Friday, April 11, 2014

I spent a little time with Chuck this week observing his training program on these little English Cockers that we are integrating into our program as flushing and retrieving dogs. We are very excited about this program, and the few dogs we had ready to go last season were very well received. As a matter of fact, we had several guests who called and requested to hunt with certain dogs rather than guides. That somewhat offended the guides, but they took it with good nature.
 At any rate, the methods being employed by Chuck were so impressive, I asked him if I could send my wife, Martha, up to his facility for a day to see if he could train her to obey commands that good. Chuck, being smarter than he looks responded," Boss, this program has not worked on my wife, and I know that it would not work on Miss Martha. Besides that, I have young children, and need to stay alive for a while longer".
 I then checked in with Andy and Casey to see how our trapping program was going. After they informed me that "something" had drug one of their leg hold traps,chain, and log out of the ground and off into the woods near my house, I am reexamining my daily jogging route.We have caught some coons,possums, and skunks, but we are really after the coyotes. They are wily critters, and we will entice them into the fold in the next few days.
 The last thing that I want to mention is turkeys. I do not know why you turkey hunters get so all fired excited about the thrill of turkey hunting. For the past two weeks, I could have killed all of them I wanted to from my patio with a gun in one hand and a cup of coffee in another. But,like the males of all species, they will get stupid when they get females on their brains. One of my mentors when I was a young man just back at Riverview was a fine old gentleman named Lemuel Boulware. Mr. Lem once told me that he had reached the stage in life where the" Wall Street Journal" excited him more than the Playboy centerfold. I thought to myself," You poor old fellow". Humn, I'm getting closer to understanding that now although these turkeys have not figured it out yet.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

spring burning season

This is definitely my favorite time of the year. To me, the control woods burning feels like the beginning of a new year. We rid ourselves of the residue of the prior year, and prepare to watch the new growth burst forth from beneath the majestic oaks and stately Longleaf pines. We have had two excellent days of burning with one very minor exception.
 Late yesterday, as I was enjoying the soothing sounds of the fire crackling through the underbrush blending with the sighs from the big pines as the winds stirred through them, my reverie was interrupted by the sound of a voice on the radio from one of the burning crews saying, "oh S---, the wind is shifting from the west to the south".Our trusty weather forecaster who predicts the weather like I do the stock market was wrong again. Thank goodness at the time we were burning some of our oldest timber that had only light cover underneath, and no damage was done other than to our professional pyromania pride. With just a bit of luck, we will finish up burning this week, and can begin preparing our habitat for another excellent quail hatch in another month or so when the ground cover will be perfect. In the meantime, we will be getting ready to trap our worst  predators that prey on nesting birds.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring

Our 2013-2014 hunting season officially ended on March 22nd, and it was a terrific season! We had a big catfish cookout for all of the guides, and then gave them a couple of days off. I have taken my phone off the hook at the house because I do not want to post bail for any of this crowd who feels compelled to blow off too much steam on their pressure release valves. I have always stated that if I did not look forward to the beginning of a hunting season, then it was time for me to get out of the business. I have also always firmly believed that if I did not look forward to the end of a hunting season, then it was time for me to be committed to a mental institution!
 Somewhere in the Bible there is a verse that states, and I am paraphrasing here, every man is born with the innate understanding that there is a God just by observing the awesomeness of nature and the perfect cycles of creation, the rhythm of the seasons, and the ordered movement of the sun, the moon, and the stars. These things could not happen by accident. Personally, spring is my favorite season of the year. Down here in south Georgia, the Azaleas and Dogwoods are in full bloom. All of the native fruit trees are blooming along with the other species that shed their leaves in the winter. We are about to begin our controlled woods burning program this coming Monday.
 I always equate woods burning with new birth. We rid the woods of all of the leftover fuel and undesirable species sprouting up on the hunting courses. We almost always burn late in the evening, and try to get a consistent wind from any direction. We then set backfires against the wind, and the fires just meander through the big pines at about a knee high level in very long strings of even lines of fire. Once it gets completely dark, it is a beautiful sight to behold. Of course, we also have burning crews trying to sneak up on other burning crews in the dark woods to scare the living Beejesus out of one another. Along with the crackling and popping of burning underbrush, you will occasionally hear a horrible scream, and you will know that some unsuspecting soul has been scared out of his life. Had General Sherman been as good at burning as Jerry and his crews are, we might not have lost so many fine Georgia mansions during the War of Northern Aggression.
 My goal for this spring and summer is to try to be as good of a person as my dog thinks I am. In closing and speaking of dogs, someone sent me this cute thought that states that every puppy is born with the notion that his master is God. It is the master's responsibility to never do anything to make that puppy change his opinion!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

As Noah might have said,"It came up a cloud here on Sunday".It started raining Sunday around noon, and before it was over, we had received over four inches of rain. I have always heard that the two things a man can want the most and catch up on the quickest are sex and rain. I can assure you that we caught up on the rain on Sunday. Even though the forecast called for another 70% of rain on Monday, we actually hunted all day with no rain fall to speak of at all. Yesterday was cold and overcast all day, but once again, we had no rain. We have high hopes of seeing the sun shine today.
 The best news of all is that we will be very busy during this last week of our hunting season with almost a full house of hunters, and the weather man said no more rain until at least Monday. We may start burning our woods next week using boats rather than jeeps, but I would much prefer the wet stuff to hold off until at least next week. Then , as Miss Scarlett said, " I will worry about that tomorrow"!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

I heard a man say one day," If I promised a man a pretty weekend and he would not accept this one, I would be inclined to whip his butt". Well, it has been an absolutely beautiful mid-March weekend at Riverview. We had a light frost both mornings with crisp,cool hunting conditions. We have a bunch of folks in here this weekend from Michigan who are having a difficult time shooting quail because they are spending so much time looking at the grass. It seems that they have seen nothing but snow on the ground for quite a while now. I'm not certain, but I believe snow is that white stuff that we read about down here in the south.
 We have had a great hunting season, and have only one more week to go after today.The cover has been exceptional this season, sometimes a bit too exceptional as I think that the advantage has gone to the quail on several hunts. We are very excited about our addition of the little English Cocker flushing and retrieving dogs this season. We introduced them with five of our guides this year, and they have been wildly popular. As a matter of fact, they are so popular that some guests are requesting certain flushing dogs next year rather than requesting guides. We plan to expand this program next season to include at least four more of these special dogs in our program.
 As soon as we finish up next week, we will begin our spring burning program, and I will tell you more about that in our next blog. It is my very favorite time of the year!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

bird dogs

A friend of mine, Herb Haughton sent me this quote by Ben Ames Williams a few weeks ago. It touched my heart so much that I wanted to share it." A bird dog does not live as long as a man and this natural law is the font of many tears. If a boy and and a puppy might grow to manhood and doghood together,and together grow old,and so in due course die, full many a heartache might be avoided. But the world is not so ordered,and dogs will die and men will weep for them as long as there are dogs and men".
 I still remember my first dog, Bimbo. I don't know whether I trained him to hunt or he trained me. I do know that he met me every day when I got off the school bus, and was rip raring and ready to go bird hunting in the fall and winter as soon as i could drop my book bag. He got run over by a car which is hard to believe because so few cars traveled down what was then a dirt road in front of our home. The accident broke his leg, and Pop took him to the vet. I slept with him out on the porch that night, and told him that he was going to be OK, and he was. That was the first of many answered prayers in my life.
 I remember every single dog I have ever owned, or maybe they owned me. I truly feel sorry for anyone who has never experienced the love of a good dog. As my Dad once told me,"Lock your wife and your dog up in the trunk for an hour. When you open it, see which one is happy just to see you". I have a 12 year old chocolate Lab now who is beginning to turn gray around her muzzle, and has definitely lost a step. I could care less if she ever retrieves another bird for me, but I am already beginning to fear that day that Mr. Williams referred to in his quote above.
 On a lighter note, the ice age and glaciers have receded from the south, and our hunting is great. We never missed a day of hunting with the snow and ice storm of last week as the weather did not quite make it into deep south Georgia, but we did have about half of our hunters in the midweek cycle fail to get here thanks to the Atlanta airport shutting down.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cold weather--Again

Do you remember years ago when the Bush/Gore election results were hanging in the balance by Florida's inability to count the votes? I had a friend from Florida call me at that time and tell me that they would release the results of the election when all of the folks in the other states came and picked up their old parents from Florida. I now find myself in a similar position. If I promise my Yankee friends not to speak ill of them any more, will y'all please come pick up your dadblame weather and take it back home where it belongs!
 I know that folks who live in cold weather climates must be amused at the total chaos in the south at the moment due to a few inches of snow and ice. I have friends in Atlanta who spent 8-9 hours in cars yesterday afternoon on what should have been a 30 minute commute. As of just an hour ago, there are still cars stranded all over the Atlanta area with passengers who never made it home.
 Before you giggle too much at us for making mountains out of mole hills, you should try spending a couple of days in south Georgia during August. Our temperature is going to be over 100 degrees and our relative humidity is generally in the 70% range.There is never a dry thread on your body, and the gnats ,by the billions,stick to your sweaty body. I have concluded that one must be a native to this  area to survive the summers. Evidently, the same can be said for cold weather because we are struggling with it.
 Riverview got lucky on the predicted ice storm. We had rented a three phase generator to keep the main lodge going in the event of the predicted two-three day power outage. We also bought every lantern and flashlight in south Georgia, and double stacked firewood at all of the cottages.Of course in another five years when we have another event like this, we will not have a clue where any of this equipment is.But, praise the Lord, we didn't need any of it. We got a little sleet for about 15 minutes around 5:45 this morning, and then it was over.The hunters who managed to survive the cancelled flights are all out hunting, and it has warmed all the way up to a balmy 30 degrees at almost 11:00.