Monday, June 24, 2013

Sometimes you just need to "Go with the flow" when fishing

Since she has an intense interest in fishing, I recently spent some time on the water with my blood-thirsty 8-year old.  I'm still not entirely sure who learned more on the trip.

Some family friends of ours live on Lake Livingston in East Texas.  (Yes, you CAN hear banjos playing from their back porch.)  They are friends with a very knowledgeable white bass and catfish guide and set up a morning trip for the four of us.

Bob and Cathy are very old and very experienced with all things rods-and-reels.  I'm OK on the fishing front but my 8-year old daughter does not have a great deal of experience to draw upon.  We all helped her from time to time and gave her some pointers but our guide Lee was GREAT in helping her with the rod, handling the fish and generally coaching.

We were jigging which is, in my opinion, a semi-boring but certainly productive way to fish.  The general technique was to let the jig hit the bottom, quickly jerk it up a foot or two and then let it gently fall.  You'd often get hits on the fall and you needed to pay attention to feel the bite.

Jill, NOT known for her lengthy attention span or willingness to follow rules or suggestions, stuck with the program for about 30 minutes.  I'd remind her from time to time she was jerking the rod too much and Lee was as patient as he could be in offering her consistent, positive advice.

But the odd thing was, Jill, with her modified, epileptic seizure-like uncoordinated flailing which included spontaneous bird watching, laughing, trash-talking, testing the tensile strength of her gear and jerking her jig anywhere from 1.2 inches to 8-12 feet off the bottom, started catching fish.

A lot of fish.

At first I was thinking, oh sure, anyone gets lucky every now and then.  But on her 12th gigantic white bass, I was beginning to think her "technique" was more valid than most.  (As an aside, few things are as infuriating as fishing in the same water with the same equipment with the same lure and getting smoked by an 8-year old!)

So, after a while, instead of reminding her to "do what daddy or Mr. Lee was doing", I simply shut up and tried to emulate the child.

There is a lesson in there somewhere, even if I don't care to acknowledge it.

Needless to say, a good time was had by all and we have plans for another trip later this Fall.

I cannot say enough nice things about Loy and Lee Deason at LLD Lake Livingston Guide Service.  They were great and treated Jill like a queen.  Thank you again guys!


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

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Girl and her Gun

My youngest has a continued and growing interest in the woods, hunting, and spending time with good ol' dad.  She is always up for going on a hike, working on a deer stand, learning about nature or shooting at the rifle range.

Unfortunately, she comes from a long line of Lilliputians and, like her mom and dad, is height-challenged.  As a result, even the smallest rifle I own is far too big for her 8 year old, 51lb frame.  To shoot this Marlin .22, she had to put the butt under her arm and practically hold her head sideways to see through the scope.

Since no one should have to suffer like this when it comes to shooting, Jill received, for MY birthday, her very own rifle -- a Savage Rascal, a 2.5lb, 16" barrel, 31" long, .22LR single shot.  While Savage unfortunately makes this rifle in 7 horrifically garish colors, I went with the only viable choice, the wooden stock.

I asked her to open the gun case while I got some other supplies.  She walked around the end of the truck with a look of surprise on her face, and asked why the rifle had a bow on it.  When she realized it was for her, I thought her face would crack she was smiling so hard.

She is still learning and will not be turned loose with it for some time but just having a stock that comes close to fitting her makes a huge difference.

After our shooting session and on the drive home, I asked her is she liked it.  She proclaimed, "If this rifle was a person, I'd marry it".

I guess it doesn't get much better than that.

A Man in the Woods

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Finding Beauty in Simple Things

It usually takes me a bit of time to transition into "hunter-mode" from "guy-in-a-truck-drinking-coffee" mode.

I was recently hunting on an uncharacteristically foggy morning.  As I slowly moved down a path along the edge of the woods, it dawned on me that I had been carefully stepping over and around some brilliant little gems randomly scattered on the ground.

Some sort of funnel-web type spiders had spun webs that night and each one was literally drenched in dew, looking like large snowflakes.  They were simply beautiful.

A Man in the Woods

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

When Idiots Attack

Not that is is ever funny when someone dies but I think 99.7% of the people who read A Man in the Woods (Voted the #1 blog by people named Larry) simply like it when people receive swift justice.

Below is a video of a guy minding his own business and a thug.

Since there is no audio, I thought I'd add dialog /director's notes as I suspect how this little incident when down.

0:02  (Guy, walking towards camera, with purpose but not in a hurry)

0:16  (Guy leaves building through door to return to vehicle only to remember he did not lock the door)  "Darn it" (muttered under breath to no one in particular)

0:28 (thug #1 and thug #2 pull up on street; Guy might suspect there is a problem and returns to vehicle)

0:34  (thug#1 makes his appearance; observant Guy probably sees him in the mirror)

0:36 (Guy, being a man of action, sticks his hand out the window, buying himself precious time while he retrieves his favorite concealed carry piece he affectionately refers to as "Minerva")

0:37 (unthwarted, thug #1 continues attack, brandishing a pistol)  "GIMMAYOWALLET"

0:38 (thug #2 enters scene to help thug #1)

0:39  BAM! (note dust on wall as bullet continues through thug #1's sternum, aorta and right lung taking out  vertebrae T5 and T6)

0:39.2 (thug #2 spontaneously urinates just a bit)

0:39.3 (thug #2 does exactly one jumping jack)

0:39.5  BAM! (Guy fires an insurance shot just in case but misses, hitting wall; it was not needed since thug #1 does not yet know he is in fact, dead)

0:41 (thug #1 is down, hard.  At least it was quick, much better the lingering)

0:45  (Guy exits vehicle cautiously and approaches the soon-to-be-body)

1:11 (perplexed idiot in street almost gets hit by bus)

1:15 (Guy kicks gun out of the way but not too far since the thug #1 is pretty much dead)

1:28 (Guy starts to retrieve phone to call his wife with the "I'm gonna be a little late tonight" call)


A Man who sometimes is on the Street and hopes his reactions are as quick as Guy in the event the excrement hits the fan but Who Would Rather be in the Woods

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Calling all Coyotes

I've tried my hand recently at calling coyotes.  Part of the appeal is the challenge of doing it and part of it is to save a few fawns (an activity which has kept me busy lately).

After watching countless redneck videos on YouTube, I concluded this would be a slam dunk.  Set up in a likely coyote-infested area, blow on a call which mimics the sound of a hurt fawn or a rabbit being interrogated in a Turkish prison with a blow torch and pipe wrench, wait a few minutes, shoot a coyote and return home.  Simple.

What the YouTube amateur videographers don't show is the countless hours of boredom, changing wind directions, blown set ups and educated (edumacated if you are from East Texas) coyotes who have heard that particular call a time or two.

On my VERY first true predator calling outing where the expressed goal was to call in a coyote close enough to shoot, I blew on a "distressed fawn" call will the zeal and enthusiasm of a sugared-up, hyperactive child with a new trumpet.  I honestly think this performance was worthy of an Oscar.

I'd blow a few minutes until I was about to hyperventilate and my face transitioned to a shade of boysenberry, wait 10-15 minutes and then repeat the performance.

Just about the time I was concluding (i) this activity stinks and (ii) there are no longer any coyotes in Brazoria country Texas, I saw it.  Slinking along, looking at my high tech game attractant (i.e. small piece of cardboard on a string fluttering in the breeze to pull them into the area AND take any attention off of me), was a real live coyote.  It was beautiful in a coyote sort of way.  Sleek dog shaped body with a reddish undercoat.  This predator calling thing actually works!

I eased off of my little chair, slipped the safety off of my favorite rifle, firmly positioned the bipod legs and my butt on the ground and proceeded to miss an easy 125 yard lay-up shot!!!!!

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHH!  How can I be so stupid?  Why did I rush the shot?  Why did I not wait for a better broadside shot?  Why did I jerk the trigger instead of gentle squeezing it like I've done 1,000+ times before?

Needless to say, the unhurt coyote put it in high gear (skedaddled for the East Texans) and left the scene.  Other calling activities in other locations that day were uneventful.

A week later, I tried my hand again in the same general area, this time with an electronic caller (an OLD electronic caller with tapes, borrowed from a friend who still reads newspapers on actual paper).  The only thing I managed to attract this time were mosquitoes and a shockingly stupid black cow with a species identity disorder.  The quest continues.


A Coyoteless Man in the Woods

Monday, June 3, 2013

Dawn of the Fawn

This past Saturday I (i) helped a friend move some household items near Austin, TX and (ii) tried as hard as I could to destroy the transmission in my truck while towing an overloaded trailer full of rocks and scorpions back to Houston.  How we encountered more uphills than downhills on the way back is beyond me but the 182,000 miles-old truck showed its age a few times.

Upon arrival at the Austin-area house, one of the kids announced "there is a baby deer in the back yard".  Assuming a bad joke, there was, in fact, a fawn in the back yard.  The yard was surrounded by a chain link fence and the little fawn had, somehow, found a small crack or opening through the fence.

We went out to investigate only to discover the fawn was strung out on crack and would not listen to any sort of reason.  We tried to get it to calm down while opening the back gate so it could get out.  It proceeded to run, full tilt, into the chain link fence at least a dozen times.  It was obviously confused and looking for a gap or hole to get through.  Unfortunately, to a less-than-a-week old fawn, fence posts and corners look like gaps and it proceeded to careen off a fence post and get its face literally jammed between the fencing and post where it proceeded to bawl uncontrollably.  I should have grabbed it then and there.

After several near misses of it actually running out of the yard on its own, we grew more and more concerned it was going to break its neck, a leg or jaw if this kept up much more.  I slowly cornered it and using my hat to both block its vision and partially knock it out due to head-sweat stench, I was able to get my hands on its neck and place it outside the gate.  It was panting heavily but after a few seconds, bolted off, hopefully to hide until mom came along to take it to some place less troublesome.

Before I get hate-mail, YES, I know you are not supposed to touch baby animals or intervene but we figured a little bit of human scent is better than a broken neck.

Fawn, really, really scared.
Fawn, running close to the speed of sound, .78 seconds before colliding with a chain link fence

Me, finally getting my hands on the little bugger!

Me, afraid I'd have my gonads kicked off if I did not hold the fawn away from my body.
Funny how most hunters I know would go to extremes to save a deer in a similar situation and then, in a few short years, be willing to spend immeasurable time, expense and discomfort to kill it on other terms....


A Man in the Woods