Pretty soon now, I’m going to do something I haven’t done in years. Decades in fact. I’m going to start buying my own shotgun shells. And fishing lures. And arrows and hunting permits and guide fees …
For the past 29 years, somebody at the American-Statesman has taken care of those transactions. But I’m retiring from my job here at the paper, so I’ll be paying for it, or at least dipping into the stash of 28 gauge shells that I’ve put away, thinking this day would eventually come.
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1) Bear stole my moose: An Alaskan brown bear took over my moose, ate part of it and buried the rest. I still can see the tooth marks on the antlers.
2) Helicopter drop: I was helping capture bighorns in southern Nevada when our helicopter lost lift coming over a mountain. We dropped 60 feet or so before our pilot got it under control. I never told my wife.
3) Baffled by a buffalo: On one trip to Africa, we spent an entire day trailing a wounded Cape buffalo. I never had less fun. At one point, we scared a group of elephants that almost ran over us. That will leave you sucking wind.
4) Rock the boat: Trying to catch an alligator in the early days of legal hunting, I was in a boat with two other people. One of us put a paddle down on a really big lizard who convulsed, hit the boat and threw it out of the water. Luckily we landed right side up.
5) A rattler two step: I was walking through the brush, hunting turkey in Pumpville. I didn’t realize I stepped on him the first time; he was so stunned he didn’t rattle. When I retraced my steps I came down on him again. That time he rattled, and I jumped out of the way.
1) Guadalupe Peak: The highest point in Texas with a view of two states and Mexico across the Rio Grande. The climb to the top is a trip every Texan should make.
2) The Rio Grande: It’s often dirty and sometimes not even there, but this is still the quintessential Texas river.
3) Jacalito’s Restaurant: Ribeye steaks for $11, inexpensive even for Zapata. No beer, though.
4) The Saltwater Flats of Texas: Not much else to say. Shallow water from Port Isabel to Port O’Connor with redfish that make my life complete.
5) South Texas Brush: Like no place else on earth. Wild, full of snakes and thorns and magnificent white-tailed deer. And there are arrowheads, too.
1) The Bobcat Wreck: I was driving along in my truck, when I thought I saw a bobcat in a tree. I braked, put it in reverse, accelerated. Forgot I was pulling a 1,000-pound trailer. The trailer wrecked my truck, and the bobcat got away without a photo.
2) Dan’s Turkey: Took my son Daniel turkey hunting and called up a turkey for him. As soon as I saw it, I said, “Shoot.” No response. “Shoot,” I said again. No response. “Shoot!” Boom! The shot went high over the turkey which was totally freaked out by the shouting and shooting. My son had been sitting on the ground and hadn’t been able to see the bird. He said he finally shot blind “because you told me to.”
3) A Camel Attack: Returned to a truck one morning near Camp Verde to find a camel methodically tearing apart my friend’s truck. He pulled off the trim and left big slobbery tongue marks all over the windows. And, the windshield wipers were obliterated. They never worked right after that, but they worked. They’d just come on spontaneously driving down the road, even when there was no rain. Especially when there was no rain.