A Horse Story

Once upon a time in the East Bay, a post-depression, pre-war family lived on five acres east of Livermore.

The son and grandmother lived with the gainfully employed mother and father. On the side the family tended almonds, bee hives and chickens.

A benefit for their teenage son was the ability to own a horse which he rode to Coral Hollow with his buddy whose family owned a ranch at the end of Tesla Road.

When the war came, the son enlisted and grandma passed away. The mother and father decided that they could no longer handle the chores that produced the income that made the small ranch worthwhile.

One issue became a problem. What should they do with the horse? They decided to purchase a 20-acre parcel close to town for $450. There the horse lived out his years, but after he died, the 20–acre parcel was retained.

When the mother and father reached retirement age, they spent summers camping in Plumas County where they set up camp from May to September.

As the years went by, they became cramped in a 19 ft trailer. To solve the problem, they sold the 20-acre parcel. In 1963 they received enough money from the sale proceeds to allow them to afford a lake-front summer home at Lake Almanor.

This was something they never dreamed they would be able to do.

Thank you Mr. horse.

Decoy Day 2017

Time to put out decoys and prep the blinds at the Kerry Duck Club. Here’s the way the club looks today.

2017 September Panorama

The short brown grass is swamp Thimothy and there is a lot of it. Ducks love it, especially teal and pintail.

Six to eighteen inches of water will completely cover the Kerry club in a couple weeks. That’s an ideal depth for dabblers. As the season progresses and the water gets deeper, diving ducks will move in as well.

Kerry duck hunt 060

It all starts on October 21, 2017.

Doves

Seemed like it was going to be a great year for doves. It seemed as if I was seeing doves everywhere I went. We had lots of doves on the ranch. And, on our mule deer scouting trip in Modoc there were so many doves that I took a dove photo so I wouldn’t forget.

doves cropped DSC_0130[1]

My Airstream trailer needed some work, so I planned a combo work-hunt trip to Mayberry (Sherman Island) with the expectation of shooting some doves. At the end of the day, I managed three birds. Not what I’d hoped for, but I did get some work done.

doves

Managed to bag a few.

 

IMG_3262 Airstream

Convinced that there would be a good flight of doves at the ranch, I talked my brother and a friend into a trip to the ranch hunt doves. I thought we’d knock them out.

Wrong. We killed not a bird. We did have a nice visit during the hour of driving each way.

A second attempt at the combo work-dove hunt produced more work on my Airstream, but only one dove. I did miss a bunch.

Last night I decided to give the combo hunt one more try. With the weather turning, I hoped that  doves would show up at Mayberry to dine on our wild artichoke plants that produce  great dove food.

Finally success. Today turned into a dove-fest. Shot fifteen birds and still got a lot of work done. With one day left before the end of the season, the birds showed up. Now for a dove feast.

 

Grandma’s Stamps

During the dozen years that I knew my Grandmother Elizabeth, she was the family matriarch. A natural caregiver, it was not by chance that she was also a registered nurse.

By today’s standards, it would be ironical that she was a heavy smoker, as was just about everybody in my childhood family. It was smoking that led to her early death.

She was also an outdoor woman. He fished for stripped bass and cat-fish out of Del’s Boat Harbor at the Livermore Yacht Club near Mountain House.

Born in the year 1902 at Red Bluff, her family lived at Rich Bar, on the North Fork of the Feather River. She schooled in Quincy where she met my grandfather, Dwight. He was a Quincy native, born in the year 1900.

grandma and grandpa Fletcher

Dwight                                                                              Elizabeth

It was grandma and gramdpa who introduced my brother and I to camping, fishing and hunting. After retirement they spent their summers in the Almanor area. Grandpa remembered the Mount Lassen eruption and the large valley that existed prior to the creation of the lake.

My father came along in 1923, born in Colusa, as the family struggled to make a living in Williams. Grandpa found employment with PG&E and then took up residence in Montana for a while when California work ran out.

While grandpa was away, grandma and dad moved in with my Great Grandmother Minerva, who was a telephone operator at North Shore – Lake Tahoe.

Dad has several times told me the story of a trip that he and grandma made to San Francisco to visit relatives. On the way home darkness and fatigue forced grandma to park their vehicle by the side of the Highway between Auburn and Truckee.

They had a blanket and grandma wasn’t worried, just tired. They made their way into the woods and slept until a police officer appeared and suggested the woods were not safe and they should be on their way.

One of grandma’s favorite stories about their early days was the tale about stamp collecting. Because they had no funds for investment, she would occasionally go to the post office and purchase stamps, sometimes entire sheets of stamps and collect them in hopes that they would grow in value.

When my mom passed a few years ago, dad found grandma’s stamp collection and on the day that he held an estate sale, I spotted the cardboard box full of stamps. Dad said he was selling the collection for $150. Emotionally, I told him I’d rather he let me have them and related to him grandma’s story. He said OK.

So for a few years now, the box of stamps has sat in my closet and it’s time for me to do something with them. I’m not a collector of stamps. I’ll be selling them, probably a few at a time. First I need to do inventory.

The Arrow Head

Wednesday morning, the fifth day of our Devil’s Garden hunt was a little rough. I got to my spot and waited for the sun to light up the scene so I could advance without spooking deer, but it was to no avail as another hunter arrived and chased the deer out of the woods.

That’s what happens when other people discover the deer you’ve been coveting. You have to expect it to happen once or twice each time you hunt in the public domain for a week or more.

The other hunter chased five bucks out of the nearby timber and I spotted them on a ridge top. They were obviously nervous. That’s when I realized exactly what was going on. I spotted the hunter and his driver friend who picked him up in a white dodge truck after he had completed his chase.

It had rained the previous day and tracks on the ground were very easy to follow, so I decided to pick up the trail of the five bucks – a couple of them big ones- and give it a try. I didn’t really think I would track them down, but I wanted to find out if I could.

The wet ground provided a great medium for the tracks. Here’s a photo I took of one of the buck tracks. They always look bigger in mud and the hoof sinks in farther than with dust.

IMG_3584 deer track

After about three or four hours of following the bucks, but never seeing them again, I gave up and began the walk back to the timber where I intended to still-hunt for bedded bucks.

I’d been looking at the ground all day, so it’s no surprise that I kept on looking and then a shiny black piece of obsidian appeared. It was a nice looking point, but unfortunately the tip was broken which is often the case. I snapped a photo of the arrow head.

IMG_3599 arrow head

I have to say that the find lifted my spirits a bit and gave me some energy, which may have contributed to the next days success.

 

The Boss

On the next-to-last evening of the hunt, my cousin Wes and I were sitting in camp and something landed in a large yellow pine above us. The critter was obviously a large bird and it began to chirp loudly.

Before long we figured out that it was a bald eagle and it was giving another eagle a bad time. When the other eagle left, the mature “boss” bird stuck around for a longer visit.

On the last trip out of the campground with my cargo trailer in tow, the eagle appeared again and landed on a large branch of a close-by yellow pine. I was fortunate to snap a few shots of the magnificent animal.

Opening Day A-Zone

Spent the A-Zone opening day preparing for the A-4 hunt. Deer numbers on our ranch are so low that it’s really hard to get fired up.

First time I’ve ever hunted with my bow during rifle season. After target shooting for a while, I headed out to look for a buck.

While I was setting up, I got a text that Rob had just shot a 100 pound boar that was cooling off in a pond and he had to wade in chest deep to retrieve it.

Spent the rest of the afternoon waiting patiently at two locations. Never saw a deer until the ride back to camp when I came upon five deer, two of them spikes.

There will be time to hunt the A-Zone later on. Right now I’m focused on preparing for Modoc. Not enough time to do it all.

The mule is loaded in the Cargo Trailer and my check list is nearly complete.