Wednesday, December 26, 2007
where I spent the best days of my life deer hunting with my father in law, "Sparky." We hunted together for over fifteen years on that small 150 acre farm. We killed deer all over the farm but the best hunting and most of our deer were killed on the big power line right of way on the south side of the place. It was great while it lasted. The farm has been divided and four fifths have been sold off. My father in law was the only one who felt a strong enough attachment to the land to keep it. The rest of his brothers and sisters did not feel that way. You can see the big Kickapoo Mountain just west of the farm and the two smaller unnamed hills to the southwest. I used to enjoy hill climbing in my Jeep on the two smaller mountains. Anyone used to be able to go there and go hill climbing but now it is all fenced off and is off limits. The area between the three mountains is called the "Clay Pits" for the rich red clay soil in the area. For years the Henderson Clay Company dug clay out of this area for the making of bricks. It was a great place to go four wheeling, and a great place to get stuck after a big rain. Also a great place to go target shoot guns. It is all fenced off now as well and is no trespassing. You can see the Kickapoo Battlefield monument listed on the map. Early Texans had a big battle there in 1838 with hostile Indians. Just to the northwest of the farm on the Saunders place is an old Caddo Indian camp which was explored in the 1930's by archaeologists from the University of Texas. I will be doing a post on that in the future with photos of some of the artifacts they found. I plan on posting the stories and photos of some of the trophy deer killed through the "Glory Days" on the farm. My father in law is getting up in years and my health is failing but we had a lot of fun deer hunting down at Kickapoo. Thanks Sparky for all the good memories.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
When I was about twelve years of age, my Uncle David and three of his friends, David, Luther and Sam bought a ranch in Palo Pinto county, TX. The ranch was over 800 acres in size with a creek and about three quarters of a mile of Brazos river frontage. For several years I was able to tag along on trips to the ranch and was allowed to go on dove and quail hunting trips. I was their retriever. When they shot a bird down I went and picked it up and returned it to the hunter. I had seen a few deer at a great distance and they were usually on the run. The ranch had been over hunted for years by the prior owners. I will never forget the day I saw my first whitetail deer up close and personal. Uncle David's good friend, Adolph or "Toots" as he was called by his friends was driving his old red Willys Jeep. Uncle David was riding shotgun. I was in the back tending two shotguns and a deer rifle all safely zipped up in their protective cases. We were driving slowly down one of the many ranch roads doing more looking than deer hunting. The jeep did not have a top on it and it was a pleasant fall day. It was quail season and deer season as well. Luther was in the next pasture on foot with his shotgun trying to locate a covey of quail which I suppose he had lost earlier in the season and aimed to find again. We were going his general direction through the brush when the Jeep broke through the cover into a small clearing about forty yards across. The Jeep came to a sudden halt and my companions let me know just as quickly that I should fetch the deer rifle because in the middle of the clearing stood the largest buck in the county. He stared at us with his head held high crowned with a huge rack of horns that looked like grandma's rocking chair. I had one small problem though as I had no idea which case held the needed deer rifle and which cases held the useless shotguns loaded with bird shot. It didn't really matter, the buck whirled and ran off into the brush in an instant. Even if we had a loaded deer rifle at the ready when we first saw the buck, I would not likely have bet against him. He was old and grey faced and had no doubt escaped many predators more skillful than we were. I think it was meant to be for that day, that instant when I locked eyes with that trophy buck, I was destined to become a deer hunter. I did not know that it would be many years later, many miles away that I would bag my first buck. At 21 years of age, I killed my first buck, an eight point trophy in the piney woods of East Texas. The burning desire that had kindled for so many years, was finally rewarded. I deer hunted for many years and I thank the Lord for the deer, and the desire.
which is another one of my favorite places. It was on the northwest corner of my Uncle David's 800 acre ranch. That is my 1983 Jeep in the foreground, that is Ward Mountain in the background site of a fight with early settlers and Comanche Indians long ago. The photo was taken in 1983, I know because my Jeep was stock in this photo. It did not stay that way long. The bend in the river is called Village Bend and 200 years ago you would have seen Indians camped out there beside the Brazos river. This was Comanche country and a lot of battles were fought in this area when the white man moved out west. If you know where and how to look you can find flint arrowheads in the area. You can't see it in the photo but just behind the jeep is a limestone cliff that drops straight down about 70 feet to the river below. I spent many an hour sitting on the edge of that cliff with my legs dangling over the side during the summer and early fall with a .22 rifle shooting snakes, turtles and huge Alligator Gar some in excess of six feet in length and well over 150 pounds. Those big gar would come up for air and if you shot them in the right spot, they would head straight to the bottom of the river and you would see a cloudy mud trail rise up as the monster gar tried to make its escape. One year I was riding across the ranch near the river and ran into a game warden driving up out of a creek bottom. I was turkey hunting and it startled me as I knew there was not supposed to be anyone else on the ranch that weekend. I got out of my Jeep and introduced myself to the warden. He had three guys in the back of his truck . He told me they were under arrest for telephoning down on the river. If you don't know, that is when you take an old crank phone and connect wires to the generator and drop them in the water to shock fish and bring them to the surface when you turn the crank. He was going to pick up his fellow game warden that had been hiding in the cedars up by the cliff. His buddy secretly watched as the three lawbreakers drifted by in a boat. He radioed down to the warden I spoke with who was hiding on the bank downriver in a narrow spot. When the lawbreakers drifted by, he jumped out and politely asked the offenders at shotgun point to come ashore. They were going to see the judge. I bet that fishing trip was going to cost those guys a pretty penny. I could not resist waving and smiling at the lawbreakers and the warden as they drove away. The warden smiled and waved back, the other three just glared. I don't think they were having a good day.
that is my 1983 Jeep in the foreground. This picture was probably taken around 1984 or so. There are actually three mountains in the area. I drove the Jeep up on top of one of two smaller unnamed mountains. That is the Kickapoo Mountain in the background. It is covered in trees and there are no roads going up to it. There is a Texas Power and Light right of way that goes across the smaller mountain. The two unnamed mountains had roads going up and down and made for great hill climbing in the Jeep. Dudleys wife's family owned a small 150 acre farm in the area. The northwest fence line cut across the east end of Kickapoo Mountain. It was a long steep hike up there. One year my father in law "Sparky" built a stand just inside the fence line in a large oak tree two thirds of the way up the mountain. One cold December morning , he was quietly sitting in the stand when three whitetail bucks walked down the trail in single file. He shot the biggest one a nice ten point buck. One beautiful Fall afternoon, I hiked up the hill, crossed the fence and hiked up to the top of the mountain. When I got to the top, I was surprised to see it was as flat as the dining room table. The trees and brush were thick up there. I found an old camp site on the side of the mountain where it was open and you could see all the way to the town of Frankston to the north. I circled around the mountain and when I got to the west end, I jumped a deer which I heard crashing through the brush and leaves down the hill. I did not see the deer but it may have been a big buck. It would have been a great hiding place. I never did go back up there. I was trespassing which I did not like doing. When I was up on top of Kickapoo Mountain, I was alone with God and that unseen deer. I thought of the Caddo Indians who inhabited the area before the white man came along. I think Kickapoo Mountain is a spiritual place, I bet the Indians thought so too. I felt closer to God up on that mountain that afternoon than I ever did sitting in a church.
the Willow City Loop. We made many great trips there to the Hill Country of Texas. First you need to go by Rabkes and pick up a few pounds of beef jerky. This is not sissy jerky, this is thick cut slices of prime beef dried and spiced up to perfection. Be sure to buy an ice cold Pepsi to wash it down. Drive over to the Willow City Loop and make the rounds. You could easily see a hundred or more deer. Maybe a turkey as well. The scenery is spectacular. The best time to go is in the spring when the Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes are in bloom.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I received on my deer hunt in Foreman Arkansas. It was hand made by Billy B. Cobb for me. What a wonderful gift. It makes me want to go turkey hunting again! I will add this to my turkey call collection. This one is made out of Bois d Arc wood also called iron wood because it is so hard. The tree is also called Osage Orange or Horse Apple tree for its fruit. When we lived in Tyler, we had a huge tree at the back of our driveway which bore hundreds of the fruits every year. I have heard that if you sink a bunch of horse apples in the lake they will draw in a bunch of bait fish and in turn lots of crappie, catfish, bass, and perch who come to feast on the bait fish. I never got to try it but I bet it would work.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
the Southwest Arkansas Buckmasters Chapter. I drove up last Tuesday arriving about 1:00 P.M. I went to the Buckmasters Clubhouse and met with Chapter President Mike Cranford's father Burl Cranford. I followed him over to his house and met his wife Virginia and his son Mike and fellow hunter and guide Eddie. I admired some of the trophy deer hanging on the wall. I was very impressed with the size of the deer Mike has taken. Mike is a paraplegic and is confined to a wheelchair and is a dedicated hunter. He works full time and spends many hours promoting Buckmasters American Deer Foundation and putting on the hunts for disabled hunters. After introductions we went out and checked out my deer rifle. I was glad to see it was still sighted in and no adjustments were needed. We all then went to the clubhouse and awaited the arrival of the other hunters. Later that evening I went and checked into a motel in the town of Ashdown Arkansas about nineteen miles away. The next day we all met at the clubhouse and had lunch and prepared for the afternoon hunt. They hosted a total of eleven hunters in three different camps. There were six hunters total in my camp in Foreman. It was interesting to see all of the hunters with different types of disabilities and seeing how they each coped with their limitations. It was humbling to see that there were others more disabled than myself. It was good to realize that there are those in worse shape than I and to remind me to be thankful for the things I am still able to do that others can not. Wednesday afternoon I hunted with guide Mike on a 750 acre lease in the redneck stand. We saw a couple of does and it was bucks only on the lease so I did not take a shot. The next morning I hunted with guide John on a 3500 acre paper company lease. We saw a total of 12 deer. One was a nice medium sized buck but it was over 300 yards away and I did not want to risk such a long shot. About 8:45 AM a large doe and two big fawns came out on my side of the pipeline right of way about 85 yards away. John said to drop the hammer on the big doe. I lined her up and squeezed off the shot. John shouted that I dropped her in her tracks. I think he was relieved he was not going to have to go back in the pine thicket looking for the deer. He called his brother in law who was hunting nearby and he came over and helped John load the deer into the back of Johns truck. We went back to the camp house. I was glad to have bagged a deer and to know we would have some deer meat in the freezer this year. One of the guides back at camp aged the deer and said she was six and one half years old. She was huge and is by far the largest doe I have ever taken. She was as big as many of the bucks I have taken in the Texas Hill Country. That afternoon we all went to an exclusive hunting club on 7500 acres on the Red River. I hunted with Mike again and we saw some does and one small buck about 160 yards away. This was a well managed ranch with many large bucks so I passed on the small buck hoping for the big one. We heard several shots and when we got back to the camp house we found out three good bucks were taken. One lucky hunter by the name of Mike, a disabled Army Veteran who had never killed a deer before killed a huge ten point buck that chased a doe out into the power line right of way he was sitting on. He kept hunting and about ten minutes later, a big eight point came out on the same trail and he dropped the second buck. Two trophy bucks in ten minutes, I told Mike he needed to go buy a lottery ticket. What a hunt and it could not have happened to a more deserving hunter. One of the other hunters was a great young man by the name of J.T. who also had never taken a deer. He bagged a nice seven point buck with a 300 yard shot! I was happy for him and impressed with his marksmanship. That night I was starting to feel exhaustion set in. I had been running on adrenaline for three days. I told Mike if I did not make it to the clubhouse by 530 AM Friday morning I had decided to sleep in. Friday morning, I got up at 4:30 AM and still felt pretty tired, I looked out the window and saw there was a heavy frost on my truck and I glanced over at the warm bed and decided to get some more sleep and hunt Friday evening. I got over to the club house about 10:00 AM and found out the deer were really moving and that a couple of good bucks had been taken. Mike Cranford, the Chapter President took a huge symmetrical eight point buck out of the redneck stand. He made a 170 yard shot. Damn, I should have gone hunting but I was happy for Mike. I had a great time and Mike and his parents and all of the guides were the most friendly, caring, giving people I have ever met in my life. We had the best meals, hot breakfasts after the hunt. One night we had a big fish fry and another we had a brisket dinner. The Chamber of Commerce gave us all a goodie bag full of neat stuff, I received a total of five new hunting caps. One autographed by country singer Tracy Lawrence who is from Foreman. A guy from a local Gander Mountain Store came by one night and gave all of the hunters a camo baseball cap with built in lights in the bill. The best gift of all was a hand crafted turkey call made by a champion call maker from Foreman for each of the hunters. They were made from Bodarc or Osage Orange wood and were signed and numbered by the maker and personalized with the hunters name. Makes me want to go on another turkey hunt! It was a great hunt with a lot of great people. The hunt was a big success, eleven hunters took a total of fifteen deer. I was worn out when I got back home but I had the time of my life. I hope I can go back next year. Maybe I will get that big buck, you never know when you go deer hunting.
Friday, November 9, 2007
about my experiences in God's great outdoors hunting and fishing. I will only post to this blog on an irregular basis when the mood strikes me. Dudleys Diary will still be my primary blog. I want to document my many wonderful experiences I have had in my life hunting and fishing, for my kids and someday I hope, for my grandchildren to read. My days afield striving to catch a trophy Largemouth Bass or shoot a trophy Whitetail Buck have been the most rewarding and exciting days of my life without a doubt with the exception of the birth of my two children. As I have grown older and my physical activity becomes more and more limited due to my having Muscular Dystrophy, I have learned to cherish the memory of past hunting and fishing trips and special times spent with my kids. Teaching them the joys of hunting and fishing as they were growing up and the lessons to be learned was very rewarding for me . I am grateful to my father for teaching me and encouraging me to fish and equally as grateful to my father in law for teaching me how and giving me the opportunity to go deer hunting on a small farm in East Texas. We hunted for many years down at "Kickapoo" named for Kickapoo mountain. It is a mountain in Texas but anywhere else would be called a "hill." For many years I have hunted and fished at every opportunity. When I was growing up, I went on some great fishing trips with my father to Lake Of The Pines and Lake Texarkana in East Texas. We had some great trips to Lake Arrowhead near Wichita Falls. We made a couple of truly memorable trips to a private sixty acre lake near Chico. When I was in college, I had many memorable fishing trips on Sam Rayburn Lake and Lake Murvaul. There were trips to Houston County Lake and Lake Fairfield. I remember many great fishing trips on Lake Benbrook growing up. Later, there were a lot of great Striper fishing trips on Lakes Palestine, Texoma, Bridgeport, and Proctor. I remember catching sand bass by the hundreds on Cedar Creek Lake and crappie and catfish on many lakes across the State. For many years I made trips to the Illinois River in northeastern Oklahoma and stayed in a cabin built high on a bluff with a majestic view of the river below. I floated the river in a canoe day after day, fly fishing for bass and perch in the clear running water. I remember duck hunting in college and other hunting trips for dove and quail. I have been blessed to have gone deer hunting on the historic 30,000 acre Ford Ranch down near Brady many times. I have been hog hunting on the famous 60,000 acre Nail Ranch near Albany. I have gone turkey hunting on the Mayer Ranch near Sonora. My kids and I have hunted the Kyle Ranch near Bandera several times. My father in law and I made trips yearly for many years to my uncles ranch in Palo Pinto county in West Texas camping in a primitive cabin down in the Brazos River bottom during both bow and rifle seasons. We would load my Jeep down with camping gear and hunting equipment and rifles or bows and pull it behind my pickup truck with a tow bar. I have a lot of stories to tell and photos to share of many of my successful hunting and fishing trips and many trips to the taxidermist. My whole life it seemed I could never go hunting and fishing enough. The opportunities are few and far between these days due to my declining health and other constraints, at least I will always have the memories. Muscular Dystrophy can't take those away from me.