Thursday, February 28, 2013

Day Six: Campfire Tales.

  Always a work crew going. Dig the well. Dig a trench. Shore up a platform. Carve a loophole. Stuff a hide and bulldog it into position. The pickets watch while men work.

  One of the Greys is a big man. Taller than Crockett and stout like an ox. They joke that riding out from New Orleans when his horse wore out he just carried it. He's not too smart but he's game and strong and anytime a load has to be shoved over or boosted up they call for Bull.
Of course, then its: "put a little Bull on it." A crew was trying to push a post back into place on the North wall and Esparza was chanting "listo! Bull, listo!" So now it's: "put a little listo on it." He wandered over to look at the well crew and they were saying, "Dawg it! Don't send him down here, we'll never dig him out!"

  Good bunch.

  The worst guy in the company, kind of a mean drunk from down on the coast has dried out. The one man who looks like trouble still fits in. He was sleeping down in the Long Barracks and his snoring drove out the night pickets. One of them stole his hat and when he woke up there was hell to pay. Lots of sand kicked but he when went up top to take his post looking over the cattle pen the dead Mexican leaning on the tree was waving at him. And wearing his hat. He stomped right out there cussing a blue streak. Nevermind the Mexicans shooting.

  Davy gave Bull one of the yellow cats that's always winding around the crowd at the cookfire corner and he's been carrying it around for a couple of days. The cat has taken to sleeping on him. Cottle gigs him about cooking his cat, "say Bull, let's cook that kitty!" And Crocket warns him back: "Don't let Cottle cook that cat now Bull." Bull is always watching Cottle out of the corner of his eye. "Don't cook a kitty, Wash."

  And the stories. Around the campfire day or night there are two or three going. We've heard all the famous ones: Riding a lightning bolt across the river, possum in a whiskey jug, blizzard in the bear's den, grinning the coons out of the hickory. One that really probably happened is about the dogs backing a big mama cougar into a hollow tree and one of Davy's guys saw the tail through a knothole, pulled it out and cut it off with a knife. Davy made him bow and apologize to the catamount and then they leashed up the dogs and left. The boy traded it for drinks in a bar and they said for a year all they heard was stories about a mad giant mama bobcat up the country. Or it would be a drunk in a saloon with the tail talking up some wild story about how HE cut it off. On the packet boat coming up the Arkansas a card player told them their story, except this time it was HIM that treed the cat and cut the tail off. Had the very tail for a hatband. Davy kept pulling a surprised face and saying: "That so? My nevers! You ever heard such a thing Clark?" When all along Clark was the one who had to apologize to the big cat.

  The Greys have some swamp stories: one showed a scar around his wrist where he cut off his hand in a sawmill. Said a black witch doctor put it back on in trade for an alligator hide.

  The Tejanos catch most of it, everyone crowding in while someone winds the yarn. Crockett told a long story about what language horses speak. Says the Arkansaw horse he bought does everything backwards. Go forward is back up, speed up is slow down, hasn't seen a smart horse since Memphis and says the Tejano mustangs look at him funny. One of the Tejanos bunks his horse in the room under the wall where he sleeps. He gave a low whistle and that horse popped right out of that room looking at us. He made it spin, circle right, turn left, back up, with clicks and whispering and little hand signals. He floated his hat out on the ground and the horse picked it up and put it back on his head. Crockett tossed his coon hat out and the horse wrinked up his brow and just looked at it like he was worried. Blew out the whole bunch.

  Horse came up behind Mirelez in the firelight and hung his head over the man's shoulder while he talked. Sweetest love you ever saw.

  Davy can fiddle now and those boys dance. McGregor blows the pipes up and plays with a red face. Even Bull got up and struttin when one of the rancheros who doesn't speak much started whirling a loop and jumping in and out of it. After a minute he roped the coffee cup out of Bill Clark's hand, roped the shako of one of the commandantes. Somebody yelled: "Rope Bull's cat!"
Everybody kind of froze. One of the Tejanos said something in Spanish and they all started laughing, then we all did.

  "You could put a rope on Bull's kitty," said Davy, " But I doubt you could hold it." Bull just glowered at Wash like it was his fault.

  It's Sunday, February 28, 1836.

  The Parson wanted to pray over the stew, since it was Sunday. About the time we all stood up with out hats off and he started rolling we heard the North battery go. You could tell it was their big howitzer putting up a shell: Puh-bloom! The Parson, he didn't QUIT praying, no sir, he speeded up. OurGodinHeavenwhosetendermerciesdecendonallsinfulmen. All of a sudden Davy says AMEN! and everyone scattered.

  We laughed till we were crying.

  Santa Anna killed a courier from Houston and intercepted his letter. 1000 armed men and eight cannons on the way. He sent troops to guard the road, but it's empty to the horizon.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day Five: Cannonball Stew.

  South view over the fortified main gate.  Crockett and his men along the low palisade with treetops on the ground outside it.  18 pounder on the left lower corner.  Downtown to the left.  North wall at the top.  Chapel on the right.

  Dawn comes with the North wind still whistling at 39 degrees.  Everyone is a windburnt and strung out from waiting and watching for relief and news.  The men are stretched thin to cover the walls so sleep is only done at your post.  The Mexican artillery is lobbing shells in and pounding on the walls.  You have to watch yourself in the open plaza.   Men are digging handy trenches and policing up the scraps for anything useful.  Nearly everyone can identify various Mexican cannons by the shrapnel left behind.  The north gunners must be bored.  They shoot a brass ball, then an iron one, then another brass.  Martial arts.

  In town Santa Anna's quartermasters and cooks are hustling around trying to find supplies to feed the troops.  They packed light on the trip up, for speed and now everyone is hungry.  The town has been stripped of everything the citizens haven't hidden.  Patrols go to the local ranchos to find cattle, pigs, corn.  Anything.  Might have to eat those shoes.

  The Texicans are cooking beef and conserving firewood.  128 fighting men burn through a couple of cows a day, especially in this cold wind, plus corn and beans.  Folks are getting creative around the cookfires as the salt, peppers and vegetable remmnants run out.  Not very fancy cuisine.  Everyone is trying to find a new part of a steer to eat, but it's the same old parts.  The hides are going to make sandbags and barriers to fortify the Long Barracks rooms. 

  Quite a bit of speculation about how to defend if the Mexicans get inside.

  A few housecats lurking around the old mission.  They're eating scraps or hunting mice around the walled compound.  Couple of them are tame enough to pet.  Wash Cottle says he knows how to make cathead soup.  God help us.  Knowing Wash, he might.

  Plenty of jokes about wellwater, beans and going downtown to have a drink.  "The whiskey may be gone," quips Crockett, "but at least our bagpipe player is sober."

  When that damn Fannin rides in he better have a bottle.

  Quite a few stiff bodies on the ground outside.  The East picket searched some when he went out after midnight, passed the weapons back over the wall and then stood one up against a tree as a joke.  His arm is up and he looks like he's waving.  The Tennesseans joke about shooting the cooks first, next time.  Steal their dang spoons and salt.

  Next time.

  Several men coming back across the ditch last night with armfuls of firewood and scroungings when Green Jameson fell.  Mexican balls were popping on the wall and everyone was running hunched over but Esparza leaned back out and hissed, "Verde! Don't drop those onions!"  Cracked us up.

  Couple guys snagged Mexican Besses and shakos when they burning huts.  They insist on wearing them and being addressed as "commandante."  The muskets aren't much.  One of the hats has a .61 caliber hole in it.  They were shooting at each other in the dark.

  The Mexicans are moving batteries closer.  The sappers are digging all night.  The Generalissimo decides the La Villita battery wasn't moved enough and they have to move it up in the daylight.  The rifles pick a few and punch holes in a few more.  One guy shoots a chicken off a post in Plaza Valera and everyone gives him hell about it.  He retorts he's not going to share it when he gets it tonight.      

  The irrigation ditch is finally diverted.  It's all well water now.

  Someone counts the lead bullets and comes up with 19,000+ rounds, but the powder supply is worrisome.

  It's Saturday, February 27th, 1836.
  Night falls and the menu is seared beef and tortillas under the 18 pounder platform or two choices of stew and beans in the chapel.  You can get it to go.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Day Four: Water, Wood and Blood.

  128 folks left in the Alamo and one of them plays the bagpipes.  What are the odds?  Scottsman John McGregor and Crockett entertain the troops with fiddle and bags.  The Mexican Army has a bugle and drum corps as well as a brass band.  

  The Texicans were up until early morning hours burning huts, then trying to warm up and get some rest around campfires.  Now that the blue norther has blown in, it's 39 degrees and they realize the need for firewood.  And water.  The Mexicans are trying to divert the irrigation canal the fort has been using.  There is a well inside but the water isn't as good or reliable.  Men are digging it deeper. 

   When they sally to the northwest out of the cattle pens the soldatos maneuver against them.  Snipers with British Baker Rifles try to get position.  The Bakers are good to 270 yards or so.  Serious business.  The rebels are driven in but more Mexicans are killed and wounded than in the La Villita attack yesterday.

  After yesterday and last nights shoot and burnout the Matamoros Battalion set up an entrenched camp in La Villita and is picketing the open land East of the Alamo.  A small battery dug in overnight north across the river and is beating on a crumbly North wall. 

  The batteries have to be moved after dark to avoid Texican gunfire which is deadly out to 200 yards.  They dig all night and then keep to cover during daylight hours.  The .36 caliber long rifles from Tennessee and Kentucky are picking away at the unwary.  The South wall under the watchful eyes of Crockett's men is getting a reputation.

  Two companies of soldiers under General Castrillon are sent closer to check the ground and  Texicans catch them in the open and kill 30.  Picking.

  As darkness falls the defenders come out again, this time to the Southwest toward the river and the Potero bridge to burn houses and collect wood and water.  Col. Juan Bringas attacks, loses a man shot dead, falls off the bridge into the water and is rescued by pure happenstance.

  The rebels range out to the Nueva Street intersection beyond the Matamoros positions in La Villita burning houses.  The same distance would have taken them to their favorite saloons downtown.

  Overnight the North battery moves again, closer.

  The garrison is waiting on relief.  Fannin and the best Texican force are at Goliad, 90 miles East.  Houston is trying to stay sober long enough to hammer out a Declaration of independence at Washington-on-the-Brazos with parts of an army.  Gonzales should be riding to the rescue.  Santa Anna was early but now everyone has the word.  All they have to do is wait.  Help has got to be just a day or two away.

  The Mexicans are getting units, supplies, people up the road every day and sorting themselves out.

  It's Friday, February 26, 1836. 

Update: Bowie had his men, Travis has a company, Crockett brought a hunting party, there are locals.  Two companies calling themselves the New Orleans Greys are in the house.  They have been here since the expulsion of Cos, Santa Anna's brother in law from the town a couple months ago.  Good folks.  Brought their own cannons.  They fly their flag over the Long Barracks.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Day Three: Love and War in La Villita.

  Santa Anna wasn't wasting his ride yesterday.  By 9:30 he had 200-300 Matamoros Battalion troopers deployed and moving toward the Alamo in skirmish lines from La Villita, South of the compound.  The Mexican Artillery supported from the Potero Street battery and a new position with the troops.

  One good push and the rebels might throw down their arms and surrender.

  La Villita and Pueblo Volera were poor villager quarters.  Families and camp followers of the Mexican Army quartered at San Antonio, (before the Texican conquest of the city), lived there to be near the soldatos at the fort.  The skirmish lines broke and reformed as they moved through huts, chicken coops, gardens, outhouses and goat pens.  Surprisingly, there were many people still IN their houses.  The Texicans deployed into trenches outside the Alamo walls and along the parapets.  Crockett was everywhere encouraging men and pointing out targets as the action heated up.

  Matamoros closed to within pistol range before the line wavered and then dissolved.  Two men were shot dead.  The Mexicans broke for cover.  Six more fell wounded.  More Texicans appeared in the trenches, some darting from cover to toss torches on the huts shielding the attackers.  The officers reformed the lines for another assault but it was no use.  Tennessee lead was cracking through the roofs and walls of the houses, cutting twigs, kicking dust.

    As the Mexicans fell back they took cover behind a house with a mother and a daughter who was beautiful enough to give pause to the newcomers.  The mother scorned the soldiers.  She was the widow of a Mexican officer.  Her daughter was not to be gawked at by peasants from Matamoros.  The Mexicans fell back beyond rifle range and began to dig in.  

   Santa Anna heard about the young woman and was intrigued.  Evidently the march North had not only been long, but hard.  He was a Mason, (a step away from a Shriner) and knew the road trip rules: what happens at the Alamo STAYS at the Alamo.  Over the next few days he arranged to have introductions made and, (forgetting about Mrs. Anna and all the Anna-litos back at the Presidential Palace in Mexico), proposed marriage.  One of his Colonels had a joking prankster in his unit, (never seen a brigade without one), who agreed to impersonate a priest and perform the rites.  Before the end of the week he had the young lady safely tucked away in his quarters in town.  When he left to campaign East he would send the girl back to Mexico where she gave birth to a son nine months later.  

  The fog of war.

  Back in La Villita the Texicans were looting huts and burning everything in rifle range of the walls.  Matamoros stayed in cover.  As darkness fell that evening the Texicans came out by horse and foot and burned houses as far as 600 yards.  The Mexicans resisted but fighting broke off at 1:00am as a cold rain began to fall.  The temperature dropped 30 degrees.  A blue norther had arrived.  

 In the rain, smoke and confusion Tejano Juan Seguin left to take the word to Houston at Washington-on-the-Brazos.   He rode Bowie's horse and bluffed his way past a roadblock speaking Spanish.

  Nine men deserted into Mexican trenchworks, bargaining for their lives with the location of a 50 rifle armory hidden in town.  One of those things.

  A Mexican reconnaisance-in-force was detected behind the East side cattlepens and fired on by cannon from the Long Barracks and Chapel.

  The stakes were being raised.  It's Thursday, February 25th, 1836.

Update:  On the yesterday's tour Santa Anna came closest along this South wall.  The main gate had been covered by an external blockhouse but the low barricade at Crockett's position must have looked likely.   Plus: La Villita gave good cover until you got close.

Update II:  Is there a Mexican version of "How I Met Your Mother"?

Update III:  TWO dead?  Six wounded?  Crockett killed 108 bears in one season.  I would have thought the Tennessee boys would have stacked them up like cordwood or men who got bored watching cactus grow over the North wall gotten lucky a time or two.   Must have been awfully good cover.  Missed a real chance to take a bite.

Update IV:  Nine guys decide this is a little too intense.  Self-sorting.  Good time to peel off, while everyone is beyond the walls.  Takes the number down to 137, minus about six people that Travis has out delivering messages to Goliad, Gonzales, and Houston.

  What a company to be in! 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day Two: Cannon, Corn, Shoes and a Recon.

 San Antonio held 7000 citizens in 1836.  As Mexican troops poured in the town bulged.  Houses were seized for officers and men.  Food, horses, cattle, mules, hay, corn and beans were confiscated for military use.  On the 24th the Mexican Army opened the homes and stores of missing Anglos and sympathizers and inventoried the take.  Santa Anna was out and about by 9:00 overseeing the issue of shoes to some of his lead regiments.  These may have been from stores owned by Texican settlers.
  Mexican artillerymen placed a battery 350 yards from the West, (town) side of the mission just off Potero Street and began a bombardment with two light cannons and a howitzer.  The cannons go to work on the adobe walls, the howitzer lobs grenades over it.
  In the Alamo Bowie had fallen seriously ill.  He was moved to an isolated room off the chapel, probably along the South wall and cared for by a curandero.  He passed joint command of the garrison to Travis.  The Texicans ranged outside the walls searching for supplies in nearby houses and huts.  They found 80 or more bushels of corn and beans.  They already have 30 head of cattle penned up against the east side of the compound.
  At 11:00 Santa Anna took a horseback circuit of the Alamo.  On the South side he passed within musket range of Crockett's position when he rode through La Villita, a little suburb that usually held families of Mexican soldiers assigned to the Alamo.  He sends cavalry to cut the roads leading to Gonzalez and Goliad.  Mexican units are still strung out on the road all the way to the border.
  The rebels had plenty of artillery, but not many cannonballs or powder.  Their 20 pieces were never all mounted at the same time.  They ranged from the 18 pounder down to a ship's gunade (small, short range anti-personnel piece), that had found it's way to the fort.  A Mexican shell hits the 18 pounder and wrecks the carriage.  The Texicans repair it.

  It's Wednesday, February 24, 1836.
Update:  The 18 pounder is a monster.  JC Neill and Green Jameson positioned it pointing into town off the southwest corner of the fort.  It's bigger than anything the Mexicans have.  
  It was shipped from New Orleans to Velasco, Texas in Oct, 1835.  A blacksmith mounted it there with two wagon wheels on a carriage.  It is about nine feet long and weighs two tons.

Update II: Bowie has Typhoid fever or something similar.  His wife, children and in-laws had died of a similar illness a few years before.  He's taken to the bottle more and more.  Travis and Bowie have feuded since artilleryman Col. JC Neill (sent to destroy the Alamo but who instead rebuilt it), left to check on his family on Feb 14.  Bowie realizes he is in trouble and turns his volunteers over to Travis.

Update III:  The captured Soldato is deciphering Mexican bugle signals for the Texicans.

Update IV:  Travis assigns Crockett and his Tennesee men a low wall area facing La Villita and adjoining the Chapel on the south side.  It looks like the weak point but they will hold it.  Travis has 146 men at this point, not half enough to man the cannons and the walls.

Update V: People are still moving between the Alamo and town.  The Mexican staff reports they have a spy inside the walls.  Bowie's curandero nurse, Madame Candaleria is suspected.  Travis has sent out several messengers to Houston, Fannin and others.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day One: The Mexicans March in.

Generallisimo Santa Ana.

  Rumors had flown for weeks about when Santa Anna and the Mexican Army might arrive.  Travis and Bowie figured no earlier than mid-March.  When the Texicans struggled out of their hangovers mid-morning Tuesday they found the city streets full of activity- people were packing and leaving.

  The Mexicans were reported to be at Leon Creek, eight miles from town.  Travis still thought it unlikely but he posted a lookout in the bell tower of San Fernando Church on the main plaza.  Just after noon the bell rang but when Travis and others climbed the tower there was nothing in sight.  Travis sent John Smith and Dr. Sutherland out to investigate and they ride into mounted cavalry a mile and a half from town.  

 The Texicans, families and followers retreated to the Alamo, driving some cattle down Potero (now Commerce), street and grabbing all the provisions they could carry.  A few linger to raise a two-starred flag, (Texas and Coahilua), in the military plaza.  Beginning at about 3:00 the Mexican cavalry begins to arrive unit by unit.  They raise a blood red flag with skull and crossbones on the church bell tower and salute the arrival of Santa Anna and his guard with a cannon shot from the military plaza.  Seeing the flag and hearing the shot Travis fires the biggest cannon in the garrison, an 18 pounder.  Bowie sends Green Jameson with a letter to meet with the Mexicans.  Crockett and others come through the gates.

  The Mexican envoys demand unconditional surrender.  Travis replies with a second cannon shot from the big gun.  The Mexicans unlimber a few light artillery pieces and reply.

  Mexican Army units continue to march in and defenders filter into the fort through the night.

  It's Tuesday, February 23rd, 1836.

  Update:  Santa Anna and his army crossed the Rio Grande at Laredo in 15 inches of snow in the middle of a harsh journey.  Several troopers-recruits from tropical Yucatan, died of exposure.  Commanches raided the army all the way up scalping a number of soldiers and stealing supplies cached ahead.  The wagons were driven by contract drivers who operated independently causing many delays.  A large contingent of the soldiers families trailed the army along with various camp followers. 

  Update II:  Dr. Sutherland's horse slipped and fell on him in the mud coming back from spotting the Mexican Cavalry.  The fall injured his knee and broke his rifle in half at the breech.  Travis sends him and John Smith on to Gonzales, (90 miles East) to spread the word.

Update III:  The Esparza family decides to go into the Alamo and arrives at dark.  All the gates are barred.  The father, Enrique has brought chairs and they climb up one by one, (over a cannon) and enter through a high window in the back of the chapel.  

Update IV:  Around midnight Texicans, who know every back alley and outhouse in town, steal six mules and capture a soldato.

Friday, February 22, 2013


  Today and this evening in San Antonio, 177 years ago, the Texican rebels holding San Antonio threw a big fandango, (drunk and dance) celebrating the birthday of George Washington.  Most of the rebels were staying in San Antonio and few in the Alamo Mission itself.  By all accounts it was a hell of a party.  Crockett, Travis, Bowie and lots of folks from distant places who had come to Texas on the rumors of war.

  San Antonio was the biggest and one of the oldest towns in Texas, very exotic and unusual.  To the North and West were the indian tribes and buffalo.  To the south the gulf and plains rolling toward Mexico.  For folks from the East it must have seemed strange and erotic.

  Santa Anna had dispatched a cavalry unit to attack the town in the early hours of the 23rd, but rain, muddy roads and a swollen Medina River held them up.  They would have caught the Texicans sleeping off a night of drinking, eating and dancing.

  The next day there was a rumor that Santa Anna himself attended the fandango to spy on the rebels.

 It was a Monday, in 1836.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ansel Adams, Cedrick Wright, Virginia Best and others climb Diving Board in Yosemite.

Pretty interesting piece of film.  The Diving Board is right next to the face of Half Dome.  Seldom visited.  They went up the Grizzly Peak gully to start and then to the left along the skyline.  April.  Pretty wild scrambling in the snow.

  I've seen a longer version of this once at the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite.  Chris Johnson and I have been there twice and tried to get up their route.  All three times were overnighters and once we didn't make it, nearly freezing to death without overnight plans or a match to make a fire.  Water is a problem that high, if you don't know where to look for it.  Ansel was only there twice, this trip and once before.  It's a spectacular spot.

Just before dawn.

Sunset with the shadow of North Dome.

Polaroid negative of Ansel Adams in Yosemite, 1974.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Clean Pistol

  My old S&W K22 is really a PRE-K22 it seems.  Might be 1941 model.  Old and beat up.  Jackson put the good cleaning on it and it runs like a champ.  Had gotten a little waxy and greasy in there.  Nothing worse than .22 ammo for gunk.

  It had a nice little workout the other day when I took two women shooting.  There isn't anyone who doesn't enjoy shooting this pistol so far.  Its a gunbroker replacement for the one dad had.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Welcome to Blackfork

Thanks to Sayuncle, I'm having a big hit day.  Welcome to Blackfork.  In general I make my own content, though I do link stuff that I'm interested in now and then: cavemen, dead folks, mass extinction.  Hope you will bookmark me and check back now and then.
  Every year I blog the battle of the Alamo.  That's about to commence.  I have another blog over at Robert Langham, which is mostly concerned with photography.  Youtube Channel is: Blackfork 6.  Lotta Highpower Rifle shooting going on over there plus large format photography and deerskull boiling.  Enjoy and thanks for coming by!

Last doe tags of 2012-3.

  The Good Doctor and I wanted to make one last run to Clarksville to try and down a few more does.  The Managed Land Permits are good until the end of the month but my schedule is shot after this weekend.  Saturday morning we rolled north in 52 degree weather and cloudy skies in Sneeds Explorer.

1903A4 Springfield 30-06.

  I was packing my new, 100-year-old Swede Carbine in 6.5X55 and Justin Burns gorgeous 1903 scoped Springfield 1903A4 that he built for the Sniper Match at Camp Perry.  (Burns is in London making money for a few years so I'm entertaining his rifle.)  I haven't killed a deer with the gun though it has made the trip before.  Just got the Swede out of an estate after years of wanting one.

Big Oak near the tower with powerline crossing the background.  Tower to left and South, feeder to right and North up the powerline.

  When we got to the camp house at the ranch I turned on the water, the heat, the hot water and sat down to shoot a couple rounds out of each rifle.  They were both close enough to kill deer with so off we went as it began to sprinkle.  When I got to my tower the skies were darkening and beginning to rumble.  Tower is snug so I was willing to sit out a storm.  Carried the 1903 full of HXP Greek CMP FMJs from 1972.  If they are good enough to shoot commies off the acropolis they are good enough to zap a few doetags.  The rain began to beat a little tune on the aluminum roof as I watched the treeline and ate various snacky stuff out of my range bag.  Little dill pickles.  Apricots.  A pecan spinner.  Old fritos.  At 4:50 five does started crossing my back window that covers a powerline and after looking them over with binocs and picking out a likely victim I slid the plexiglass back and eased the Springfield out.  The old scope isn't that sharp but you can see the post clearly.  Nothing to the shot.  Had a pretty good relaxed sitting natural point of aim with my back against the wall and was resting the rifle on the window sill.  Justin has a nice trigger on this old rifle so I held the sight picture and got the trigger started.  All the noise would be outside the little window and when you are actually shooting at a live target there isn't any recoil.  I had to hold up just a few seconds while another doe crossed behind the one I had squared up for a shoulder shot.  As soon as she was clear the trigger broke, my deer spun and went in the woodline followed by another right behind her.  The last straggler followed a few seconds after and then the scene was empty except for rain and some wet woods.

  I looked at my iphone.  4:53 PM.

Justin Burn's rifle in the tower.  Tape on the triggerguard is from being weighed for trigger pull at Camp Perry.

  At 5:03 I opened the door and went down the ladder, leaving the rifle and everything else in the tower.  No point in having to dry out Justin's gun.  I'd noted where the doe was when the shot broke, and exactly where she went into the woods.  I headed for the shooting spot and found deep hoofprints.  I turned and followed them into the woods expecting any moment to pick up a nice bright blood trail or see a white belly shining.  Nothing.  I'm a very good tracker and blood trail guy, even in dim light.  The light was pretty good and the rain light, but after 45 minutes of searching I couldn't find a thing.  No blood.  No more prints after the first few.  No hair cut by a bullet.  No bullet gouge uprange.  No blown out tissue off what looked to be a standard 60-yard broadside shot.  I'd held low, (but not off the body), knowing that the bullet would be above the post a bit.

  I got BACK in the tower, looked things over and then got back down.  Never found one clue.  Was soaked through the jacket by the time I gave it up in the dusk and headed home.

Pretty impressionistic by the time I drove back to the ranch house.

The good doctor and I gave it one more look the next morning, really sweeping the place after the  The rain would have taken all the sign but we were looking for a body or buzzards or some combination thereof.  Not a thing.

  Home emptyhanded. No deer is ever wasted: Coyotes have to eat but that's the end of deerhunting for 2012-13 season.

Next year's rifles:  An Arisaka 7.7 and a Swede Carbine.  I've shot deer with an Arisaka T44 in 6.5X50 and with a Swede M38 but not with these two.  Plus, if Justin doesn't get transfered back, there's the 1903.

Friday, February 8, 2013

New Shooters.

Glock 19 9mm.  Standard pistol that anyone ought to be able to operate.

  Thursday, I took two women to the range to do a little pistol intro class before they went to a CHL session early next month. I had texted them the 4 rules to gun safety and told them they had to memorize them before beginning.   The day before they had made a run around town to pick up targets and bullets and make teenaged salesmen show them Glock 19s but there was no 9mm or .38 Special at Walmart, Academy, Porters or Gander Mountain of Geese.   And no Glock 19s.  Amazing.  This is Texas.  As one of them said: this wasn't an ordinary shopping run.  Crazy times.

   First stop was at Dairy Queen to talk a little firearm safety and politics, plus Texas and Federal gun law then out to the main pistol pit at 31 West Range.  They had both shot pistols and shotguns, hunted deer and birds and one of them owned not one, but two pistols, (both girl-guns someone had gotten her: a Smith & Wesson airweight with lazer grips and a Walther PPK in .380.)  We shot the Smith and Wesson K22 and a Colt Diamondback in .38 Special, then my venerable Ruger Mk I target model and a Glock 19. They shot groups, worked on technique and had me talking front sight, trigger and natural point of aim whiel they knocked over some steel men.  For the final I ran them through the CHL qual course with the .22s.  They both shot perfect scores.  I think they have actually decided to skip the CHL, due to the fact that they can put pistols in their consoles in their cars and spend more money on pistols and shooting.  It was very empowering few hours.

  The owner of the airweight decided to relegate it to strictly car duty.  We shot it, the lazer worked about half the time and the grip was painful.  Jumpy pistol with .38 cal.  .45 would shoot smoother.  Hard to keep it on target with the awful trigger pull.

  I worked so constantly that I forgot to take even one picture.  We had a great time.  This is what the political elite has always hated: armed citizens who love their arms.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Dead Kings. Old ones.

  English King Richard III found in a parking lot.  Glad to have him where he is known.

  Last English King to be killed on a battlefield in 1485.  He just missed the discovery of New World.  Body brought back strapped over a packhorse with the head bashed in and an arrow in the back.  Last English King to die in battle.  Laid to rest in a little church.  Church leveled later.  Parking lot built.  Just found recently.  Traced and I.D.ed by DNA match.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Panola in February

The weather was spectacular for a February match.  Cloudless and 48 in the morning with very little wind.  As we shot our way back through the 50-shot course of fire the wind picked up a bit, coming over the pit berm and straight up the range.  The mirage at 600 was tricky and switching but didn't have much value.  30+ folks shooting with some great scores.  Justin Utley shot a 495X18 with Service Rifle.

  I shot my match rifle- an AR Spacegun in .223 for the last time this Spring.  Nice bright sunlight so I turned the back aperture down to sharpen up the sight picture.  Had it about as small as I ever have.  Struggled with the first 10 shots at 600 and ruined a good score.  484X14 overall.  Really fun rifle to shoot. It's very well behaved.  Shot Berger 82s at 600.

Karl Schultz and Clay Hefner in the pits putting a 300 yard target face on.

Keith Stephens gluing a target face.

Hefner and Utley in the pits.

John Rhynard and Randy Nash talk it over in the pits.  John cleaned 600 with 10Xs.

Utley.  Laid back.  With his mind on his money.

Mitchell Hogg at 600.

Space-gunning at 600.  Ended with a 484X14.

Mitchell Hogg doing some paperwork.

600 yard berm with Rusty Hogg on this end.

Our favorite Emily Hogg at 600.

The elk-murdering David Keys getting ready to go to his happy place.

Post-match at the Jalapeno Tree.

Several new folks, all welcome.  Most folks shooting those evil black rifles that make politicians cry.  Nobody hurt or killed and no bullets left the range.  I just iphoned it, no real camera but very easy shooting.  Great day to be a Texan.