Outdoors with Ed - Journal Entries - page 2

Opening Day of Dove Season 2005
It was Lucy’s first hunt and I was
interested how she would do.  Beck
was ready and we got out in the field around 3:00 pm.  I had to put up the blind, set up my mojo dove and chair.  I had a corkscrew thing that you attached Lucy’s leash to so she could not run off.  I finally got everything situated but the mojo dove was having some problems.  I finally quit messing with everything and decided to hunt.  I knocked down the first bird that came close.  Lucy saw it and took off.  Her collar busted into about 4 pieces after it snatched her back and nearly broke her neck.  She ran and got the dove and brought it back. 
Pretty good I thought as Andy, sitting in the blind next to us, knocked down a bird.  Lucy took off with no collar.  I yelled but it did no good.  I called Tamatha and told her to bring batteries for the mojo dove and a collar for Lucy.  I finally got Lucy back to the stand and had to hold her by the ear to keep her from chasing others birds.  Beck was laughing the whole time.  I looped Lucy’s leash around her neck hooking it back through the leash making a slip knot that would tighten around her neck.  This worked pretty good.  I shot a couple of more dove and she waited for me to release her to retrieve.  Tamatha showed up with batteries and a collar that was too small.  Luckily she also brought a harness that worked really well.  I put fresh batteries in the mojo dove and it worked off and on.  A single flew right up to the mojo dove and I rolled him.  Lucy retrieved perfectly.  The next dove did the same thing and so did Lucy.  Beck had finally quit laughing.  I had 8 birds and things were starting to slow down.  The pigeons had been flying around all day but now a large group was coming right over me.  I waited for two to cross and sure enough two fell with one shot.  I let Lucy from her leash and she took of and grabbed the first and then ran over and grabbed the second.  She brought them both back at one time.  Not exactly perfect, but it would do.  I sat a while longer while Beck went to ride the golf cart with Tamatha.  It had slowed way down and was getting pretty late.  I stood up and stretched as I look around the field one last time.  Coming from across I-75 was a drove of geese…that’s right Canadian Honkers.  There were going to fly right over me.  What do I do I thought as I squawted down in my blind.  I am not going to say anymore about it, but Lucy may pick up two pigeons at one time, but she won’t pick up a goose!

DUCK SEASON 2005/2006
November 19, 2005,  Saturday
Mossy Lake
Andy, Keith Harrell and Scott Nuttgrass
One drake wood duck for us, Scott and
Keith had a woody and green wing teal
Lucy’s first duck hunt.  She went after
comorand and climbed in cypress tree
30 yards out in lake, shook off, jumped
in and swam back.

November 22, 2005,   Tuesday
Flat Creek
Me and Lucy, Beck would not get up!
3 wood ducks (two drakes and one hen)
I had planned all week for Beck’s 1st duck hunt and Beck would not get up!  Lucy and I went alone for what turned into a training session.  I did not have her leashed securely and when three woodies landed in the creek she couldn’t stand it.  She jumped and swam almost out of sight down creek.  I knocked one down and she finally came back and picked it up and started flinging it around by it’s neck.  I crossed creek and caught her by the leash she had been wearing since she broke free and we had a fist fight in the middle of the creek as wood ducks whistled above.  I drug her back to the blind where I sat breathing heavily.  After a short while a pair came darting in and I dropped one that fell belly up in creek.  I knocked the other down on my third shot and it fell crippled on the other side of the creek.  Lucy saw it all and was still securely tied down.  I unhooked her and she went after belly up first then dropped it about 10 feet from me and looked up.  “Fetch” and she crossed the creek after the other but would not bring it back because it was still alert.  I drug her back across creek to the blind and we had a training session with the crippled duck.

November 23, 2005,   WednesdayFlint River Swamp
Bob Moore, Andy, Kyle, Clay Smith, Philip and Todd Rigdon
7 wood ducks  (5 drakes and 2 hens)  
Bob guided to our Flint River Hinting Club (now just over 300 acres)
Philip and Todd joined Andy, Lucy and me at the Silver Dollar Hole and Bob, Clay and Kyle went to Cat Lake.  We got 7 wood ducks (Coot shooting quickly at most) and barely heard them shoot.  Lucy was securely tied down and looked back and moaned at me when we had 5 belly up.  I released her and she did great picking up all seven included a wounded duck on the other side of the small water hole.  Bob, Clay and Kyle saw few ducks after Jesse jumped in and swam after the first ones that hit the water.  Bob and Jesse had a fist fight this time.  Bob pushed button to shock collar until it cut off.

November  25, 2005,  Friday am     Flat Creek
Rick, Lucy and me on Creek  -   1 hen wood duck
Brad and Gene at small pond  - 1 wood duck

December 2-3, 2005, Dixie Turf and Shenawt Tract
Will, James, Rick, Bob, Lucy and me  - 1 hen wood duck

December 10, 2005,  Lake Seminole
I had been thinking about Lake Seminole since none of
us had hunted their in a while and the hydrilla and other
grasses had gown back over many portion of the lake. 
Plus, I wanted to Lucy to have some experience at
more than just shooting wood ducks around here.  I
called Scott and planned a trip for the first weekend in
December.  He called me the day before we were to
leave and said he heard the season had gone out and
would not be back in until the 10th.  After some
research I found out he was correct.  I had not read
the regulations anywhere but assumed there was no
split in the season.  I assumed wrong.  Scott had a
social function in Columbus the next weekend and
could not go (he has a lot of those now that he is high
society and wears those fancy clothes).  I called Ray
and he was in.  Ray got to the trailer in Perry before lunch on Friday and we were backing the boat in at Uncle Jimmy’s cabin by 2:30.  We checked out the widgeon hole and a couple of other spots and saw only 2 ducks flying high.  As we left the cut and I swung by the outskirts of the refuge and the ducks were there.  We found more when we got down to the big water close to hole in the wall. We were now excited and went back to cabin to grill steaks and plan the hunt.  We were up early the next morning and could already see boats out in the lake.  We set up behind the big island across from the refuge.  After some rigging with a bamboo pole we got the mojo duck and other decoys set up and pulled into the reeds.  Although we were not perfectly camoed were we happy with our set up.  I leashed Lucy to the boat and we waited for the sun to rise.  I told Ray to let me have the first shot since he had never hunted ring necks on a big lake.  I realized the pressure I had put on myself after making the statement.  The sun finally started to rise and the ducks started to fly.  We had been watching ducks fly and light over towards the refuge when a single finally check us out.  It flew within our decoys and I fired a single shot.  It rolled dead.  I unleashed Lucy and she jumped in and retrieved the duck perfectly.  As I took the duck from Lucy’s mouth and helped her in the boat I realized it was a hen canvansback.  Ray and I were exited.  We sat a while longer and a duck buzzed by and I fired again.  It was too far and I knew I should not have shot.  “My bad” I said to Ray knowing I had made a bad shot and it was his turn to shoot.  Soon 3 ducks started working or decoys.  I could tell they were canvasbacks.  They circled three or four times and finally came to the decoys.  They came to me side and I covered up one of the drakes with the end of my barrel and squeezed the trigger.  “Good shot” Ray said as the duck rolled on the water.  I unleashed Lucy and she again made a perfect retrieve.  A pair of cans for our first two ducks.  I was exited.  It was Ray’s turn now.  A pair of cans started circling and I told Ray to get ready.  The ducks decoyed perfectly on Ray’s side.  I watched as he jumped up, aimed and squeezed the trigger, but there was no boom, only Ray lunging slightly forward anticipating the recoil of his gun.  Ray sat back down looked at me and said “I forgot to take the safety off”.   “That’s why I took the first shot” I said back.  We hunted a couple of more hours and saw plenty of ducks but no more came to us.  We picked up our decoys and went back to the cabin to have some soup.  It was nice having such nice convenient place to stay and I wish Scott could have been with us.  We circled the whole lake that afternoon and hunted again the next morning.  We again saw many ducks but only managed to knock down 2 and did not pick up either one.  We headed back north and although we only had 2 ducks we were happy because they were canvasbacks.  I told Ray I wondered why only canvasbacks decoyed and had little action from ring necks.  He could give me no answer until Monday morning around 11:00 o’clock when he called me and said he heard canvasback season did not come in until December 31st.

December 17, 2005,  Saturday Morning,
Flat Creek
Good Morning Clinton, South Carolina !!!  
I just wanted to give an almost live update on
Outdoors with Ed.  There were no wild
adventures or even any mishaps.  Beck would
not get up so it was just me and Lucy
watching the sun come up from
the creek on the back of the farm.  She broke
on the first duck that landed but I had her
secured.  After I drug her back things went
pretty well.  Two shots, two retrieves, four
ducks (3 drakes and 1 hen, all woodies). 
With all of this modern technology maybe I
can get the cameras and equipment to film
live.  Virtual Outdoors with Ed.  That way
Ray can hunt with me while laying on the
couch !!!

December 23, 2005, Friday Morning,  Mossy Lake
Coot and I dropped Bob off at the curve of Mossy Lake and went back up to the dock and waded over to a point where some ring necks had been hanging out.  We saw a light flashing from the trees across the lake and knew that Scott was already set up.  It was 22 degrees and we decided to leave Lucy in the kennel on the truck until she was needed.  It was getting light as we broke through a small sheet of ice as we waded to the point.  I fell off in a hole and Andy had to pull me out and he ended up stepping into another hole.  We decided to set our decoys up right there.  We waylayed a swim up and each missed one that buzzed our decoys.  When it finally got light enough to see we could tell that Scott was standing in a tree climber on a cypress tree across the lake.  Andy and I realized that each of had shot straight towards him on the ducks we had missed.  We were far enough away from him we decided and were proven right when a ring neck flew and Scott’s decoys and he nailed it.  We could hear the steel shot slap against the duck’s body, then the gun shot and then the splash of a few shot as they landed in the water 30 yards in front of us.  At least he got his duck when he aimed at us.  We heard Bob shoot several times and Keith and his dad shoot several times.  The sun came up over the trees and Andy and I started picking up the decoys.  I went back to the truck and got Lucy who jumped right into the freezing lake.  I threw a shell for her to locate the duck and she swam out and brought it back.  We loaded up and went to check on Bob who had 4 ring necks and had chased a wood duck shooting at it 7 times and not getting it.  I later talked to Keith and he said there were some other hunter up the creek that had done most of the shooting.  He and his father got one wood duck and both feel in and got wet.  Scott got the one ring neck and was standing out there from 6:15 to 9:30.

December 26, 2005, Monday Morning, Duck Pond on Farm
Beck and I had seen a good many woodies in the small pond on the back of the farm but at the moment he is more interested in Star Wars and light savers than getting up and hunting, so it was just me and Lucy, again.  Three lit early and Lucy started her whining.  I had decided not to beat Lucy every time she whined this morning because I didn’t want to discourage her.  I could see the wood ducks swimming around and so could she.  She whined and whined and they finally got up and flew away.  She looked up at me and I looked at her and said “now see what you’ve done”!  I do find my self talking to my dog more and more.  I think part of the reason that dog is man’s best friend is because dogs can’t talk.  They never talk back!  They never question you or try to argue….even when you’re wrong.  I think every married man needs a dog.  Anyway, I had decided not to beat my best friend but she was really testing me.  As I looked across the small pond I realized it was getting light and wondered if that was going to be it.  Finally, some more flew overhead and a pair came in.  I got one and the other flew off.  I kept Lucy close and did not unleash her from the gum tree next to me.  She really started to whine but I figured this was good training, although I must admit she did get a few open handed bitch slaps.  The only thing that would make her quit whining was petting her on the neck.  Another pair came in and I got another one.  Lucy and I sat there a short while longer but I fingered we had both had enough.  I unleashed her and sent her after the furthest duck.  She picked it up and headed for the other duck.  I tried to make her come back to me but it was no use.  She went to grab the second duck but missed it because her mouth was full.  She brought the one duck back and I sent her after the other. She brought it back, but didn’t bring either one right to me.  She dropped them about five feet away.  They were both hens.  I trained Lucy for a while using the ducks and called it a morning. 

Saturday, December 31, 2005, Flat Creek on Back of Farm/Lake Blachshear  
Lucy and I went alone again to the
Creek that morning and Tamatha and
Beck were to meet me later at Lake
Blackshear for annual family new years
duck hunting trip.  I killed a drake wood
duck and released Lucy to fetch it up. 
She retrieved it from the creek and
dropped it about 15 yards and started
mauling it.  I went over and got her and
the duck and asked here what the hell
she was doing.  I leashed her back and
sat there looking at my dog.  Several
flew over and I knocked the last one
down and it fell in the woods on the
side of the creek.  I looked at Lucy and
she was looking the opposite direction
from where the duck fell.  I unleashed
her and walked her over to where I had
marked the duck, made her sit next to
me, told her dead and sent her where I
thought the duck was.  It took her a couple of minutes but she sniffed the duck out.  She had finally retrieved a duck that I probably could not have found.  I used the dead ducks to work with Lucy for a while and she retrieved them perfectly bring them all the way back to me not chewing up the ducks.  I went back to the trailer and loaded up and went and put the boat in a Campers Haven.  Lucy and I road around and was a few ducks.  We loaded up around 2 and headed back to the cabin to meet Beck and Tamatha.  We rode around for a little while and went to the Old Inn for a New Years Meal.

November 12, 2005, Saturday AM   
Beck’s 1st  Deer Hunt out of stand
Ray and Joe were coming to the farm to hunt the
rut and I had the big metal box stand ready to hoist
in a tree so that Beck and I could sit on a stand. 
They got to the trailer around lunch and Ray, Joe,
Brad, Rudy and myself went to put up the stand. 
Ray tied a hammer to a rope threw it over a limb in
the tree, tied a few nifty knots and hoisted the heavy
stand up with his scout and I climbed up and
secured it.  There was nothing to it!  Especially
compared to me putting it together and dragging it
down to the tree myself, which threw my back out,
required me to go to Dr. Jonathon, and led to my first
full physical!  I went to the house in town to get Beck
and Ray and Joe went to scout out a place to set up
a ground blind.  We all rode around in the scout and loaded some rocks down to a place by the creek to make a fire ring.  We finished that project and then Ray found a place to set up a ground blind near the creek.  We put the blind up down in a bottom.  I tried to persuade Ray to put it up the hill a little so he could oversee the bottom, but he insisted he liked his spot.  We set up the ground blind and got ready for the next morning hunt. I had questioned Beck if he would wake up, but after a few light shakes he sat up looked me straight in the eyes and said “I told you so!”  We got dressed and met Ray and Joe at the trailer and were soon walking through the Enchanted Forest to our stand.  As we entered the canopy of trees I cut of the flashlight.  Beck grabbed for my hand as we walked through the woods in the dark.  We crawled up in the stand and still had plenty of time before light.  Beck lay across my lap trying to get comfortable and sleep just a bit more.  As it was just getting light enough to see I saw a deer’s body cross between the trees about 40 yards in front of us.  I woke Beck up and we looked for the deer but it seemed to disappear in the trees and darkness.  We couldn’t see it and Beck soon leaned back across my lap.  About 20 minutes later I saw some deer headed our way.  I got Beck ready again and we saw 3 does walking through the woods.  They worked in front of us and were just about to cross into the road when a small buck came out of nowhere and chased at one of the does.  He chased them around for 5 or 10 minutes before they all ran off.  I looked at Beck and whispered “wasn’t that cool?”  “Yeah” he said, “can we go now?”  I knew then that Beck is more of a stalker than still hunter. I convinced him to sit a little longer and we saw another doe and heard a buck grunting behind her but never saw the buck.  We soon heard a shot from Ray and Joe’s direction and got down to head their way.  When Beck and I found them they were walking through the woods with Ray holding Joe’s gun.  “I think I missed” Ray said as he started his story.  Ray was ready to leave the ground blind but Joe wanted to stay longer so Ray stood up to stretch. As he stood up he noticed a nice 8 pointer up staring straight at them.  Ray stood and stared at the buck for several minutes before sitting back down, grabbing Joe’s gun and taking a shot.  “I would have hit him with my gun, I can’t shoot this gun” he said as he held up the small 243 single shot rifle he purchased last year for his son.  “Why don’t you have your gun” I asked.  “We were going to let Joe shoot” Ray said.  “Why didn’t you let Joe shoot?” I asked.  “The deer came out in the wrong place, not where we had practiced, I didn’t think he could make the shot” Ray answered.  We looked for blood but I do believe Ray missed.  We built a fire in the new fire ring at the Day Camp and cleared trees and let the boys ride the 4 wheeler and golf cart all day.  We crossed the creek on “log bridge” and Beck fell in.  I changed him into dry coveralls and we sat around the fire until he fell asleep in chair.

Ed and Beck in a tree.
Perry Rotary Club Fishing Tournament 
March 18, 2006, Saturday

Bob Lawson and I headed to the
Laurens/Bleckley County Line to his Uncle
Tommy’s land.  Whitehall Plantation contains
about 6,000 acres including a 185 acre private
lake that Bob and I had all to our selves.  We
got there Friday afternoon, unloaded and put
the boat in to do some practice fishing.  We
found a spot behind an island and caught
several fish including one 5 plus pounder.  We
caught a couple of more just as big and
decided we would head back to our cabin and
then to the lodge where Uncle Tommy had the
Big Green Egg fired up and ready.  Bob and I
stopped by M&T Meats in Hawkinsville and
got some nice filets, marinated and wrapped
in bacon. We had green beans and potato
salad as sides and apple pie and ice cream
for dessert.  I was about to pop when Uncle
Tommy offered to have breakfast ready at
5:30 am.  I knew I would still be full but Bob and I could not pass up the hospitality.  We went back to the cabin and rigged our gear then turned in.  I was hoping for a good night sleep but heartburn got me due to some overindulgence of food and spirits.  I was up on time and Bob and I both showered before heading to the lodge for eggs, cheese grits, bacon and biscuits.  This would have been a great trip for Ray.  He probably would have even caught a bunch of fish like Bob and I did all day long.  We caught around 35 bass but not one as large as some we had caught the day before.  We had a decent stringer but knew it was nothing close to what it would take to win the tourney.  We fished until 2:00 pm and then loaded the boat and packed up everything else.  We drove back to Perry discussing what a good time we had.  We had our own cabin on a 185 acre lake and the food and the fishing were great!  We decided that would have to be our annual Rotary Club trip…with Uncle Tommy’s permission of course.   We pulled into the Agcenter for the weigh in just at 3:30.  Bob and I weighed in posting 12.11 pounds which placed us in 4th place just ahead of Mr. Larry and Mr. Foster.  We held 4th place for a short while and were gradually knocked back to 11th place…one out of the money.  Again this year there were some huge stringers brought in by the same old guys.  Bob and I knew when the winning stringer included one fish that weighed as much as our whole stringer that we are going to have to change our fishing strategies.  We may have to go to crankbaits instead of our usual Texas rigged lizards.  Whatever we do we know our best chance is to keep fishing at Whitehall Plantation. 
September 2, 2006 Opening Day of Dove Season

It had been so dry during the summer that the brown top millet did not come up.  Beck barely noticed that we weren’t hunting because him, John Garret and Tyler Moreland road around on golf carts and had a big time.  John Pearson, Gene Moreland, Brad and myself ate boiled peanuts, boiled peanuts and drank some cold beverages while listening to college football.  We all had a pretty good time.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Beck and I still had not shot any birds and I was ready to give Lucy a try.  We were all eating ribs at Betty’s house after church so Beck and I decided to arrive early and go in the back to the old barn and see if any dove were hanging around there.  We had good luck and I was shooting 3 for 3 after knocking down a perfect double.  Several birds would come and try to light in the old tree we were sitting under which made for easy shooting.  Beck stalked around with his BB gun and took a shot at one on the power line but had no luck.  We picked up 7 and Lucy did decent but still has a long way to go.  I wrapped her leash around a pecan tree which had poison ivy on it.  My forearms itched for about a week.

August 18, 2006

I now have a new hunting, fishing and camping buddy.  Brant Beckham was born April 11, 2006.  That explains why I have not had that many outdoor adventures so far in 2006.

There are several fond memories as I think back over the past 8 months.  My favorite is when Larry asked Beck and I to meet him and Wade at SOHO for some bass fishing.  Beck and I arrived after our hosts who were already in a jon boat fishing.  Larry had a boat and battery ready for us.  We loaded everything in the boat and trolled out their way.  Beck was ready to use his new zebco mini-cast with 4 lb. test.  They told us they had caught 2 and looked as if they were ready for another.  Beck and I started casting our dark colored, medium size beetle spins and the bass liked them.  I caught one then Beck caught one and then just as we were drifting past our hosts we both caught one, a double.  Larry and Wade just watched as we caught at least 10 fish our first 15 minutes of fishing.  Beck also had two that got to the boat and broke him off when they made their run.  “That’s what I’m talking about!” Beck said as we high-fived , caught fish and tied on more beetle spins.  We had a great time and Larry and Wade’s fishing picked us as well. After we docked the boats, we fished off the dock as the fish feeder started.  We fought several large ones and broke off more than we caught.  I was a great trip for Beck and I, and we need a good afternoon getaway.

Just a couple of days after Brant was born I needed another getaway, so Beck and I loaded up the tracker and headed for the flint.  We caught several bream and a couple of bass.  The highlight of the trip was the three alligators we saw including a big one just up from the Highway 127 Bridge. 

There have been two or three Satilla trips this year.  Ray and I cleared a new path straight down to the sandbar.  We still have two huge piles to burn and I did not know Ray had it in him to work so hard.  Ray and Will and I went and relaxed on the sand bar most of the time and Ray and I returned the weekend of August 12th and checked out the Okefenokee Swamp.
On Saturday, July 22, 2006 Beck and took the tracker to Marshaville to fish.  They had been working on the dam and the pond was low.  I backed in down at the power line like I always do.  I kept backing trying to get the boat off the trailer until I got stuck.  I called Brad and he came out but his truck wouldn’t pull me out so I called Mark Monroe on his tractor.  That did the trick, but then I realized I had pushed the prop into the mud and bent the prop shaft and broke the bracket that hold up the motor.  So far I’ve spent $450 and am still using an axe handle to hold up the motor.

Saturday Morning,  November 11, 2006

Ray and Joe were down for their annual deer hunt.  They were sitting in the new two man stand that I had put where Ray missed the buck last year.  They had a new .243 and this year there was no way Joe was letting Ray shoot.  We hunted Friday afternoon and Beck and I saw three does while Ray and Joe saw one small buck.  Joe passed on the young fork horn hoping for a shot at one to put on the wall.  Beck wanted me to shoot a doe but I told him I would only shoot if we saw a big buck.  Saturday morning Ray and Joe were up early exited about the hunt.  They were already in the woods when Beck and I arrived at the farm.  We arrived just at sun up.  (Beck gets board and falls back asleep if he has to sit on the stand too long in the dark.)  As we pulled in the farm I noticed the lights were on in Brad’s trailer.  As I ran in my trailer to get my gun, Brad came out and yelled “Ray and Joe are already back there”.  “OK”, I answered wondering if Brad was having a late night or an early morning.   The sun was up as Beck and I drove through the pecan orchard and made the turn down the hedgerow that leads to the dove field.  We had not gone 10 yards when I saw the rear end of a deer walking down the road in front of us.  “There’s a deer” I said to Beck as he jumped out of his booster seat and stood over my shoulder as we both looked ahead.  We both yelled he’s a buck as he picked up his head and looked our way.  “He’s a big buck, we’re going to shoot a big buck” Beck yelled as he looked my way.  “You want to shoot him?” I asked as I jumped out of the truck opening the door to the back seat where my .243 was laying in the floor board.  “You said we would shoot a big buck” I heard Beck say as I propped the gun and looked through the scope.  I whistled and the deer picked up his head as he kept walking away from us.  I saw he was definitely wider than his ears.  He put his head back down and kept walking in the opposite direction.  “Do you want me to shoot him?” I asked Beck as I whistled again.  Beck answered “Yeah!” as the buck picked up his head and I counted one, two, three, four points, realizing he was a ten pointer.  K-BOOM I heard as I held the crosshairs on the deer’s front shoulder still wondering whether or not I should shoot.  The buck jumped up and hobbled across the open field while I watched him through the scope.  He ran about two or three hundred yards when he stopped and turned.  I had the crosshairs on him again as he fell to the ground.  “We got him” I told Beck wondering what we would do for the next hour and a half waiting for Ray and Joe to get off the stand.  “Let’s go back and get Brad to help load him” I said
as we turned around and headed back to the trailers. 
When we got to Brad’s trailer I realized it had been a
long night and that Brad had been getting ready to go
to the Georgia –Auburn game that kicked off in Auburn
at 12.30 pm. Brad was happy to help Beck and I
retrieve our kill.  As we made the turn back towards
the dove field I did not see the deer.  We kept driving
thinking he may be lying in the low area that was
covered in fog.  I drove to where the deer had fallen
and said “he not here!”  “He got up and ran off”  Brad
and I said to each other as we followed the deer’s
tracks across the recently harrowed field.  “No blood”
we said to each other as I turned the truck around
and took Brad home. “We’ll let him sit for an hour or
so I told Beck.  He probably ran into the planted
pines and laid down. We’ll give him time to die and
then we’ll find him”.  We dropped off Brad and drove
to our stand where it was all we could do to sit for an
hour.  We got out of the stand and drove back to the
last place we could track the deer.  The tracks
stopped in the wet grass under the planted pines. 
“Do you think we ought to get Lucy or should we try
to track him ourselves” I asked Beck as he walked
back to the truck with his head down.  “What’s
wrong, I asked”.  “He wasn’t in the middle of the
field and you said we would find him at the edge of
woods, he’s not here either” Beck answered with
his lips poked out.  “We’ll find him” I said trying to
convince Beck to help me look for the buck.  We
walked through the planted pines following any trail
that looked like it may have been made by a wounded
deer.  It was clean under the pines and I was fairly sure
we had not passed the deer.  After we had walked
several hundred yards I was beginning to wonder if we would find our buck.  I noticed a thick area were several pines had fallen down.  Beck was getting board and picked up a stick and whacked it against one of the planted pines.  As Beck whacked the stick against the tree I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  I looked that way and out of the fallen clump of pines I saw the big buck lifting his head and mainly his rack.  “Get down” I whispered to Beck as I made a fatal shot to the deer’s neck.  “We got him!” I said once again.  Beck and I high fived looking back to make sure the buck didn’t get up and run again.  “He’s down” Beck said as he walked over to the dying deer, “he’s a big buck!”   We stood and watched as the buck kicked one last time.  I poked the buck’s eye with my gun barrel to make sure he was dead.  Beck and I thanked God for our kill and then hugged and high fived again.  We drove to meet Ray and Joe and found them just getting off their stand.  “We didn’t see anything and we sat there for two hours,” Joe said as we drove up.  “What about ya’ll” Ray said noticing our smiles.  I told them our story and they followed us back to the dead buck.  We took several pictures and Ray helped me load him in the back of the truck. Beck and I went home to show Brant and Tamatha our trophy.  Ray and Joe stayed at the farm riding the four- wheeler and looking for arrowheads.  We had a great day and everyone was especially happy when Georgia spanked Auburn.

Saturday, January 20, 2007 – Beck 1st Duck Hunt at Mossy Lake

           The ring necks had finally arrived at
Mossy Lake and although the official rules were
no firearms, I could not stand the sight of 75
ducks in shooting range from my pick up.  And
besides, the roads were not complete in the
second phase of the subdivision and none of
the residents should be coming down there
anyway and they would not care if I did hunt. 
Plus this could be one of the best duck hunts
Beck ever gets to go on in Georgia, so I made
up my mind to shoot the ducks that next Saturday
morning.  The Friday before I decided to put on
my waders and take a few decoys out to the spot
where Beck and I would set up and make sure
there were no holes too deep for Beck.  As I
pulled up in the truck I noticed there were not
near as many ducks…maybe 10 or 12.  I waded
out and found a perfect place that Beck could get
to and then noticed 15 to 20 spent shotgun shells
floating in the water.  Somebody shot the ducks!
I could not believe it.  I was worried about shooting
and somebody else slipped in and shot.  I guess
they could not stand the sight of 75 ring necks
either.  Well, there were still 10 or 12 out there
and I had the mojo duck decoy.  I was pretty tired
that Saturday morning and if Beck had said he
wanted to sleep in I would have but after I shook
him several times he nodded yes that he wanted
to get up and duck hunt, so we got dressed and headed to Mossy Lake.  I had a light sweat from making 2 trips out in waders and then setting up decoys and dealing with a 5 year old boy and a 2 year old dog.  But Beck, Lucy and I were almost ready just as the first ducks started flying.   “There’s one” I heard Beck say as I waded back from flipping the last decoy over (of course it landed upside down when I threw it).  Ducks where in the air as I loaded my shotgun hoping they would cup and float in gently as they had 2 years ago when Andy, his dog Rock and I had such a good hunt.  Well they lit just outside of shooting range as they will when they have been shot at.  Finally a pair couldn’t resist they mojo duck and flew within range.  I must admit, I aimed for both ducks and pulled the trigger and was glad to see one of them fold.  “That’s what I’m talking about” I heard Beck say as I unleashed Lucy to retrieve the duck.  “Fetch it up Lucy” I said as she approached the flopping duck.  “Fetch it up Lucy” Beck yelled over my shoulder as I watched Lucy grab the duck and head back our way.  Splash,  I heard over my shoulder as I looked back to see the bottom of Beck’s waders.  “Help me Daddy” Beck said as he stretched his neck as for as he could to keep his face from going under.  I grabbed Beck’s wet, outstretched arm and helped him stand up as I grabbed the duck from Lucy’s mouth.  “I lost the flashlight” Beck said as he started to cry.  “That’s alright I said as I reached down his wader and pulled out the flashlight.  “Can I keep hunting or do you want to go back to the truck” I asked Beck as stood with his arms straight out trying to catch his breath from the shock of the cold water.  With ducks still flying I put down my shotgun and held Beck’s hand as we waded to the bank.  We stripped him out of his wet waders and most of his wet clothes and I left him in the truck with the heater running as I waded back to get the decoys and other gear……of course I was hoping some ducks would still be flying.  As I waded back to the clump of brush that was our make shift blind several ducks jumped up and flew off.  I missed a passing shot at another and kept thinking of Beck back in the truck.  I didn’t know if he was crying or upset or what so I decided to get everything and go.  He was fine when I got back to the truck, still a little cold and wet.  We drove back home and Tamatha jumped out of bed and started a hot bath for Beck to thaw.

Saturday Afternoon, January 20, 2007 – Trapping with Mr. Grady

I have known Mr. Grady most all of my life.  I remember hunting wood ducks with his dog Judy and hunting ducks on the roost at the swamp and once out of a boat behind an old mill pond.  I remember shooting my first deer.  I gut shot a doe and Mr. Grady had to field dress it.  I remember my dad shooting a wild boar behind the round hole and Mr. Grady having to help drag it out.  I remember a dove shoot behind the packing shed.  Mr. Grady was on crutches and had to hobble from his dove blind because I peppered him from across the field.  I remember Thanksgivings at the flowing well and I remember Ms. Jane’s (his wife) homemade jams and jellies at Christmas.  When I think hunting the Flint River Swamp, I think of Mr. Grady.  As I got older and could hunt by myself or with some of my cousins, I remember we would most always pass Mr. Grady’s Toyota truck parked on the side of some woods road.  He would be stalking for deer and would have a large cup of sweet tea sitting in his seat.  I no longer hunt at the Flint River Swamp, but I still have some of the best memories of my life.  I feel truly blessed to have been able to hunt so much good land with my family and friends and I know it is an opportunity that my boys will never have.  Mr. Grady doesn’t hunt the swamp anymore either.  He doesn’t hunt anything much anymore…..but he still traps.  I had the opportunity to take Beck with Mr. Grady one Saturday afternoon and Tamatha and Brant decided to ride along too.  We caught a couple of bobcats and a fox but never got a coyote.  We really wanted to see Mr. Grady place the live coyote in one of the dog kennels in the back of his Toyota pickup.  There was excitement enough for Beck who almost knocked me down running for the truck as Mr. Grady placed the choke stick around the fox and grabbed him by the back of the neck.  We road all over Macon County and had a great time.  That night we came across Jeremiah Johnson on the television.  We watched the entire movie and both decided if we were going to the mountains to trap and be a mountain man, we would want to go with Mr. Grady!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2007 - Perry Rotarty Fishing Tournament
April 27- 28, 2007 – Perry Rotary Fishing Tournament

Bob Lawson and I were headed back to Whitehall Plantation to fish in the annual Rotary Club Fishing Tournament.  There was a youth division for the first time and since Beck recently turned 6 years old he should be ready to go.  We stopped at M&T Meats and got steaks and cheese and arrived at the cabin on the private 180 acre lake at about 3:30 pm.  It was windy that Friday afternoon so we decided to fish over by the lodge out of the wind.  We had been fishing for 30 minutes or so when Bob had a fish hit his crankbait.  I heard the drag going out as Bob stood up to fight the fish.  After a short fight Bob got the fish close enough for me to net and we had the lunker in the boat.  Bob was smiling ear to ear as he asked me if I had my camera.  “I left it in the truck” I answered as I started the big motor and headed back to the cabin.  We took several pictures and put the fish back in the lake. We watched as he slowly glided away.  “A nice stringer of those tomorrow will win the tournament for us” I said as we all high-fived. 
Bob’s Uncle Tommy, owner of Whitehall Plantation, was not there to cook for us this year but we managed to fend for ourselves.  Bob grilled the steaks to perfection and we all turned in early after a good meal.  I could barely sleep and was up with no alarm at 6:00 am.  “It’s time to go fishing” I said to Beck as I shook him by the arm.  He sat up with his eyes still shut.  “You can take a minute” I told him as he slowly came to.  We were back in front of the lodge making our first cast at 6:30am, just as planned.  We caught several fish as we worked our way past the area where Bob had caught the big bass.  We caught several fish in the 3 to 4 lb range and headed back to the cabin to unload and take a bathroom break.  We fished our way back to the cabin and just before we got to the dock another nice one hit Bob’s crankbait.  We realized he was not as big as Bob’s Friday fish but he was still our largest by far.  We unloaded the fish in a large cooler with an aerator and left it on the dock.  It was about 9:15 am as we loaded back in the boat and headed across the lake to some islands we had caught fish last year.  Beck had been steadily casting my spinning rod with a chartreuse spinner bait.  “I got one” he said as I noticed his rod bend over.  “Reel him in” Bob and I both said as Beck reeled a small bass in all by himself.  We high-fived and took pictures and were all excited Beck had caught a fish.  We threw the fish back and even Beck realized he was too small to keep.  He was still excited and kept casting as we worked our way through the canal that runs behind the manmade duck ponds.  We had another live well full of 3 to 4 pounders when I felt another tap on my texas rig watermelon seed lizard.  I set the hook and caught a glimpse of the fish’s lips as he rolled on the top of the water and headed under the boat.  “He’s a nice one” I said as Bob grabbed for the net.  I was prepared for the fight as I felt my line snap on the fish’s second big tug.  “He broke off” I said as reeled in the empty line.  We needed him was all I could think as I tied on another lizard.  Just minutes later I heard Beck say “I got one Daddy” and noticed the tip of his road bend towards the water.  “Get him, reel him in” I said as Beck tried to gain control of the fish.  “He’s a big one” I heard Bob Lawson say as the fish surfaced and he handed me the net.  We both watched as Beck dug the end of the pole in his belly and cranked on the reel.  He got the fish to the boat and I pulled up the end of his rod and netted the fish.  We high-fived again and took several picture really excited now that Beck had a fish that would help the team.  We headed back to the dock to unload more fish.  We had several nice ones, including Beck’s, to go with Bob’s big fish.  Bob jumped out of the boat and opened the cooler to check and make sure the aerator was keeping the fish alive.  As he opened the top of the cooler I saw a fish jump out and slide off the dock into the lake.  Bob was on his knees grabbing at another fish that had jumped out of the other side of the cooler.  “He’s not the big one” I heard Bob say as the fish wiggled his way back into the lake.  I  knew the one I saw was not the big one either so Bob shut the cooler lid and starting rolling the cooler off the dock and up towards the bank.  “We needed to cull those fish anyway” we said to each other as we heard a thump and watched as the big fish jumped up knocking the lid to the cooler open and bounced one time off the dock before splashing into about 3 feet of water.  Bob and I both stood with our mouths wide open staring at the spot the fish had landed hoping he was still groggy and may be floating on top.  “If he’s got enough energy to push open that cooler he’s got enough energy to swim off” I said as we realized the big one had gotten away.  We made some sandwiches for lunch.  As we ate them I tried to get over the one breaking my line and Bob tried to get over his jumping out of the cooler. 

We headed back and caught fish all day in the 3 to 4 pound range.  We had to start taking the boat out around 2:30 pm to be back at the weigh in by 4:00.  We fished around the islands then back down the bank in front of the lodge.  We caught several nice fish but none as large as the one that got away and no where near as big as Bob’s from the day before.  I caught one right at five pounds and looked at my watch to see it was 2:35.  I let out a Mike Iconelli yell, “Never get up!” and put my rod away.  We had already cleaned up the cabin so we loaded up the boat and weighed the fish to see which ones we needed to keep and which to throw back.  We had a decent stringer with Beck’s 3.2 lb. bass being our smallest fish.  We figured we had just under 20 pounds.  What could have been if we had Bob’s fish from Friday and the couple of others that got away.

We arrived at the Agcenter just before 4:00 pm, took several pictures and weighed in our fish.  We had just over 20 pounds which was good enough for 8th place and a $75.00 dollar prize.  We were happy to finish in the money.  We had no luck in the raffle.  Big Ed won a frying pan and Lee Bailey won the grand prize, a rigged out john boat with a 9.9 mercury.  It was a good trip and Beck and I can’t wait until next year for our annual fishing trip to Whitehall.  
Friday, August 24, 2007
Lake Seminole

Ray, Will and I were due for a trip
but it was the middle of the summer
and we didn’t want to hunt hogs and
they don’t like to fish, so I
suggested frog giggin at Seminole. 
Of course I had in the back of my
mind that during the night Will
would eventually jump on the back
of gator.  Will was all in and Ray
said he would man the camera so I knew that Will would perform to his highest potential.  www.OutdoorswithEd would be doing its first video production since 1991.

Ray and Will met at the farm in Perry at lunch time where a crowd was ready to eat the fried fish, shrimp and fries that Larry, Gene and Roddy were fixin up. As we were eating Scott called and gave us permission to stay at Uncle Jimmy’s cabin.  Ray was especially excited that we all had comfortable beds and a private boat landing. We ate and decided what trucks to take on the trip.  This was not an easy task as I wanted to drop my riding lawnmower at the Blackshear Cabin and Will was hauling “the pots”.  “The pots” were three large planting pots that Will had promised his mother he would deliver to her in Moultrie. Her birthday was coming up and now was the best time. 

We dropped a truck and the lawnmower at Lake Blackshear and then headed for Moultrie.  I supervised as Ray and Will unloaded the pots and soon we were back on the road.  It took a bit longer than we had anticipated but we were at the Seminole Cabin just before dark.  We unloaded our gear, backed in the boat and headed for the Chain of Lakes.  We waited as it got dark.  After dark we made our way back through the Chain of Lakes toward the cabin.  We didn’t see any frogs but did see several alligators.  We only had one Q-beam so I decided to swing back by the cabin to see if we could find any more lights.  When we pulled up to the cabin there was a 4 foot alligator right at the boat landing.  “Get him” I said to Will as I positioned the boat perfectly towards the gator.  Will stood on the front of the boat.  “Get him” I said as we followed closely behind the gator.  “Stumps” I heard Will say as the gator splashed under water and was gone.  “You’re scared” I said to Will as he sat back in the boat.  “Scared of the stumps” Will said but I still wondered if Will had it in him.  We found a hard hat rigged with a light and battery clips.  It was a little hot but it worked great. We got back in the boat and headed out of the channel.  It took a while but we finally made it to the boat run.  With my new light I could really see and headed straight to the first set of gator eyes I could find. 

“Get ready Will”, I instructed as we approached the gator.  “It’s too deep” I heard Will say as he stood on the front of the boat.  He’s scared I thought in the back of my mind.  We had decided not to film the first catch because we thought we needed to practice and may need Ray during the capture.  Will stood ready on the bow of the boat as the gator got within range.  “Get him” I urged hoping that Will still had it in him.  Will leaped and landed on the gator’s back.  “Get him” I heard Ray say as I stood looking to see what was happening.  Will disappeared under the water as the hydrilla grass completely closed over the spot where he had landed.  I heard Ray breathing heavily for several seconds before we saw Will’s blue croc shoe float to the surface.  Ray quit breathing completely as we both gasped for air staring at the murky water.  Finally, Will surfaced.  “I lost my shoe” he said as he took a big breath and then disappeared under the water again.  “When he surfaced again he said “get the pole” which was already in my hands and headed in his direction.  Will grabbed the pole with one arm and seemed to be trapped in the hydrilla with the other.  As I pulled Will close to the boat I saw the inside of the gators jaws as Will tried to sling the gator into the boat.  The gator saw the boat and made one good strong push and freed himself from Will’s grasp.  “He got away” Will said as he pulled himself in the boat.  “That’s O.K.” I said as I helped Will into the boat.  I was happy, Will still had it in him and there would be plenty of more gators. 

Will under estimated the gators strength as he tried to sling the gator in the boat.  “I was trying to show off” he said as I shined ahead to the next gator.  Just a few feet away I had another one in our sights.  Will was still hoping for more shallow water but I was already positioned behind the gator.  “Get him” I said as Will leaped off the bow of the boat.  “He’s got him” Ray said as he grabbed for the camera and I stood to give Will whatever assistance I could.  He was out of sight again under the dark murky water and hydrilla grass.  “I’m filming” I heard Ray say as I saw the top of Will’s head submerge from under water.  Just before he surfaced he seemed to go back in deeper and then I saw the gators open jaws.  They would come just to the water’s surface and then I would see the top of Will’s head, then the gators jaws, then the top of Will’s head.  Finally I realized Will had the gator with both hands.  He wasn’t letting go this time and he was having trouble swimming to the surface because his feet were tangled in the hydrilla grass.  Finally Will got his face above water and yelled “grab me” as he gasped for air.  I took hold under his arm and pulled him and the gator towards the boat.  I held Will up long enough for him to catch his breath and then pulled him to the side of the boat.  “Get him” Will now told me as he treaded water holding a five foot gator just behind the open jaws.  Get him were I thought to myself trying to figure out what to do next.  I finally managed to get my hands behind the gators head and squeeze.   I had the gator!  “I got him” I told Will as he let go and fell back under water and out of sight. 

Ray was filming and directing as Will crawled back in the boat.  I handed the gator’s head back over to Will and kept hold of the gator’s tail.  “He’s a nice one” Ray exclaimed when he saw the size of the gator.  I smiled ear to ear as I held our catch and Will told the story for the camera as he breathed deeply still recovering.  We examined and measured the gator and then released him back into the lake.  We then noticed the tail wip mark on Will’s stomach.  Will was proud of his battle scar.   We decided to head to the cut to find more shallow water.  It seemed the gators got smaller in the shallow water.  We caught several more gators throughout the night but none as large as the five footer.   We caught gators until both batteries for the video camera ran down and then headed back to the cabin.  I charged a battery as we all took showers and we were able to watch the video before going to sleep.  It was pretty good but we all feel we can do a little better.  We slept good that night and drove to Lake Blackshear the next morning.  We got to the Blackshear Cabin just after lunch and couldn’t wait to show the video to Deen, Colton and Brad who were meeting us there to watch the Bristol Race on television.
September 28-30, 2007   Keaton Beach

September had been a bad month for Larry and I knew he was due for a fishing trip to Keaton Beach.  All I had to due was mention it and we had it marked in pen on the calendar.  Before I even had it all cleared at the house or had discussed the details with Larry, John Grey told me he was going.  Larry knows that I fish much better with just two to a boat, but John Grey had also had a bad month of September, so I didn’t say anything and looked forward to a nice, pleasant fishing trip with the Walkers.  Larry booked the Pelican House across from the hot dog stand which has plenty of room.  Gene Moreland and Scott also planned to go.  The Thursday before we are to leave on Friday morning, Coot decides that he is going.  Coot has made the comment that he was “never going back to Keaton Beach again”, but since Melissa, his pregnant wife was out of town and the cotton was not ready to pick, he was going.  John Grey swore never to fish in The Touch, Andy’s 17 foot bass tracker, again.  I must admit it appears to be rather rough and wet when fishing out of The Touch in the Gulf of Mexico.  Andy didn’t plan on fishing out of The Touch either, we were fishing four out of Larry’s boat.  Triple Play has plenty of room but four to a boat was more than I could handle.  Not only would I not catch any fish, when four people are fishing out of a boat more accidents are prone to happen.  Against my better judgement we all planned to meet at the trailer at 8:15 the next morning. 

I dropped Beck off at school and was at the trailer at 8:15 am.  The Walkers are not known for being punctual, especially in the morning, so I decided to go fill up with gas.  There would not be enough room in one truck now that we had four to a boat so we would have to take two trucks.  As I pulled into the BP station Andy was also pulling in.  Roy, his 7 month old chocolate labrador retriever was riding in the back of Andy’s truck.  Andy had been at the studio for the Thursday night jam session and looked a bit sluggish.  “I got to do something with my dog” were the first words out of Andy’s mouth.  “What?” I asked Andy as he looked at me with a blank stare.  “Where’s Lucy” he asked.  I told him that Lucy was home with Tamatha.  Andy was glad to hear that Brad’s Ice and Dog Boarding had a vacancy for the weekend.  As I finished filling my truck with gas I could hear Andy saying “I don’t have any vodka and I forgot my steak and ……”  I got in my truck and headed to the trailer.  The Walkers had still not arrived when I got back to the trailer.  Andy had followed me from the BP and as I getting out of my truck he pulled up and said “I don’t have any dog food”.  “Go get it” I told Andy.  Even Andy new better than to leave his dog with no food at Brad’s unannounced, so he headed back to the store.

John Grey showed up shortly and then Larry towing the Triple Play.  We loaded everything up and then sat and waited on Andy who had ordered Waffle House to go.  I think he needed a little something on his stomach.  He finally returned and loaded his things in Larry’s truck.  It was now 9:15 am, an hour after we were to meet.  “Should I call Brad and ask if he’ll keep my dog” Andy asked as he looked at his cell phone.  “Put him in the kennel and call Brad in an hour or so after he gets up” I answered.  “You don’t think he’ll be alright out?” Andy asked.  “As long as he doesn’t get in that four lane road out there” I said as I pointed to the South Perry Parkway.  “He’ll be alright” Andy said as he waved his hand for us to go.  So we headed out.  John Grey road with me and Larry and Andy followed in Larry’s truck pulling the Triple Play.  I noticed that Roy was chasing Larry’s truck as we headed down Hay Road.  “They are going to have to stop and take Roy back” I told John Grey as we pulled onto the Parkway.  Larry and Andy didn’t stop.  Roy didn’t stop either and was now in full stride on the very four lane road that I had warned Andy about.  “Well they’ll turn around now” I told John Grey as we turned on the southbound ramp of Interstate 75.  As I merged into the traffic of I-75 I saw Larry’s truck turn onto the southbound ramp.  They did not stop. Either Andy has a lot of confidence in Roy being able to find his way back to the trailers or they had not even looked back to see if Roy was chasing them.  As I got up to interstate speed and continued to merge in traffic, I looked hard to see if Roy was going to make the turn, but I never saw Roy again.

John Gray headed south down I-75 with Larry and Andy following behind.  John Gray and I discussed the turn the trip had taken since the cotton was not ready to pick and Andy decided to make it four to a boat.  We knew we would have fun and Andy would surely add to our fish keeping, but the whole dynamics of the trip seemed to have changed. 

We stopped at the Hess and put would seemed to be $150.00 worth of gas in Larry’s boat and were soon back on the road.  We got to Perry FL around lunch time.  John Gray and I went to the bait shop and drove through for a burger and let Larry and Andy worry about the realtor that Larry had booked the house with.  We headed on down to Keaton and checked out the marina and the hotdog stand.  The hotdog stand was open and would cook the fish that we planned to catch.  We unloaded our stuff at the Pelican House which had plenty of room for everyone.  We met up with Gene and Scott at the marina when we put our boat in the water. 

Larry, Andy, John Gray and I loaded our fishing gear into the Triple Play and headed out of Keaton Beach then south past Grassy Island to the place where Larry and I had caught fish the trip before.   We found the creek channel and Larry killed the engine for us to fish.  Andy immediately jumped up to the front platform and started casting.  The rest of us had tackle to tie on.  Before I could get my first road and reel fully rigged Andy caught a keeper trout.  I rigged on my second road although I know there would be no room for me to fish two rods with four to a boat.  Before I had my second rod fully rigged Andy caught a keeper redfish.   This was the first redfish that any of us had ever caught at Keaton.  Larry had always wanted to catch a red and was very happy to know that this could be the trip.  We fished for several hours as Andy kept catching keeper trout.  John Gray and I fished crowdedly from the rear of the boat.  Larry managed to pull in a few keepers as well.  I managed to catch several small trout and John Gray seemed to keep getting bites but the fish would get off before he could get them to the boat.  John Gray finally saw an opportunity to fish from the seat on the front platform of the boat.  He managed to get a fish to the boat.  It was a redfish.  John Gray must have been targeting redfish rather than trout because he landed another redfish about 30 minutes later.  He was very excited.  Captain Larry was happy for his little brother but he said several times that he wished he could catch a redfish.  Larry fished hard the rest of the afternoon and landed a couple of more trout but no redfish.  We had the beginning of a good creel of fish so we headed back to the Pelican House.  Larry decided to go ahead and clean our fish.  We decided to cook steaks that night and would take our fish to the hotdog stand the next night.  We showered and relaxed as Larry cleaned the fish.  Gene and Scott came in an hour or so later.  We cooked the steaks then played one hand of Texas holdem.   We were all tired and just about fell asleep before we could finish the card game.  Scott ended up winning the money.  He didn’t know it until the next morning because Gene, who had already gone out of the game, played the end of Scott’s hand while Scott went up to bed.
No one set an alarm and the sun did not rise until 7:15 am.  It took us an hour or so to wake up and then 30 minutes to get ready but we were out on the water fishing around 9:00 am.  We caught all types of fish including a keeper trout every once in a while.  I finally pulled out my shark rod.  It is a heavy duty rod-n-reel that Beck and I bought to go shark fishing off the pier at St. Simons.  I brought some dog food and had the fish heads from the fish that Larry had cleaned the night before.  I put it all in a chum bag and let a live penfish drift under a cork from the back of the boat. Just as John Gray was targeting the redfish I was targeting the sharks.  We fished on through the morning cathing a few fish here and there. 

Sometime before lunch Larry pulled out his sabachi rig to catch some live baitfish.  Andy, John Gray and I were fishing pretty hard when we heard Larry say “I got a problem”.  We all looked to see Larry standing there with one of the sabachi hooks caught in his fore arm.  “This is the type of thing that happens when you fish four out of a boat” I said.  Larry pulled on the hook a little bit and then Andy jumped down and got some needle nose pliers and yanked on the hook.  The hook did not come out but Larry’s skin did stretch out 3 to 4 inches.  Andy quickly gave up the job and started fishing again.  Larry sat on the seat and pulled several times on the hook.  I told Larry about the time a got a treble hook from a bang o’lure caught in the quick of my thumb.  I pulled on it until I passed out and eventually had to go the hospital and get it cut out.  There was also the time I got a #10 bream hook caught deep in my thumb.  I possibly could have removed it but I was only a few minutes from a hospital and decided to go get the pain killer shot and let the doctor pull it out.  I kept on fishing while telling my stories.  Finally I went over to see if I could help Larry out.  I looked at the small hook caught in Larry’s arm.  It was tiny!  “You can just cut the line and put a band aid on it and deal with that on Monday” I said while looking up from Larry’s arm.  I then realized that Larry wasn’t doing so good!  He was taking deep breaths and had lost all the color in his face.  I figured I wasn’t helping much so I went back to fishing.  Larry just sat there taking deep breaths and then got down on his knees with his arms on the seat.  He let out a couple of grunts.  John Gray was starting to get a little worried about his brother.  He helped Larry back in his seat and we decided to ride and get some wind on Larry.  We reeled in our lines and Andy drove as we all wondered what to do about Larry.  Larry moaned an apology as he told us that he thought we may need to take him in.  None of us said anything as we looked at the small hook stuck in Larry’s arm.  After a short ride Larry said he felt a little better so we slowed down.  I kept telling of my experiences with similar events and told Larry that if he could not pull the hook out he needed to push it through.  Andy stopped the boat as Larry had gained some of his color back and seemed to be breathing regularly.  Andy went back to fishing, John Gray stood next to his brother with some concern and I just stared at the tiny hook.  I have seen people with earrings and body piercings much larger than the small sabachi hook.  I then remembered how my sister, Beth, had pierced her own ears with a straight pin when she was 14 years old.  She used ice to dull the pain.  “Put some ice on it and pull it through I” told Larry as I handed him my good set of needle nose pliers and some ice.  He was doing much better now and John Gray and I went back to fishing as Larry worked on his injury.  He finally managed to push the small barb through his arm (up until this time I had never noticed the small barb on a sabaci hook).  I went over and got the needle nose from Larry.  I cut the eye from the back of the hook.  He said the ice had really dulled the pain and it didn’t even hurt as I kept trying to grab the end of the tiny hook. “That hurt” Larry said as I got hold and pulled the remaining portion of the hook from Larry’s arm.  “I got it” I told Larry as I held it up for everyone to try and see.  “You got it?” Larry said back as he looked for the spot where the hook had been.  There was no blood and barely a hole, so we all went back to fishing.

It was a long day of fishing and I think I only managed one keeper trout. Although we had seen several 4 to 6 foot sharks swimming around the boat, none had taken my bait.  Larry finally managed hook a redfish that bit his lure right at the boat.  Larry saw that it was a redfish and was very excited as he yelled for someone to get the net.  I grabbed the net and scurried to the back of the boat.  The fish put up quite a fight and had Larry back by the motor.  If I mess this up Larry will kill me I thought as I dipped the net in the water after the redfish.  I made a good net and Larry finally had his red.  He posed for several pictures and smiled ear to ear.  The pressure was off Captain Larry.  He had finally landed a keeper redfish on his home waters of Keaton Beach. 

We fished a while longer and then decided to go in to the Pelican House for a break.  After a short rest we went back out fishing but everyone was tired.  The fish were not biting and Captain Larry was content with the red he caught earlier in the day.  We fished around the first tripod and then headed in just before sunset.  When we got back I showered and took our fish to the hotdog stand.  I have seen this crowd mess around after fishing until the only place to eat in Keaton Beach closed and I didn’t want that to happen tonight.  Gene and Scott got in a little later but everyone was showered and ready just before 8:30 pm.  When they sat the pile of fried fresh fish on the table no one thought we could eat it all, but after we sat and ate a while most of it was gone.  We waddled back over to the Pelican House.  Larry and I passed on the card game and lay down on the sofas.  We were very happy to find the Auburn verse Florida football game on television.

We slept good that night and I stayed in the bed until Captain Larry was yelling that it was time to go.  John Gray decided to stay in and not fish on this last morning.  Captain Larry, Andy and I went out and fished around the first tripod.  I managed to jump up on the front deck and start fishing.  With just three to a boat and Andy sitting most of the time I could fish better…and it showed.  I caught several keeper trout.  I also put out the chum bag and the big pole and fished for shark.  Andy must have wanted to catch a shark to because he did some chumming of his own.  At one point something hit the big pole and broke the wire swivel.  It was my chance at a big shark and I had equipment problems.  I did hook about a 3 foot shark and shook him off at the boat.  Andy did his best to fish but could only manage to catch lizard fish.  We went back to the Pelican House and fixed some sandwiches for lunch, showered and loaded up to go home.  Although the dynamics of the trip changed we managed to catch some fish and have a good time. 
JG and Andy with Reds
Larry gets his Redfish
Larry looks tired
8 pointer
10 pointer
Saturday Afternoon, October 20, 2007

Beck and I were excited about opening day of gun season.  We had pictures of a 10 pointer and nice 8 pointer from the motion camera we placed right in front of our stand.  We planned to go hunting Saturday morning but Aunt Lucille called Tamatha at 5:25 am and was having trouble breathing and needed Tamatha to come to Macon and see about her.  I did not think I could hunt with Beck and Brant in a stand so Beck and I slept in.

We were able to hunt that afternoon and just after we got on the stand Beck looked at me, pointed and smiled.  I looked over in the woods where Beck pointed and saw nothing.  I said “where?” And he smiled and pointed right there.  Well I recently discovered that my eyes are going bad.  I went to the CVS to buy some 1.5 readers and saw a pamphlet that said I have “Old Sight”.  Which means my eye lenses can’t adjust anymore.  It’s pretty common about the time you turn 40. Anyway, I finally saw some small pigs walking down  drain to our right.  Beck and I watched as they scurried out of sight and then the sow came into view.  Beck said “shoot it”.  The hogs had been digging up the food plats but I didn’t know what I would do with the hog once I shot it.   I decided not to shoot and the pigs all disappeared into the woods.

We sat just a few minutes longer and Beck turned around behind us and saw a doe.  He motioned to me and as I looked around the tree that held up our stand I saw a doe about 25 yards away staring right at me.  I turned slowly back around.  Beck looked back at the deer and then looked up at me all excited and said “he almost saw me”.  I bet he did I thought and kept looking forward hoping the deer would not spook.
We sat a little longer with the doe walking around right behind us.  The pigs slowly came feeding across the ridge that our stand over looks.  We watched the pigs for a while and then a deer appeared right in front of us.  It was a doe that walked right beside us and then started walking around with the doe that was already there.  Three more deer moved from the bottom and I asked Beck if he saw them.  He did but they were pretty far off through the thick woods and neither of us could tell what they were.  The doe that had been right behind us the whole time finally started stomping and blowing.  Deer and pigs went everywhere.  They kept walking all around us until dark.  We had a good hunt and Beck was very proud that he saw everything before me.  
11/10/07I sat on the permanent stand next to the arrowhead field and saw a 6 point, a spike, a button buck, 3 or 4 does and a turkey.

11/9/07Rick came down and we rode in the golf cart with Beck.  Rick shot abutton buck in the food plat where the hog trap is.  He gut shot it and we had to track it to the creek.  As we followed the blood trail, we came across a huge pile of guts that had fallen out of the deer.  Beck thought that was cool!!!

11/9/07After dropping Beck off at school I rode through the back of the farm in the truck and saw 17 deer.  I saw the wide 6 pointer and the small 6 pointer that have seen before.  No big bucks.
11/8/07I sat in the permanent stand by the arrowhead field and saw a doe and 2 smaller deer.  Right at dark a buck came up grunting.  It stayed in the thick bushes and I never got a good look or shot at him but I think it was a 10 pointer.

11/3/07Ray and Joe came down for their annual deer hunting trip.  They had to come a little earlier than usual because Ray had other plans over the next couple of weekends.  Since Ray missed a nice 8 pointer last year, everyone agreed it was Joe'ss time to shoot.  They saw 2 does too far off for Joe to shoot.  They ran out of starburst about an hour after sun up so they got down and rode in the scout and rattled and blew grunt call and doe bleat.  They didn’t see anything else.

Beck and I sat in the metal box stand and had a deer walk within 15 yards of us before it got light enough to see.  I think it may have been a small buck.  I saw 2 does in a distance later that morning.  Beck got cold and wanted to get down about an hour after light.  I let him sit in my lap and warmed him up until he fell asleep.  I propped him in the corner of the stand and we hunted another hour and a half. 

We day camped the rest of the day.  Joe and Ray rode in the scout looking for deer.  Beck was with them and they saw a small 4 pointer which they passed on.   Ray is going to make sure he plans their hunt next year during the rut.

10/27/07Beck and I sat on the double ladder stand and saw a doe and 2 button bucks and later saw 2 does far away.
Friday Morning,   November 23, 2007

I did not make it to Lake Seminole for opening day of duck season as I usually do because Tamatha had Mistletoe Market and I kept Brant and Beck that entire weekend.  Tamatha promised that I could have 4 weekend trips if I would keep the boys that weekend….we will see.  I was pretty sure there were some wood ducks on the creek on the back of the farm so Beck and I planned to hunt on Thanksgiving morning.  I woke up about 5 am and it was raining pretty hard.  Beck’s only hunting jacket is fleece and I did not think wet fleece on a 6 year old sounds like fun for him or his dad, so I slept in and decided to try it the next morning.
The conditions were fine when I woke up on Friday morning so I shook Beck and asked if he wanted to duck hunt.  He sat up and slowly came to.  We dressed, loaded Lucy in the truck and headed to the farm.  We put on our waders and were back on the creek before light.  It wasn’t long before we heard the whistle of wood ducks over head.  It was still pretty dark but we could barely see about 8 ducks circle at the tree tops and then land on the creek about 75 yards in front of us.  I asked Beck if he had seen the ducks go down and he said he had.  “Maybe some more will come in closer” I told him as 2 plopped down on the creek within range.  Lucy couldn’t take it as the ducks swam around in front of us on the creek.  I did not have a leash on her and she broke for the ducks.  I jumped up and shot trying not to hit Lucy as much as I was trying to hit the ducks.  As I was looking to see if I hit a duck and not my dog I heard a splash on the creek just behind me.  “Daddy” I heard Beck Whisper as I turned to see a drake swimming on the creek not 10 feet from where Beck and I were standing.  The duck jumped and flew as I swung around and fired one shot.  I was worried about shooting so close to Beck and asked if the shot had hurt his ears.  He said no but had a puzzled look on his face like why I had missed such an easy shot.   We could hear Lucy splashing down the creek and I hoped she might jump the ducks that had lit down the creek and push them our way. 

We sat tight in the bushes as I told Beck “Lucy has got to learn to stay or she won’t make the next trip”.  She finally headed back our way and I could tell she had a hen wood duck in her mouth.  The duck was only wounded and was still alert when I grabbed it from Lucy’s mouth.  Beck asked if he could hold it so I handed it over to him telling him it was still alive.  I’ll ring its neck Beck said as he started bapping the duck in the head.  “No no” I said as I got the duck back from Beck and showed him the proper way to ring a duck’s neck.  I gave the duck back to Beck and he held it as we waited and hoped some more ducks would come in. 

“Is this a mounter?” Beck asked as he held the duck up for me to see.  “No, but we need to check it for a band” I answered as I turned to see a metal band around the duck’s leg.  “It’s got a band” I exclaimed as I held up my hand for Beck to high five.  “I’d rather kill one banded duck than five non-banded ducks” I told Beck as we high fived again.  “It’s got jewelry” I said as I turned and looked back down the creek still hoping for more ducks.  “We got jewelry” I heard Beck say as I looked back and saw his toothless smile. I knew we would have never found the duck without Lucy.  “I guess we will bring Lucy next time” I told Beck as we walked to the truck, but I’ll make sure I’ll have a leash!
Saturday Morning,   December 2, 2007

Beck had hunted with me several times during the 2007 deer season and we had passed on a couple of small bucks and several does.  He was ready for me to shoot something!  He kept begging for us to shoot a doe.  We needed some deer meat so I told him we would shoot a doe unless it was acting like it was getting followed by a buck.  I was riding though the farm in my truck the day before and I saw a huge buck with 2 does, so I knew there was a possibility that the bucks could still be chasing the does.

Beck and I got up at 6 am and got dressed.  This is always interesting because it takes Beck a while to really wake up in the morning and I have to talk him through dressing.  We were walking to the stand just as it was getting light.  If we get on the stand too early Beck tends to fall back asleep.  We jumped a deer while walking to the stand.  We got to our spot and climbed in the double ladder stand behind the food plot with the hog trap.  Beck had outgrown his coveralls and had gotten cold the last couple of times that we hunted so I we brought his green blanket so he could wrap up and stay warm.

We had been in the stand about 45 minutes and had not seen a thing.  Beck was staying warm and still under the blanket.  As I glanced over Beck’s head I saw a nice buck walking down the drain to the right of our stand.  “There’s a buck” I whispered to Beck as I raised the gun.  Beck looked that way and saw the buck that was steadily walking towards us.  “I am not going to shoot, he’s not big enough” I whispered to Beck.  Beck turned from looking at the deer and looked at me with a confused look on his face.  “Yes, shoot” he whispered.  “He’s not big enough” I whispered again as the buck kept coming our way.  As I watched the deer through the scope I kept hearing Beck whispering “shoot him, shoot him”.  I thought how let down we would both be if I let the buck walk right in front of us and out of sight.  The buck was now about 35 yard away and picked up his head and looked in our direction.  I don’t now if he heard us whispering back and forth or if he got a scent of our smell, but I knew the buck was about to bust us.  I had the cross hairs right on the deer’s neck as I heard Beck whisper “shoot him” one more time.  I squeezed the trigger and the buck fell to the ground.  “That was cool” Beck said as the deer kicked a couple of times.  “He’s going to get up” Beck said but I assured him the buck was not going anywhere.  “Let’s just sit right here and let him die” Beck said.  We high fived and sat a little longer until I was sure the deer was done.  We crawled down out of the stand and made our way to the deer.  He was a respectable 9 pointer but nothing like the huge buck I had seen from the truck the day before.  I stood looking at the buck and then saw the smile on Beck’s face.  He was as proud as if the buck had been a Boone and Crockett.   With Beck’s help I drug the deer out of the woods and loaded him into the truck.  It had been a good morning and although it was not the biggest deer I had ever killed, Beck and I were both very happy.