In the sweltering heat of the past week, I’ve taken a cue from the fish and wildlife I write about and been moving during the “cooler” hours of the morning and again at sunset. My outdoor adventures have been a bit limited. Oh, I joined my friend, Brandon Sargent, for a couple of hours of early morning white bass “catch.” The fish were biting aggressively and it didn’t take long to use half ounce slabs of lead to put a couple of boundaries on the ice. I don’t think I saw any more fish on sonar, the bottom 10 feet of the water column in 22 feet of water was literally stacked with aggressive biting fish that then became the centerpiece of a big fish fry at the end of the afternoon. I ventured out around 8:00 pm one night to sit by one of my corn feeders near home, expecting a pig and half hoping none would show up. It would have been very hot to butcher a pig.
I left the hunt around 9:30 pm, about thirty minutes after dark. It’s a good bet that if I’d stayed out a little longer, I could have put more fresh pork in the freezer, but between the mosquitoes and the sweat, I began to wonder if a sane man was doing what he was doing and headed over. home for a while. AC
With few real outdoor activities to share this week, I thought I’d share a couple of fun facts from my past.
WILD PIGS WITH GATORS: There was a time about 30 years ago, just about this time of year, when I decided to go on a pig hunt alone in Jack County. He was shooting a Contender single-shot pistol chambered in 7-30 Waters. The owner of the ranch was going on vacation that afternoon and gave me the place. We drove to a pond where pigs had been going into the water just before dark and there was a tree about 80 yards from the water’s edge. There were three alligators that inhabited the pond and my friend regularly fed them the “clippings” of the animals taken in his place. As he began to dump the animal’s remains into the water, I noticed three alligators swimming near the surface toward their lunch. It doesn’t take long for a 10-foot alligator to eat, and before long, the alligators disappeared into the murky depths. My friend said goodbye and headed back to the ranch house to pack up his family and hit the road for their vacation. I had the whole place to myself and did a little fishing in the pond to kill a couple of hours before starting the tree vigil. Not a sign of an alligator. I figured they were digesting somewhere in the reeds off the coast.
About 45 minutes before sunset, a small 100 pound warthog came out of the brush into the water and walked to the water’s edge at the exact spot where my friend fed the alligators. There was a flat rock there that sloped down sharply into the water. In the shot, the pig fell but kicked until it reached the edge of the water. When I got off the stand and got to the rock, bubbles were coming out about 6 feet from the shore. I used a stick and determined that the water was no more than 3 feet deep. To do? I was very interested in meat and had a barbecue planned for the pig. I didn’t have a change of clothes and decided to strip and walk to retrieve my pork. I still remember walking into that pond in fear, there were no signs of alligators approaching, but that was little consolation. My big toe made contact with the pig first, actually its tusked snout. I reached down and grabbed the pig by a front leg and pulled it out of the pond with lightning speed. Not a sign of an alligator and everything turned out great. I have told this story many times at hunting camps and those who believed he was telling the truth questioned my sanity. I’m just telling you, that was when I was young and had a wild pig barbecue planned for next weekend.
OWL ON A FLY ROD – Back in 1959, when I was 9 years old, in very rural Red River County. I witnessed a spectacle that I vividly remember to this day. My uncle was an accomplished fly fisherman and when he came to visit from Tennessee, I served as his “guide” taking him to every fishing pond we had access to. In the waning minutes of daylight, I remember Uncle Luke pulling twice on his fly line to which a small insect was attached, lethal bait for the bream and smaller bass in the pond. The line arced high and at the height of the cast, I heard the line ripping out my uncle’s fly reel at a rapid pace. A barred owl swooped down and picked up the bug, intentionally I guess, and was flapping its wings and trying to dislodge whatever was dragging it back to land.
My uncle was a gentleman and I don’t remember his curses, but he did it then.
“Wow, what kind of &*&$ fish do they have here in Texas?”
He managed to throw a shirt or something on the owl and took it home (probably illegal even back then). My dad made a leather leash and built a perch for the bird out of a low branch of a pine tree in the garden. I remember the owl trying to scalp me every time I went under its perch. After a day or two, he was released. I have thought many times that this particular owl probably had a lifetime of adversity for catching insects in flight.
If you’ve been hanging around outdoors as long as I have, there’s a good chance you’ve got some hilarious goings-on in your past, too. It’s fun to reminisce and becomes an “off-beat” top when an old outdoor writer has spent too much time under the air conditioning.