light fixture.  I assumed it was some weird fluke.  Perhaps one of the kids dropped the lid or did something stupid.  Oh the joys of home ownership.

I now realize there is a problem.

This past Saturday morning, I woke up and thought I heard dripping water.  On investigation, I discovered the floor around a toilet (#2) was very wet.  I closed the valve and started to inspect it.  Like the tank from last year, it was the same general hairline crack on the left side of the tank.  This one started at the top left, ran down through the hole where the handle is installed, and continued around the tank to the back, left corner.  I became irritated, cleaned up the mess and went back to bed.

While planning a trip to the local home improvement store, my wife reminded me about a rarely used toilet upstairs which a few months back started to leak.  This restroom is dark and rarely used so I simply turned off the valve and told the family not to use it until I can look at the hose or whatever is leaking.  Upon inspection of the toilet (#3) with a flashlight to see what parts I needed, I discovered its tank too was broken with a long, hairline crack on the left side.

3 Toto toilets, all the same model, all breaking within 12 months of each other.  What are the chances?  One is a fluke but three indicates to me a design or manufacturing problem.

Toilet #1 was replaced with a Kohler model and Replacement Kohler Toilets are now at home and will be installed in the next few days.  What recourse do I have?  My strong preference would be for you to reimburse me for the three (3) broken toilets to the tune of ~$540 (I will not charge for my time).  I'd be perfectly fine if the internal guts or values needed replacement but the TANK, a non-moving, inert part, is a problem.

We live near Houston, TX.  We rarely get freezing temperatures and the coldest the inside of the house has been since it was built was maybe 60 degrees.  Even if the tanks had frozen in years past, the problem would have shown itself sooner.

I have pictures of toilets #2 and #3 if it matters or you care.  Warranty periods, legalese, etc. aside, do you stand by your products or not?

Thank you for hearing me out.  I look forward to learning your thoughts and response.

Larry Xxxxx


Case 211411:  Tale of Three Cracked Tanks

Dear Customer,

Thank you for your inquiry.  We have received your email.  A customer service representative will contact you shortly to resolve your issue.

It is our goal to respond to all questions within one business day.  If you do not receive a response to your inquiry, please check your email spam filter.  If our reply includes any attachments, your spam filter may be blocking them.

Thank you,

Customer Service Department
Service Division

“Building our Brand through Outstanding Service"


Case  211411:  Tale of Three Cracked Tanks

Good Day,

Thank you for contacting TOTO USA.

Sorry to hear about such a bad experience with TOTO Toilets. If you have your original invoice we can definitely do something as replace the tank as part of the warranty.


Xxxx Xxxx
Technical Support Representative

"Building our Brand through Outstanding Service"


Thank you for the note Xxxx.  Unfortunately, it is not what I was hoping to hear.

We are the second owners of the house so no... of course we don't have the original receipts or receipt.  Given my 41 years of toilet use and the fact not one tank has ever broken for any reason in the ~15,000 days I've been around them, this is not the sort of paperwork I tend to keep anyway.  Birth certificates, social security cards, 401k statements, passports, toilet purchase receipts?  Are you serious?  Is this how Toto tpically responds to these types inquiries knowing that the average toilet-using American does not have OCD and copies of all purchases of porcelain fixtures in their house?

I can absolutely certify, represent and warrant that (i) I am in possession of said defective toilets, (ii) neither I nor a family member stole them, (iii) all three broke, (iv) I had nothing to do with the failure of the tanks and (v) each leaked in my house like a puppy with a urinary tract infection.

So, short of fabricating paperwork with my budding photoshop skills, what are my options?

Do I need to start working on new side project?  or  (I'm still torn between the URLs)

Do I need to post product reviews on Amazon and

A co-worker is in the middle of a significant remodel of her house.  Just last week she mentioned Toto toilets and that they are top of the line.  Last week, I told her we had them and were generally quite happy.  This week, I suggested she NOT go with a Toto but a 5 gallon bucket since it will likely perform better in their upgraded bathrooms.  Needless to say, she is rethinking her toilet purchasing decisions.

While I suspect your bonus will not be affected by one disgruntled customer and the missed sales of 2 additional toilets this quarter but, to me, this is much bigger than that.

Will Toto make good on and stand behind their products?

Again, thank you for your time.

Larry Xxxxx

Can you please send me pictures of the toilets?

Technical Support Representative

"Building our Brand through Outstanding Service"

Hello Xxxx,

Thank you for your time with this.

Attached is a PDF with pictures of broken toilets #2 and #3.

Please let me know the next steps in the process.  I do not have pictures of toilet #1 which, as noted earlier, cracked on the left side of the tank but on the rear corner.  I assumed that was a fluke but with 3/4th of the toilets having the same issue, there is another problem.

Thank you again.

Larry Xxxxx


Does the crack wrap all the way around and through the mounting bolts as well on all three tanks?


Technical Support Representative

"Building our Brand through Outstanding Service"


Toilet #1 (now in a landfill from a year ago) --> definitely not. I had to remove the tank to carry out the two pieces.  That crack was in the back, left corner straight down about 75% of the way.  It did not affect the mounting bolts / holes.

I'll check on #2 and #3 tonight when I'm home.

Just to make sure, you are asking about the mounting bolts between the tank and the bowl and NOT the bolts holding the bowl to the floor, correct?

Larry Xxxxx

Correct only from the tank area.


Technical Support Representative

"Building our Brand through Outstanding Service"

Good Afternoon Larry,

In regards to your case, Case#211411. We are going to go ahead and gladly reimburse you $540.00 for your TOTO toilets. Please submit the following information so we may process the case completely.

Phone Number

Best Regards,

Xxxxx Xxxxx
Technical Support


I sincerely thank you and Toto for taking care of this and your customers.  Now I've got to think about my alternative website...  www.totototallyrocks!!!.com

Seriously, I greatly, sincerely appreciate it.

Larry Xxxxx


A few weeks later, a check showed up at the house.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement.

A Man in the Woods

Sunday, February 5, 2012

And THIS Little Piggy took a 150 grain Bullet Through the Shoulders!

Since they had nothing better to do, the Texas Legislature recently passed laws allowing "feral hog hunting from helicopters".  While this does not quality as "hunting" in my book, it is cool nonetheless since it involves (a) guns and (b) helicopters.  Plus, it is probably one of the more effective ways of dealing with the feral hog problem.  (See cool video below)

Before anyone gets all judgmental on the Man in the Woods, feral hogs, whether you care to admit it or not, are literally a plague in Texas and other parts of the country.  They cause millions in crop damage, have decimated the native turkey and quail populations in many areas (these birds nest on the ground), eats tons of native frogs, toads, and snakes and compete aggressively for food with deer and other native species.  This is the root of such insults as "You are as ugly as a hog" or "You eat like a pig" or "You are as useless as teats on a boar".  

It has been stated that feral hogs are basically four-legged fire ants that breed like rabbits.  Most rural places either HAVE a feral hog problem or WILL HAVE a feral hog problem.

While exceedingly fun and thrilling to still-hunt or spot-and-stalk them, individual hunters simply cannot put a dent in their population growth.  Massive trapping and aerial cropping programs can help but this is a war that cannot be won, just managed.  Where I hunt, all are shot on sight for the reasons listed above.

Warning, the video below might bother some folks but if you are one of those folks, you probably should not read this blog.  'nough said.  It is long but worth watching when you have time

For an excellent overview of the feral hog problem in Texas, please see the Texas Parks and Wildlife brochure, The Feral Hog in Texas.

A Man in the Woods

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Democrat, A Republican and a Coyote Walk into a Bar...

The tale found on the following link would be funny if it were not so true.

Texas, California, and the Tale of the Coyote

For the record, Gov. Perry used a .380 ACP and not a .45, although both would be fine coyote medicine.

Equally hilarious is Ruger quickly released a "Coyote Special" version of this pistol used by Perry.   

And is engraved with "A True Texan" on the other side of the slide...