Archive for Devotionals

May
15

Quicksand by James Matysek

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Isaiah 38:16-17

New International Version

16 Lord, by such things people live; and my spirit finds life in them too.  You restored me to health and let me live.

17 Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.  In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.

It’s tough to write about such things but I know I’m surrounded by people who are also wild at heart looking for their something to make sense of it all.

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On the third Thursday afternoon in January, six FCS members arrived at Port O’Connor (POC) for our annual self-guided/chartered blast and cast (duck hunt and bay fishing trip).  As Thursday looked like it would be the best day for fishing, we decided to try that instead of hunting, as we often did in the afternoons.  It was too windy to head to the jetties, so we decided to head to the back bays. Read More→

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Saturday afternoon started slowly at the FCS fall self-chartered bay fishing trip to Port O’Connor.  After an obligatory nap, three friends and I headed in my bay boat to the outer jetties.  We fished the rock pile at the start of the south jetty, but all we succeeded in hooking there were rocks.  After around 30 minutes, we decided to try the south jetty rock wall.

We went to a spot that we dubbed ‘yellow rope’ as it had a yellow rope lodged in the rocks near the water’s edge.  We proceeded to throw live shrimp, spoons, and Vudu shrimp to no avail.

After around 10 minutes, we decided to troll down to the yellow platform/tower, as it often has fish in the vicinity.  We threw lures as we went.  I sat in my boat’s bow (front) fishing chair, simultaneously throwing a gold spoon, and keeping my trolling motor running parallel with the jetty rock wall. Read More→

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It was still dark when three friends and I arrived at Lake Decker, east of Austin.  We launched my bay boat quickly and soon were heading down the primary lake arm towards the lily pads by the power plant’s discharge.  We arrived and quickly discovered a problem – the lily pads were gone!  Most had receded out of sight of the water’s surface, as they typically did in the fall – but this was late August! (The current heat wave probably made them recede early.)

Still, it was as good a place as any to start, as there was a lot of surface scum and grass that bass could hide under to ambush breakfast.  We started throwing topwater lures – mainly frogs. Read More→

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For years I’d heard about a white bass guide on Lake Belton.  Although he had a great reputation, I never investigated him as he practiced catch-and-release, and FCS fishermen told me repeatedly that they wanted to keep their legal catch.  But after years of inconsistent hybrid/striped/white bass fishing trips on Lake Buchanan, where we averaged three hybrid/striper keepers per trip, I decided that catching 20+ white bass with the Lake Belton guide was appealing, even if I couldn’t keep them.

I found the guide (Bob Maindelle) via Google and researched him.  All 25 reviews were 5-star.  Many reviews praised his knowledge, experience, professionalism, disposition, and top-of-the-line equipment, which I greatly value.  He also had an incredibly detailed website, which I also greatly value.  I soon contacted him about a trip and emailed FCS a poll.  Three guys wanted to go with me, so I scheduled a trip for early June. Read More→

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On a cold Saturday in mid-December, the morning broke late due to a heavy overcast.  It was dark when I went to my pop-up blind so I didn’t notice the cloud cover.  But now that it was getting light, the gray skies and the dampness made me wish I’d stayed in bed.

To add to the dreary day, the birds and animals at the little ranchette near Round Rock seemed to share my depressed mood.  Nothing was moving – no deer, birds, or even squirrels.

The property is thick with squirrels and normally they begin scampering up and down the trees and chasing each other at first light.  But not this morning.

I scanned with my eyes right to left and back dozens of times.  I focused along the full creek, a favorite haunt of the local deer herd.  I had just made another sweep to the left and was returning to the right when, as if in the blink of an eye, there stood a young buck.  As I glassed him, I thought, “Where did you come from?  You weren’t there a couple of seconds ago!” Read More→

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On a cold late afternoon on the last day of deer season, I sat in a ground box blind near a creek on a lease near Blanco that I shared with three friends.

To say that it had been a disappointing season was an understatement.  During the summer, the landowner had a barbed wire cross fence built that ran the length of the property.  We didn’t think his fence building would disrupt deer season, but the deer thought otherwise. I’d only seen two deer during my previous hunts there. Read More→

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As anyone who’s duck hunted with me knows, I have a hodgepodge of decoys.  I bought most of them on clearance at Academy during several of their after-Christmas/30% off sales.  I’d buy a half dozen or dozen of their Game Winner brand decoys, usually, redheads or pintails, each year to either add to my collection or replace casualties from the ongoing season that were too damaged to repair, usually from people stepping on decoys while they were moving around in my boat. Read More→

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In mid-December, my wife, Chris, and I went on a deer and hog hunt and bass fishing trip on the CZC Ranch near Mercury with my son, Ryan, and his girlfriend at the time, Beth.

On Saturday morning, Ryan killed his first three deer.  On Saturday afternoon, Chris and I hunted from an elevated stand.  Around 30 minutes before sunset, about 15 hogs ran to the feeder.  I wanted to shoot one of the big hogs, but they constantly moved and were blocked by smaller ones.  Believing I wouldn’t get a shot at a big hog, I chose a medium-sized boar at the front of the herd.  I was given a broadside presentation and squeezed the trigger of my Remington Model 700 in .25-06.  He fell without taking a step, as did a smaller boar behind him that we hadn’t seen.

On Sunday morning, I caught 14 bass, and Beth caught four (her first fish). Read More→

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Jul
29

Rodeo at the Jetty by Randy Rowley 8/10/22 ©

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On a Thursday morning in late July, six friends, my wife, Chris, and I headed to Port O’Connor (POC) for an FCS bay fishing trip.

On Thursday afternoon, Chris and I fished with live shrimp at the south jetty from our bay boat.  We caught a few undersized redfish and trout, and non-game fish.  I also put a medium-sized crab on a 13/0 hook out in the channel, away from the rocks.

After 1 ½ hours, we decided to try another spot.  After reeling in my shrimp and securing the hook and rod & reel combo, I turned around to reel in my crab.  But something didn’t look right, and I quickly discovered the problem – most of the 120 yards of line on my baitcasting reel had been spooled, and all that remained was the initial loop knot holding the line onto the reel!  Fortunately, the line went at a 45-degree angle away from the jetties. Read More→

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On a warm morning the day after Independence Day, my wife, Chris Rowley, and I headed to Lake Austin for an FCS bass fishing trip the day after Independence Day.  We launched at Mary Quinlan Park and headed north towards Mansfield Dam.

It was very foggy, so we had to go slowly.  We stopped at one of my favorite spots by Harrison Hollow, in front of a huge house on a tall hill, about 2 ½ miles from the park – the water level drops from around 7’ to around 4’ there. Read More→

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In early January, seven friends and I arrived at Port O’Connor for a weekend FCS coastal self-guided/chartered blast and cast (duck hunt and bay fishing trip).

On Friday afternoon, Binh Chu, Burl Fulenwider, Daryl Shipper, and I hunted at the back of a small cove.  Although no ducks wanted to come into our decoy spread, we managed to kill four ducks via pass shooting (shooting them as they flew by).  I killed a pintail drake and a redhead drake, Burl and I teamed up to kill a redhead hen, and Binh and Daryl teamed up to kill a redhead drake.

When my group returned to the POC Fishing Center, it was pitch black.  Daryl tied his boat up to a pier post and stayed in his boat.  As the rest of us exited Daryl’s boat onto the wooden dock, I warned, “Everyone be careful – only two men have ever walked on water, and none of you are them.”  Binh left to get Daryl’s truck and trailer.

When I saw Binh driving towards the ramp, I walked over to Daryl’s boat to untie it from the pier post and took a step where I thought there was a deck – but it was nothing but air (instead of being squared the end of the deck was at a 45-degree angle).  I quickly discovered I couldn’t walk on water and was completely submerged. Read More→

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On a cool and overcast Saturday morning in mid-January, three friends and I headed to the marsh between Corpus Christi and Port Aransas for a weekend duck hunt.  We miscalculated when we needed to depart and didn’t make it to Wilson’s Cut (from San Antonio) until a little after sunrise.  The blasts of several shotguns going off in the distance greeted us as we unloaded the kayaks (aka yaks) from Greg Souther’s trailer.

Mark Dillow brought his two yaks, loaning one to Kevin Wall, Greg brought his yak, and I used a yak Mark rented at a Corpus Christi yak shop. Read More→

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Jul
04

Snarled by Randy Rowley 7/4/19 ©

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On a hot and muggy morning in late June, Ryan, my son, and I launched at the Marker 37 Marina in Corpus Christi and headed to the Packery Channel’s south jetty.  We found a spot devoid of jetty fishermen, activated my Minn Kota Terrova Riptide’s anchor lock, and started to offer live shrimp, cut bait, and artificial lures.

We caught a few croakers and perch but no game fish.  After about 30 minutes, we grew tired of losing our shrimp for no tasty rewards and headed to the large hole just west of the 361 bridge, where the water drops around 27 feet.  I positioned my boat equally between the shore fishermen, activated my Riptide’s anchor lock, and we resumed fishing. Read More→

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On a Saturday in mid-September, my SUV croaked about 100 feet from a clinic in East Austin.  Fortunately, I was able to push it into the parking lot.  The next afternoon as I waited on a wrecker to pick up my SUV, I listened to shotguns blasting in the distance.  After the wrecker left, I went hunting for the source of the shotgun blasts and found it – it was at least 20 hunters in a field off of Exchange Blvd. in Austin, shooting at dove. Read More→

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On a warm weekend in late March, four friends and I headed to the Hill Country Hog Ranch near Sabinal for a weekend FCS hog hunt.  Guns were prohibited, so we brought strings and sticks (bows and arrows).

It was a 3,300-acre ranch, but we were interested in its 35-acre rectangular-shaped hog pen – the owner kept around 100 hogs in it.  Each side had a couple of gates hogs could push open with their snouts, but they would spring shut after hogs entered the pen.  Therefore, they could get in but couldn’t get out. Read More→

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May
29

Found by Randy Rowley 5/29/19 ©

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On a Friday afternoon in mid-April, seven friends and I met Justin Cooper, the owner of Laguna Adventures, at the Marker 37 Marina in Corpus Christi for an FCS self-chartered bay fishing trip.  Justin owns the floating Laguna Madre cabin #2 that we had booked.  After settling up with him and getting the cabin’s GPS coordinates, we headed to our home away from home.

After we arrived, we stowed our non-fishing gear.  We then headed towards The Boat Hole.  We mostly fished with live shrimp but tried artificial lures as well.  Daryl Shipper anchored with his Minn Kota iPilot around 200 yards from shore.  I decided to try to get as close to a short rock wall as possible.  This proved easier said than done, as we kept running aground. Read More→

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May
17

Blinded by Randy Rowley 5/17/19 ©

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On an overcast and drizzly day on the second Saturday in September, three friends and I headed to Joel Kirby’s A-OK Ranch near Lometa for a blast and cast (dove hunt and bass fishing trip).

The dove were sporadic, as they often are in that area.  Kevin Wall led the way bagging nine, I bagged seven, Mark Dillow bagged two, and Ken Miller bagged one. Read More→

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On the third Saturday in November, Ron Denison picked me up for his first deer hunt on a ranch near Hamilton Pool.  By 5:45 AM, we settled into a stand made for two.

Around four minutes before legal shooting time, a deer suddenly snorted at us to our left.  That was surprising because there was no wind, we weren’t making any noise, and we were wearing full camo, including mesh facemasks.  We found two does in our binoculars, one significantly bigger than the other.  One or both continued to snort at us intermittently, around 25 yards away in a thick grove of oaks.  I had a clear shot at the bigger doe at legal shooting time.

But I had a dilemma.  She was on my side of the stand, but our primary mission was to get Ron a deer.  For Ron to shoot, he would have to lean over me, probably making a lot of noise.  As I mulled over the best solution, the does walked away.

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On the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving, I put my safety harness, light jacket, and backpack on, grabbed my Winchester Super X4 (SX4) 12 gauge shotgun, and walked towards the west side ladder stand on a small property near Round Rock.  I was hunting with a shotgun as the property was too small to hunt with a rifle safely.  As I neared the creek, a doe ran out, followed shortly by an eight-point buck.

He was in range, but I had two problems.  For starters, my binoculars were in my backpack.  I couldn’t tell with my naked eye if he was a legal buck for Williamson County, which requires bucks with branched antlers to have a 13-inch minimum inside spread.  Secondly, my shotgun wasn’t loaded yet, as I would soon have to climb the stand’s ladder. Read More→

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Oct
09

Groaning by Randy Rowley 10/09/18 ©

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During my many years of hunting, I’ve heard many sounds – barely audible, loud, frightening, crashes, growls, howls, shrieks, screams, and cries of agony.  But on a hot Saturday afternoon deer hunt in early October, I heard a sound I’d never heard before.

I was driving towards the parking area on a property I was hunting outside of Round Rock when suddenly, I was greeted by a doe running in front of my truck and then towards the creek, with a young 8-point buck following her in hot pursuit. Read More→

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On a Friday in late March, David Chalmers, Warren Hoke, and I headed to the El Portillo Ranch near Charlotte (about 45 miles south of San Antonio) for an FCS semi-guided hog hunt.  David Smith, the owner of Texas Wild, met us when we arrived.  After settling up, he showed us the ranch.

Later that afternoon, I took David and Warren to their chosen stands.  I then headed towards mine.  As I was driving down the dirt road, I noticed a stick standing straight up about 50 yards ahead.  I was a little perplexed, as I didn’t remember it being there earlier. Read More→

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On a warm Saturday in early June, my son, Ryan, his future wife, Claire, and I arrived at Lake Decker, east of Austin, for a bass fishing trip.

After launching my boat in the darkness, we headed over to the hot water discharge.  After going halfway up the discharge, I shut off my main motor and turned on my trolling motor.  After my boat’s wake had dissipated, we saw several tiny splashes on the water’s surface.  It looked like rain, but we knew it wasn’t raining as we weren’t getting wet – the little splashes were caused by small minnows hitting bugs.
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My second motorboat, a 1989 18’ 4” Champion 184 fiberglass bass boat (old-style fish and ski) with a 150 HP Mercury motor named Champ, proved to be a good bass boat.  He could cruise at 50 MPH with two guys in the boat and 48 MPH with three.

But Champ had a big limitation – he was just a transport vessel when I took people duck hunting due to his mostly white hull.  As he wasn’t camo, I couldn’t duck hunt out of him as I could from Bob – my previous camo aluminum V Hull boat.  With Champ, we’d go to where we were going to hunt, unload our gear, move him at least 75 yards away, and cover him with a camo tarp. Read More→

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Aug
01

Thwarted! by Randy Rowley 8/1/18 ©

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With considerable anticipation, my brother-in-law, Roy Brigman, and I boarded Captain Dannie Golden’s boat on Lake Ray Roberts on a Saturday in mid-August for a morning of bass fishing.  Dannie is the Get Bit Guide Service owner and has a great reputation.

We were booked to fish with him in early March but postponed our trip because a high chance of thunderstorms was forecast.  Two days before our scheduled March trip, one of Dannie’s clients caught a 15.18 lb. bass, setting a new lake record.  As the spawn was long past, Roy and I knew we probably wouldn’t catch bass anywhere near that large, but we hoped to catch some keepers and a decent-sized one or two. Read More→

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On a chilly Saturday morning in April, Roland Olivarez and I headed to Lake Pflugerville for an FCS self-chartered bass fishing trip.  When we arrived, we found we had the lake to ourselves.  But it wasn’t the cold that kept other fishermen, who are usually kayakers, away – it was undoubtedly the projected 15 – 25 MPH winds with gusts up to 30 MPH.

Motorboats are allowed on the lake, but they cannot use their gas motors.  But I couldn’t have broken that rule if I’d wanted to, as I’d sold my gas motor for parts shortly before this trip after a piston went bad.  That left my Minn Kota 74 lb. thrust trolling motor and two paddles for propulsion.

Two months before this trip, the trolling motor and paddles weren’t up to the task on a windy day on Lake Decker.  Shortly before this trip, I bought a new 12-volt deep cycle battery to power the trolling motor, along with my existing one-year-old 12-volt deep cycle battery.  I felt confident my trolling motor was now up to the task of handling the projected winds. Read More→

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On a hot Monday in June, two friends, my wife, Chris, brother-in-law, Roy Brigman, and I hopped in Captain Jay Garrett’s boat on Lake Belton for an afternoon FCS guided hybrid bass catching trip.  After several years of these annual trips, I started calling them ‘catching trips’ instead of ‘fishing trips,’ as we usually engaged in the former.

We ran across to the dam side of the lake and slipped into a cove.  We knew Jay had found the right spot, as we soon spotted a large school of shad right by the bank – they were probably pushed there by hybrid bass.

Jay anchored his boat near the shad, baited a hook with a live shad he’d caught earlier, and handed me the rod.  I set it per his instructions – press the spool release button and pull the line from the reel to the rod’s first guide six times.  I cranked the reel 1/4 turn and set the rod in the bow (front) port (left) rod holder.

As I went to get another rod from Jay, I heard an unmistakable sound – Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!  A fish had hit the first shad!  Chris promptly grabbed the rod and started fighting the fish. Read More→

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On an overcast but mild Monday in February, two friends and I arrived at Lake Decker, just east of Austin, for a morning of bass fishing from my boat.

The weather forecast called for 10 – 20 MPH south winds, but it was calm when we got there, so after launching, I went along the northwest bank using my Minn Kota 74 lb. thrust foot-controlled trolling motor.  A piston in the gasoline motor on my boat had stopped working the previous July, and I sold it for parts rather than rebuild a 21-year-old engine, leaving my trolling motor and two paddles as our means of propulsion.

Two hours later, after throwing every type of lure we could think of without success, we decided to head back the way we’d come.  The south wind had picked up, and we had to run straight into it.  So I turned my trolling motor up to half power.  As we progressed, the wind strengthened, causing me to continue increasing power. Read More→

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Jan
30

Patched by Randy Rowley 1/30/18 ©

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As five friends, my son, Ryan, and I were preparing to leave my house for an early January FCS coastal blast and cast (duck hunt and bay fishing trip) to Port O’Connor, Daryl Shipper asked to borrow my spare neoprene waders.  Daryl had brought vinal waders, but he knew the water would probably be cold due to recent cold fronts.  I said, “Sure,” and threw them in my truck.  I wasn’t concerned about them because they hadn’t leaked the last time I used them about a year before this trip. Read More→

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As every experienced sportsman knows, hunting, fishing, and sports shooting can be hazardous to your health.  Almost all of us have experienced scratches, cuts, scrapes, punctures, bruises, and burns while engaging in our favorite pastimes.  Fortunately, fewer of us have broken bones or experienced other injuries requiring ER visits while doing what we love.  And even fewer of us have almost met God or met God while pursuing our passions.

Perhaps it’s because I hunt, fish, and shoot more often than most sportsmen, or maybe it’s my friendship with Mr. Murphy, but I’ve experienced what could have resulted in severe injuries or death on at least five occasions. Read More→

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On the second weekend in March, eight friends, my middle daughter, Robin, and I, went on an FCS semi-guided hog hunt on the Pierce Ranch near El Campo.  The guide put Robin and me in a stand made for two on the first afternoon.  The stand was about 100 yards from a feeder.  We didn’t see any hogs on that first hunt, but God instead treated us to a display neither of us will forget. Read More→

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Jul
07

Dominance by Randy Rowley 7/7/17 ©

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It was a cold and sunny December afternoon on the Hymeadow Ranch near Lampasas.  Robin, my middle daughter, and I lay on our bellies on the edge of a 9-acre field.  We decided not to hunt the natural blind, as the deer feeder was about 300 yards east of it.  Instead, we set up south of the feeder, which put us 100 yards closer to it.

Within a few minutes, a couple of does came out, but I’d already killed two antlerless deer (a doe and a button buck I mistook for a doe), so I passed on them, hoping I’d get a shot at a decent spike. Read More→

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On a crisp and clear Saturday in early May, my son, Ryan, my grandson, Hunter, and I launched at Mansfield Dam on Lake Travis and headed to Commodore’s Point Cove on the northwest side of the boat launch.  We arrived at the northward point, and I shut my boat off and engaged the trolling motor.

Around my 15th cast, I hooked a bass with my Whopper Plopper (a hard topwater propeller bait) and quickly brought him to my boat.  He didn’t put up much of a fight, as he was only around 12 inches long.  Then, after around 15 casts with no hits, I switched to a squarebill crankbait.  I tried slow, medium, fast, and stop-and-go retrieves to no avail.  I also tried a lipless crankbait, a spinnerbait, a deep-diving crankbait, a jointed swimbait, a Roadrunner (a small jig with a blade on it and usually a grub), a creature bait, and a worm.  All generated the same amount on non-interest. Read More→

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When my family, friends, and I duck hunt near Corpus Christi, we often hunt on islands off Wilson’s Cut between Corpus Christi and Port Aransas. We’ve had many successful hunts there, easily bagging our limits of the one million or so redheads that winter along the Texas coast.

However, as the daily limit of redheads is two, and well over 95% of the ducks we see and shoot are redheads, it can also lead to some frustration.  Several times as the first flock, or one of the first, would come into our decoys (dekes), my shotgun would go “bang, bang,” and two redheads would go “splash, splash,” and my hunt would be over.
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Feb
13

Help! by Randy Rowley 2/10/17 ©

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For central Texas in early December, it was cold.  The thermometer in Ryan’s (my son) truck indicated 31 degrees, which made this FCS duck hunt the first sub-freezing one of the season.  We launched at Friendship Park on Lake Granger and proceeded west to our usual cove in the Sore Finger Wildlife Management Area.

Unbeknownst to us, our frequent hunting partner, Mr. Murphy, joined us again.  Ken Miller started the fun by losing his balance while setting out decoys and falling into the lake up to his neck.  He crammed the buttstock of his unloaded shotgun into the muddy bottom and got up quickly – so quickly that the rest of us didn’t know that he had gone down.  Some water went down the front of his neckline and up his left sleeve. Read More→

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Early Labor Day morning, Rex Yokum and I met at the Lake Decker boat ramp east of Austin.  After we launched, we slowly proceeded to the lake’s north arm.  Our crawling speed wasn’t due to the darkness.  No, it was due to a far worse enemy – heavy fog!  Fortunately, my GPS was working fine, and it got us to our starting point across from the dam.

Rex had a strong hit in no time on a plastic worm but missed the bass.  Then it became the fishing equivalent of silence.  There were no blow-ups, and I didn’t even get a bump on my dog walker (a topwater lure that zigzags with the proper wrist action) or hollow body (soft plastic) frog.  Rex’s topwater torpedo lure with a soft, pliable rotating tail on its harness also didn’t generate any interest. Read More→

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Aug
07

Hide by Randy Rowley 8/7/16 ©

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On a bright and sunny Saturday in early March, eight hunters, including me, and four spectators converged at Mike Schumann’s ranch near Dime Box for an FCS guided upland bird (quail, chukar, and pheasant) hunt.  My group, consisting of my wife, Chris, my son, Ryan, Michael Armstrong, and I, opted to go after pheasants first.  We drove to the field and waited for a few minutes while the guide positioned six pen-raised pheasants.  (We don’t hunt wild quail and pheasants as they’re up to 450+ miles away.)

The cover was a mixture of open country and thick mesquites, oaks, cedars, and scrub brush.  In less than five minutes, we had two birds in the bag.  The guide’s pointer, a Brittany named Buddy, ran through the scrub brush and into a small open field with a few clumps of high grass the size of basketballs.  I thought to myself, “There can’t be a bird there!”  Then, suddenly, he stopped and pointed. Read More→

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In late November, four friends and I went on an FCS blast and cast (duck hunt and bay fishing trip) near Corpus Christi.  We arrived at IB Magee County Park on Friday afternoon, set up camp, and headed off to hunt in the marsh between Corpus Christi and Port Aransas off Wilson’s Cut.

The water was the highest we’d seen, and there was no dry ground on the island we usually hunted, which borders Wilson’s Cut.

Soon he had our limits of redheads (ducks), and Burl Fulenwider also bagged a hen widgeon.  We ended up with 11 ducks bagged. Read More→

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Oct
10

Move On by Randy Rowley 10/10/15 ©

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A hunter who changes positions (moves) while bird hunting is often more successful than those who stay put.  That isn’t just true for quail, pheasant, and chucker hunters, who are almost always on the move – it’s true for dove hunters as well (and sometimes duck hunters).

At an FCS dove hunt on a Saturday in September on the Evans Ranch near San Saba, Ryan, my son, and I started hunting at the edge of a grove of oak trees.  Twenty-five yards in front of me was a grove of Texas gum elastic trees.  When Sid Evans fired the “start hunting” shot, several birds flushed from the trees.  I collected three birds during the initial melee with my Browning Gold Hunter in 12 gauge.

But, I quickly ran into problems – when birds flew over the oak or Texas gum elastic groves, they had already been shot at, often by several hunters, so they were flying at Mach 3.  By the time I got my gun to my shoulder, they were over one grove or the other, and I wouldn’t have time to shoot.  It was an exercise in futility.  So I moved 25 yards to my right and started shooting birds as they flew over the groves. Read More→

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Oct
09

Wading In by Randy Rowley 10/9/15 ©

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One of the greatest dangers in pursuing ducks is walking around in the water at night, wearing only a headlamp or cap light to help you spot hazards.  Besides many stumps, branches, rocks, trash, and other things to trip on, the bottom of a lake, river, or pond is often uneven and sometimes has holes and drop-offs.  This can be quite hazardous when wearing waders, which hunters wear to keep dry and warm.  (The only time they aren’t needed in Texas is during the September early teal season.)

If a hunter steps into a large hole, he can suddenly go underwater, and his waders will quickly fill up.  Waders that are even partially full of water make wading difficult and swimming or treading water almost impossible.

Such an event occurred in mid-November on Owl Creek off of Lake Belton.  My family and I launched at Owl Creek Park and headed up the creek.  I had only been on those waters once before, but that was in daylight.  Now it was pitch black, and things looked very different.  We spotted most of the stumps with my spotlight, but staying in the winding creek channel was another matter.  As the waters narrowed, my prop started vibrating from hitting the bottom.  Then we ran aground. Read More→

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Finding Jesus in unexpected places…

The Bible is about Jesus Christ. If we study carefully we can find Him on every page – not just in the New Testament, but also in the Old Testament. “Here I am,” our Lord said, “it is written about me in the scroll” (Hebrews 10:7).

One place we find Jesus in the Old Testament is in “type”. A type is an example or illustration that points to a person or an event. Finding Jesus hidden in type is a most exciting and rewarding study. As it says in Proverbs 25:2: “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”

So let’s study Noah’s Ark as a type of Christ and see what we discover. Read More→

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At around 7:15 AM on a Friday in mid-January, seven friends and I hit the road to Port Aransas for a three-day-long FCS self-guided duck hunt.  The fun began right after we stopped for breakfast at the McDonald’s on RR 620 near Hwy 183 in Austin.  I led our caravan in my truck, towing my boat, and Burl Fulenwider followed in his truck, towing my pop-up camper.  After getting breakfast in the drive-through, I pulled over as far as I could to the right at their parking lot entrance/exit and waited for Burl and his riders to get their food.

I had made this particular right turn many times, as McDonald’s was a frequent stop on my way to hunt ducks on local lakes, so I thought nothing of it.  But I had made my previous right turns around 3:00 AM when no one was on 620 – now Austin rush hour traffic confronted me.

I spotted an opening big enough to fit my truck and boat in and went for it.  I made the turn and then gunned it.  However, I didn’t account for my boat trailer being so close to the curb.  As I gunned my engine, my boat trailer’s right tire hit the curb, causing the trailer tire to jump up, and centripetal force caused the trailer to roll to the left.  I saw movement in my rear-view mirror and, much to my surprise, witnessed my boat and trailer rolling over onto their left side. Read More→

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Jul
23

Dunked! by Randy Rowley 7/23/15 ©

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Early on a Saturday afternoon in late August, my wife, Chris, my youngest daughter, Deanna, Tim Price, and I launched Tim’s V-hull aluminum boat at the Port Aransas Municipal Boat Harbor public boat ramp.  We proceeded to Aransas Bay and started fishing with live shrimp.  We were mainly catching hardheads, so we decided to try fishing by Mud Island.  Tim turned his boat into the two-foot-tall waves but couldn’t get on plane.  He then reached deeper water and turned towards the island.

Suddenly a wave crashed over the bow (the forward part of the boat), swamping the front of the boat.  Tim put his boat’s gear shifter in neutral, but that didn’t help.  He then put the gear shifter in full forward power and tried to steer into the waves, but that made his boat’s bow dive under the water like a submarine!  His boat rolled to the right in the blink of an eye, and we capsized!

Read More→

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May
11

Flee! by Randy Rowley 5/11/15 ©

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On a Friday in early May, Five friends and I headed to Charles Batts’s Ranch, which is part of the Y.O. Ranch, near Junction for a weekend FCS self-guided hog hunt.  After we arrived, we set up camp, checked the feeders and stands, baited a stand, cooked dinner, ate, and headed to our chosen stands.

None of us saw any pigs on the first night, but that changed the following morning.  About 5:45 AM, while it was still very dark, a probable 200+ pound boar came out from behind a large cedar tree right next to the bow stand Tim Price and I were sitting in.  The boar moved cautiously and slowly.  It stopped for a few seconds and looked around. It then slowly turned around and looked in the direction from which he had come.  He gave us the impression he was the lead pig for a herd and was about to tell the others the coast was clear.

Read More→

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On a cold Saturday morning in early December, Jason Cox and I went on an FCS self-guided duck hunt on Lake Belton.  We saw a few flocks of teal that were far away.  After around two hours, Jason went scouting.  Later a lone duck flew by, but by the time I mounted my shotgun, I was presented with a 50+ yard going away shot.  I declined to take the shot, as I likely would’ve wounded it and caused suffering.

On the way back to the boat ramp, Mr. Murphy found us.  After we loaded our gear in my boat, I started to back us out but ran into an underwater bush, so I made a U-turn. Read More→

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On a hot Saturday in early June, two friends and I launched my boat on Lake Decker for a morning of bass fishing.  Soon after arriving at the hot water discharge, I caught a 15-inch-long bass on a Rapala Clackin’ Rap lipless crankbait (that runs at variable depths, but usually runs shallow) in ‘moss back shiner’ color.

I swung him into my boat with my rod and lipped him (grabbed his lip with my thumb and index finger) with my right hand, which was not my norm, as I usually lip bass with my left hand and use my right hand for lure removal.  I couldn’t unhook him with my left hand, so I reached down and grabbed a pair of pliers and then grasped the hook with the pliers. Read More→

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On the evening of August the 13th, I finally became the owner of a genuine bass boat – a 1989 18? 4? Champion 184 side-console fiberglass fish and ski boat (old-style) with a 1996 Mercury 150 HP 2-stroke outboard motor, two live wells, two fish finders, and a built-in ice chest.  “Champ” ran on Lake Georgetown at 50 MPH that evening, with the seller, my wife, and I onboard during the test drive. Read More→

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Jul
11

Thirst! by Randy Rowley 7/11/14 ©

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My son, Ryan, had a football game on the third Friday night in September, so my father-in-law, the late Ken Brigman, Ryan, and I missed the first day of the FCS south zone dove hunt on the Kanapick day lease near Dilley, about sixty miles south of the San Antonio city limits.

We arrived on Saturday around noon and were surprised to see several dove flying around, especially near the stock tanks (ponds).  We were also amazed at how hot it was – it felt like it was already above 100 degrees.

We set up camp and chilled in the shade until the afternoon hunt.  The ranch owner had a covered storage area with a concrete slab but no walls.  We sat under it to stay out of the blistering sun.

We headed to a large sunflower field around mid-afternoon.  Although there were 25 of us, there was plenty of room to spread out.  The birds started flying and falling in short order.  There were no white-winged dove (aka white-wings), but the sky was black with mourning dove.  Most of us enjoyed seeing the most dove we’d seen on a hunt and got 15-dove limits within a couple of hours. Read More→

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FCS was born at the Appletree Ranch, close to Leakey in Southwest Texas and only around 15 miles from Garner State Park.  The area is gorgeous – mountainous with steep ravines, green forests, and the clear Frio River.  (“Frio” is Portuguese for “cold.”)  Many Texans believe the area is the jewel of the state.  Campers often have to wait up to a year to get a Garner State Park campsite reservation when schools aren’t in session. Read More→

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Have you ever been called on at a work meeting, training conference, during a class, etc., to lecture on things or demonstrate skills others assumed you knew?  People have stood there stammering many times in such cases because they weren’t prepared or sure of themselves.

On a Saturday in June, I manned an FCS table at a Legacy Outfitters Outdoor Expo at Brushy Creek Lake Park in Austin.  They had demonstrations on setting up campsites, building fires, cooking meals, etc.

All was going well.  Then their leader came over and asked me to give a no more than 30-minute-long lecture and demonstration on bass fishing with lures.  (I’d brought one of my rod and reel combo’s and a small tackle box in case I had an opportunity to fish.)  I said “sure” but then learned I would be on in five minutes!  I hemmed and hawed through my presentation because I didn’t have adequate preparation time. Read More→

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Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Mark Dillow’s blog – http://noclearline.blogspot.com/

Bible Verse of the Day

Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, For they are the rejoicing of my heart.