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 Post Posted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 7:47 pm 
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BRONZE
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Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:02 am
Posts: 158
Location: Longview, TX
I hope you had a Merry and Blessed Christmas. With the cold weather here, I don't go out to hunt; but, use the time to tell some old stories that might be interesting to some....

I'm Texas born and raised, and, like most of my kin, raised to shoot and hunt since day 1. I got my first BB gun at age 5 and we lived in Mission in S. Texas in an old house that was the only house on an oversized city block. A winter freeze had killed the citrus trees so I had a huge forest of dead trees to hunt in. Game for my BB gun and sling shot were smaller birds like sparrows, iguanas and various rats and mice. My Dad had bought me a bolt action .410 shotgun for my birthday (when I was born) and I grew up learning to shoot the white wing dove in the Rio Grande Valley.

At age 10, we moved up to Nacogdoches near my Dad's family and I had a .22 rifle by this time. The deer had been shot out during the Depression and hadn't returned; but, we had squirrels, opossums, raccoons, armadillos, assorted snakes, barns with rats, quail and more than enough 'harmful' birds to hunt in the country. I spent my summers and Christmas vacations living out in the country with relatives. Between chores, we hunted and fished and stalked critters for fun. Later, I moved up to Greggton (just annexed to Longview) where friends and I would walk the 5 miles to the old 'Devils Bluff' to camp out on the Sabine river for hunting and fishing camp outs. A friend and I would walk down the black top roads to White Oak carrying shotguns looking for dove hunting spots. (And, there were a couple of times we entered the back of a commercial 'dove hunting farm'; but, that's another story.) I got my first bow when we moved to Greggton and that started my archery practice.

At midterm my Senior year, I was in Huntington in Angelina county. The area was known for being a basketball power and having channel 9, the one TV station you could get to watch (and signed off the air at midnight while showing an Indian head test pattern.) I was living with my Grandmother and my Step Grandfather, Papa C, doing chores and feeding the cows after school on his old family farm South of town. (Yes, the town had a bank, a couple stores, a car dealership, one flashing light and the whole school was in 3 buildings.) I drove his '52 Chevy pickup to school with a shotgun and .22 rifle in the back window as well as a .22 pistol hung on the gun rack. (We didn't have school shootings back then.) There were some nice girls there; but, they had to be home by 10 p.m. back then. So, after a date, you changed cloths and met the guys at the Tastie Freeze (yep, the only one in town) and we'd get frog hunting parties going. A friend and I hunted bull frogs with gigs and found we had an issue with the local snakes coming to the lights. PaPa C's old farm was next to Mr. W's farm. They both hated armadillos messing up their pastures, so we switched to a .22 pistol and single shot rifle to deal with snakes while hunting frogs and armadillos. We'd walk the edge of pastures in the dark and learned to use our ears to hear opossums and raccoons scratch the bark as they climbed the trees. We learned to back light them against the sky to shoot them without using the spotlight. We got good at walking up to armadillos and usually left a pile of them at the edge of the fields to feed the buzzards. And, with practice, I could walk up to a critter and use a hunting knife on them. (That worked well until I found a skunk one night, but, again, that's a different story.) The deer were in this area, so I got a start on deer hunting. There were also more 'interesting' critters. The farmers South of town had problems with packs of coydogs (coyote/ dog mixed) that were the size of German Shepherds killing their calves.

As my senior year came to a close, my friend and I cut out most of our night hunting. On our last big night hunt, we hunted across several farms and were making our way back to the truck via an old logging road. We heard the bushes making a noise about 30 feet to our front where the logging road crossed a culvert over an active branch. We were elated as we thought it would be a raccoon looking for crawfish in the branch. My friend had the .22 single shot rifle and I had the 6 shot .22 revolver and the spotlight as we quietly crept forward. We stopped when we got to the culvert and waited silently for about 5 minutes listening for another sound to locate the suspected raccoon. When there were no more sounds from the critter, we decided that we'd move on after we verified the raccoon tracks. I turned on the spot light and flashed it around the brush going down the branch looking for some shining eyes. Not seeing any eyes shine in the light, I turned the light to the ground to look for the tracks. There, in the sandy soil, was a cat track. Yes, there were known bobcats in the area. But, this was a big track right in front of me heading into the brush where we had heard the noises before. I opened my hand and extended my fingers. (I wear a Men's Large glove for the record.) From the heel of my hand, the track went forward and half way down my widely spread fingers. I had grown up hearing stories about pumas, swamp cats and other names for big cats; but, this was my first experience seeing one in person. After a brief discussion on how to unpucker our sphincters, we kept the spot light on and sweeping to our sides and rear as we walked to the next pasture. (We didn't want to run and possibly entice the cat to play 'eat the teenager.' We also felt that we were way under gunned for a dangerous large puma at night.) We got back to the truck and headed to the house. We decided that some folks would find this hard to believe back in town...

My hunting, fishing and other time spent in the woods helped out immensely during my combat training in the Corps. It also helped me out and stay alive in Vietnam while hunting the most dangerous critters on the Earth. After Vietnam, Yuma, Az was a great duty station for hunting ducks, foxes, coyote, rabbits, mule deer and getting to see mountain goats is the wild. I also got a mountain lion tag in a drawing back then; but, never went on the hunt as I couldn't find a Marine brave enough to hunt the cats on foot, lol.

In 1974, I was in Waco, Tx on recruiting duty. I met a gracious Korean era Marine who offered to let me hunt for white tails on his goat farm in Western Coryell Co out past Gatesville after his family finished hunting by Christmas each year. I lucked into a deal on a long bow (between 40 and 50 lbs pull) and started shooting a bow again. Texas hunting law back then specified a bow that could shoot a 1 inch broadhead at least 300 feet. I purchased some heavy weight wooden shafts and some 2 bladed broadheads for hunting. I took the setup to a baseball field one afternoon and sacrificed one broadhead and found the setup would shoot around 390 feet. I used a colored pen to mark the back of the bow for elevations from 10 yards to 30 yards. When bow season started, I went to the public Hunting land on Lake Whitney. I had built a tree stand to hunt from and read a new book called “Jaws” while waiting in the blind. The blind location had looked good; but, it was now void of deer and all I could see were squirrels. Bow hunting on these lands wasn't very popular in that it was mostly knee deep grass fields with clumps of scrub oaks dotting the area. One Saturday morning about 4:30 a.m., I was driving into the Public Hunting Area and saw a buck that looked like Bambi's Dad with a herd of does. My preference for deer meat has always been a yearling for tender meat. However, my archery tag allowed for a doe or a buck so I parked at the next paring area intent on tracking down the herd for a stalking hunt. By the start of daylight I was within 100 yards of the heard and upwind of them. I waited as they slowly grazed behind a clump of trees and crouched as I moved to a closer position. (I was in full cammies with a camo net hat and gloves.) I waited quietly as they continued to slowly graze to another group of scrub oaks and stalked closer. I was on the opposite side of the brush from the deer and still up wind. I took off my jungle boots and tied the laces together and hung them around my neck for the final stalk. I worked my way slowly toward the edge of the brush and heard them move off. I verified this by looking under the brush at ground level. The deer herd had moved to the next clump of scrub oaks and I waited until they were on the far side before I moved again. Looking along the ground, there were gaps in the brush where I could see up to the deer's knees in spots. I moved slowly on my hands and knees along the tree line. I actually crawled around an armadillo digging for grabs without alerting him. As I got to the corner of the trees, the herd moved off to the next group of trees. This pattern continued until about 4 p.m. I decided then to conceded to the deer that they had seen me, knew I only had a bow and were happy to play games. Sometimes I was within 10 yards with the trees between us. Other times I could only get to within 30 yards; but, they never gave me a shot. They never ran, just a walk or a trot away to the next cover. I put my boots back on and thought about how much fun the deer and I had that day as I walked back to my car. They let me into their home and I got to have fun 'hunting' them. In my opinion, it's the hunt or stalk that makes the hunt. My skills failed to bring home the venison that day and I learned more about deer. Thank goodness for grocery stores and for being able to interact with nature in the wild...

_________________
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Semper Fi,

Tom


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 Post Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 8:22 am 
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SILVER
SILVER
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Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2013 8:47 am
Posts: 358
Great story Tom and thanks for sharing it with us. Thanks you for your service to our country.


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 Post Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:51 pm 
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SILVER
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:50 pm
Posts: 361
Love these old, true life, stories - similar in ways to my youth, brought back many memories - God bless you and keep the good posts coming our way!


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 Post Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 4:28 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2019 4:23 am
Posts: 1
Wow that was some good old memories you brought back to life.Would love to hear more old memories.


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 Post Posted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:35 pm 
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SILVER
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:50 pm
Posts: 361
Much can be learned from listening/reading others hunting experiences - would love to hear more hunting stories and see photos of successful hunts. Hunting hogs are night starts here next Thursday, and I think the loggers thinned a pine plantation where the hogs had been bedding, so they will change their area somewhat, but 2 of my stands are on the edge of the logging operation so I still feel hopeful - y'all said hogs like to root where loggers have been so that's good.


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