Outdoors with Ed - Journal Entries
Saturday Morning,  December 8, 2007

It was opening day of the second duck season and Beck and I planned to hunt the creek on the back of the farm.  Andy called and said they had a placed scouted out down at Lake Blackshear.  Andy, Duke and Philip were going down and spending the night.  I told them that Beck and I would meet them at Campers Haven that next morning. 

Beck had been playing with Leyton that afternoon and when I got home that evening he said he wanted Leyton to spend the night and go hunting with us on the back of the farm.  I tried to talk Beck into going to Blackshear with the guys but he wanted Leyton to go with us.  I really didn’t want to get up at 4:30 am and make the drive to Lake Blackshear so we called Leyton and told him to come spend the night.
I woke the boys up at 5:45 am and we got dressed and headed to the farm.  We found our place on the creek and waited for the woods to wake up.  It was a cloudy morning and was still fairly dark at 10 til seven, which is the time I thought the ducks would be flying.  We finally heard a couple of woodies whistle as they flew over and I told Beck and Leyton to get ready.  Then we heard boom, boom, boom from down the creek.  Then boom, boom, boom again and then again.  “Somebody’s got our ducks” I told Beck.  Boom, boom, boom we heard again.  Lucy began to whine and I felt like whining myself.  I had hunted the creek for 8 years or so and never heard anyone else shoot.  Now someone had discovered my honey hole.   Finally a pair of ducks flew over and lit down on the creek too far away.  I had anticipated this might happen and had showed Beck and Leyton on the way in where to walk down the creek and hopefully jump the ducks my way.  We sat a little while longer and then six or eight ducks finally flew over and circled a couple of times.  I blew my wood duck whistle but they kept flying and went down on the creek behind us.   I was beginning to get frustrated and Lucy’s whining wasn’t helping at all. 

I blew the whistle a couple of more times and just as I was giving up hope three ducks came in from behind us.  They came in fast but I was ready and managed to drop one duck just as he was about to light on the creek.  The other two flew off before I could get a shot.  Lucy saw the duck fall and took off for the retrieve.  I was ready this time and had her leashed to try and teach her only to fetch when I tell her to.  The leash snatched her back and she finally came back and healed beside me.  It all happened so fast that Beck and Leyton were just now realizing I had killed a duck.  I unleashed Lucy and sent here to fetch the duck.  She brought the drake wood duck back and dropped it a few feet away.  Beck quickly picked up the duck and he and Leyton studied the colors of the duck and made sure it did not have a band.  We were all happy that we had not been skunked.

I figured it was over so we decided the boys would walk down and try to jump the ducks that had lit on the creek earlier my way.  They walked out to the Arrowhead Field.  I could hear them talking the whole time and then saw three ducks appear from their direction.  The ducks were just over the tree tops flying down the creek my way.  I made a good shot and dropped another drake on the other side of the creek.  I heard the boys scream with excitement when they heard my gun shot.  Then I heard Leyton yell “did you get one?”  I answered “yes” and then released Lucy who was waiting patiently to go and retrieve the duck.  I guess a good snatch from the leash had done her some good.  She found the duck and brought it back as the boys headed back my way.  I was happy that I had got my limit and they were happy to each have a duck to carry back to the truck. 

I took a picture of Beck and Leyton beside the creek with each holding a duck and sent it to Andy.  He quickly replied back with a text message that read “0”.  They had goose-egged.  I told Beck he made the right call for us to hunt on the creek.  We went back to the truck and rode a lap through the farm hoping to see a hog. We didn’t see anything. It was a good morning and although it took a little work, it was a successful hunt.  Beck and I plan to walk the creek later today and see if we can find where the other guys are hunting.  I believe they were on the other side of the creek just before the interstate.  If I find their spot then I will have 2 honey holes on the back of the farm.
Beck and Christian in front of jeep
Beck and Christian with ducks
Christian and Beck with shiner
Will and Christian quail hunting
Beck with banded drake
Ed and Beck quail hunting
2007 Father Son Campout at Dixie Turf
December 28-30, 2007

Beck got a new .410 guage shotgun for Christmas and we were ready for the annual father son campout at Dixie Turf.  The duck hunting had been slow so we planned a quail hunt for the Friday afternoon we arrived.  We all had a good time and managed to get 63 quail.  Beck and Christian enjoyed their first quail hunt and both killed thier first quail.  We ate at the lodge and then headed back to the turf for a good night sleep in the Lepracahn.

We were up early to duck hunt.  We headed to the Chenault Tract and waded out to the edge of the water.   The ducks had been roosting in the back of the pond as they usually do.  They started coming off the roost and Will shoot at the first ducks that came into range.  He fired one shot and two ducks fell.  Just after that he got a double.  We had a great morning duck hunt with the boys and although I didn't get near as many ducks as Will,  Beck and I were happy when Lucy retrieved one of the few I killed and it was a banded drake woodie.

It started raining that Saturday morning and continued the rest of the trip.  That didn't bother us as the boys fished, road the golf cart, shot guns and kayaked in between  the rain showers.  We saw a new litter of pups at Samara Plantation and ate a good lunch at the lodge before heading home.  The trip was alot of fun and we always look forward to our annual after Christmas father son campout!
4 Wheel golf cart
Beck and Christian with puppies
Beck with 2 quail
Drying out the gear
Kayaking in the rain
January 10-13, 2008     Lake Guntersville, Alabama 

Gadwalls at Guntersville

Duck hunting seems harder than it used to be.  Beck and I have been lucky shooting wood ducks around middle Georgia, especially with 2 of the 10 ducks I’ve killed this year being banded, but I am ready to do some real duck hunting.  The past few years at Lake Seminole have been pretty slow.  We usually see more duck hunters than ducks.  Ray and I managed to kill a couple of canvasbacks two years ago but it was still pretty slow.  Last year when Will and I were down at Lake Seminole we ran into John Norris, a friend of Will’s that  grew up with in Moultrie.  John and his friend Clint are avid duck hunters and hunt Mexico and Canada every year and are at Lake Seminole most every other weekend of the season.  I told John that I was tired of Lake Seminole and he recommended Lake Guntersville, AL.  He said that it was mainly gadwalls but that “it was just like Seminole used to be 10 years ago”.  Well that is all I had to hear.  I could kill ducks on Lake Seminole ten years ago.  Will and I talked about it over this past year.  I got all the gear ready and Will talked to his duck hunting buddies and found the places to put in and hunt.  We were excited about our trip but did not really know what to expect.

I dropped Beck off at school and headed to Atlanta to pick up Will.  We headed up I-75 to Adairsville and headed west through the foot hills of the Smokey Mountains and into Alabama.  We were surprised when we were crossing over Lake Guntersville just 2 hours and 15 minutes from leaving Will’s office in Atlanta.  We headed to the Wal-Mart  to get our Alabama hunting license and other supplies then checked into the Comfort Inn. As we unloaded our gear in the room we turned on the weather channel.  We knew there were some storms headed our way.  The weather channel and every local channel was talking about the storm.  Tornadoes, wind and rain were all in the forecast.  It seemed to still be in Mississippi so we figured we had 2 to 3 hours to scout out a place to hunt for the morning. 

After asking directions we finally found Goose Pond which was one of the places that had been recommended to Will.  There was a marina and bait shop.  We found a good map of the lake and asked the man at the marina a few questions.  Thank goodness we did.  We were fixing to head right into an area that was a duck refuge and no one is allowed to hunt.  “That’s why they made us sign that map and told it to keep it with us when we bought our licenses.  I wondered why they made us do that.”  Will said.  I had wondered  to.  “It’s always best to read something before you sign it” Will said.  I asked a few more questions and we decided to head to Jackson Park landing.  When we got there the wind was blowing white cap waves out on the lake.  Should we put in or is it too rough.  We finally decided we had nothing else to do and it did look a little calmer on the other side of the lake.  We unloaded the boat and headed for a spot that David Murray another duck hunting friend of Will’s from Moultrie had told him about.  When we got out on the lake I couldn’t believe it, ducks were everywhere.  The wind was blowing so hard on the big water that all the ducks were along the banks and in the coves.  We found the spot we were looking for but someone was already hunting there.  We road around some more and then I dropped Will off and to hunt while I continued to scout around the lake. 

The weather started looking worse so I picked Will up just after 5:00 pm and we headed back to the truck.  We were still dry and did not start raining until we got to the boat landing.  Will jumped out of the boat and backed in the trailer, or should I say tried to back in the trailer.  I must admit that is hard to see the small boat trailer out of the back of my tall truck but that really didn’t matter to me as Will tried and tried to straighten out the trailer and back it into the water.  Every time he tried it started raining just a little harder and after the fifth time it was raining pretty hard.  I finally gave Will some verbal directions and told him to get out and pick up the back of the trailer to straighten it out.  He did and we finally got the boat loaded on the trailer, although I was soaking wet.  We went back to the Comfort Inn, showered and then to Ruby Tuesdays to eat.

The alarm sounded at 6:00 am Georgia time.  We had no morning complications and were happy to find there was no one in our spot.  I dropped Will off and before I could get the
Will holding up 2
Ed showing day 2
Will with a limit and a bag of ducks
Ed with face mask
boat camouflaged and unload my gear he was firing shots.  I gathered my gear, leashed up Lucy and I made my way to the blind.  Ducks were flying everywhere as I tried to get set up and find a spot to secure Lucy so that she could see.  Lucy could see the ducks and she was whining.  Will and I fired a couple of shots at some fly bys and never cut a feather.  When we would miss, Lucy would whine more.  I didn’t feel very hidden in the blind and the ducks were definitely seeing us.  After about 45 minutes of Lucy whining and ducks turning  I decided to move back in the cove.  I wanted to give Will the opportunity to be better camouflaged and the ducks kept trying to light about 200 feet from where we were.  I grabbed my chair and Lucy and walked back to where I thought I might could get a shot.  I leashed Lucy to a tree and sat a while.  Shortly a small drove of ducks came in and checked out the cove.  I managed to knock one down and unleashed Lucy to retrieve.  She brought it back and I had my first drake gadwall.  The ducks were still seeing Will in the blind on the point and it wasn’t long before Will grabbed his chair and was sitting next to me.  When things calmed down I decided to put out the mojo duck.  That seemed to help because it seemed about every 20 minutes or so ducks would come in and check it out. Our pile of ducks grew and grew until we had our limit.  Twelve gadwalls total.  We could not believe it.   Will had stated earlier if we could kill 12 ducks on the entire trip he would be happy.  Here it was 1:00 pm on the first day and we were headed back to the Comfort Inn. 

We got back to the hotel, made sandwiches and laid on the beds and discussed how good the trip had already been.  After an hour or so we decided to go to Mud Creek and check out another part of the lake.  We saw a lot of coots and ducks and made our way out to the Tennessee River which forms a large portion of the lake, but we both knew we already had our spot.  We loaded up the boat headed to the hotel and showered and back to Ruby Tuesdays for supper. 

We set the alarm for 5:30 am the next morning hoping to get an earlier start.  We figured someone would already be in our spot but we were a little late the morning before so we figured 30 minutes earlier couldn’t hurt.  When we woke up the next morning it was colder.  The whole boat had a layer of frost on it and when we got to the landing it was foggy.  I mean the fog was so thick you could not see 10 feet in front of the boat.  To make matters worse just after we unloaded the boat and headed out on the lake, the boat cut off and would not crank back up.  Will had already had to clean the spark plugs on an earlier trip to Satilla so I figured that is what was wrong again.  I got to the trolling motor and slowly made our way back to the landing.  I took off the cover of the motor and looked at the spark plugs.  One of them was loose and oil was blowing out from around it.  I took it out and gave it to Will to clean.  He was looking for a knife when I hit the ignition button.  The boat fired up with one plug.  “Put that plug back in” I told Will.  The loose spark plug seemed to be the problem because we didn’t have anymore boat problems.

We did have more problems because we still had the fog.  I tried to find my way but there was no hope.  We finally saw some trees and decided to head for the bank and land the boat to wait for the fog to lift.  When we finally could see we loaded up in the boat and went to find our spot, only nothing looked the same.  We saw more houses than we had seen the previous days and we knew we should have come to our spot when finally the sun broke through the fog.  We had no compass and this was the first bearing we could use to try and figure out what was going on.  The sun was on our left and we knew the sun comes up in the east so we had to be heading south.  That explained the problem because our spot was north of the boat landing.  It took us a while to believe that we had gotten so turned around but we finally turned the boat around and headed north.  It took a while for us to pass the Jackson Park boat landing where we had started but at least now we knew where we were.  We eased our way back towards our spot and saw a boat pulled up right beside the blind.  We had a back up spot not far from our main spot just in case.   As we pulled over and were about beach the boat I pulled out my binoculars to try and see what the other guys were doing.  It appeared they were loading up and heading out.  It was 10:00 am by this time and I guess those guys had someplace else they needed to be, plus they had not been lost in the fog the entire morning.  We waited for them to pull off then we eased over to the spot.  There were spent shotgun shells everywhere and it appeared as if those guys had a pretty good morning hunt. 

Will and I put out a few decoys and beached the boat.  We unloaded our guns and chairs.  Will then waded out and placed the mojo duck directly in front of us.  We sat and waited.  Just like the day before, ducks started trickling in.  We got one then two and it wasn’t long before we had a pretty good pile of ducks.  We killed our 12th duck about 3:00 pm.  We could not believe that we had limited out two consecutive days.  We decided we needed to get back to the hotel and clean some ducks.  We only had one cooler and it was already full of ducks.  We loaded our gear and got up the decoys and headed back for the boat landing.  We both had smiles on our faces as we looked back at our spot.  We both knew that we would be back.
Friday – Sunday
February 29, 2008 – March 2, 2008

I had told Beck the next time I went to Lake Seminole he could go.  I knew the Bassmaster Disaster was coming up the first of May and Beck is not quite ready for that trip.  So I called Scott to see if we could schedule a trip before then.  He had a trip planned with Bailey Gross and his son and said that Beck and I could come then.  It was Bailey’s son, Mitchell’s, birthday and they were taking a couple of his friends down to Seminole for a birthday trip.  When I told Beck he was excited and I was glad I didn’t even have to take a boat and that Scott would be our guide.

I picked up Beck from school at 12:30 pm.  We made good time although he asked “how much longer” several times and wanted know “what town are we in now” every time we went through an intersection or small town.  Scott had gotten down earlier that morning so when Beck and I arrived at the cabin we unloaded our things and then loaded into the boat to fish.  I missed a couple in Grassy Pond and set the hook several more times that may or may not have been fish.  We headed back in front of the cabin around 6:00 pm and found Bailey and the boys, who had arrived about 30 minutes earlier.  We talked with them a while and then Scott eased over to one of his secret fishing spots.  He made his first cast and was calling for Beck as he set the hook.  Beck grabbed the rod and reel from Scott and landed the fish into the boat.  Scott and Beck caught another one and then I even managed to luck one in the boat.  Bailey and the boys had seen the action and were heading our way.  We let them have the spot and it wasn’t long before Bailey was handing his rod over to Davis for him to land a fish.  It was almost dark when Lawton and Mitchell each caught a fish.  We were all excited to have caught a few and went back to the cabin to grill hamburgers.

I heard some commotion early the next morning and then heard Bailey in the shower just after 6:00 am.  I got up at 7:00 am to find Bailey and the boys heading out to fish.  Mitchell said they woke up at 5:00 am and waited as long as they could before waking Bailey up.  Scott was cooking biscuits and he and I were not in as big of a hurry as the others.  Beck finally woke up about 8:30 am so we loaded up the boat and ran up the creek to another one of Scott’s secret spots.  He caught a fish on his first cast and then another on his second.  I managed to catch one a short while later and before long we had 5 in the boat and had thrown back a dink.  Things slowed down after that but we continued to fish hard. 

Just about the time we decided to head over to Jack Wingate’s Lunker Lodge for some lunch a “Jerry” trolled over and asked if we could tow him to Big Jim’s.  Scott worked on his batteries but we could not get his boat to crank, so we towed him in.  After that we met up with Bailey and the boys and went to Wingate’s for lunch.  All of the boys bought rattle traps and Beck kept his in his pocket the rest of the trip.  We fished more that afternoon but it was pretty slow.  The water was up and muddy and there was floating grass out in the flats which made it difficult to fish.  Scott, Beck and I headed back to the cabin but Bailey and the boys headed up the creek to Scott’s secret spot where we had caught fish earlier that morning.  They caught a few more including the largest fish of the trip, a solid 4 pounder.

They got back to the cabin just before dark.  A hot shower felt good after along day of fishing and then we all headed to Big Jim’s for supper.  They were almost to busy to shuck our oysters but when Steve found out they were for Scott he sent out 2 dozen on the house.  The boys went out to play while we were finishing up our shrimp, grouper and oysters.  They ran around and had a good time and Beck claims that some girls were chasing after them.  According to Beck, “Mitchell broke a stick, Davis went to the outhouse and got some toilet paper and they made a surrender flag”. 

We made a quick stop by Terry Butler’s cabin on the way home and got in bed just before 11:00 pm.  Everyone must have been tired because we all slept a little later and Bailey even had to wake up the boys around 8:00 am.  They woke up ready to fish and were already in the boat when I got up.  We finally woke Beck up around 9:00am and headed back up Spring Creek to the secret spot.  It was foggy and we had to go slow.  We finally got within sight of the spot and there were Bailey and the boys and Bailey landed a fish right in front of us.  That was there only fish so far and fishing continued to be pretty slow.  I managed to catch one small one after he bit Scott’s paddle tail lizard in half.  That was our only fish of the day which ended early because Bailey had to coach baseball practice back in Columbus around 4:00 pm.  The highlight of the day was on the way back when Beck found a Bill Dance Fat Free Shad crank bait floating in the lake.  He had another lure to go with his rattle trap.  It was a great trip and Beck told me several times on the way home that “Lake Seminole is cool!”
Scott, Bailey and the boys
Ed and Beck with fish at sunset
Mitchell, Davis Lawton and Beck
Beck with Scott's bass
Red Hawk Plantation         Friday, March 21, 2008

Beck and I went on a hog hunt to Red Hawk Plantation in Pulaski County.  We had a good time but we did not get a hog.  This boar was killed by another hunter but we are always ready for a photo opportunity.
Lake BlackshearSpring Break 2008

Beck was on spring break and work had been pretty slow so we decided to go spend a couple of nights at the Lake Blackshear cabin.  We left on a Thursday afternoon after Beck and I hunted turkey that morning.  We didn’t get a turkey but one did gobble a few times and another one came and checked out our set up in the arrowhead field.  He must not have liked our decoy our probably my calling, because he disappeared just as quickly as he appeared.

After our morning hunt we ate at the Waffle House and then went and picked up Tamatha and Brant and headed down to the Lake.  Wayne, Jesse and Wilber had come down the day before to work on the screen porch.  When we arrived they were working, but the boat was in the water and the cooler had several fish including a nice largemouth bass and a couple of nice crappie.  When 5:00 o’clock came around as tired as they were, they still managed to get in the boat and fish for a while.  They fished until after dark and we ordered some food from Daphine’s Lodge. They loaded the boat and headed on back after we ate.

No one had been to the cabin over the winter and Tamatha “deep cleaned” for most of the day Friday while Beck and I fished off the dock.  We caught a couple of hybrids and one pretty good catfish.  Beck, Brant and I headed up to Cedar Creek to catch some baitfish for limb lines.  We caught enough bait and went back to get Tamatha.  We put out 10 limb lines just before dark and went back to the cabin.  We waited until after 10:00 pm before Beck and I checked the lines.  We had no luck and it seemed like the fish were not biting.  Only one line out of 10 had the bait gone which was a good thing because we only had one small bream to re-bait the lines.  We headed back in and went to bed.

We slept in the next morning and it was almost 11 before ate a little breakfast and were ready to head out in the boat.  Tamatha and Brant wanted to go so we all loaded up.  I did not have much confidence because most of our bait was dead when Beck and I checked the lines the night before.  I motored up to the stump that held the first line and slowly pulled on the string.  Nothing pulled back and I told Beck, Tamatha and Brant there was nothing on it.  About the time I got the weight in the boat I felt a jerk.  “There is something on here, grab the net Beck” I yelled as the tired fish made a couple of runs.  The fish was much bigger than he felt and it took Beck a couple of scoops with the net before he finally got the catfish’s head and most of the body in the net.  Tamatha was screaming “Aaah look how big it is” as Beck held on to the net and tried to pull the fish over into the boat.  I grabbed the handle of the net and helped Beck out and we had our first fish.  Beck and I high fived as I looked over at a bass fisherman who I’m sure got a kick out of watching us.

We checked several more lines and one had an alligator garr.  He swallowed the bait and was dead which didn’t bother me any because I just cut the line and let him go.   We managed to get one more, nice catfish and which made us pretty happy with our catch.
Saturday,  April 26, 2008   
Perry Rotary Fishing Tournament

It was time again for the Rotary Fishing Tournament and we were full of confidence.  Beck and I were going with Bob Lawson back to Whitehall Plantation.  We finished in 8th place last year and had hopes of doing even better this year.  I picked Beck up from school just after 3:00 pm and then picked up Bob. We stopped by M&T Meats and bought three filets marinated in their special sauce and were pulling up to the cabin on the private 175 acre lake right at 5:00 pm.  We unloaded our gear and put the boat in the water.  We fished in front of the lodge and caught several nice bass.  Ms. Betty gave Beck a bait casting rod and reel for his 7th birthday and he was determined to use it.  I told him that I thought he had a better chance throwing the spinning reel because he could throw it farther and it would not back lash.  He didn’t listen to me and mainly threw the bait caster.  I told him he could do what he wanted today but tomorrow he would have to listen to me and throw the spinning rod.  The tournament had a youth division this year and I wanted to make sure Beck had at least one fish to weigh in.  Last year Beck caught a 3.8 pounder.  If he could top that I knew he would be in the money.

We swung back by the cabin and Bob started the charcoal so that the coals would be ready and we could put the steaks on right when we got back.  We headed over behind the islands which has always been our lucky spot.  We were scratching our heads when we made a pass behind the duck ponds and didn’t even get a bite.  That is usually our “honey hole” but it seemed very calm and still back there.  This year the tournament was later in the year and we figured the fish had already spawned and where in deeper water.  We decided in the morning we would start in front of the lodge and work toward the dam.  We headed back to the cabin and Bob cooked the steaks which were great.  We got in bed and planned to get up at 5:30 am to make sure we were fishing at sun up.

It took a while for Beck to wake up but when I got serious and gave him a good shaking and told him it was time to fish, he finally opened his eyes.  When Bob and I walked out of the back of the cabin towards the dock it sounded like water was pouring into the lake.  We couldn’t figure out what is was until we walked down to the dock and realized it was fish hitting the top of the water.  It was a feeding frenzy!  It sounded like smaller fish hitting around the bank.  We figured that the feeder on the dock must have gone off and the food drifted towards the bank.   Whatever was going on, it made us excited to fish.  We were all in the boat at 6:15 am and had to wait a short while for daybreak, which it the official start time of the tournament.  I thought the top water bite would be early so Beck threw a buzz bait, I threw a spook
Beck with his Bass
Bob with Hybrid
and Bob threw a jerk bait.  We didn’t catch a fish on top water and it wasn’t long before I was casting my Texas rigged lizard and Bob was throwing his crank bait.  We managed to catch a few fish in the 2 to 3 pound range, but we needed some lunkers.  I heard the sound of drag pulling from the back of the boat and looked back to see a big bend in Bob’s rod.  “I don’t know if he’s big but he sure is pulling” Bob said as I grabbed for the net.  The fight took a while as the fish took a little more drag and then made a run under the boat.  We were all disappointed when Bob finally got the fish to the boat and it was a hybrid.  It turned out to be our largest fish of the day but we threw it back because only species of black bass are legal for the tournament.  

Beck threw his spinning rod and reel until he couldn’t take it anymore and then asked me to rig him up a lizard on his bait caster.  I told him that he had a better chance with his spinning rod and a spinner bait which is what he caught his fish last year on.  He wanted his bait caster so I rigged it up and let him cast. 

We fished our way back to the dock and unloaded our catch into the holding cooler.  We had five fish but only one that had any size.  Bob’s cousin called while we were unloading the fish and said they were down a couple of weeks ago and had good luck around the islands, so that is where we planned to go next.  We fished in the cove with the pile of rocks but it was pretty slow. 

It was about 11:00 am by now and we knew we needed to catch some larger fish.  Beck had continued to throw his bait casting reel.  He would throw it about 10 yards out and most every time he would have a small back lash.  He would pull on the fishing line and get it out.  He wasn’t asking me to help with his problems so although I made several comments that I thought he would be better off with the spinning rod, I let him do his thing.  Just after I made one of my many comments to him that he needed to use the spinning rod because he wasn’t going to catch anything on that bait caster I heard him say “I got one”.  I turned and he did have one.  His rod was bending and he was reeling.  I grabbed the net and as Beck brought the fish close to the boat I scooped him in.  Beck had caught a fish on his bait casting rod and reel and he was proud.  I didn’t say anything else to Beck about his fishing but that is when he started up.  The first thing he said was “Well, I’m through for the day”.  The youth division only weighed in one fish and I guess Beck was happy with his 2 pounder.  After he kicked back in the boat he began to relive the catch for me and Bob.  Beck had come along way since last year and I told Bob if he gets any smarter from age 7 to 8 than he did from age 6 to 7 we may have to get him his own boat next year. 

Bob kept throwing his crank bait and I kept casting my lizard.  We managed to improve our stringer but knew we didn’t have a winning catch.  Beck fished off and on a little more but the pressure was off him, he had has fish to weigh in.  We went back to the cabin and culled some smaller fish and made sandwiches for lunch.  After lunch it started getting pretty hot and we were starting to get tired.  Bob had to resort to fishing his crank bait from a sitting position for a while.  We fished until almost 2:30 pm and improved our stringer a little bit but never caught the 8 pounders that we hoped for.

We packed up, loaded the boat and headed for the AgCenter.  Bob and I were slightly disappointed but Beck seemed happy as he kept telling us how he had set the hook and caught the fish on his bait caster.  The weigh in was fun and Bob and I were in the money and managed to improve our standing from last year as we finished in 6th place and took home $150.00, which was $25.00 more than our entry fee.
October 18, 2008   Opening day of Deer Season

It took an extra shake or two but Beck finally rolled out of bed and we got dressed.  We got on the stand by the creek just before shooting light.  It was a little slow until I heard something about 8:15 am.  I looked over to our right and saw a deer rubbing its head in the bushes.  I cold tell it was a small buck and told Beck to look that way.  Then I heard the sound of antlers lightly rattling.  I could still see the small buck and new it wasn’t him so I figured there must be some more.  The small buck walked out from behind a tree and was followed by another small buck and then another, but he was a little larger.  He was a small eight pointer but not big enough to shoot.  We let the bucks walk on by but Beck says if we see the eight pointer when he has his gun, he’s going down.

Saturday, September 6, 2008    Opening Day of Dove Season

Beck and I both had new shotguns for dove season.  I had the 12 gauge Benelli that Big Ed had given me for Christmas and Beck had the .410 single shot that he got from Santa Claus.  There were a lot of dove on the filed so we were both excited about opening day.  Everyone gathered at the trailers around 2:30 pm and we headed to the field around 3:30.  Beck and I put up our blind in the spot where I had seen the most dove.  John and John Garrett sat next to us.  We got set up which takes a while when you have a blind, a dog, a seven year old and all our gear.  I put the mojo dove out hoping it would bring a few dove in close for easy shots.  Before I could get back to the blind a drove of about 10 dove swooped over the mojo.  I told Beck to keep his gun unloaded until I killed 2 or 3 dove and he said O K.  The dove started flying and I started shooting and Lucy started whining because I couldn’t hit anything.  After I finished my second box and still had not picked up a bird I told Beck he could start shooting.  I finally managed to shoot a couple birds.  I let Lucy loose to retrieve and of course, she headed over to John.  I can’t blame her since he was killing a lot more birds than me. 

Another drove swooped into the mojo and I knocked one down.  Beck had also shot at the doves and when he said he thought he got one I thought he saw my bird fall and thought it was his.  I asked him was he sure that it wasn’t my bird and he said that he got one, so I told him to go pick it up.  He walked out to pick up the dove and I saw mine flutter on the ground.  I whistled at Beck and showed him where the dove was.  He went and picked up the dove which I knew was mine.  He brought it back to the blind and said “I don’t think that’s the one I shot”.  “Well go get yours” I told Beck.  He walked straight to another dove that was lying on the ground.  He had got one.  I was proud that he had shot his first dove at a dove shoot and did it in a lot less shots that it had taken me. 

Beck kept shooting and I kept telling him to wait until they get closer.  He told me that I was putting too much pressure on him which must have been the truth because the next time I shot a bird and went to get it, he shot one while I was away from the blind.  And then the next time I went to pick up a bird he got another one.  I was having to pick up my own birds because Lucy was about to fall out from the heat after she had run and visited with almost everyone on the field.  I quit coaching Beck but did look over his head right down his barrel as he rolled his fourth dove.  Beck had 4 and I had 9 but I had shot over twice as much as him.  It started slowing down and I was as tired as Lucy so I decided to call it quits and went to get the truck.  I loaded up everything, picked up John and Garret and we headed back to the trailers.  As I made the turn into the pecan orchard I saw Brad’s truck, Larry’s truck and a green truck all stopped.  The green truck of course was the game warden.  I heard Brad explaining the local laws to the game warden as I stopped and got out of my truck.  The game warden didn’t care much about our local laws and told me to show him my license and count my birds.  When you shoot as poorly as I do it is not a problem to count your birds for the man.  I walked over to Larry’s truck where it appeared Ben had counted a different number in the field than at the green truck.  He had one more than he thought which brought on some verbal reprimanding from the game warden.  I left them there with it and went to the trailer to unload Lucy and some gear and head back to the field to check on Tamatha, Deen and his boys. 

I unloaded Lucy and circled back towards the field.  She was still exhausted from the earlier heat.  She was walking in front of the truck and I slowly kept going thinking she would get out of the way like she usually does, but not this time.  She didn’t get out of the way and I felt a bump- bump as the front tire ran over her than a bump- bump as the back tire ran over her.  David Chun and his son’s eyes were as big as silver dollars as they watched the whole thing happen.  I jumped out of my truck expecting to see Lucy lying in the grass but she was up and running back to the trailer.  She had a small limp but other than that she seemed fine.  David said that both tires went right over her head.  I told him that she looked fine.  “Well she ought to be dead” he replied.

I loaded Lucy in the truck and went back to the pecan orchard were Tamatha and the others were talking with the game warden.  Tamatha had on my DNR Law Enforcement hat but the game wardens let her go on impersonating a law officer.  Although Lucy seemed fine we called Smith Animal Hospital and made an after office visit.  Felix checked her out.  She had a broken tooth and an open wound on her leg.  He told me to keep an eye on her for a few days and gave her some pain medicine.  She had some blood in her urine and was a little sore but within a week was back to normal.  Until about a month later when Brad asked me had I noticed Lucy’s head.  We took a close look and it appeared to be flat on one side.  I took Lucy home and showed it to Tamatha and she said it wasn’t right and had not been like that just days before.  I made an appointment with the vet and they said it was nerve damage.  The nerves are not stimulating the muscles which are starting to deteriorate on that side of her head.  He gave me some steroids and said that they may make the muscles grow back.  “What if they don’t” I asked the vet.  “Then that side of her head will be shrunk in” he answered.  I have been giving her the steroids for a couple of weeks now and her head is still shrunk in.  I can’t tell if it is getting alittle better or if I am just getting used to it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Beck had been practicing with the .222 rifle that I had given to dad when I was 14 years old.  Big Ed had plenty of shotguns but no rifles, so when I was younger and started deer hunting I bought him a rifle.  Of course I made sure it was a small caliber that I could shoot and the gun spent a lot of time on a deer stand with me than hunting with him.  Big Ed’s idea of hunting is shooting the squirrels in his front yard.  Big Ed was letting Rudy keep the rifle to shot hogs on the back of the farm.  I got the gun from Rudy and Beck and I spent Wednesday afternoon shooting targets.  He was worried about the recoil but the first time he shot he looked at me with a smile and said he didn’t even feel it kick. But he missed the target completely.  After a few shots he was hitting the target but I told him I would not let him hunt with the rifle until he could hit the bulls eye.  After about 8 shots he got the bulls eye.  We sat on a deer stand later that afternoon but he still didn’t want to take his gun.  We saw 2 does from the stand that were pretty far off.  Beck said that he could have got the big doe if he had his gun.  I told him they were to far off for him and that we were going to wait and let his first kill get close so that he could make a clean shot.

The wind picked up on Thursday and I didn’t want to sit on a stand so Beck and I decided to ride on the golf cart.  I thought it would be fun for Brant to go and had to wake him up from his nap.  That was
a mistake.  Brant can have an attitude, especially when he is waken up early from his nap.  It took about 15 minutes for Tamatha to get Brant dressed as he cried, screamed and kicked, but I finally helped and held Brant down as we put on his boots and carried him to the truck.  He was fine as we headed to the farm.  It was a little cool and we all put on our coveralls for the ride around the back of the farm.  Brant put on Beck’s old pair that fit him pretty good after I rolled up the sleeves and legs.  Back asked could he take “his” .222.  I told him yes but reminded him he wasn’t going to shoot unless it was an easy, clean shot.  He understood and we headed out. 

We made our way through the dove field with me driving, Beck holding the rifle and Brant sitting in the middle.  Beck usually complains when he doesn’t get to drive but this time he didn’t say a word.  He was happy to be riding shotgun and holding “his” rifle.  We made a lap around the head of hardwoods by the dove field where I had been seeing 2 does but we saw nothing.  I asked Beck where to go next and he said to the interstate stand where we had seen the 2 does the day before.  We made the lap around the pines and turned by the interstate towards the creek and something black caught my eye.  I looked through the binoculars and could tell it was hogs.  Beck saw them to and said “hogs”.   It took Brant I while but he eventually saw what we were looking at and yelled “hogs” as he pointed their way.  Beck and I both told him to be more quiet and I positioned the golf cart so we could better see the hogs.  Beck got on the back and propped the gun on the back of the seat.  “I can see them” he said as he looked through the scope.  “There’s too many trees and brush to shoot” I told him, “I want to make sure you get one”.  We sat and watched and they finally scampered off down the hill towards the creek.  I thought they smelt us and ran.  I told Beck he could stalk to the edge of the bluff to see if he could see them.  He got off the golf cart and crept though the woods carrying the .222.  He went about 20 yards when he stopped and tried to pull up the gun and look through the scope but the gun was so heavy he couldn’t  keep it on his shoulder.  He pulled the gun down and pointed in the direction we had last seen the hogs.  I told Brant to stay at the golf cart and I headed to Beck. 

When I got to Beck I could see the hogs.  There were 6 or 7 and they were all scurrying around with their heads down eating acorns.  I looked around for a tree with some branches that Beck could use for a prop but didn’t see any.  We were behind a huge oak tree and the hogs were slowly heading our way.  I got down on my knees, and reached out and put my hand on the tree.  I told Beck to prop the gun on my hand.  He put the gun up and got ready.  Because of the tree and the angle, Beck couldn’t swing the gun to shoot where the hogs were.  I told him to get ready and wait for them to come to the opening where he had a shot.  The hogs were still coming our way when the largest hog ran at another one.  It squealed and ran right into the opening not 10 yards from us.  This was the clear, easy shot that we had been waiting for.  I told Beck, “You can shoot him, take your time and shoot him in the head”.  Beck took a big breathe and squeezed the trigger.  K-boom I heard as the hog hit the ground.  “Yes!” I heard Beck say as he threw his hands up and looked towards the sky.  I grabbed the gun from Beck and we high fived.  “Yes!” he said again as he grinned ear to ear.  I told Beck to run and get Brant from the golf cart and show his brother his kill.  I watched as the hog took a few last kicks and then turned to see Beck fall face down on the ground as he tripped over a vine while he excitedly ran to get Brant. 

I went and helped Brant through the woods toward the hog and we all watched as it made its last kick.  “I aimed right behind his ear” Beck said as we got closer to the hog.  I picked up a stick to poke the hog in the eye.  “He’s dead” Beck said with confidence as I made sure.  The hog was dead.  I kneeled down and gave Beck a hug and we said a quick prayer thanking God.   “Can I put blood on my face” Beck asked.  “Sure” I answered as I dipped my finger in the bullet hole right behind the hog’s ear.  I put a little blood on Beck’s face and we drug the hog to the road.  I reached in my pocket to get my cell phone to take a picture but I felt no phone, just a big hole in the bottom of the pocket.  I had lost my cell phone.  I looked around the golf cart where I first stood up but didn’t find it.  “Let’s go get the truck” I said as we loaded up and headed back to the trailer.

We drove along as Beck talked nonstop about the hunt as he smiled ear to ear with blood on his face.  I went straight to Brad’s trailer and Beck jumped out and went and knocked on Brad’s door.  Brad answered with a smile when he saw Beck’s face.  “I got a hog” Beck said proudly and we all loaded in the truck.  “Get your cell phone I told Brad” hoping mine fell out somewhere close to the kill site.  I called Tamatha from Brad’s phone and told her to come to the farm.  Beck rode in the back of the truck and just before we got to the hog I rolled down the back window and yelled “he got up and ran away”.  “No he didn’t!” Beck answered as the truck lights shined on the dead hog lying in the road.  Brad called my cell phone number as we got out of the truck and I couldn’t hear anything but Beck ran in the woods where he shot the hog and found it.  What a relief to me.  Brad helped me load the hog in the truck and we headed to the shed.  Tamatha was there and she listened as Beck and I told the story again.  Brad helped me cut the hams out of the hog and then he went in to watch Auburn blow a 17 to 3 lead to West Virginia.
November 15, 2008

It was opening day for youth duck season and I had seen a few ducks on the small pond on the back of the farm.  I knew the deer should be in prime rut but I am a duck hunter at heart.  Plus, Beck was tired of sitting on a deer stand.  I had plans to let Beck shoot ducks then get on a stand and see if he could get a deer.  I thought it would be great if he could get his first duck and first deer in the same day.  I told Beck of my plan and he seemed ready.

The night before our “planned hunt” Leyton and Kimberly stopped by our house to visit.  Leyton and I sat on a deer stand earlier in the year and saw some turkeys and a half rack forkhorn.  He is ready to start hunting but Martin, his farther, is much more accurate with a pitching wedge than a rifle.  Beck and Leyton were playing in the back of our house when Beck ran up and asked me if Leyton could go hunting with us.  I would have loved for Leyton to go but with the plans we had there just wasn’t enough room.  There were only a few ducks on the pond and there was no room on the deer stand.  So I told Beck that we would just have to wait for another time.  I went to the back and explained the situation to Leyton who understood perfectly and I promised I would take him on another hunt soon.  After I explained this to Leyton, Beck said that he did not want to go because he did not want to sit on a deer stand.  I think it had more to do with the fact that Leyton could not go, but Beck does get pretty board on the stand.  I told Beck we could hunt ducks with him shooting and then we could ride in the golf cart and try and let him shoot a deer.  He agreed to that.

I woke Beck up the next morning and as I put my hand on his shoulder to wake him, he started shaking his head “yes”.  I took that to mean he wanted to go hunting.  It takes him a little while to become coherent in the morning but he soon was up and putting on his clothes.  We left Lucy at home because I didn’t want any complications with Beck shooting and I figured we could find the ducks because the pond is so small and shallow.  We arrived at the pond with plenty of time.  Beck and discussed the possibilities of the hunt as the sun started to rise.  Beck is shooting a .410 single shot so I told him that he would need to shoot the duck on water.  I realize this is not the most sporting way to take a duck but anyone who has ever hunted ducks, especially wood ducks, realizes that with a .410 single shot it is the best way, especially for a seven year old.

It was a slow morning for ducks but three finally flew over.  I blew my 2-weet whistle and 2 ducks lit in the pond towards the dam.  We were in the back of the pond and I hoped the ducks would swim to the back, so I told beck to get ready.  There was a patch of grass that blocked our view from where the ducks landed but it also blocked the ducks view of us.  It told Beck to wait for the ducks to swim around the grass, look for the drake, aim and shoot.  It wasn’t long before I saw the ripple of the water as the ducks swam around the patch of grass.  The drake was in front and I told Beck to aim and shoot.  He did and the drake’s head went down.  Beck pumped his hand and said “yes” proud that he had killed his first duck.  We high fived and I took Beck’s gun.  As we stood there celebrating the duck started to swim off.  Its head was still down but I knew we needed to put a way-lay shot on the duck so it would not swim into the bushes and get away.  I loaded Beck’s gun and gave it back to him and we ran along the bank of the pond trying to get a better shot at the swimming duck.  Beck fired a shot and the duck kept swimming, so we ran a little further and he shot again, and then again.  I felt like a guide on an African Safari chasing big game to make the kill shot. 

The duck finally quit swimming and I waded out and retrieved the duck.  It was a large, pretty drake and Beck was very proud.  Of course he started asking could we mount it and I told him that we already have too many ducks mounted at the house and when he shoots one in the air we will get it mounted.  That is not exactly the truth, I mean we do have too many ducks mounted at home but the duck is now at the taxidermist and should be ready to give to Beck for Christmas.

We took a few pictures and got in the truck and headed to the trailer to change clothes for our deer hunt.  We have not been seeing many deer from the golf cart but Beck was determined that he was not sitting in a stand. We rode over much of the back of the farm and did not see a deer.  Beck was tired and stretched out on the seat as best he could.  He told me that he was going to take a nap and to wake him if I saw a deer.  As we made the lap around the pines by the interstate I thought I saw a small deer looking my way.  I backed up the golf cart and there was a small doe bedded down and staring right as us.  I told Beck that I saw a deer but that it was small and asked did he want to shoot.  He said yes as he looked to see the deer.  It was close and Beck was looking way into the woods but he finally saw the deer laying not 20 yards from us.  I told Beck to shoot the deer in the neck and I held the steering wheel of the golf cart while he propped the gun on my hand.  He pulled the trigger and the doe did not even flinch.  I realized that the doe was not going to run off so I backed up the golf cart and positioned it so Beck could prop on the back of the seat.  As I backed up the gold cart, I chambered another bullet in the gun.  Beck was very excited and looked at me and said “Daddy, I freaking out”.  I told him to relax and aim for the deer’s neck.  He did and this time he hit his mark.  The deer collapsed to the ground.  Beck was excited.  He had killed a deer.  He told me that he was pretty much through with the season and did not want to hunt deer any more, and definitely wasn’t sitting on a stand any more.  We loaded the deer on the back of the golf cart and headed for the shed.  I dressed and quartered the deer and we cooked the two shoulders in the oven later that day. 

Beck with his first deer
Beck with his first duck
January 14-16, 2009       Lake Guntersville

Will and I had high hopes as we drove to Lake Guntersville.  The year before we had made our first trip and limited out on Gadwalls on two consecutive days. That was the first time either of us had ever been on Lake Guntersville and we had no guide.  We hoped we would have a similar experience this year. 

We arrived in Scottsboro, AL, grabbed a bite to eat, checked into the Comfort Inn, went to Wal-Mart for our Alabama hunting license and other supplies, back by hotel to change and finally got on the water about 4:30 pm, Wednesday afternoon.  We headed to “our spot” jumped hundreds of ducks up along the way.  We threw out a few decoys and set up but only had one or two ducks fly over.

We ate at Ruby Tuesday’s and were up early the next morning.  It was 22 degrees when we unloaded the boat.  Things went smoothly and we made it to “our spot” without a problem….which is unusual.  We were completely set up with the two mojo decoys and light breeze which made the other deeks come to life.  Lucy was leashed to a tree and we still had plenty of time to spare.  As the sun started to rise I saw a white belly of a bird flash as it flew into the cove.  It flashed again over the decoys and then I heard a splash just outside our spread.  “What was that” I heard Will say as the bird splashed again taking back off.  I covered it up and pulled the trigger.  All I saw was a fiery blast come from the end of my barrel.  I looked out over the decoys and all I could see was darkness.  Then, after what seemed like 2 or 3 seconds we heard another splash as the bird fell to the water.  “I hope it was a duck” I said back to Will.  I let Lucy go and she was soon swimming back with a drake Gadwall.

Ducks flew in every twenty or thirty minutes and we usually knocked at least one down and missed several that we should have had.  We had about 5 or 6 ducks and we started to get cold.  Will’s feet got cold even though he had on his goose down footies and I was cold all over.  The breeze that was keeping our decoys moving was blowing in our face and the lake edges were starting to freeze.  We were killing ducks and having a good time but the heater in room 117 of the Comfort Inn was calling our name.  “Let’s hurry and get our limit and go” we said to each other.  We killed another duck or two and then I dropped one duck and then shot another that fell while flying off and started swimming after if fell.  I shot the way-lay shot a couple of times and the duck went into the death swim.  Lucy was getting the other duck and did not see this one fall.  I tried to send here to retrieve the duck but it was too far away for her to see.

We counted the ducks and we had 10.  Only 2 more for the limit.  After about 15 minutes three ducks buzzed our decoys and Will and I fired away but didn’t cut a feather.  Then about 20 minutes after that a single almost plopped down but we didn’t cut a feather.  We sat there about 30 minutes more and seven ducks circled and then almost lit in our decoys.  I aimed at 2 at 1 time, which never seems to work, and then fired again and then again but could never get the bead back to the front of the duck.  I heard Will shooting too but I never saw a duck fall.  We sat about another 30 minutes and complained several times to each other about the cold and finally decided to take it in.

It was warm at the Comfort Inn and we were glad we left before filling our limit.  We both feel the cold weather had affected our aim and that was our excuse for never getting the last duck.  We watched the weather channel and discussed if we should hunt the next morning.  It was going to be cold and “our spot” was starting to freeze when we left.  We decided we may never get the chance to hunt in such extreme conditions and by golly we are duck hunters so we set the alarm and got up the next morning. 

It was 8 degrees as we backed the boat in the water…and things did not go as smooth as the day before.  The starter on my boat was frozen up.  I could not get the button to push in.  Finally after several minutes of pushing, it broke free and the boat cranked.  We slowly headed to “our spot”.  I could barely see where I was going because my eyes watered from wind and extreme cold.  As we left the big part of the lake heading into the cove I could see ice.  I tried to break through it until I hit some so solid it pushed me back.  We are not going to make it to “our spot” I hollered to Will.  “Huh” he yelled back.  He could not see as he had his entire face covered from the cold.  “it’s frozen up” I yelled as I turned the boat and headed to the closest land I could find. 

We set up but had no luck.  A lot of ducks lit in a pocket not far from us but none even buzzed our decoys.  We moved one time and pulled the boat into a blind but still had no luck.  It did not take long for us to head back.  We did not kill any ducks that morning but it was a memorable experience.  It was 11 degrees when we got back to the truck.  We were looking forward to the Comfort Inn.

Ed and Lucy at truck
Cold, Camo Will
Ed holding fish
Ed's big crappie
Ed's big trout

The Satilla River was at the highest level in 80 years but Ray, Will and I had planned a trip and nothing could stop us.  The water level has receded but it was still well out of the banks.  Tamatha has heard on the news that some people had drowned in Ehechonee Creek due to high water and told me to “be careful”.  I told here not to worry as I headed out the door.  Will met me at the trailer and we met Ray at the Satilla Grocery.  It was hot when we got to camp and I cut the grass and then we put the boat in.  Will and I were in the boat while Ray drove the truck and boat trailer back to camp.  My sand bar was underwater but you could still see the tops of bushes and trees.  I was hot and sweaty so I anchored the boat and jumped in to cool off.   “What are you going swimming” I heard Will say as he jumped in too.  He was quickly back in the boat as I swam along enjoying the cool water.  The current pulled me downstream so I started swimming back to the boat.  I wasn’t making any distance with the current so strong so I got serious really started stroking to the boat.  My bathing suit was to loose in the waist (which is hard to believe) and it started slipping down my legs and then around my knees.  I got back to the boat and just as I was about to reach and grab it my bathing suit slipped to my ankles.  I rolled over on my back and pulled the bathing suit off and held it in my left hand.  When I turned back over to get in the boat, it was about 20 feet away.  The current was strong.  I started trying to swim with the bathing suit in my hand and it was tough.  I was getting tired so I told Will to pull up the anchor so the boat could drift back to me.  Will laughed and asked “am I going to have to rescue you?”  “Yes” I answered, “I’m getting tired”.  By this time my heart was pounding pretty good and I decided to swim over to the sand bar to try and stand up while Will figured out how to work the anchor.  I swam over to the tops of the bushes and put my foot down as far as I could but I could not touch the bottom.  I looked back at the boat and Will was standing there watching me with a smile on his.  “Hurry up” yelled “I’m serious, I’m getting tired”…and I was tired.  My heart was pounding and my lungs were burning and Will seemed to think this was funny.  I got serious with my orders as I told Will specifically how to work the anchor and the trolling motor and then I put my head down and made one last effort to swim to the boat.  I was gaining ground but it was hard with only one hand and I started to drop my bathing suit but I was getting closer to the boat.  Then either Will finally hit the anchor switch or the current got the best of me because the boat seemed to get further away.  I rolled over on my back and told Will to “Hurry Up!!”  I was glad to see that Will was now sitting in the front of the boat, driving the trolling motor and turning my way.  He finally got to me and I grabbed the side and lunged over into the boat.  There I sat butt naked with my bathing suit in my hand gasping for air.   My heart was about to jump out of my chest and my lungs were on fire and it did not even bother me that Will was laughing and giving me a hard time.  “I thought I was going to drown” were the first words I could say as I stood and put back on my bathing suit.  Will could not wait to tell Ray and we all got a good laugh.  We did some exploring but mainly sat at high bar under tents and umbrellas.  Big Ed had given me a new hat for my birthday.  I really like it and am super glad that it floats!  

Ed and Lucy on bridge
Will telling us how it is done
Chef Raybon cooking his extravaganza ommlette

The 2009 rut was close and scrapes were appearing everywhere on the back of the farm.  I noticed several along the hedgerow of live oaks between the pines where Beck and I had also seen several bucks.  I placed a ground blind right in the middle of the scrapes.  I could see about 250 yards to the right and maybe 150 yards to the left. I knew it could take a little time and patience but if Beck and I sat there long enough he could get a buck. 

We sat one afternoon and saw three does about 200 yards to the right, which is south back towards the hardwoods and creek.  Beck liked sitting in the ground blind.  Although he could not see out of the windows when he was sitting in his chair, he didn’t have to sit completely still.  We decided the next time he could bring his DS light game to help kill the time.  Tamatha and the boys came to the trailer on a Thursday afternoon when I was working.  It was about 4:00 pm and they decided to ride the golf cart on the back of the farm.   They got back and said they had seen a big buck.  “Where did you see him” I asked.  “Beck was unzipping the ground blind and we looked up and he was scraping the ground about 100 yards away” Tamatha answered.  I asked Beck if he wanted to hunt but he said “No”.  He didn’t want to sit on a stand, but he did want to take another lap in the golf
cart.  I told him that the buck would be back and we could kill him if we sat in the stand, but he wanted to ride.  I grabbed his .222 rifle and we all loaded up.  We made the lap around the farm and came back to the hedgerow at 6:00 pm.  It was getting dark but we could see the big buck standing almost directly in front of the ground blind.  “I told you we needed to sit in the blind” I told Beck as we watched the buck from a couple of hundred yards away.  It was getting even darker so I eased the golf cart up the hedgerow.  The buck never saw us and kept making his way in front of the blind.  We got about 70 yards from the deer so Beck and I got out and walked another 10 yards or so.  The buck still didn’t know we were there.  I put up the shooting sticks that I recently made out of three small gum trees and Beck propped his gun and looked for the buck through the scope.  It was almost dark now and I could barely see the buck through my binoculars.  I asked Beck if he could shoot the buck and he answered “in the buttocks”.  “No” I said.  I didn’t think it was a good idea for an 8 year old to shoot at a big buck at dark in the rear with a .222.  We got back in the golf cart and eased back the other way making sure not to spook the buck. 

I now had Beck’s attention about sitting in the stand. We planned to sit in the ground blind the next afternoon.  We were a little later than I would have liked getting in the woods.  We parked the golf cart down by the hardwoods and started the 250 yard walk to the blind.  I glassed the area before we started walking and saw nothing.  As we walked slowly along I saw a deer peer out at us from behind the blind.  He was right behind the blind and all I could see was his shoulders, neck and head.  I told Beck to stop and then looked through the binoculars.  I could see a rack.  It wasn’t the big buck that we had been seeing, but he was a nice, wide 8 point.  Beck was about 10 feet behind me so I set up the shooting sticks and motioned for Beck to bring the gun.  As we were putting the gun on the sticks the deer walked out from behind the blind and took about 5 steps our way.  He was staring at us the whole time.  I asked Beck if he had it on him and he said he did.  The deer was facing us and I knew it was not the best shot, but I knew he could bolt at any time.   I told Beck if he thought he could make the shot to shoot the deer in the neck.  Beck fired a shot and the deer did not move.  I grabbed the gun and reloaded but heard Beck say “Awe” as the buck jumped into the thick pines.  “That is alright” I said to Beck, “It’s a hard shot when they are facing straight at you”.  I knew I should have told Beck to wait for a better shot and I was glad that Beck did not seem too upset about the miss.

We walked on and when we got to the blind I looked over to where the deer had run and there he was, not 40 yards away looking right at me.  I whispered for Beck to look and the deer bounded away stopping again behind some thick bushes.  I unzipped the ground blind and we got in.  We were pretty excited and were discussing what had just happened.  I told Beck we should have waited for a better shot and that it was my fault.  He said that he did not think that deer was as big as the buck that we had seen at dark the day before.  I agreed.  We sat about 10 minutes and I saw the big buck come out on our right side about 150 yards away.  He looked out in the 20 acre field and then turned and started walking our way.  I told Beck to get ready and we watched as he kept was coming.  I started getting the shooting sticks ready and when I looked back up he was gone.  My phone vibrated with a message as we sat hoping the deer would come back out.  After 5 or 10 minutes I checked the message and it was Little Jerry saying that he saw a nice buck running down the edge of the woods in the dove field towards I-75.  I knew the buck was gone.  We sat until dark but did not see another deer.

The next day was Saturday and Beck was leaving early to go to the UGA game with Martin, Leyton and John Garrett.  I planned to hunt Sunday afternoon but Beck wanted to go to PICNIC at church…so what could I say?  I told Beck we needed to stick with hunting in the blind and we could get a buck.  He agreed and we planned to hunt Monday after school.  We were late again but managed to get on the stand at 4:52 pm.  I made Beck take his book to read in the blind.  I though it would be more productive than playing his DS game, which he also brought.  He started playing the game but I made him put it down and read the book.  He had finished about 3 pages when I looked south down the hedgerow and saw a deer about 250 yards away.  The deer was not far from where we had parked the golf cart and was walking the same way we had come to the blind.  I picked up the binoculars and saw that it was the buck that we had missed 3 days before.  I looked down and Beck was reading away.  “Here he comes” I whispered to Beck.  He looked up with eyes as big as silver dollars and said “the buck?”  I nodded my head yes and started setting up the shooting sticks.  We moved Beck’s small chair out of the way and he propped the gun in the sticks and sat on my knee.  He looked at the deer through the scope and said “he is not that big”.  “I thought it was the 8 pointer” I said and fumbled for my binoculars.  Beck kept looking through the scope and then said “he’s not small, he’s a beast”.  I had the deer back in the binoculars again and could tell he was the wide 8 point Beck had missed on Friday.  I checked my watch and it was 5:02 pm.  We had only been in the blind ten minutes.  This is too good to be true I thought as I looked back at the buck through the binoculars.  He was still over 200 yard away but he was slowly but surely heading our way.  Beck was watching the buck through the scope and I could tell he was getting a little excited.  Take deep breaths I said as we watched.  I continued to give advice as the deer kept easing our way.  When he got about 70 or 80 yards away he eased into the hedgerow under a live oak and disappeared.  We waited a couple of minutes but he did not come back out.  Back sat back down in his chair, put his head in hands and looked at the ground.  “He’ll come back out” I told Beck, but I was worried the deer may keep easing along in the hedgerow and come right behind us and out on our other side.  If he did, he would be too close for us to move the sticks around.  Beck sat there for what seemed like several minutes staring at the ground.  I kept watching, hoping the buck would step back out…and he finally did.  He was only 60 yards away now and moving towards us at a steady pace.  “He’s back” I whispered to Beck as he jumped out his chair and back on my knee.  The buck kept walking our way and eased over closer to the hedgerow.  There was one bush that stuck out about 35 yard away.  I knew that when the buck walked around that bush he would be in range.  I whispered to Beck, “if you feel more comfortable, shoot him behind the shoulder”.  Beck answered “I’m going to shoot him in the neck”.  That sounded good to me and I clicked the gun off safety as Beck and I both watched the buck keep coming.  “Take a deep breathe and squeeze the trigger when you are ready” I whispered one more time.  The buck walked around the bush and could not have been more than 25 yards away.  He was close enough now that he new something wasn’t right.  He could probably feel mine and Beck’s hearts beating as he stopped and looked, facing right at us.  “Let him turn a little” I whispered as the deer took another step and turned slightly.  I heard the K-boom of the gun and it seemed like a full 2 seconds and nothing happened.   Then the buck fell to the ground.  “I got him” Beck whispered loudly as he pumped his hand in the air.  “You sure did” I said as I grabbed him with both arms and gave him a hug.  It was a great feeling and is something that neither of us will ever forget.  We high-fived and hugged as Beck said over and over, “I got him, I got him”.  We thanked God for the great hunt and climbed out of the blind.  I checked my watch and it was 6:00 pm on the nose.  We watched the deer for 28 minutes as the walked the 250 yards up the hedgerow.  It was awesome!!!  The deer was still slightly kicking from time to time and Beck didn’t really like that.  We were just about to put the buck out of his misery when he closed his eyes.  “Let’s go get the truck and the camera before it gets too dark”.   I called Tamatha and told her to bring Brant and come to the farm to see Beck’s trophy and I called Brad who had been hunting at the Arrowhead Field and told him to come help us load him up.

I do not know who was more proud, me or Beck, but I am pretty sure it was me.  I have had a lot of great hunts but it has been along time since I remember being as excited as I was when that deer hit the ground…well I was pretty excited a couple of  months earlier when Will and I got the 12 foot gator.  But when I looked back at Beck and saw how excited he was, I knew this was the best Outdoor adventure I’ve every had!!!

March 28, 2009Rotary Fishing Tournament

Rain, Rain, Rain is all you can say about the 2009 Rotary Fishing Tournament.  It must have rained 4 inches that day.  We managed to get out and fish a couple of hours at sunup before it started raining.  Beck showed us how it was done catching the first fish, the last fish and maybe the largest fish.  We caught a decent limit and finished in the money with a 6th place stringer, and Beck won his age group.  It was still a great time at Whitehall Plantation and of course we had steaks and sausage from M&T Meats.  Who needs fish when you have all that?

March 27, 2010 and March 29, 2010

I went to Dead Lakes fishing with Scott Pearson on the opening weekend of turkey season so I could not take Beck hunting on opening day.  He was excited about going and I had recently counted 29 turkeys in the dove field, so I was excited too.  I claim to be one of the worst turkey hunters in the world and have plenty of stories to prove it.  It all goes back to when Uncle John took me years ago. He called up a jake and a gobbler on the first weekend and then another gobbler on the next weekend.  I didn’t kill any of the turkeys and scared the last one away as I picked up my gun.  Uncle John informed me that was my last opportunity to kill a turkey with him and I figured if I couldn’t kill a turkey with someone who knew what they were doing, then I probably couldn’t kill one by myself.  I have attempted several times since then and rarely had a gobbler answer my box call, and the hunt usually ended with me walking up on the turkey and running it off.  This has happened several times and I have just attributed it to the fact that I am a terrible turkey hunter.
It seems as if every spring we see more and more turkeys on the back of the farm, and this year Big Ed was giving me constant updates that he has been seeing several bunches of turkeys most every time he makes a lap.  I must admit that I was beginning to feel I might have a chance at a gobbler, especially if I could hunt them early in the season before they get everything figured out.  I mean there has to be at least one dumb gobbler back there.

Beck did not have a baseball game on the second Saturday of turkey season and he was ready to go.  We got all of our gear ready the night before, and that morning he woke up about as good as he can wake up.  It was just getting light as we parked the truck and started walking toward the arrowhead field.   Just before we got to the small field we jumped a gobbler from the roost.  He flew towards the field, and I wasn’t sure if he put down in the field or flew across the creek.  As we got to the arrowhead field I told Beck to stay back.  I crept up to the edge of the field and looked to the back corner.  I saw two small back animals and didn’t know if they were turkeys or pigs.  We planned to set up in the clump of trees in the middle of the field, but I knew we couldn’t do that now.  I leaned back and looked again and now there were four black objects.  I was pretty sure they were turkeys.  I put our decoy out in the field as far as I could without being seen and Beck and I went back down the road a little bit to set up.  We started to set up at the first group of trees behind the decoy but it was a little close and there was very little camouflage.  I noticed another bunch of trees further back which had some brush and bushes around them and that’s where we set up.  We put on our head mask and did our last minute preparations and sat still for 5 or 10 minutes.  I made an attempt at sounding like a hen with my box call but didn’t hear any immediate gobbles.  We did hear two gobblers back towards the interstate, but they were a little ways off.  We finally heard some clucking in the arrowhead field which confirmed it was a group of turkeys I had seen entering the field.  We sat quiet as I did not want to mess everything up with my calling.

After about 5 more minutes I saw something black moving towards the decoy through the thick bushes.  I whispered to Beck, “be still, here comes one”.  I was thinking to myself, “Perfect, this is going to be great”.  Then the black object got closer and I could tell it was a hog.  Then it got even closer, and I could tell it was a bore hog.  It had small tusk which seemed to get a little larger as it turned and started coming our way.  Beck and I were sitting on the ground and I whispered to Beck that it was a hog and not a turkey. The hog now had Beck’s full attention, and Beck’s breathing began to get heavy.  The hog kept coming and Beck’s breathing kept getting louder.  Luckily the hog was coming up on my right side, and Beck was sitting on my left or I think that Beck would have lost it.  The hog got closer and the tusk bigger and I was just about to try and shoo him away when he walked out in the road not 5 feet from Beck and me.  He smelled our scent in the road and turned and ran.  “That freaked me out” Beck and I said at the same time as the hog ran into the woods and out of sight.

I made another attempt at calling with my box call and may have even tried with my slate.  We sat a bit longer and I saw some deer coming our way in the Arrowhead Field.  They kept coming, and before long we had 6 deer feeding out in front of us.  Then the turkeys followed.  I could see several hens and 2 gobblers.  I asked Beck if he could see the turkey’s and told him to stay still.  I propped my gun on my knee and got ready.  The turkeys in the field never gobbled but there was a gobbler to our right that seemed to be getting closer.  The turkeys in the field kept coming and so did the gobbler on our right, because just as the turkeys in the field got to the 6 deer, Beck and I heard a loud gobble.   I was focused on the turkeys in the field when I heard Beck say “there’s one”.  The turkey to the right stepped out of the woods into the field, and when he did, the other two ran over and put on a show.   All of this was happening right behind our decoy with the six deer watching and about 6 to 8 more turkeys scattered about. 

It didn’t take the turkey on the right long to turn and head back in the bushes with the other two following.  The deer had disappeared by now, and I was scared that is what was going to happen to all the turkeys, especially the gobblers who were now out of sight in the bushes.  The two finally came back out and starting strutting about 25 yards behind the decoy, which was about 65 yards from us. (I know I was set up too far from decoy.)  The turkeys strutted and turned and strutted and turned.  Then Beck said “there’s one right here”.  It was the one on the right.  He was circling back around, and was standing 30 yards in front of Beck.  I didn’t even look that way.  I had been looking down the barrel at two strutting gobblers for a while now, and I did not want to move.  Finally, they took 4 or 5 steps our way.  By this time, “I had done took all I could took” and when the two gobblers heads got side by side I pulled the trigger hoping they were both going to hit the ground dead.   Well, remember I am one of the worst turkey hunters in the world.  Neither gobbler hit the ground, in fact, one ran off.  The other sat there for a second or so before following the other and running off.  I fired another shot which knocked down a bush and let the turkeys know where we were and made sure they didn’t come back.  Some of the hens did stay in the field and at least one gobbler joined back up with them before they all headed in the woods and left the field.

Beck and I got up and looked for feathers or blood but didn’t see anything.  I stepped off 53 steps from where the gobblers were to where Beck and I were.  Too far!  Especially with the 3” copper plated lead shells that I have had for 15 years.  Coot and I bought them for duck hunting years ago.  I was sure there must be some technical advantages made since then. 

I could not believe I had missed.  I was a terrible turkey hunter and Beck was letting me know it too.  We walked back to the truck and although we had no turkey, we could only feel we had a great hunt.  What wildlife we had seen. Our adrenaline was still pumping from the show.  Beck ribbed me a little about missing and said my language wasn’t the best when the gobblers ran off after my shot.  I said “probably not” and asked him was he scared of that hog?

The next afternoon Beck and I went to the Sportscenter to get some gear.  Whenever a sportsman has a bad day fishing or hunting the best to thing to do is go buy some more gear.  We looked at the shotgun shells and asked a few questions and got some 3.5 inch 5 shot.  They seemed to be the best shells other than the $42.00 box that Mr. Charles thought we needed to buy.  We also got some 3 inch 20 gauge shells.  Beck was insistent that he take a gun, and I really could not argue with that. We left the Sportscenter with Mr. Charles following us out the door saying “You need a turkey choke tube. We got them back there”.

We went by Big Ed’s and got my old Browning Magnum Twenty, and headed to the farm for target practice.  I put the target about 55 yards away and shot the 3 inch copper plated lead first.  It confirmed what I thought.  The turkeys were too far away.  I moved the target a little closer and shot the 3.5 inch 5 shot.  They slapped the target with force, and the shotgun almost knocked my shoulder off.  I shot a couple of more times which was all I could take.  Beck handled the 20 gauge better than I thought he would.  After he shot several times we went back to the Arrowhead Field and made a blind.  My plan was to ambush the turkeys as they made their way into the field.  I told Beck he could shoot if they were close enough.

The next morning we made sure we were up early.  We didn’t want to spook any turkeys off the roost as we entered the woods.  We put the decoy in our planned spot and got set up in the blind before light.  We sat and waited but nothing entered the small field.  We never heard a gobble, but we did hear what seemed to be some turkeys off to our left toward the Daycamp.   About 45 minutes after light I asked Beck if he wanted to make a move?  He said yes.  We picked up the decoy and headed out the back of the Arrowhead Field.  As we go a little ways into the woods I stopped to whisper to Beck that I was going to call.  Just as I stopped a turkey flew up into a tree about 70 yards in front of us.  I fell to my knees and Beck did the same.  I could tell the turkey flew from the road just in front of us, and I figured there must be some more with that one.  Beck and I sat scrunched over looking at each other and then at the turkey in the tree.  I didn’t know what to do. Then we heard a gobble.  A loud gobble!  I told Beck to get ready and reached for my slate call.  I slid over in the brush and Beck sat on the edge of the road with the Magnum 20 propped on his knee.  He was bugged eyed and kind of wobbly, so I decided I better get my gun ready too.  We both got propped and ready then I lightly hit the slate call.  The gobbler answered immediately and I whispered for Beck to “get ready”.  In just a few seconds I saw the turkey slipping down the road headed our way.  “There he is” I whispered.  The turkey came out about 35 yards and went straight to full strut.  As I watched the bird’s head go by for the second time as he circled in full strut I whispered to Beck “do you think we can get him?”  “Yes sir” I heard back as I stayed focused on the turkey.  “Shoot on 3” I whispered as the turkey circled in full strut for the third time.  When his head was directly in front of us I whispered,  “1, 2, 3” then pulled the trigger.  I heard Beck’s gun fire too.  The turkey rolled backwards falling to the ground only to get right back up and run off.  Beck was recovering from his own back flip when I looked over at him and said “he ran off”. 

I jumped up and ran down the road and saw a couple of turkeys including one gobbler.  The turkey in the tree flew off and the others ran away and I didn’t know what to do.  I walked back and found some feathers.  I counted 35 steps from the feathers back to Beck.   I was sick.  I could not believe I missed.  Beck and I both thought we made good shots, but the turkey was gone.  I told Beck that he knew that we shouldn’t have shot that turkey at full strut.  I told him from now on when I ask him should we do something that he knows we shouldn’t do, to tell me no! 

All I could think was that I wish I would have listened to Mr. Charles and gone and looked at those turkey choke tubes.  Beck and I walked past the feathers down the road where the turkey had run and I found some blood.  It was good blood to.  More like a deer blood trail than I would have expected a turkey blood trail to look like.  It didn’t last long.  I lost blood after 10 or 15 yards.  Beck and I decided to go get Lucy.  If the turkey was lying in the woods dead she would find it.  As we were walking to the truck we heard something in the woods.  “That may be our turkey” I told Beck and we picked up our pace to check it out.  We heard it again and Beck said “It is our turkey. There he is” and pointed to the wet flopping bird.  He was dead before I could get to him.  I finally had my first turkey…we had our first turkey.

Ed and Beck with Turkey 1