Thursday, September 18, 2014


    While catchin’-up from my week in the Ozarks, I read another article by Conor Harrison in the Lone Star Outdoor News which stated that the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department will be extendin’ the use of permanent duck blinds through the 2015-2016 waterfowl season in the Caddo Lake WMA.  Really?  Hmmm, well … no one should stare a gift-horse in the mouth, but it seems to me that this is just a public relations attempt by TPWD’s upper echelon to try and save face.  Sorry y’all, but this issue ain’t goin’ away that easily!  Please don’t insult our intelligence by thinkin’ that folks will forget about this over the next year-and-a-half.  All parties involved should understand that this is a very unique situation.  But at the same time, please continue to appreciate what-all our taxpayer’s dollars help TPWD do for our WMA.  Quite a few of the locals impacted from your mandate have had duck blinds out there three-times longer than your Department’s inception in 1963.  Yeah, I’d say some feathers have been ruffled!  Do y’all not realize that these are the folks who are the true life-blood of Caddo Lake?  The rest of us, includin’ TPWD and myself are just the curators and tourists.  So in this particular situation … I think the locals deserve a much better resolution than an extension on their friggin' eviction notice!  I truly hope and pray that we can all play nice and come up with a solution that’s at least somewhat agreeable to the parties involved.  More to come …

Floatin' ...

     Howdy-do! I just got back from a 1,500+ mile round-trip through one of the most beautiful places in America ... the Ozarks!  Three days of my week of vacation was spent drivin', while the other 3 was spent kickin' back with some friends and floatin' on the White River in Norfork, Arkansas.  What an awesome place, and what a cool buncha guys from Arkansas that I had the privilege to hang with!  This was their 15th year doin' this; I'd been invited for the last 3, but somethin' had always come up that prevented me from goin'.  Believe you me, if the good Lord allows ... I'll definitely be goin' with 'em again next year!

     If y'all recall my post back in May called Relaxin' ... I picked-up my buddy Ty in Plano, Texas and then headed to "Dad's" just outside of Conway, Arkansas.  After "Dad" (finally) got packed, we headed up one of the most twisted, scenic drives through the Ozarks to the Riverside Retreat, which is one of Chris & Carol Jackson's accommodations on the White River, about 5-miles downstream from Norfork. Our crew stayed at the Lodge, which had 6 bedrooms (with 2 bunks, a queen-sized bed and a full bathroom in each room) as well as 2 full kitchens, dining tables and living rooms with a very large adjoinin' front porch.

     Chris Jackson is a fishin' guide and also provided our group with the jet-drive rental boats which were awaitin' everyone at the ramp each day.  I opted to bring my kayak, which provided me with a much more personal experience on the river.  On the first day, I took the 5-mile trip from Norfork back to the lodge.  This allowed me to get the hang of things, and figure out where the trout were and what they was bitin' on.  The water was not really that swift, but was pretty-dang cold!  Paddlin' upstream was a chore, but it could be done.  I had even anchored my yak and wade-fished a couple of spots, which chilled me to the bone.  Bein' overcast with temps in the fifties, it took a hot shower that evenin' and a couple of bowls of steamin' hot gumbo just to warm me up ...

A swell buncha Arkies partyin' outside of Norfork ...
     I think every one of them Arkies enjoyed the gumbo, which I'd made on our first day there.  I was afraid that seafood wouldn't keep from southeast Texas all the way to northwest Arkansas, so I opted to make a 22-quart pork & venison sausage, chicken and egg gumbo.  That's right ... I put boiled eggs in it!  The trick is to boil the eggs in water with a half a bottle of Soy sauce added, and then after you peel the eggs ... fork 'em to the yolk and add 'em to the almost completely cooked gumbo.  Them boiled eggs soak-up the seasonin' and taste awesome!  You know you've made a good gumbo when nobody adds any seasonin' ... and that includes Tobasco; I came home with two unopened bottles.  I had also done a 17½ lb. oiless Cajun fried turkey which made great sandwiches. By the way ... my new nickname with that Arkansas group is "Gumbo" ...

     Most of the guys in that group all went to the University of Central Arkansas with my wife Lisa, and have kept-up with each other throughout the years.  All of 'em are die-hard outdoorsmen, and have hunted & fished with each other forever.  As most good ole' boys will do, we all ate & drank more than the average man shoulda that weekend!  But, with this many alpha personalities in one group, nobody got outta sorts or showed their ass.  And if anybody around there was hearin' banjos ... it definitely wasn't comin' from this bunch!  I fit right in and cain't wait to do the trip with this awesome bunch again!

     On the second day, I was dropped at Ship's Ferry by 9:00 A.M. where I floated 10-miles back to the Lodge.  Within' the first hour, I'd already caught and released several rainbow and brown trout.  All were small and all were caught chunkin' hardware.  I abso-friggin'-lutely refuse to be a bait-soaker, and probably cast a couple of thousand times throughout the entire day.  At one point, one of my released trout wasn't swimmin' too well.  As I paddled towards it to help it along, an eagle circled overhead lookin' for an easy meal.  One doesn't truly appreciate the size of one of these majestic raptors until it gets up-close & personal.  Before I could get my camera out, on & ready ... it was well outta range of gettin' a decent photo.  On another occasion, several geese were flyin' towards me while two eagles circled overhead.  But again, it was too late to get the friggin' camera. 

     I had packed my cooler with a 12-pack of beer, some Cokes, bottled waters and three very healthy Cajun fried turkey sandwiches.  Did I mention that I'd already had four beers before I'd ever left the Lodge?  Even though I'd purchased my out-of-state fishin' license and trout stamp ... I figured that I was pushin' boundaries with Arkansas Game & Fish as to whether I could actually get a BWI (Boating While Intoxicated) citation in a kayak.  I had borrowed a length of rope and some chain from Chris to drag from the kayak to slow it a bit.  At one point, I'd stood up to relieve myself while movin' along at a fairly decent clip, when that chain caught on some rocks and I severely doused my leg and foot while tryin' to keep my balance.  Talk about gettin' yer chain yanked; thank God none of the locals saw me doin' "fatrabatics" tryin' to stay in the friggin' yak!  I almost swamped tryin' to get the dang chain free, which helped rinse my accidental stream out of the yak.  Since I was already p¡ssed on, I'd have been really p¡ssed-off had I not had a bilge pump and a fishin' towel with me ...

     Cell service was sketchy at best out there, but close to sunset ... I got a call from Ty wonderin' where the Hell I was.  I explained to him that I was in my happy place, drankin' beers and catchin' fish!  He figured that I was okay, but Chris was concerned that one of his guests were amiss, and some of them Arkies was gettin' kind-of concerned as well.  Of course, I felt much safer out there than in most marshes or swamps; but I stowed my fishin' gear, put on my nav lights and made a hard, fast paddle to the ramp.  I arrived at the ramp right at dark, greeted by a few of the fellers.  Once back at the Lodge, I made a couple of 'em almost pee themselves tellin' 'em about my chain gettin' yanked.  We whooped-it up 'til after midnight and all was well after some much needed sleep.

     As usual, I was one of the first ones up ... made some coffee and started securin' my yak to the rack on top of my truck.  I had to get my gear packed first so the other two guys could get to their bags as I dropped 'em off.  As the other Arkies arose, we all chatted as we packed, cleaned the Lodge, said our goodbyes and then reluctantly hit the road.  On the way back, "Dad" got a call from Mark and his wife Dana to come have a look-see at their new property.  They lucked-in to a secure little spread on a bluff where they were fixin' to build a place to retire.  It was absolutely gorgeous and they are truly blessed; it just goes to show that good things do happen to good folks!  Me, Ty & "Dad" ... otherwise known as "G-Man" posed for a partin' shot before we hit the road.  I had 700+ miles to go before I got home; back to family, back to work and back to the daily grind.  But I'd spent quality time with good friends, met new friends and done me some floatin' ... which made that long drive worth while!

"Tres Amigos" will be together again at Caddo Lake next spring ...

Monday, September 8, 2014


     Howdy ... I just wanted to tell all of my readers thanks!  I started this blog one year ago, and what a long, strange trip it's been.  I've met a lotta cool folks and done a buncha new things over the last year.  And even though I haven't found any definitive evidence of the animal that my son and I had encountered waltzin' through an East Texas swamp ... I've had a friggin' blast out there lookin'!

This was entering Carter Lake from Big Cypress back in June of 2010 ... what a long, strange trip it's been!

     Thanks to y'all, I now have a fairly moderate, steady readership ... and a very sane one at that; no lunatic fringe and no haters.  I've purposely stayed away from junkin'-up this site by addin' ads or sellin' stuff.  Fact is, I really don't wanna be known as a dang click-whore!  This blog, otherwise known as the outlet for "the noise in my head" actually comes from the heart.  The benefit I get from doin' this is not a monetary one.  The relationships that I've built with folks over the last year cannot be bought or sold.  Period.

My only significant find in the five years since our encounter on Horse
Island; only somethin' with hands could've bent & twisted this saplin',
which was slightly larger than I could get my hand around.  This odd
limbtwist was found on a game trail off of Smith's Slough while I was
out servicin' my game cams on that fateful day that I got friggin' lost.
It was very fresh, and even though I'm not claimin' it was the work of
a wood ape, it was significant enough to catch my eye. Primates have
been known to mark trails in this manner, but after scoutin' around, I
did not find any tracks or any other limbtwists within' 100 yards.  As a
matter of fact, I've never found any tracks out there, other than deer,
hogs, coyotes, etc.  My son found and filmed a bear track the day that
we set-up camp to sleep out there.  Gettin' back to the limb, I noticed
that there were no scrapes or rubs around this saplin' ... which might
have concluded that it was the work of a deer.  Otherwise, I got zip ...
     No regrets; but, as previously stated, when I started this blog ... I had promised myself that I would only report the facts as far as my sloughstalkin' goes, and stay out of the world of "Bigfootery".  Well ... that didn't friggin' happen!  My mini-man madness kicks-in every once in a while, and I've pecked-out a good rant or two.  It's hard not to poke fun as long as you understand that folks are laughin' at you, too!  Even though I try to keep things humorous, I've maintained the promise to myself to keep it real.  I research an undocumented animal; but, am I unbalanced?  Hmmm, maybe.  Them stacks of BassPro or Cabela's catalogs that some folks claim that I hafta sit on just to see over the steerin' wheel of my truck might shift every once and a while, so deal with it.  I do ...

     Those of you who have been featured in this blog have never called me out, 'cause y'all know that I calls 'em like I sees 'em; no drama and no bullsh¡t.  And if sh¡t can happen, it has for this hapless knuckle-head!  Storms, mechanical failures and gettin' lost just come with the territory.  And there's some of y'all who are prob'ly very friggin' thankful that I've skipped some of those details of our antics out in the field.  Sometimes, what happens out there in them woods don't necessarily stay in the woods, 'cause some situations are just life-lessons learnt. Your comments are always welcomed, but please continue to keep the subject matter "PG-13".  No friggin' F-bombs.  Period.  If you feel the need to use expletives, be creative and maybe more of y'all's comments might just get published (i.e., Alt + 0161 goes a long way when typin' "sh¡t" ... ;)

     Thanks again, never give up and keep on grindin'!  The truth is out there, and hopefully sometime soon one of these mystery animals will finally be properly scientifically documented.  Yeah, that was a shout-out ... so, go team!  Whether you are an amateur field researcher, a naturalist, a conservationist, a field biologist or a "Bigfootologist" ... y'all keep on doin' what you do.  Your time in the grime is greatly appreciated!  Hopefully, we'll all learn a thing or two real soon.  Carry on, be safe, God bless and Godspeed ...

Thursday, September 4, 2014


     Howdy, damnit!  And no, that ain’t an Aggie shout-out; I’m p¡ssed, and y’all will be as well after readin’ this-here entry!  Seems there’s a bit of a range war goin’ on 'round Uncertain, Texas; namely, in the Caddo Lake Wildlife Management Area.  Any of y’all duck hunt?  I do.  And ever since doin’ the camo wrap on my boat last spring, I’ve been chompin’ at the bit waitin’ for duck season.  But back in late August, I read an article by Conor Harrison in the LoneStar Outdoor News that sent a chill down my spine.  Today, Daylina Miller reported in the The Marshall NewsMessenger a follow-up to the dilemma.  It seems that the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has decided that no one should have a duck blind in the Caddo Lake WMA!
     Really?  The locals basically got blindsided!  Here are several generations of responsible, license-holdin’ duck hunters who have had blinds on Caddo Lake for almost two centuries, and the friggin' rug done got pulled-out from under ‘em!  Now, in TPWD’s defense, their wildlife biologist cataloged 130 some-odd blinds in the WMA, 45 of which were dilapidated.  TPWD’s argument is that these blinds have created a navigational hazard.  Hey, I’m cool with that; get rid of ‘em.  But why take away the other blinds that are maintained?  Those folks shouldn’t get punished.  I make every effort to follow every letter of the law, but in my opinion … this is an injustice to these resident waterfowl hunters, and boundaries are bein’ overstepped.  What fresh Hell, y'all?

     I’ve witnessed firsthand some of those blinds bein’ maintained.  Out-of (duck) season, I have fished around several of those Caddo Lake blinds, and I’m here to tell ya, there ain’t a lick of trash in the immediate vicinity of most of ‘em.  And I've noticed a few of the folks who maintain those blinds also treat areas around their blinds to keep the invasive giant salvinia in check.  There was even a suggestion at Tuesday’s meetin’ to register existing blinds, and use the registration fees towards the eradication of the giant salvinia.  So why in the Hell does the TPWD wanna punish folks who are environmentally friendly and whose sport pays for conservation?  Remember, the money spent on waterfowlin’ pays for things like them “friggin’ weevils” as well!  Somethin’ just ain’t quite right here; it seems to me like someone has clouded vision, a deaf ear and has done overstepped their bounds.  Hmmm, sounds more like someone’s bitin’ the hands that feed ‘em!

     This was T.C. back in '03.  I used to duck hunt Christmas Bay in Brazoria County, and had maintained a blind out there for a few years.  At the time, you could not construct any new permanent structure in the bay; however, the stipulation was that we could maintain existin’ blinds unless they were destroyed by a hurricane.  Because blinds were on public land, they were first come, first served for any hunter and were public domain.  You were not allowed to lock a blind.  If someone was huntin' in it, tough luck ... we'd simply hunt the marsh.  A storm finally wiped it out, pilings and all, so we moved on.  Next, we had a boat blind that we re-built, with permission from the landowner of the Spindletop Bass Club in Jefferson County, where I was a member. Because it was private property, no one could hunt our blind without askin'.  A very unwelcomed Hurricane Ike took care of that blind, as well as the rest of our lease in September of ‘08.  Now, as far as Caddo Lake goes, I wasn’t plannin’ on goin’ up there and free-grazin’ some local’s honey-hole! Not my style; but with the help of a couple of locals, I was gonna find a place that wasn’t goin’ to mess-up someone’s hunt and use my boat as a blind.  Well Hell, after March of 2015 … it sounds like everyone might be in the same friggin’ boat!

     What p¡sses me off more than anything is that “the powers that be” at TPWD just up and decided that this is the way it was goin’ to be.  Period.  No vote, no nothin’ … they just blindsided the locals.  Now, there's two sides to every story, but this version was the majority of what I'd heard.  But hey, y’all … this does not need to be the end of this-here story.  I know there’s got to be a buncha dang lawyers as well as lawmakers who duck hunt.  The Caddo Lake locals are bein’ treated like city-folk gettin’ bullied by a friggin’ home owner’s association.  And when HOA’s overstep their bounds, a good lawyer can usually keep ‘em in check.  Country folks laugh at the thought of an HOA, and live where they live ‘cause they love the land, water & nature.  Urban sprawl won’t ever take it, and the locals like it that way.  Bet them duck-huntin’ lawyers & lawmakers know that most responsible outdoorsmen (and women) vote.
     I generally respect game wardens and appreciate what-all they do, and let them do their jobs.  And those hard workin’ wardens who are out in the field will still get that same respect from me.  Period.  But this directive came from higher up the food chain, and I think they just bit into somethin’ that bites back.  Responsible outdoorsmen have a voice … and y’all are fixin’ to friggin’ hear it.  We just need to dig-in deeper than an East Texas tick and hold on.  Let’s be civil and put our heads together and come up with a plan that benefits all parties involved.  But to force-feed us horsesh¡t and tell us it’s just grits & syrup just ain’t goin’ down so well.  If y’all are feelin’ blindsided and wanna help out, gimme a shout.  Please forward the link to this entry to any duck hunter you know.  I'm not sellin' anything, I'm just tryin' to get the word out!  If you think I’m wrong for expressin’ my point of view … bite me.  Seriously, if you feel I’m off base (or off balance) please shoot me a comment or rebuttal and I’ll be more than happy to print your side of the story here.  I know that TPWD reads this-here blog … and I truly appreciate their readership as well.  More to come …