Friday, March 27, 2009

Another one of my hobbies . . .

Over the years I have tried lots of different hobbies. Hunting, fishing, archery, golf, gun dog training, taxidermy, working on cars, playing the fiddle, gardening, bull riding . . . . just to name a few. Some of those I still enjoy today while others I got too frustrated with, or they just became too derned expensive (or were life threatening), and I either gave them up or just lost interest. One hobby that I have always really enjoyed is drawing. When I was in junior high and high school I was always drawing pictures of baseball players or of classic cars. If I found a really neat picture in a magazine I would try to copy it onto paper with pencil. Back then I had a whole lot more time to devote to that hobby than I do now. My job, family and other hobbies take up the majority of my time, and it seems like I never can find a peaceful minute to just sit and draw. But, it is something I think I want to try to make time for. I was inspired to post this after reading my friend Keelie's blog, who happens to be an art teacher.

I like to draw with just a plain ol' pencil, but my favorite type of artistic medium is the colored pencil. They have such vibrant color and can really make the image you are drawing jump off the page. I tried to resurrect this hobby a little over a year ago when I purchased a really nice 48-pencil set of Prismacolor colored pencils, which aren't cheap. My problem is I can't seem to complete the pictures I start. I usually get sidetracked along the way. Having two children in the house under the age of 5 can do that to you. I am also really bad about starting a new picture before finishing the current one I am working on. I have three sketch pads that each contain unfinished pictures. I draw really slow, so finishing a picture could take several days or weeks even if I worked on it in my spare time every day.

Over the last several years, my fascination with the outdoors has led me to try my hand at wildlife scenes. Here is one I actually found time to complete a few years ago - I noticed the date I put on it was 2003, which is pre-parenthood.

Here is the reference pic, which I think I found in the Texas Parks & Wildlife Outdoor Annual . . .

. . . and here is the finished product.

Here is one of my most recent unfinished sketches. I found a neat picture of a mallard duck and thought I would try to copy it onto paper with colored pencil.
Here is the reference photo . . .

. . . and here is what I have so far.

I am ashamed to say that I haven't touched this one in about a year. My goal is to finish this picture before I start a new one. Hopefully I can periodically post updates to show you my progress.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Workday at the Hunting Lease '09

Saturday we had our semi-annual workday at the lease. We had two main items on the agenda: 1)finish painting the bunkhouse, and 2)install some sheet metal on our free-choice protein feeder to keep the raccoons from stealing the feed.

When my dad and I arrived late Friday evening, Lee had already taken care of the chore of mowing the yard at the bunkhouse. Also, he and Rusty had already done most of the painting that was left to finish the bunkhouse. So, there was only a little bit of painting left for me, my dad and Chris.

The first thing we did Saturday morning was tackle the raccoon/feeder problem. Here are a few pictures of the problem I am referring to.

These raccoons are climbing up the built-in ladder to the platform at the top of the feeder. Then they do some acrobatics over the edge of the platform and climb down the feeder tube to their final destination - the flat spot on top of the feed ports.

Before I get anybody who has an agenda against feeders riled up, let me explain something. This feeder isn't your typical corn slinger with a timer that is used to bait deer. This feeder is placed in the center of an area that is approximately 65 acres in size that we have designated as a "deer sanctuary". There is no deer hunting allowed inside this 65 acres. This is a free-choice style feeder that contains a supplemental feed which contains 18% protein. Providing this higher protein feed serves several purposes: 1) it produces healthier, bigger animals, 2) it aides in fawn development by providing optimum nutrition for lactating does, and 3) it produces larger-antlered bucks, just to name a few. This type of feed is rather expensive, so all six of us contribute an equal amount to maintain this feeder.

So, we need some type of hindrance to keep the coons from being able to just sit on top of the feed ports. We need to make it hard for them to access the feed. Our answer (we hope) is a steep, sheet metal cone surrounding the feed tube. Also, we need to be able to keep them from climbing the ladder. Our answer (we hope) is a flat piece of sheet metal covering the rungs of the ladder with sharp, jagged edges on the ends. Here is the feeder after the alterations.

The next thing we accomplished was to clear some of the trails we use to get to our hunting locations. Even though we were only armed with chain saws, weed-eaters, loppers, and a push mower, I was impressed with how quickly we got these trails cleaned up.

For lunch we had Mexican food at Cotton's over in Bryson.

Then we went back to the bunkhouse and finished the painting of the outside of the house and Rusty put some new door hardware on the doors of the house for us.

Saturday evening Rusty, my dad and I climbed to the top of Tater Hill to take in the sunset and get some pictures. Tater Hill is a unique topographic feature on the property that is a couple hundred feet high and offers some spectacular views.

Here are a few more pictures from the weekend:

A scorpion on top of Tater Hill

Three different kinds of cactus

Chris and Lee getting a chain saw ready
My dad and Rusty working on the trails

A group of turkeys about a mile down the road from where we hunt (2 longbeards and about a dozen hens)

Some deer pics

I appreciate everybody's hard work. Next up, spring turkey season begins April 4th.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Back On Topic

I've been a little off-topic on my last few posts. Let's get back to the foundation of "Rob's Hunting Journal".

I've always been a fan of fine shotguns, although I've never had the funds to purchase a really nice one. I've admired them in magazines, on the internet, and in person inside the Cabela's Gun Library. I'm not talking about the ones you see behind the counter at the Wal-Mart sporting goods or even behind the "regular" gun counter at Cabela's. I'm talking about the ones they have locked up in glass cases that you have to make an appointment to purchase.

I'm especially fond of the over/under shotguns used for upland game hunting. They are a thing of beauty, especially when they are embellished with some custom engraving on the receiver and the stock and forend are made of exotic wood. I found one on the internet this evening that looks exactly like what I would want my custom shotgun to look like.

This is a custom Krieghoff K-80 Sporter with game scenes engraved on both sides. The right side features an English Pointer bird dog with a flushing covey of bob-white quail. The left side depicts another English Pointer with a pair of pheasants flushing. It features a high grade wood with a beautiful, dark grain. Price tag: $22,000.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Our First Seven Years

In one week, Steph and I will celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary. We were married on March 16, 2002. I can't say I've been the best husband over the past seven years, but I can say I've been a blessed husband over those seven years. Steph, thank you for being a wonderful wife and loving mother. I love you!

Here are a few pictures from along the way:
Engagement & Wedding

Before the Girls

Getting our picture made with "The Boys from Oklahoma" - Cross Canadian Ragweed (I think Steph threw away my blue shirt with the roses embroidered on it because I can't find it anywhere. Shirts like that never go out of style!)

Katy's Arrival

Young Parents

At a Ranger's Game

A Couple Years Ago

Keelie's Birth

The Joys of Our Lives

Thanks for the memories and I hope there are many more yet to come!