Dove Hunting 2011

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011 | Posted in Expedition

2011 Dove Hunting has started out much differently than in years past, at least in South/Central Texas.

Everyone you talk to has a different opinion, but the opening day timeframe’s colder weather, the year’s lack of rainfall, and devastating forest fires seem to be affecting the birds – - the whitewings aren’t flying like last year, and although mourning doves are flying, they’re few and far between.

We hunted 4 spots between Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, with about 5 birds each per day.

We’ll keep after it, as weather/conditions change we’ll keep going out, watching the birds, and reporting the results.  Stay tuned.

Costa Rica Trip 2010

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 | Posted in Expedition

Kitesurfing – no lifts, no fuel, no fees

Friday, November 19th, 2010 | Posted in Expedition

Just another deserted beach to call home for the night in Western Australia

A little over seven years ago, I spent two months living out of a mini van driving around Australia. I started my journey on the West Coast in one of the most remote cities on earth – Perth – and drove myself and a few other people for part of the route all the way around the North and East coast to Sydney. No daily plan and an ultimate sense of freedom. Just a starting point and an ending point, letting the days decide which path my adventure would take me, living in the outback amongst some of the most poisonous creatures on the planet. Living like a hippy with not a single care in the world.

As I was driving down parts of the East Coast, I distinctly remember seeing kitesurfers for the first time in the distance. As the floating shapes high in the air above the water in the distance started to come into focus, many thoughts ran through my mind. First of all, “what kind of a genius invented this sport?!?”. Secondly: “in my lifetime, I will learn how to kitesurf!”. As I reached the beach, I was taken aback by how the small human figures in the distance seemed to have perfect control of the massive kites, going upwind, riding waves, getting huge air. This sport was meant for me.

Seven years later, here I am, checking the wind reports everyday to figure out when I can get on the water next. I have now been kitesurfing for a little under two years, and I have to say that I have been hooked ever since riding the water for the first time. Living less than an hour’s drive from the Texas Coast, I can go anytime the wind is decent, whether it is on the weekends or even after work in the summer when I am able to beat rush hour traffic.

Riding a 14 m Cabrinha in light winds in Texas City, TX

Call it an addiction. Yes, maybe. But until you try it, it is hard for anyone to understand the ultimate feeling of freedom that comes with controlling what waves you will ride, what direction you will go, how much air you will get, all powered by a natural force. Nothing like leaning back on your kite and digging the edge of your board into the water, creating a wall of water flying downwind, placing the kite exactly where you want it, picking up speed and jumping off of a wave, getting huge air and hanging there for a while, then gently floating back down to the surface of the water, for hours on end, all powered by the wind. No lifts, no fuel, no fees. Just you, your gear and the elements.

To get started, I recommend buying a trainers kite and learning how to fly it really well. When you can do that, you are probably ready to have one of your experienced friends either teach you if they have a kite that they are willing to let you crash a few times. If not, a few hours of lessons is not a bad idea. After you are comfortable with body dragging, and dragging yourself upwind to practice getting back to your board, you are ready to hop on and surf. At first, you will most likely fall, have to walk back on the beach to get upwind, force drink water as your kite drags you downwind through the water, get your lines tangled as your kite falls out of the sky, and have someone have to go get your board as you are not able to get back to it. But once you quickly get past that, the sport becomes even more enjoyable.

Not sure if the wind is good enough to kite? A good way to check is to pee right into the wind. If it lands on the ground, the wind is most likely not good enough. If it lands on your foot, a bigger kite / board is appropriate. If it lands on your knee, you’re in luck, break out the little ones. Or you could always buy a wind meter, whatever you prefer.

Riding Toe Side

No lifts, no fuel, no fees. No fees once you have your gear that is. And probably the number one thing that deters people from getting into the sport is the initial investment of your board, kite, lines, and harness. For beginners, I recommend buying a used kite – with no holes in the bladders or no major tears in the canopy if possible. You will save bundles of cash that way. But you will soon realize that you will want more than one kite so that you have all possible wind conditions covered, because when there is wind blowing, you will want to be on the water. This sport will become part of your life, and part of your reason for existence. You will catch yourself at the most random times subconsciously looking at all of the wind indicators around you, the flags blowing, the tops of the trees swaying, the windows rattling. You will start noticing some things that you never used to notice. And when you do finally get on the water, it is amazing, every time, no exceptions.

Dove Hunting Days 2010 – Gallery

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 | Posted in Expedition

Excellent 2 weeks of hunting travels.

Special thanks to:

>> The Ray Family for their hospitality in Crawfordsville AR, and Memphis TN

>> The Heisch Family for always graciously providing a sprawling staging area for all of my pre-trip outdoor equipment.

>> All of my hunting friends, who share this same passion.

>> Steve Wilson’s Guide Service in San Antonio, TX

The Sportsman Dispatch Mission

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010 | Posted in Expedition

The Sportsman Dispatch was created out of a pure passion for the outdoors, the people who love it, and the gear that facilitates that love.

The Sportsman Dispatch is one solution to a disheartening realization.  Our entire planet, and most of its wilderness, has already been discovered, and more than likely already been fished, hunted, filmed, climbed, categorized, rediscovered, hated, loved, forgotten, and remembered.  With the exception of small corners and nooks of great expanses, the writers (and readers) of this publication will NOT be the first (and more than likely be the 25th in line of) people to cover a subject, write about a stream, or praise a certain species.

Therefore, our writers must cover the discovered world in a way that connects with its reader base in an entirely different way.  There IS something missing from sportsman pursuits these days, something this publication will focus on identifying.

Whatever the type of fish, gun, gear, there is someone and 25 others who have devoted their lives to understanding every single aspect of that niche.  These are the experts, the pro’s, the “rockstars”.  But hunting and fishing did not start out as rockstar pursuits.  Somewhere along down the line, these sports became technical, exclusive, and, intentionally or not, competitive.  Such a progression is natural, once you discover how to catch a fish, you learn how to flyfish, then you learn how to catch a trout on fly, then a trout on the Guadelupe River on fly, then a trout on fly on the Guadalupe river in the rain… and as time goes on all sports like this naturally become technical.

In contrast, this publication will be devoted to an unraveling of the exclusive/specialized web around most of these sports and present a different sort of passionate pursuit.  Maintaining a healthy focus on the equipment and tactical necessities of our sports, and the obsessions they usually inspire, the Sportsman Dispatch will reflect an outdoor culture of decades past.

What the editor and writers of this publication believe is that the sportsman pursuits are a lifestyle that is so natural, inclusive, and normal that they become part of every person who is exposed to them.  They take shape whenever, wherever, in a Patagonia stream or county road creek, in the exact same way. These are lifetime fascinations that allow us to get together, learn about and work towards success at something, anything.  Its both an obsession for the sport, and the practiced belief that what’s important is sharing it, having fun, and having it as a part of regular life. 100 years ago, someone went hunting with friends because they had some time off, it was that time of the year, they had an ordinary love of the outdoors, and wanted to go mess around for a while.  I feel more connected to that idea than anything.

I don’t count the number of bass I’ve caught, or the places I’ve been, but I do remember every fish and the lure it ate in every picture, because I was happy when I was there, and, just like I am a human, American, or coffee drinker, I am a fisherman.

These “dispatches” will, together, build a resource to represent what we know is true.

7 Things About the Buffalo

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010 | Posted in Expedition

1. Gear, Gear, Gear

We were in Austin, TX the night before we left trying to minimize as much of the equipment we were taking as possible.  It more or less resulted in one 30-50 liter dry bag per person, one cooler per a canoe, and three fishing bags(one per canoe, though they were personal ones.

On top of this we had tents, sleeping bags, pads, and one chair(A huge mistake), and Five 2 gallon Ozarka water jugs.  And we had plenty of room for more bags, chairs, and fishing supplies.

We all had pocket knives, Leathermans, and wetfit shoes, and I would advise on a tactical knife for your belt, and a pair of flip flops for the end of the day so your feet don’t stay wet till bedtime.  A lot of these “packing difficulties” definitely come from inexperience.  Hell, it was the first time any of us had ever been camping for more than a night from the back of a car, and the first time any of us had ever used dry bags, which I am convinced you can’t own enough of.

On that same note of gear, and limiting what we took, we all only took one change of clothes from fear of over loading our bags, but I would definitely recommend a change of clothes for each day.  Also, chairs.  Being in a canoe for 8 hours a day just to get camp set up and not have a place to sit, even if just for an hour to eat and drink, was a major pain.  There is plenty of room in the canoes to slide a chair/hunting stool/or pad into. Do it.

2. Damascus is a speed trap, Clinton is a speed trap, back country roads are not an interstate

A member of our party, to be unnamed, found out the hard way the differences between the interstate and a two lane road going over a hill.  That difference would be the amount of state troopers waiting for people to come around the hills.  But for anyone thinking of going, it is important to remember that those small communities up in the mountains are waiting for tourists to drive through them a little too fast.  At least that’s what the locals told us.

3. Plenty of time and plenty of campsites, enjoy the river, go up and down it, fish where you want

Our first night’s campsite. There are shoals like this everywhere

On our second day on the river we went a total of 18 miles.  Now, on a 25 miletrip, 18 miles in one day, and 3 miles on the first, leaves about 4 hours of canoeing on the last day.  And on that last day, towards the end of the Buffalo River, due to temperatures, underwater structure, or timeof day, our fishing hit a small stall.  And on that second day we passed up plenty of good fishing spots in our attempt at finding a new campsite, paddling for the sake of paddling, or just nor realizing how far we were going. So, enjoy your time on the river, there is plenty of day light to backtrack, stop and swim, wade, snorkel or anything else you want to do.

4. Swimming, snorkeling, and wet wading

When we were finishing our packing on the night before our trip, I made the comment a few times that in my fishing bag was a pair of goggles and a snorkel.  And when I said this, I am a jokester so it was a regular response, most of the guys in the room with me all laughed, assuming I was joking.  Well, when we made our first stop on the first night one of the guys went swimming, and I pulled out the goggles and snorkels and threw them out to him, and everyone was extremely surprised I actually had them.  But, to quote Phil, much of the river was like, “Canoeing over an aquarium.” The water is 6,7, 10 feet deep and you can see straight to the bottom.  You can see the fish down on the bottom, try to spear them, kick up some rocks and watch them eat some algae, or just swim around with them.  Take some time to enjoy that, it’s not every river that you can do that.

5. How to Fish and what to fish with

For a lot of people, this might be the more important section, but I’m going to try not to elaborate too much because in my experience everyone fishes different, even with the same rigs.  I will say this: dark worms, salamanders, Texas Rigs, and Rapala Shad Raps all worked wonders.  But all in very different ways.

The plastic rigs really worked well being thrown up into the bank, dragged through some of the growth, sinking into the rocks and popped in and out.  The way those small mouths struck those worms felt like you just hooked up with a five or six pounder, not a little twelve or fourteen incher.

Now for the Shad Raps. You damn near can’t do anything wrong with these to be honest, from throwing them into the bank, a deep diver 4-6 feet, and reeling it back, dragging it across the rocks, to throwing it out into the deep holes perpendicular to the flow and reeling it across the river. I found though, in complete honesty what I have found to work best with trout and Rapalas, is the casting downstream and reeling up, or casting upstream and reeling down methods, were the most effective ways to use them.  And I’ll get into why I think that in the next section.

I also think that having a weighted plastic rig set up(Texas or Carolina Rig) and dropping it down under some of the larger boulders and rocks at the bottom, is the way to bring out the bigger fish, especially in the afternoon and early evening.  Next time I am definitely giving that a try.

6. Bass compared to some trout

Most bass fishing I’ve done in my life has been in lakes, tanks, slow moving streams, and ponds.  Never in a quick moving river.  And it really changed what I could see of the bass.  For the most part they still hung out in shallows in the morning, moved in and around structure, hit on top water in the late evening, but the one thing I noticed different was their strange behavior in the currents.  Almost like a trout, I often could see, as explained earlier it was like looking into an aquarium, bass stalled in currents swimming up and down, which is why I believe the Shad Rap strategy of casting up and down the river, opposed to across, was so successful.  Just a small observation about the fish that was very different and unexpected for me.

7. The company of the trip is most of the pleasure

And to hit the ol’ cliché on the head, these trips aren’t about the fish or the location, but about the experience.  And the experience of being with six other great guys who have been great friends to me over the years, really changed this trip into something special.  Sitting around, having a few beers, talking fish and guns and Arrested Development quotes separated this from a generic camping trip and made it into an amazing experience that I can’t wait to have again.

Phil, James, Stephen, Fassett, Fielding, and George

Buffalo River Gallery

Monday, June 7th, 2010 | Posted in Expedition