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Discussion Starter #1
This was kind of a spur of the moment trip. I had reason to visit friends in Lajitas west of Big Bend National Park last February. So to make a road trip out of it, I loaded up Blaze, survival gear, and left a few days early for a fandango in Big Bend country.

I stayed at Black Gap WMA and camped right on the river at one of the fish camps.
Blaze being bored while I set up camp.



I had not been to the Big Bend since I was a kid. My Dad and I had driven the jeep trails, hiked some, and did a Canoe trip on the Rio Grande before. Not having been there since I was young, I spent a lot more time just exploring rather than hunting.

The scenery was spectacular. What a beautiful place to hunt. I did a lot of driving around on the area's roads. Though I did see quail from the road a couple times on the first day, I did not hunt them yet. They were skittish and would fly at sight of the truck. Of the few from a half dozen hunters or hunter groups still on the area Sunday afternoon, reports ranged from no birds to one large group of hunters well outfitted with several dogs and specialized vehicles having taken quite a few collectively.





A popular way to hunt there seems to be to drive the roads, look for birds, and try to bust the covies. I imagine most hunt this way. Being the last week of season and having been hunted hard. Birds were flushing or running at the sound or sight of a vehicle I found.



I prefer to hunt with the dog anyway. So I concentrated on water. Here is one of the "Guzzlers" for collecting rain water.





Birds were also using this windmill, but it was impossible to get close enough to those late season birds to flush on that thick flat ground They would run like chickens through the brush.



Blaze cooling off.



Everything sticks, pokes, scratches, or bites here.



 

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Discussion Starter #2
Some places the cholla cactus was thick. I think I heard someone call this type S.O.B. Cactus once. It attracts to man and beast like
a magnet and stays with you.



Ouch!



Exploring an old adobe ranch house.







And an old Car. Can you identify the make and model for me???
The little mountain in the background is across the river in Mexico.





For the fun of it. I picked a mountain to climb.



Looking down on that sandbar, there are some little dots.



Zoomed in, they are Javelinas.

 

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Discussion Starter #3
I also took a hike following the river as best I could between the difficult terrain and bamboo.



Blaze pointing something. Probably a Javelina as they were around.



Things you see while hunting. We ran up on this one eyed feral Steer. It bowed up to Blaze like it was going to chase her, so we backed off and moved on.




Evidence of hunters before us.



Back at camp.

This was the river at camp. It was cold at night and hot during the day, so this was a nice place to cool off in the afternoon. My first night it sounded like horses crossing the river at 3:00 am and Blaze freaked out a few minutes later. I never did figure out what all the noise was. I slept with my pistol the next two nights and kept my tent open so Blaze could play watchdog. She launched on camp intruders "animals" about 5 times the second night. I got used to it and never woke up from any of it the third night.



Blaze patiently waiting on pancakes and bacon breakfast.



The afternoons were in the high 80s to low 90s every day. It was too hot for man or dog to hunt that kind of country. So I found other things to do.

Nap in the shade of the bamboo while fishing. And there are all the catfish a man could want to catch. I got to where I just did not bait my hook for fear of having to wake up to take a fish off.



Another day I climbed to a rock shelter for a long afternoon nap in the cool shade. Blaze enjoyed it and stood guard over me.

 

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Discussion Starter #4
Then I drove to the end of the ranch road to see what was there. A closed barricaded bridge to Mexico and the ghost town of La Linda Coahuila including this hilltop church on the other side.





Back to hunting. Yes, I did actually do some hunting too.

Beautiful country to have the opportunity to hunt in.



You can see a guzzler in the background. I did run a covie onto this hillside and got 5 points out of Blaze across the hill. She was so tired and hot she was not very stylish. She would just stand over the bird panting and look at me. The first point I thought she had been stuck in the leg with a cactus and did not know she was pointing. I about had a heart attack when I walked over thinking I was going to pull some cholla out of her leg. Boy was I surprised with a bird flushed in my face. I was tired and hot too. shells were flying out of my gun each time, but, I only hit two birds out of the 5 points/flushes on this hill.



Blaze and I.



How about some bird pictures.

I had the Auto 5 on this hunt. I wanted firepower, so no over under this time.



And a nice mature bird. If I had ever wanted to have one mounted, this would have been a good one. Hmmm, I wonder why they call them Scaled Quail?



I had one bird that Blaze just flat out refused to retrieve. It was up a steep hill, so I was frustrated and kept sending her back. I finally gave in, made the climb, and found out why. I don't blame her, I would not have stuck my face in there either.



I think Blaze will need a better pair of Dog Boots next time.

 

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Discussion Starter #5
The last day I left early and made a drive over to Elephant Mountain WMA. I did not have much time to hunt so I did a one time drive through and picked the most scenic spot I could find for a walkabout.







Right off, we met up with a momma Javelina and young.





Gratuitus Windmill picture for my wife. She loves windmills.



And last a sunset picture from behind my friends lodge on the Rio Grande at Lajitas.
Bats where already flying all around and you can see a lone duck on the river below.



Headed home, I was soon pulled over by a border patrol truck just after I left Lajitas. A black dusty truck in the early hours must have looked suspicious. I got a laugh when they searched my trunk and looked in my big cooler. I saw the border patrol guy carefully knock on the lids keeping his distance both times. Looking as if he was expecting a jack in the box to pop out! I was later followed by another border patrol truck for several miles before reaching a checkpoint. I guess watching to make sure I did not drop someone or something off first. They were just doing their job, very friendly, and especially liked Blaze.

I can't wait to go back. I will probably pick a cooler time of year and a year with better bird counts, but to be honest, it is not about the birds to me, so I could easily find an excuse to make this fandango again anytime.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Oh gosh, Blaze loves wearing boots. Its like a little kids brand new "go fast" tennis shoes. Makes her prance around like a poodle.

 

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John,

I love reading your stories... have you ever thought about having your own blog? ... it would be great to read your stories in one place without searching for your posts....
 

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Yes, sniper john, your posts are most enjoyable to read... and Blaze is sure one lucky dog to be living the life you give her!!

Having grown up and lived all my life in the Detroit area (a.k.a. the Motor City), I think I can safely tell you that the old car was manufactured some time in the 1930's. At first I thought it was a Mercury, but changed my mind upon closer inspection. Now I can't be sure...

All of your photos are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them!
 

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I agree with Chilli Monster, you should make your own blog! Your stories are awesome! I just skimmed this one, but I'll definitely come back to it later.
 

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Great story John, fantastic pictures as usual.
Thanks for sharing.

I agree with the others, start a blog.
 

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What an awesome life Blaze has! The pictures & narration are pretty great too :) Yes, Sniper John, you should start a blog. I enjoy reading one called RedBirdDog. It is about 2 Vs traveling out west for birds, ribbons, & other things. Thanks for sharing all the great photos & stories! Have you been hunting and enjoying the outdoors since you were a child? Do you ever take the Labs with you on such trips? Do you train all of your dogs yourself? Sorry for all the questions :)
 
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