A girl should always have a gun

Posted June 23rd, 2014 by Wade

Shelby MG

BAM!  full auto goodness!

giving thanks for the “hunt”

Posted December 1st, 2012 by Wade

as I get older, I realize more and more than hunting is much more about everything that surrounds it, than just putting meat in the freezer or antlers on the wall.  this past Thanksgiving is a great example of this.

the family loaded up and headed for the ranch wednesday afternoon.  it was yet another episode of “the clampetts go to the ranch”.  we tote so much crap we take two cars (three, technically).  the wife, me, 3 kids, 1 dog, 1 bronco, hunting stuff, yetis for food, yetis for deer, pelican cases full of guns, bags full of gear, general crap you wind up taking and etc.  I dont really mind that much but it strikes me that if the ranch was more than an hour door to door, fuel would be a much bigger concern.  I mean, we could probably make due all piled in one vehicle if we had to, but we’d have junk tied all over us like you see those national geographic pictues of a donkey ladened with straw coming from a field in some foreign country.  you know the ones.  95% straw with just the donkey’s eyes poking out one end and a tail on the other.  and like a cat perched on the top or something.  maybe a monkey.  anyways, we dont leave much at the house when we go to the ranch.

Thanksgiving at the ranch is cool, because there’s not much “set” on what we’re doing.  really, other than dinner (ish) and Thanksgiving lunch itself, there’s no real times for anything.  maybe you hunt.  maybe you sleep in and go fishing.  perhaps you just want to lay around and watch football all day (stupid longhorns…TCU?  really?)  bronco rides, nature walks, playing with the new puppy, target practice, coffee on the back porch still in your pj’s (one of my favorite things at the ranch), power walks down the county road clutching a kitchen knife proclaiming you can take out the mythical mountain lion if it attacks (B, I’m looking at you), etc.  it can be what you make of it.  and you can truly make a lot of it.

I got to spend a couple of hunts in the blind with the girls.  S was looking for horns and wondering how she was going to top the 10 point from last year.  we had good talks about ethical hunting, herd management, not shooting just to kill and things of that nature.  we also talked about school, friends, camp (always a hot topic), and what we saw and didnt see.  L sat with me once too.  again I was reminded of how hard it is to ask a 5 year old to sit still for extended periods of time, thankful for the insulation I have built into my blind.  and again, every time I’d look at her after a long silence, both of us looking for deer, and she’d look back and smile, I was reminded of exactly why we were hunting together.  sitting in that little box with my girls, watching nothing and occassionally seeing something, listening to the world and more importantly, to each other, we were making memories that dont get over-written very easily.  memories that also get saved in the heart, not just the mind.  these were times that are almost impossible to replace.  I’ve got 2 of my 3 girls in the blind with me these days.  eventually (I’m assuming) the third will join the ranks.  hopefully they’ll never get too old or too cool to hunt with dad.  even better, hopefully they’ll never lose the desire to be outdoors and continue to learn and become (better) hunters.  hopefully they’ll hunt on their own as they get older, and continue to do so even when I’m not with them.  its their choice of course, but this is what I hope for.  maybe, just maybe, they’ll hunt with their kids and tell them stories of “I remember when my dad and I….”

on the way home, when L was asleep in the backseat, pooch R was asleep in her bed in the front, I got to thinking.  thinking that we had an empty cooler.  didnt fire a shot.  that some would say we got skunked.  when asked if we got anything, the answer would be “nope, didnt get any deer”. but all was not lost.  in fact, it occurs to me something very important was (re)learned.  hunting….hunting with your kids specifically, actually has very little to do with shooting an animal.  but has everything to do with spending quality time together.  in the blind.  in the bronco.  walking thru the field.  whatever.  this is time that cannot be taken away.  this time is the forging of a memory that will last forever.  and that, is the best kind of hunting success you can ask for.

Maybe one day they’ll reach back in their file, And pull out that old memory, And think of me and smile….

-Alan Jackson, Drive (for Daddy Gene)

First Sponsor – Yeti Coolers!

Posted November 14th, 2012 by Wade

Yeti Coolers, probably the finest coolers/ice chests in the world has come on board as a sponsor of kidsandcamo!

now, its no secret I’ve been a user and a fan of Yeti Coolers for a long time.  when you get tired of breaking cheaper coolers, replacing parts, and having your ice melt like it was on fire, its not hard to make a switch.  sure, they’re more expensive than the coolers you grew up with, but believe me when I say this aint your daddy’s cooler!

I remember quite clearly the moment when I gave up on regular coolers.  I went to pull an ice chest out of the back of my truck.  unknown to me, it was kinda lodged in there with the rest of your crap an outdoorsman tends to carry around.  pulled the handle smooth off.  thanks for that….now I have to carry one side of the cooler like a monkey.  this is something I know will never happen with my Yetis.  and trust me, that situation has come up several times again with the Yeti being no worse for wear.  hey, I even use the handles to tie down with ratchet straps.  try doing that with your $59.99 special!  Yetis are almost indestructible.  they’re certified bear proof.  I dunno about bears, but that means they’ll survive a day on the lake after way too many frosty beverages.  ask me how I know…

something to remember though, and I’ve admittedly fallen into this trap; pre-cool.  dont grab a Yeti out of your garage in the middle of a Texas summer and be surprised when it melts ice like a machine.  all that great insulation also holds heat.  duh….forgot about that tidbit.  throw a bag or two of ice in your Yeti the day prior and let it cool down.  your ice and your contents will stay cooler much longer that way.

the only problem with Yeti Coolers is having enough of them.  everyone wants to borrow one and suddenly you’re always the one nominated to carry the cold stuff to the ranch, lease, fish camp, tailgate, etc.

so Yeti Coolers, thanks for being a sponsor of kidsandcamo!!

Yeti Coolers – wildly stronger! keep ice longer!



Debutantes to Dove Hunts

Posted September 26th, 2012 by Wade

Last Sunday I got a little “middle daughter” time with L.  She had requested a hunt with dad, all by herself.  So we took off to the ranch middle afternoon.  Requisite stop for candy/snacks at the gas station halfway there and on to the ranch.

When we got there, we went around and pulled the cards from the game cameras and downloaded to my laptop.  One of the feeders wasn’t throwing corn so went to work to see what was wrong.  Appears a loose/broken wire at a connector was the culprit and a quick fix got the feeder spinning again.  L and I will have to fix it more appropriately at a later date, as simply wrapping a wire around the battery terminal isn’t acceptable.  L also requested that we pick a few flowers and go visit H’s grave.  Laid a few flowers by H’s headstone, said our “good dog!” and “I miss you’s”, put a few flowers on W’s grave too (a recent addition to the dog graveyard by nephew A’s buddy T) and went to get our dove gear.

We set up by one of our tanks and got down to the business of dove hunting.  I’d brought the slingshot to let the newly taught L get some practice flinging rocks into the tank.  Showed her how hand position and grip were critical to making the rock fly straight and farther than dropping at her feet.  She caught on pretty quick, then rapidly got bored.  We chatted about kindergarten, a tooth recently found to be loose, and all things important.  The birds weren’t flying too well, but I wound up with a couple for the bag.  Each time L would want to get the bird and bring it back (who needs a dog?).  Each time L would only hold the bird by the very end of a single tailfeather.  Of course, that means plenty of drops, pulled feathers, etc.  The important part is that she wasn’t afraid or grossed out by the bird.  She just didn’t really want to grab it by the foot as I suggested.

Something that struck me while we were sitting there watching the skies enjoying our time together, was that just 24 hours prior, L was a trainbearer in a debutant ball.  Big formal dresses, black ties (I wore boots of course), deep southern bows to the audience, multi-generation tradition for J’s side of the family, escorts, formal names, pomp and circumstance.  All the things you would expect (or guess, I suppose).  I tried to explain to L that a little girl can easily transition from the elegance of formality, to the simplicity of the outdoors, and do it with passion.  Just because you do one, doesn’t mean you cant do the other equally well.  In fact, it takes a special kind of girl to be able to do both.  Hopefully all my girls will take note of this as they grow up.

By the end of the day I was reminded how difficult it is to hunt with a 5 year old.  But as we held hands walking back to the truck (shouldering an unreasonable amount of gear in my other hand) I was also reminded how important it is to hunt with a 5 year old.


Well, it’s alright to be little bitty,  A little hometown or a big old city

Might as well share, might as well smile,  Life goes on for a little bitty while.

Little Bitty – Alan Jackson

September 1 is a Holiday

Posted September 11th, 2012 by Wade

Every year, there is a date you wont find on many calendars, but is considered sacred by a large portion of the masses.  It transcends religion, race, gender and even age to a large degree.  It marks the beginning of a time.  A time that is usually thought about the whole year. Prepared for, in many cases.  What is this thing that seems so important, but unless you’re a member of the “club”, you probably don’t know what it is?  Dove season.

Most people simply refer to it as “opening day” or “opening weekend” if so appropriate.  Sure, there’s school and football and other stuff starting up as well, but dove season marks the start of all hunting in Texas.  Teal season follows, with deer and turkey not far behind, brought up lastly by duck season.  But dove starts us off.  Texans pour into the fields in search of their winged quarry.  Whether they be hunting a sunflower patch, or over a tank, a simple flyway down a tree line, or whatever, hunters are in the field.  Unlike deer hunting, dove hunting doesn’t have to include privately owned land, leases in the 5 figure range, dedicated hunting vehicles, equipment all over the place etc.  Dove hunting is a great way for a common man (or woman) to get out in the field and enjoy nature.  And quite possibly put some food on the table.  Really all you need is some clothes in muted colors (preferably with at least a camo t-shirt), a shotgun and shells, and a legal place to hunt.  Sure, you can go big with high dollar retrievers, break open shotguns, the finest in internet ordered apparel, while standing around harrumphing about your latest IPO or what whomever shot at the club.  But this is not necessary and usually not the norm.

For many, dove hunting is as much a social outlet as anything else.  Sitting on stools within muffled hollering distance to each other when the birds aren’t flying.  Perched on tailgates more talking than hunting.  Squatting with a new hunter trying to explain how to lead a bird and “point” the shotgun, don’t aim it.  And my current favorite, sitting with your kid.  Don’t get me wrong, I love hunting with my boys.  There’s a small group of us that have been hunting together for pushing 20 years now.  And some of the crew has only been together a few years.  Its time in the field I wouldn’t trade.  Hey, sometimes I even hunt birds by myself, which is perfectly fine too.  A little quiet time in God’s stadium isn’t bad for anyone.  There’s nothing like being outside with your friends, enjoying nature and all it offers, trying to put a little food on the table and possibly having a couple cold beers in the process.  Its really hard to beat that.  This year’s start was no different.

Last year S got her first bird.  Was a huge accomplishment and something we still talk about.  This year, she was hoping to better her stats a little, but I wasn’t so sure due to an apparent lack of birds.  When we were packing up I handed her shotgun to her and told her to shoulder it (after a double check that it wasn’t loaded).  She did and swung it around a little bit.  “my gun’s gotten lighter!”  oh my adorable little blonde huntress.  “no sweetie, you’ve gotten taller and stronger in the past year”.  “oh yeah, that too”.  S and I were taking a quick Sunday trip to the ranch just her and I.  The previous weekend (opening weekend) we had a full boys crew at the ranch and did alright on the birds.  Didn’t slay them, but had some eats and a good time doing it.  The second day of hunting was noticeably worse, so I was concerned S wouldn’t even get a shot at something the next weekend.

S and I settled into our stools after setting the mojos running and loading the shotguns.  At first I popped a couple flyers that clearly weren’t going to land so we could hopefully have a few apps to take home.  We chatted about school and friends and nothing important.  Sometimes there would be pretty good stretches of quiet between us.  I’d sneak a look at her and rather than staring at the ground or piddling with her fingers like 10 year olds do, she’d be looking around soaking it all in.  Watching the cows wander around (that dang slow white cow!), the dragonflies and wasps on the water, the occasional turtle poking its head up in the tank, deer running around at a distance across the pasture.  Ranch stuff.  Then a dove finally came in and lit on the tank.  S was on it.  Brought her shotgun up (with much less effort than last year), clicked off the safety and took her shot.  A bit low but probably peppered the bird a bit.  I tried to follow up on it and in a minor fit, threw all three shots at it as he flew away, quite probably laughing at me.  Oh well.  Misses do happen.  More chatting about nothing in particular.  The way a killdeer squawks (and why we don’t shoot them).  The way the clouds looked in the setting sun. Why I didn’t bring my slingshot (and how she wants me to teach her how to shoot it).  Unimportant things to the outside world, but critical to us.  No judgment, no pressure.  Just her and I talking.  Then another pair of birds came in.  S got ready and made her shot.  Bird down!  I winged the second one before it could disappear over the tank dam and lit in a tree.  Pretty sure we hi-fived. I’m honestly not real sure.  S had to tell me “let’s go get my bird!”  So walked over on the dam and picked it up.  Finished off my winged bird in the tree and got to put another in the bag that flew over us from right to left.  S got her bird and a lot of congratulations from me.  I know we did a low-five at that point because I almost tripped in doing it.  Got back to our stools for some pics (and a quick text to mom anxiously waiting for news at home).  One more bird before it got too dark to shoot and called it a hunt.  6 birds total in the bag is not good, but more than I was expecting.  And best of all, S got herself another one.  Check that.  Best of all, I got to be with S, when she got her second dove.

Turns out Smokey Moes that we were looking forward to closes at 8pm on the weekends, so we ate at a Taco Bell on the way in.  A lot of the ride was quiet.  I was reflecting on the afternoon together and I think S was too.  Time together away from technology and the hustle/bustle of normal life is something that money cannot buy.  Granted, we got home pretty late for a school night and were tired the next morning, but sometimes there are much more important things to learn than sitting in a classroom.  Maybe S learned something while she was with Dad.  Maybe I learned that dove hunting with your oldest should be a holiday unto itself.  Because it sure feels like one to me.


She’s Country, (shoot) from her cowboy boots to her down home roots she’s country,

From the songs she plays to the prayers she prays,

That’s the way she was born and raised,

She ain’t afraid to stay, country brother she’s country

-Jason Aldean, She’s Country

the Thanksgiving buck

Posted November 30th, 2011 by Wade

so headed to the ranch wednesday afternoon with all the gear.  seriously, it took a 4door and a trailer with no passengers to get all the gear to the ranch.  ridiculous.  but this was a full fam time with deer hunting number one on the list, bronco rides and etc all coming in secondary.  wasnt able to get in the field in time wednesday, but S and I got all our respective gear together to start hunting thursday morning.

5am came early after a horrible night’s sleep.  gathered my stuff and gathered up S.  I could tell she was excited by how quickly she popped out of bed to go.  not many 9 year olds, much less 9 year old girls, will get up more than an hour before sunrise to go sit in a deerblind.  but we did.  coffee, hot chocolate, snacks and etc in tow.  was really foggy so even when the sun was up, was difficult to see deer in/around the pen.  could see some smaller deer wandering around that didnt interest us until I noticed a good buck come in.  even thru the fog could make out he had a good rack.  watched him jump into the pen with a bit of a hobble to him.  put some glass on him and counted points.  10.  my heart skipped a little bit.  is this the one?  counted again and again.  brought up my rifle and cranked the scope way up.  even thru the fog I confirmed 10.  looked him over some.  big body, roman nose, and again a little bit of a hobble as he walked.  like an old man walks when his arthritis is acting up.  S and I talked about it and decided she should try for a shot after the fog finally lifted somewhat.  she got situated for a shot with the rifle set correctly on the sandbags and watched for her shot.  the dang deer would only give us 2 to 3 seconds of broadside before he’d move to either face us or face away from us.  S never got comfortable for a shot and I didnt press her to make too fast of a shot that might end in a miss or worse, a wounded deer.  then something spooked the big guy and he took off out the back of the pen.  I whistled loud and hard at him to try and stop him long enough for a shot, but that tail shot up and he was gone.  S and I talked about how it was better to let him go without risking a bad shot, than to rush a shot that was less than ideal.  not 15 minutes later I heard a shot and the distinctive “thump” following, registering a hit from another shooter.  and in the direction the buck left.  I was silently heartbroken.  but that’s the way it goes sometimes.  S and I finished the hunt with nothing else of interest and  headed in to start working on thanksgiving lunch.

after a good gorging on all that you associated with T Day, S and I headed back to the blind for the afternoon hunt.  no big dudes, but we saw a few deer and had some good time spent together.  that evening S was saying she might want to sleep in friday morning.  I ribbed her a little by saying “OK, but I’m going and if I see that 10, he might come home in the back of the truck….”.  she didnt find that funny and decided to hunt.  so we got up early again and headed to the blind.  we were entertained for a while by a spunky yearling running full tilt around the clearing we hunt.  bouncing around, flipping its tail around.  generally acting like a little kid.  at one point in a high speed turn/spin/thing the little kid actually fell down!  S and I got a pretty good laugh out of that.  a little while later I see a good rack coming in.  glass him and realize its the same deer!  he’s back!!  got S situated again.  talked to her about the shot “wait till he’s broadside.  put the crosshairs centered on his shoulder and squeeze, dont jerk, the trigger”.  same game as the day before.  deer kept making turns or standing behind the feeder legs, etc.  finally he was quartered to us a little and S felt confident.  she clicked the safety off, took her time, and sent one downrange.  its a hit!  could tell by the reaction of the deer it was a good hit.  big guy goes down.  nerves and animal energy have him moving for about a minute but you could tell he wasnt going anywhere.  I’m high fiving S.  squeezing her.  rubbing her back.  fist pumping.  about the only thing I didnt do was the macarena.  (if I knew how to do it, I might have tried)  hit the stopwatch and say “we’re waiting 15 minutes just to be safe”.  let me tell you, I’m not sure for whom those minutes were the longest (probably me).  finally we gathered our stuff and went to go get the truck.  backed it up to the pen.  I hoisted S over the top and jumped in myself.  checked the deer…..what a deer!  and the hooves….never seen hooves like that in person.  long and ugly.  couple of quick iphone pics and then struggled to get the big dude in the bed of the truck.  with only a 9 year old helping, it was a handful, but we got it.  back to the house and the fam all comes out to see the buck and congratulate the hunter.  then to the barn for pics and processing.  I think.  honestly, I’m not real sure.  cloud 9 was somewhere below where I was floating.

rest of the weekend was standard ranch fair.  bronco rides.  fishing for catfish in the stocktanks.  hanging out with the family.  but for me, and I’m betting for S, Thanksgiving 2011 was all about a 10 point buck.  the first for my oldest hunter.  we dropped him off with my buddy T the taxidermist for a shoulder mount.  he’ll take his rightful spot on the trophy wall (or maybe in the house.  if S had her way, he’d be hung  in her room)  a mounted deer is considered a trophy.  to me, that deer represents a moment frozen in time with my S.  where, much like being in a tunnel, nothing on the outside could get us.  it was just me, her and the Thanksgiving buck.


show’em what a little girl’s made of;  gunpowder and lead

-Miranda Lambert, Gunpowder and Lead

S tells about her first buck!

Posted November 30th, 2011 by Wade

Hey, it’s S again and I wanted to write about some news. So, Friday, Nov.25 we headed to the the blind. We sit there seeing nothing. Then out of the brush, comes a doe and a yearling. Apparently the yearling is very energetic. So it starts jumping around in circles like a maniac. Then, it falls down which we thought was pretty funny. Then a giant 10 point comes out to join them. “Didn’t we see that 10 point yesterday?” I said. Dad asked me if it was a good deer an of course I say yes so he says”do you wanna take your shot go ahead, put your cross hairs in the middle, gently squeeze the trigger.” I did all of those things then I pulled the trigger and WHAM the 10 point falls down, tries to get up but it can’t! It flops around for a minute or two but it went down for good. “Oh my gosh I got my first buck” I say. We got out of the blind and go down to look at that buck. It looked like a clean shot. Before we picked the deer up we noticed it’s hooves. They were so long that they crossed, by that we could tell it was a pretty old deer. It took us a while to get it in the bed of the truck because it was a very heavy deer. Then we headed to the barn to gut, clean and take pictures of the deer. And that is how I spent my thanksgiving and happy holidays!

‘one thing I know no matter were I go I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks’
Boondocks- Little Big Town

K’s first buck

Posted November 14th, 2011 by Wade

this weekend, most of the family headed to the ranch in support of two of the kids trying for their first bucks after S and her girlscout troop marched in the veterans day parade.  S of course, was wildly excited and cousin K  was pumped as well.  K’s daddy Col B is presently serving our country in Iraq, so he couldnt join us.  which crushed me, knowing that his son may get his first buck and he wouldnt be here to guide, enjoy, etc.  cousin A took off from school long enough to guide K for hunts friday evening and saturday morning.  as it turned out, that’s all that was needed.

we started friday afternoon off with S and K knocking a softball around at about 40 yards with one of my ruger 10/22′s.  this one is very light (due to a tactical solutions barrel and hogue stock) and accurate due to all the work I’ve done to it and a leupold 3×9 on top.  what really tops this rifle off as a great “kid gun” is the swr warlock suppressor.  with standard velocity ammo its ‘hollywood quiet’ which makes it the ultimate teaching aid.  no need for distracting ear protection or being unable to hear what’s being said to the shooter.  after they both finished off a mag, we switched to ringing a steel 6×9 plate at 100 yards with their respective deer rifles.  S banged it a few times with her ruger no3, then K ringed it with his 270.  both felt confident.

S and I headed to the caddy blind while A and K headed to dog blind.  I was hopeful we’d see the deer from the game cams (see prior post).  a short time later A texts me and says they see what he thinks is the 8 point I was telling them to look for, but looks like its got a broken brow tine from fighting.  I text him back a pic from kidsandcamo.com and he decides its the one.  I tell him if they get a shot, to take it.  short time later I get a picture text of K with his deer!  and on veterans day, no less!  a feeling of pride and sadness creep over me at the same time.  proud for K to get his first buck, but sad Col B wasnt in the blind with him.  S is happy for her cousin, but is concerned that was the only big buck.  we talk about how there were several bucks we were going for and there should be more to look at.  S and I head in after an unproductive hunt and head to the house.  grab a cooler for A and head to the barn with the rest of the family in tow.  much celebrating, high fives, atta boys and all that.  you couldnt wipe the smile off K’s face with a belt sander.  the only time he stopped smiling was for pictures.  (uh….ok?)  turns out A had a doe as well.  pictures, posing, more pictures, more posing.  clean the deer.  the women folk head back to the ranch house and all the kids (4) stay and “help”.  I’m fairly sure that a lot of non-hunter type people would consider the kids holding dead animals and their various parts as “child abuse”.  (those people can pretty much kiss my tail end)  others would consider it a right of passage.  we call it “helping”.  and later “dinner”.  maybe lunch, who knows.  PCR venison sausage wraps are freakin good!

Saturday morning S and I hit the blind again.  eventually settle on trying to take a small 10, but never get a good shot at it.  S is disappointed, but was actually a good learning experience.  you just dont take a shot unless its a good one.  that’s the only way to be a hunter.  be a good one.  be respectful of the game animal.  never risk a miss, or worse yet a wounded animal, with a less than ideal shot.  wind blew hard saturday evening and the moon was ridiculously bright saturday night, leaving nothing moving sunday morning.  what we did have, was 4 hunts just S and I together.  in our crazy world, you just cant buy that.  I dont care how much money you do or dont have.

so this weekend was all about K’s solid 8.  just dawned on me that we forget to measure inside spread.  doesnt matter.  its a trophy and I’ve already taken it to buddy T to have mounted.  K’s buck will take its rightful place on the wall with the other trophies.  this one however, is a first buck.  a helluva buck.  the veterans day buck.


grew up south of the mason dixon

working, spitting, hunting, and fishing

stone cold country by the grace of God

- Country Must Be Country Wide, Brantley Gilbert

looking for S’s first buck

Posted November 7th, 2011 by Wade

Last Saturday, an event of national importance occurred.  One that draws men (and some women) away from the family and starts a time of early mornings and long hours spent looking for just the right moment.  A time that spawns its own economy and spinoff industries larger than most country’s GDP.  A time spent trying to blend into your surroundings holding a weapon capable of killing from further than several football fields away.  A time most of those involved live for and never forget.
I’m talking deer season.  North Zone in Texas, specifically.

For me, opening weekend is like lent or something similar.  It signals a period of time devoted to something important to me at my very core.  Its not a hobby, its more important than that.  Its like a religious experience, or similar to.  It’s a large part of who and what I am.  It’s in my heart and soul and has been most of my life.  I’ve been hunting since I was around 5.  Old enough to wander the fields of grandma and grandpa’s ranch outside San Marcos, TX with a red ryder and an eye for those noisy blackbirds with bright red/yellow bands on their wings and those fat little yellow breasted target birds.  I didn’t know for many years that’s not actually what a field lark is called.  Of course, contrary to what ‘a Christmas story’ will have you believe, the daisy bb gun has virtually no power.  It might put an eye out if you poked yourself in the eye with the barrel.  Then pulled the trigger.  Twice.  So taking game at that age was a real challenge.  But I was in the field with a gun, a rusty old hand-me-down pocket knife and an active imagination.  Gone for hours, but never really far away.  Learning independence, how to be quiet when necessary, how to see things from a different perspective, how to be outside with nature, how to listen, and how to appreciate what God gave us.  As I’ve said, if hunting is a religion, then the field is your church.  My church.

Opening weekend this year found a few of us at Panther Creek Ranch for the hunt and goings on.  Due to the drought and etc this past year, we weren’t very high on seeing a hill country trophy, but were going out anyways with normal enthusiasm.  And also scouting for the next  generation’s hunt.  See, this coming weekend, “the kids” are going to the ranch.  Which means S and cousin K are going to try and harvest a good buck.  Put some horns on the wall and a story in their heart.  K’s dad S (one of J’s brothers) is presently in Iraq as the liason between the USAF and the Iraqi AF.  Big stuff and we’re all proud of him, but hope he gets his tail home quick and safe.  S being gone this weekend in particular, is sad to me, as he’ll miss a big event in his son’s life.  Just another example of the sacrifices military men/women make for the rest of us.

Although none of us really saw any good “kid trophies” this weekend, the game cameras tell a different story.  As they always do.  Got a couple of really nice deer at my blind (the “Cadillac”) and at least one strong contender at “dog blind” which is the only other double blind we have.  At the
caddy we’ve got a solid 10 and a freakishly tall 8?  Not sure what the tall deer is, as we only got one side pic of him, but he’s cool.  Very cool.  I’d love to see him in person and/or get some front/rear views of his horns.  Dog blind has at least one solid 8, maybe two.  Hopefully we can get the kiddos on them while they’re there.

S was VERY interested in what we saw this weekend and concerned that someone would shoot a buck she’d otherwise maybe get to see.  Smart kid.  Good hunting presence, concerned she wasn’t in the field and others had a chance when she didn’t.  In other words, SHE wanted to get the big buck, not Dad, not Uncle M (who was too engrossed in football to hunt anyways), or Dad’s friends.  Her deer.  She wants it on the wall in her room (mom isn’t so excited about that).

One of the things I’ve mentioned is gearing a kid for hunting.  S’s rifle is a great example.  Some companies make “youth models” but from what I understand are kinda junky guns of lesser quality than their fullsize counterparts.  I don’t know that for fact, but there are some times where “you get what you pay for” is certainly true.  Rifle and scope combos for five bills I think would surely fall into that category.  I know I wouldn’t expect much in the accuracy and repeatability department in a fullsize rifle of that price.  So I basically had to “build” S’s rifle.  Granted, I was off to a good start, as the rifle/scope was already there.  And best  of all, it was my first rifle, that now I get to pass down to my kids.  Its an old Ruger No 3, in .223.  Single shot, simple, very little kick, perhaps a little light in the knock down category due to caliber, but a great kid gun.  When I had it, the barrel and stock were cut down for a short armed (and shorter attention spanned) kid.  After I quit using it, my dad restocked the rifle in a real nice wood that I couldn’t bring myself to chop.  So after finally finding a factory Ruger stock on ebay of all places, (stocks for No 1s and No3s interchange, but are almost impossible to find since they don’t make No3s anymore and there’s very little aftermarket support for this style of rifle) I set about shortening it back up for S.  Let me tell you, when you are about to take a chopsaw to an expensive and rare stock, you plan and measure and plan.  A lot.  Helps if you chug the better part of a cold beer to “take the edge off” too.  Spin up the chopsaw and drop it before you have time to think about it.  Perfect cut!  Scope sitting on top is older, but a leupold vx-ii in 4-12x40mm is never a bad piece of glass.  Gun is perfect for her size and she was able to take her doe last year with it, even if the setup is more than 30 years old.

Hopefully this weekend will produce for S and K.  Seems I’m most excited about them getting a deer now, not myself.  Guess that’s what happens when you get older.  Regardless, time in the blind with S is priceless.  That unto itself, is a trophy in my eyes.


“I hit it again because that shot was a defining moment, and when a defining moment comes along, you define the moment… or the moment
defines you.” Roy McAvoy (Kevin Costner in Tin Cup)

Rain in Central Texas

Posted October 10th, 2011 by Wade

this past weekend, we were treated to what has become something quite rare in Central Texas; rain.

call it “the OU crew” was at the ranch for the weekend.  watch the game, shoot a few birds, and relax a little bit.  hunting friday was pretty damn good.  everyone that hunted got some solid shooting, and at least one limit was obtained. considering the 25mph sustained wind blowing, making those little grey things more like missles than birds, 8 or so birds was a pretty good bag.  saturday prior to the game, we filled feeders, checked game cams and were stunned that one of the tanks was completely dry, while another was within days of going dry.  because I’m not that smart, I decided to take a picture of my truck sitting in the middle of one of the dry tanks.  in retrospect, I’m glad I did.

the rains came in strong early sunday morning.  at this point, we arent sure exactly how much rain we got.  neighbor says his gauge tops out at 5″ and was fully.  guessing around 8 to 10 inches total.  J and I decided to check the tanks.  all of the ones that had water prior, were brim full!  the “almost dry” one in the back was about 3′ from the brim and the one I had my truck in less than 24 hours prior, was probably 6 feet deep.  amazing.  particularly considering the drain area for that tank isnt that big.

just goes to show you what a good rain will do…


I’m a country boy, I’ve got a 4-wheel drive
Climb in my bed, I’ll take you for a ride
Up city streets, down country roads
I can get you where you need to go
’cause I’m a country boy

-Alan Jackson, Country Boy