Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It’s Over, It’s Begun


I’m sure that all five of the loyal readers of The Briary River Way have noticed the absence of the Buckman the past few months. My last few blog attempts have been dismal at best. My last blog was very bleak. Then there was the blog that was written, but never posted (it wasn’t that good anyway). My last attempt at writing a blog was started several times, but I never could quite figure out how to end it, so I just stopped trying. Well, I’m sorry, but football season is a very grueling time for a coach. (I don’t know what Joe’s problem has been!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Water Glorious Water

Well again it has been a while but I think it is about time to get started back up hard and heavy.  Last week Buckman and myself walked out to check the pond and we have water in it.  Now it is only a little water but with it being as bad as it was, this is a vast improvement. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A little to good.

First off let me apologize for not posting in a long time.  It’s a little crazy right now and I have not been having a lot of time.  Buckman is still trying for the State Championship so he is also a little preoccupied. 

Even with all of this going on we did make it out to the pond last Saturday to check the water levels and all I can say is…    Oops

Sunday, October 2, 2011

First Deer of the year… Or several for that matter.

Well Last week Buckman broke his curse and killed a good 7 point.  Saturday morning I followed suit. 
Its hard to see but there is an 8th point

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Weather is Fine

The past couple weeks the weather has been perfect. The nights have been cool, the mornings brisk, and the day time temperatures have lingered around that point where you wonder if you need something more than a t-shirt. It’s the perfect weather for a sportsman. Deer season opened here September first. With any luck the weather will stay this way. The water temperature will start dropping, the fish will start biting and once again be good to eat. All of this is fine except…. I am a teacher and a football coach. This time of year, this most wonderful time of year for sportsmen, is all consumed by football. Sunday through Friday teaching and coaching eat up my day light hours.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Eyes for Perfection

I guess you know by now that I am a football coach. I am the offensive line coach for a Class 1A school here in South Carolina. Being a coach at a small school, you have to wear many hats. I also work with the defensive line. During the week, I help to keep and prepare the grounds. On the sideline I help the head coach direct the running game. I also double as the trainer.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Food Plots

Deer season is here.  Well for most of us it is here.  I could have been hunting since August 15 but lets face it is just too hot for that.  However we did get the food plots planted. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hunters Responsibilities

When we think about, it as hunters we have many responsibilities.  We have a responsibility to the land, the animals, and nature itself.  How ever I want to talk about another very important responsibility that we rarely talk about.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Christmas Eve Rice Rocket

It is a Briary River tradition to hunt the Beaver Pond on Christmas Eve. We have done it for years. Most of the guys here will tell you, Bo dictates where I shoot ducks, in one way or another he picks the blind. The first year he hunted with me he was too small to go to the blind, so I pulled my truck up in the corner of my yard and let him sit in the truck while I shot ducks outside the truck in my yard. He didn’t have a choice about hunting with me most mornings, you see, Saturday morning was usually the only morning I had to hunt, and his Mama works on Saturday, so Bo had to hunt with me, that’s just all there was too it. Then there were the special mornings when I was off for Christmas break when his Mama didn’t have to work. On those mornings I got to hunt the pond.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hunting the Swamp

Years ago I was a member of a local deer driving club. Most of the members were family. Many family members joined the club because our family had hunted there for so long, even though they didn’t hunt very often. It was a great club. Between the land my family owned and what we leased from timber companies, we had more than four thousand acres to hunt. The time we all spent hunting there was great fun.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to work.

As most of you know we are mostly teachers.  Well its that time of year again, school as begun.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Country Store

I stopped by the grocery store this afternoon to buy some dog food. I usually don’t buy dog food from the grocery store, the dog food you find there is expensive and of poor quality, but when I slack off and manage to run out of food on a Sunday I have little choice. It seems that the dogs would rather get expensive poor quality dog food from the grocery store than have nothing to eat at all.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bo’s Adventures

I remember when I was young. I remember riding ton tons across the ice world of Hoth and fighting with blasters side by side with Han Solo. I remember being Luke Duke and arguing with my cousin Andy (Bo Duke) over who could drive the General better. I never remember having hunting adventures. I guess I did. Of course Andy and I were constantly stalking the ditch banks and pecan orchard that was our Nanny’s yard. We played football one on one. These were memories put on reserve in the back of my mind. Almost forgotten, never remembered, until…..

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Clubhouse Roof

This week we at Briary River had to replace the roof on the clubhouse.  The metal has been in for over a week but we have not been able to work on it due to rain and other things. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Last Days of Summer

Last week I alluded to the fact that summer was drawing to an end for me. Last Monday Joe, Coach, Bo and I took the day to take the dogs up to the H. Cooper Black Memorial Field Trial and Recreation area in Chesterfield County. This is a public facility run by the state of South Carolina Parks service. It is set up for dog and horse events.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

The First Deer

First I would like to say that I am sorry for not posting in a while.  I don’t want to make excuses but I just was not feeling it the last couple of weeks.  Now I'm back. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Beginnings, Heat, and Drought


It seems as though we missed a blog this week. It’s not Joe’s fault, it was my turn to write, I was out of town and hadn’t left him anything to put up. I was at football camp. Yes, it seems as though summer is almost over for me. You see, with the exception of Joe, who was a high school quarterback (Yes, I know it is hard to believe that Joe was a football player at one time, don’t tell him I told you, but his team sucked.), the rest of us guys here at Briary River are or were high school football coaches. Summer passing league camp brings the end of summer break, as it comes right before the start of football season. Practice will start Friday.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hunting the Swamp

Years ago I was a member of a local deer driving club. Most of the members were family. Many family members joined the club because our family had hunted there for so long, even though they didn’t hunt very often. It was a great club. Between the land my family owned and what we leased from timber companies, we had more than four thousand acres to hunt. The time we all spent hunting there was great fun.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I was in fourth grade. Someone stole my blue booksack. Someone said they had seen Mike with it. I didn’t know Mike all that well. Parents were brought in and talked to. It was clear that it wasn’t Mike who had done it. It was probably the person that had blamed him. That has been so long ago now I don’t even remember who that was, but I felt so bad about blaming an innocent guy that I tried to make it up to him by being his buddy. That was a rocky start for a good friendship that lasted nearly three decades.

I remember our middle school days. In the winter Mike wore a blue quilted vest with a Rolling Stones logo sewn on the chest. I still remember him coming down the hall beside the gym wearing that vest. Funny the things you remember.

Throughout high school we hunted together. My father taught the Carpentry class at the vocational center. Mike took his class. Mike helped build the walls to my father’s shop and the house they are living in now. He got some of his students to come out to the house we were living in at the time and build the trusses for the new shop. Daddy had cut out the pattern pieces to the trusses. We would put them together, they would put plywood gussets on them, I would shoot them in place with an air hammer then we would load the trusses on a truck. I was inside shooting gussets on and some of the guys outside saw a flock of ducks and they yelled out, “ducks.” I took off to see the ducks, air hammer still in hand. The hose wasn’t long enough. When I reached the end of the hose I had gained a rather good amount of momentum. That air hammer took my feet from under me and I landed flat on my back on the concrete. That was over twenty years ago. Mike still liked to remind me of that and laugh at me.

Mike hunted Briary River with me before any of the other guys. Mike was hunting the corner of the field one morning. I was hunting by the gum trees that I still love. Mike was never any good with a shotgun. Bless his soul, he was my buddy, but that was the truth. He shot and yelled “duck.” I turned my head to try to get a shot on the duck I knew he missed. I didn’t realize he was telling me to duck. I never saw the bird as it passed within inches of my head, but I heard it hit at my feet. It was a beautiful wood duck drake, and Mike couldn’t have been prouder of a bird. He had that bird mounted.

Then there is the now famous doe day incident. He took me still hunting with him one time. I was in college, we were still young. Mike’s daddy had missed a big buck there the week before. Mike was hunting for that buck. Now Mike may not have been good with a shotgun, but he could shoot a rifle. A doe and a yearling entered the field. Mike was waiting for the buck, but it was a doe day, and eventually the trigger itch got the best of him. He shot the doe down. Then it happened, the buck got up and took off across the bean field running wide open. Mike shot until he shot him down. Then he started calling for me. The doe was trying to go again and he had shot out of cartridges. I took him my rifle and he finished her off. Then his nerves got to him. The buck was down in the bean field and he didn’t know where he was. I calmed him down and then started looking for the buck. I found him, but it wasn’t the buck, it was the yearling. In all the excitement that yearling grew horns running across that field. Then I asked the question that Mike did so love to pick on me about, I said, “Mike, it is a doe day isn’t it?”

Mike tragically died in an automobile accident this afternoon. I’m glad I knew Mike well enough to know that he knew the Lord, and though we will miss him, he wouldn’t come back now if he could. Mike was only 38. When he woke up this morning he didn’t know his time would come today. I know when my time comes I will meet up with my old friend again. If you haven’t made arrangements already, how about get right so you can meet with us. Jesus died for us all, there’s really no need for anyone to miss out on the reunion.

Mike, when the hunts are over this season, or when we are at the fox pen around the fire barrel, and the old stories are being told, you will be missed.

I can see you now in heaven, clasping your hands and grinning. Mikey likes it.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Y’all are playing what?

Here at Briary River we try to get together as often as possible to play cards.  Normally during the school year it is every other Saturday night.  However during the summer it could be as often as two or three nights a week since three of us are teachers and the twins sort of have their own business and it is a little slow right now. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hunting the Swamp

Years ago I was a member of a local deer driving club. Most of the members were family. Many family members joined the club because our family had hunted there for so long, even though they didn’t hunt very often. It was a great club. Between the land my family owned and what we leased from timber companies, we had more than four thousand acres to hunt. The time we all spent hunting there was great fun.

Monday, June 27, 2011


They are big.  They are slow.  And for some reason I can not seem to kill one. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Great Hunting Guns

When I think back to all the years I have hunted there are a lot of good memories there. Memories, mostly of people, places, and dogs, that have been a part of my hunting past. Also embedded in my memory are the guns that I have been lucky enough to own and hunt with. These are not the fancy high dollar guns that you see in the hands of big name hunters on TV shows, they are the common guns owned by a common man.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers Day

We here at Briary River would like to say thank you to our dads and to all the dads out there that are teaching or have taught their children a love for the outdoors.


Driving the tractor with Papa (My dad)


Thursday, June 16, 2011


Being a teacher and coach I live through cycles all the time. We are at a time in the year when most teachers are taking a break, but not me. I had the weight room last week, and I have it this week as well, that takes away a half a day every day I have it. Top that with the fact that I got chosen to participate in curriculum updates this summer, and I have been working all week this week, and you may understand why I have had trouble finding a topic to write on.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cheap Vs. Expensive

tFor some reason it has been decided that for hunting equipment to be good it must be expensive.  Well I beg to differ. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sporting Clays at Springrove

Saturday June 4th was my birthday. So in celebration of me getting older the guys and I returned to Springrove Preserve for a round of sporting clays. It was a great day.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Monkey

Today Buckman and I are going to try something different.  We are releasing two blogs together on the same subject at the same time.  We are doing this to give you both sides of the situation.  Let us know what you think.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

For the Good of the Child

My six year old son Bo was expecting to go fishing Saturday. He had been good all week long in school. He said I had promised to take him fishing if he was good in school that week. I remember no such promise, but it didn’t take much to convince me to take my son fishing regardless.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Reducing our Dependency on Foreign Oil


You may feel this is a stretch. How can I link our dependency on foreign oil with duck hunting? The truth is that everything we do today is tied to the use of oil. This means that the price of oil affects every aspect of our lives. When the price of crude oil spikes like it has in recent weeks, it drives the price of everything up. If you haven’t noticed this means more than the price of gas and shotgun shells, but also more important things, like groceries. If you do not have a family this may not mean much to you, but as a father of two, this has a great impact on the amount of disposable income I have to spend on things like hunting and fishing..

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Craziness of the End of the Year

As you know most of us here at Briary River are teachers.  This is a crazy time for us.  We are winding things down, kids are ready to be out of school, and so are we. But the end of the year means paper work, and spring practice for Buckman and Bernie.  As you may have noticed the blogs have been a little sporadic lately.  We want to apologize for this.   As soon as everything gets settled down we will be back to our Sunday Wednesday schedule. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Buying American Made


Buying American made products is absolutely crucial to stabilizing the American economy. Buying American made products is becoming harder to do as most products available in the marketplace today were produced in other nations. There are a combination of factors in play that are adding up to fewer American made products being available for sale.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Power of the Consumer

As an American I am afraid that we have forgotten the fundamental idea behind the capitalistic economy established by our founding fathers. I am afraid that we have forgotten the power we hold as consumers.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why is it that as soon as I decide to go Turkey hunting there are no turkeys to be found.


I know it is a little late for turkey season.  But With PASS testing going on I am brain dead and this was all that I could think of to write about. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Ultimate Hunt, Now Over

This was not a pleasure hunt. It was not a hunt we asked for. And it was certainly not something we wanted. But after the attacks of 9-11, the hunt for Osama bin Laden was certainly something that stayed on the minds of most Americans. After nearly ten years many people began to doubt that we would ever end the hunt for Bin Laden. Well, let this be a lesson for you. If the CIA turns loose the American hounds on you, it’s only a matter of time before they track you down. And then…

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hunting Fiascos

Over the years I have learned that the greatest part about duck hunting the way we do it is the fellowship memories and the stories.  There are many great stories that go along with every hunting party.  If for some reason your group does not have a story then either y'all have not been together very long or y'all are just plain boring. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Quail Fry


On Saturday April 30, all of the guys that shot birds at Springrove got together with our families for a quail fry. It was a great time of fellowship. We met at Bernie’s house. Bernie fried the quail and some French fries. Joe cooked cobbler and cornbread in the Dutch ovens. Mickie cooked a pot of grits. I helped out wherever needed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

He Thought He Could Walk On Water

He just did not have the faith.

Let me first explain that we all have our fears.  Mine is spiders and most of the guys here at Briary River are terrified of snakes.  I respect snakes but I am not afraid of them. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Between Seasons Drag

I noticed a couple weeks ago that the between seasons drag was back. It never fails. We have all kinds of big plans for what needs to be done. After duck season ends Joe is always gung ho about getting everything done right then. After a couple weeks that passion fades and the amount of things getting done slows down. This year it took the slow down a little longer to start. The excitement of starting something new pushed up a little farther than normal.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Duck Pond Etiquette

There are rules and etiquette to hunting anywhere.  A beaver pond is no exception.  In fact private land is where they are the most important because it can cost you your hunting buddies


We all know the guy.  The one no one wants to hunt with because he is a pain in

the butt.  He always wants the best blind, he always takes the wrong shots, and he kills every bird he points his gun at (or at least he thinks he does).  Well this is your chance to not be “That Guy”.

Sunday, April 17, 2011



Owning a retriever is not something that suits all hunters. Well trained retrievers are expensive. However, it is possible to train your own retriever. If you have a job and a family, it’s tough to train you own retriever. Having a retriever that won’t embarrass you in the field takes a lot of time. Time is something you may be short of if you have a job and family. But if you are short on cash and want to have a retriever to find all those birds downed in tough spots, training your own retriever may be your only option.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Perfect Season

You always hear of the perfect storm, the storm that happens when God decides to line everything up perfectly to show you a glimpse of his awesome power. Hunters are always searching for a perfect season, that season when God’s grace lines everything up for you perfectly, and you have an awesome season.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Food and Fellowship

I’ve hunted for as long as I can remember. As my brother so eloquently put, “It’s all I know, it’s in my soul.” What I’ve noticed the most over the past ten years is how the things I enjoy most about hunting have changed. Years ago it was the thrill of the hunt itself that I most enjoyed. However, over the past few years it has been the fellowship of the hunt that I find I enjoy the most.

The beauty of enjoying fellowship is that it does not have to end with hunting season. We have found through the years that food brings fellowship. In our area sportsmen have certain signature foods that they cook. We get together throughout the year and cook. We enjoy cooking the local sportsmen’s foods, and we have also added a few new things to the line up of things that we cook.

Here are the things that you can expect to learn how to cook if you keep up with our blog:

Purlow: A food found almost exclusively in the Pee Dee area of South Carolina. It is a rice dish not to be confused with chicken-and-rice or chicken bog.

Bar-B-Que: If I make you mad, then so be it. If it ain’t red, then it ain’t Bar-B-Que. If you base your sauce with anything but vinegar, it’s sacrilege. That’s just the way it is around here. I’m not saying that there is nothing else cooked on a grill that is good to eat, but I am saying that I wouldn’t call it Bar-B-Que.

Low Country Boil: This can be called by several other names, like Frogmore Stew. This combination of shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes satisfies the seafood lover in you.

Dutch Oven Delights: We had never cooked with a Dutch oven until Joe introduced us to one last year. Nothing fosters fellowship like sitting around a fire on a cold night with the scent of cooking corn bread or cobbler lingering in the air.

All of these foods foster fellowship. Unlike duck hunting which can only be done during hunting season, you can cook year-round. Year-round fellowship, that’s the Briary River Way.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kids and hunting

Bo and Cindy after a hunt.
The sun was up the dogs were running (just not to us.) Daddy and I were sitting on the side of the middle road (a dirt road on the hunting club)and he was teaching me how to whittle.  We didn’t kill any thing that day, I don’t even remember if we even saw a deer that day but I was hunting and that was all that mattered.  This is one of the earliest clear memories I have of hunting.  And one that will stay with me for a long time.

I remember waking up, going into my parents room, waking my daddy to ask if it was time to go hunting.  I returned to my bed disappointed and tried to go back to sleep but the anticipation was killing me.  Being a young boy I was unable to tell time and it was only 12 o'clock (this was only one of many trips to their room that night to ask that question).  Some of the fondest memories of my childhood involved hunting with my daddy.  In fact it is still some of the fondest memories of now, and hopefully still to come.

I started hunting with my dad when I was just a little boy.  I could not have been much more than five, probably younger.  I learned many lessons there and created many memories.  I learned to sit still and listen (although I still struggle with that, ADHD and all) how to safely handle a gun, that you only kill what you are going to eat and much more.  These lessons helped shape me into the man that I am. 
To many kids hunting is a foreign idea to them.  Many of them will not learn to love spending time in nature.  Nor will they learn to respect nature and firearms the way we did.  From a very young age I knew what a gun was and what it was capable of doing.  I was not scared of it but I knew not to mess with it. Partially because I knew what my daddy would do if I did mess with it.  But he taught me to respect it.  This generation is enveloped with video games and computers.  The only thing they know about guns is what they see on Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. 

This is why we have to take the time and introduce hunting to kids.  Our sport is a dying one.  It is also the sport with the biggest target on its back.  Without kids learning to hunt and fish it will not last 50 more years.  Besides can you think of a better way to spend time with your kids than to take them hunting.  To be there and enjoy Gods creation with them.  To teach them the lessons they will carry throughout their lives.  To see the excitement on their faces when they see their first animal that they are hunting.  To witness their first kill.  In doing this both of you are making memories.
BO with Mallards from one of his first hunts.
It may not even be your child.  So many kids these days are growing up without fathers to take them hunting.  They have no one to tech them these lessons and show them how to enjoy nature.  And they so desperately need it.  Without this, they will grow up not knowing what we hold so dear.  And they very well could be the ones that grow up and try to take it away from us.  Or worse they could become the guy/gal in the tree not far from you who has no clue what he/she is doing, using their rifle scope as a set of binoculars to see what you are doing.

Over the years we have taken many kids hunting with us.  We have watched them grow from kids who have very little knowledge of the outdoors into true sportsmen.  They learned how to handle themselves and how to be safe.  Yes when we first take them hunting it means that we have to miss out on some of the action ourselves but it is worth it.  I would rather watch a kid kill a duck than to shoot one my self.  To see how their eyes light up and the pure awe on their face.  If you have never saw that then you do not know what you are missing.

Even if they are too young to hunt themselves they are amazed by what you do.  Buckman takes his son BO with us regularly.  Now BO is too young to shoot a gun on his on but he loves to watch his daddy shoot ducks.  In fact Buckman says that it is the only time you can get him out of bed without a fight.  And he is learning fast.  When we meet in the morning we ask him where he wants to sit.  He always answers “I want to sit at the fish pond, Daddy shoots better at the fish pond”.  He has also learned how to watch for ducks and that I am the resident duck caller ( I never said I was any good, I just got stuck with the job).  When he sees ducks, and with his young eyes it is usually before us he starts calling out “Blow Joe Blow”.  And at the end of the hunt he can always tell you who killed what.  Except for the green heads he normally claims those for himself.

As you may know, all of this started as us chronicling what we are doing to improve our duck pond.  What you may not know is why.  Yes we want to shoot more ducks.  But more importantly we want a place where our kids can learn to hunt ducks.  BO is already on his way to becoming a great duck hunter but we want to make sure that Bernie's girl Heyleigh and my daughter Molly as well as any other kid we pick up along the way has a place where they can learn to love the outdoors as much as we do.

I the end it does not matter what game you are chasing or what method you are using. All that matters is that we bring a new generation to the sport and make memories.  So take a kid hunting because if you don’t teach them, you never know who or what may.  That’s the Briary River Way.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The First Annual Briary River Boys Upland Bird Hunt

For years we have wanted to go on a hunt outside of our duck pond. We would like to go on an Arkansas duck hunt. Then of course there is my dream to shoot birds in Argentina. With almost all of us being teachers, we just don’t have the money to go on these hunts.

This year I went to the guys with the idea of hunting a quail preserve. This was our opportunity for a hunt after duck season was over. There are also preserves near enough by that we didn’t have to spend the night and at a price that was reasonable enough that we could afford it.

I did a quick search on the internet and found several preserves nearby. I compared the options available at each preserve, and their prices. I found a preserve that especially peaked my interest. Spring Grove Preserve near St. Stephen, South Carolina. Since Coach Taylor has a lot of contact in the St. Stephen area, I turned the number over to him so he could check the place out. Coach talked to several of his friends who live near St. Stephen. They all spoke highly of Spring Grove, so Coach got in contact with the owner to see what dates he had available. We ended up reserving the afternoon hunt on March 26.

A few weeks before our scheduled hunt we drove out to Spring Grove to check out the facilities. We found an exceptional clubhouse. Behind the clubhouse is a small pond. Sporting clay stations surround the pond and clubhouse. Everything was exceptionally nice.

The morning of March 26 was a cool morning. A nice change from the hot days we had been having. There was the promise of a great day of hunting ahead. Bernie, Joe, and I had planned to leave home by 9:30 am so that we could meet up with Coach Taylor in Kingstree by 10:00 am, in time to grab an early lunch before heading to Spring Grove for an early bird hunt.

As it is with most of our well laid plans, this plan was not meant to be. Joe like usual was running late. Bernie had to go get shells. Me, well, in a frenzy to try to get everything straight I locked my keys in my house. By the time we got everything together we didn’t have time to eat lunch with Coach, so we stopped by Hardee’s to grab a quick biscuit on the way to Kingstree. We finally got to Coach’s house around 11:30 am.

We reached Spring Grove shortly after 12:00 pm, well within time for our afternoon hunt. Upon our arrival we got all our paperwork straight. We then waited on the back porch where there are plenty of rocking chairs and even a porch swing. Bernie, Coach and I were entertained by Joe, who threw a tennis ball for Dexter, the friendly retriever who greets guests at Spring Grove, and Buddy, a young French Brittany Spaniel. For the next hour or so we enjoyed the back porch, the rocking chairs, the cool breeze, a lot of old stories and lies, and Spring Grove’s resident entertainers, Dexter and Buddy.

When the time came for the hunt we left the lodge and drove to the hunting grounds where we were introduced to our guide, Doug. None of us knew quite what to expect, we had never been on a hunt like this. After a short greeting Doug told us to get our vests, guns, and shells, and to get ready. Doug got a small French Brittany Spaniel from the truck and asked if we were loaded and ready to go. We loaded our guns and followed Doug into the well kept and thinned woods.

It only took a minute for the dog to point the first bird. Joe and Bernie pushed Coach and me to shoot first (not that it took much pushing). Doug showed us where to get, then he flushed the bird, which was a pheasant rooster. The bird flushed to my side, instinct took over, I made the shot, and my first pheasant fell to the ground. I rotated to the back and the other guys killed pheasant. When I made it back to the front, the pheasant never flushed to my side again, so I did not get to take another pheasant. Bernie and Joe each managed to get a clean kill on a pheasant, and the guys tag teamed three more.

We also got the opportunity to hunt chucker. Just like with the pheasant, I was up front when the first pair of chucker were flushed. I fired two shots from my 28 gauge side by side, putting both chucker on the dirt. At that point Doug, who did not know everyone’s name yet, pointed out, “Ya’ll better pick up the pace, the guy shooting the double is on a hot streak!” We ended up with twelve chucker. I killed five of the twelve.

Shooting coveys of quail was fast and furious. I lost count of how many quail I killed quickly, but we all had fun. I guess I was getting my fair share. At one point late in the hunt Doug, who knew us all by name now, pointed out that I certainly had shot in my gun. That was twice he pointed out my ability to take birds. I don’t remember him pointing that out about any of the other guys.

Doug is a great guide. He has a marvelous sense of humor he is also a wonderful story teller. At the beginning of the hunt you could tell that he wanted to figure out how precautious we were with guns. A pair or chucker flushed between Doug and Coach. You could see him cringe waiting for our reactions. You could also see his relief when everyone froze until the birds cleared. After a while you could tell, he figured out we were experienced gunmen, we understand that no bird I worth putting someone’s life in jeopardy, and he seemed to relax a little around us. In fact he would step in front of all of us to flush a bird.

What amazed me most about Doug was his ability to mark birds. When I mark a bird, if I take my eyes off it, I loose it. Doug would mark every bird we knocked down and still know where all of the singles went down. It was a real pleasure to have a guide like Doug.

Coach Taylor and Joe shot 12 gauge automatics. Bernie shot his 16 gauge automatic, while I, on a different note shot a 28 gauge side by side. Bernie and Coach shot high power 7 ½ s. Joe shot high power 6s. I shot field load 7 ½ s at the pheasant and chucker and field load 8s at the quail. When we go back next year I am going to try to find some high power 6s for the 28 gauge the shoot the pheasant and chucker and stay with the field load 8s or possibly 9s for the quail. I think a heavy field load in 6 or 7 ½ would be fine to shoot the big birds with a 12 gauge. The 12 gauge high power shells were too much shell for the quail. I think game load 8s or 9s would work well for quail in the 12 and 16 gauge guns.

All in all we had a lot of fun on our first upland bird hunt. We may not be able to afford to go to exotic places to hunt, but we were finally smart enough to figure out that we can stay close to home, take a hunt that we can afford, and still have fun, the Briary River Way.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

The BEAUTY of the Hunt.

“Why on earth do you go out there that early to hunt a duck”?  This is a question that I am often asked.  It is also a question that I have a hard time answering.  Not because I don’t have an answer, but because I don’t have an answer that they would understand.  Anyone who has never been out there does not know what they are missing. 

As Buckman has already said hunting is not all about the kill.  For me hunting is largely the beauty of nature, God’s creation.  Every morning of a hunt, the day starts out dark with a glimmer of light in the east.  The promise of a new day.  As the sky begins to lighten nature begins to awaken.  Birds begin to call and before my unworthy eyes a new day is born. 

As I watch the sky turns red then gold as the sun begins to reach the horizon.  While for most this is a quiet time before the beauty of the sun rises, for me this is when the fun begins.  Ducks begin to fly and call, the hunt is on.  As I said the hunt is only part of what I am there for but it is the backbone for all that I witness. 

Before you know it the sun is peaking up through the trees and the day is here.  We finish our hunt and gather to eat and talk about how we did.  This only last a few minutes but it is worth  getting up early in the cold to witness. 

There is simply something magical and spiritual about seeing a sunrise while you are on the water or in the woods.  Almost every morning I watch the sun rise as I ride to work but it is just not the same.  It is missing the luster that comes with seeing it while you are in nature. 

Granted, I could watch this on most any Saturday, but without the hunt it is hard to get up and get out.  I know what I am missing but cannot rouse myself to go see it.  If you have never experienced sunrise while you were part of nature then I strongly urge you to do so.  You will not be disappointed.  Thank goodness turkey season starts tomorrow.  Another excuse to visit God’s creation.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sportsmen: Conservationists

Sportsmen seem to stay under fire for their favorite pastimes.  People want to bash sportsmen for killing animals, but never want to take the time to give them credit for all the positive things they do.
     Sportsmen were the first conservationists.  A hundred years ago sportsmen like Teddy Roosevelt took the time to try to save some of the last wild places before they were swallowed up by industrialization and agriculture.  Because of Teddy Roosevelt we now have national parks for everyone to enjoy.
    Each year hunters spend millions of dollars on duck stamps.  They also donate millions of dollars to conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, Quail Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and the National Wild Turkey Federation.
        Sportsmen were the first group to realize that the wild lands and wild life they enjoyed were limited resources, and that if they wanted to continue to enjoy these resources, and wanted these resources to remain for the enjoyment of future generations, they must be protected.
     For this reason sportsmen started those organizations to protect the resources they love.  Unlike so many individuals and groups, sportsmen try to give more than they take.
    It is with this mindset that we work on Briary River.  It is our desire to improve at lest a little bit of habitat for wildlife.  Many more ducks benefit from the improved habitat than the few we kill.  Ducks are not the only wildlife that benefit.  Song birds, egrets and herons all benefit, as well as many other types of wildlife.
    True sportsmen realize that it is not how much you take away from the field that determines how successful you are, but rather how much you leave behind.  Here we want to leave more for our children than we found.  That’s the Briary River Way.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Busting the Dam

How do you plant in a beaver pond?  This is the question that we have been working on for several years now.  We decided right away that we needed to drain the pond first. This however, posed its own question,        HOW? 

 We knew that we had to bust the dam, but no one could decide on the best option.    Given that we are a bunch of guys and that most guys love to tear things up, we started getting some really interesting ideas.  The problems with these ideas were as diverse as the ideas themselves.  Trust me if we had followed some of them, I may not have been able to type this now due to lack of fingers or worse.  In the end we decided that the best way to do this was through good old fashioned elbow grease and sweat.  So last spring (after more debate than is seen in congress) we decided that it was time to start busting the dam.  

I am not sure where beavers get their degree in dam building but it is a doctorate(if beavers had built the levees in New Orleans and had access to concrete, they would have never broke).  We decided that hoes and axes would probably be the best thing for busting this.  Oh wait, we actually decided a backhoe would be best for this, but no one could figure out how to make it float.  Looking at a beaver dam is very deceiving.  All you see is mud.  That is easy enough, right.    Just dig the mud out to the side of the dam that the water is going to go on, WRONG.  That easy to move layer of mud is just the decoration of the dam.  Inside there is a mesh of sticks, logs, tree roots, and anything else that you would wonder; just how does a beaver manage to find this, much less pick it up?  Because of this were only able to tear out about 4-6 inches at a time.  We would go in a scrape chop dig and drag until the water started pouring over what we were doing until we could not see what we were chopping and pulling on.  At this point we would have to stop and wait a day or two (usually 4-5 but that was because we just could not get back out there) for the water to go down so we could see to work again.  Funny thing about beavers, they do not appreciate a bunch of guys putting holes in their dam.  Apparently since they do not duck hunt they do not see the importance of what we were doing.  Every time we went back they had refilled the holes.  The good news was that the water had dropped some in the amount of between us busting it and the beavers filling it back in.  Also, even though beavers a master builders it takes time for their work to be permanent.  When we came back all we had to do was pull all of sticks and branches out that the beavers had packed in, and them drag the fresh mud out.  Normally the water level would be at the bottom or slightly above the bottom of this new rebuild.  Then the fun of scraping, chopping, digging, and dragging would resume.

After doing this every chance we got in the spring (which was not as often as it should have been) we had the pond down to a decent level.  Then everyone got busy (My wife thought that the birth of my daughter took precedence, and I have to agree.) and we could not get out and keep it busted.  The beavers completely rebuilt the dam and the pond refilled.  However all of this was not in vain.  While the pond was drained some natural vegetation had a chance to take root and grow.  While this was not exactly what we were hoping to accomplish it was better than nothing.  The ducks came into natural vegetation and we had a better hunting season than we have had in many years.  

Well as soon as this year ended we decided that it was time to bust it again.  We had all summer, fall, and part of the winter to get some plans made and to come up with our best idea yet, THE BRIARY RIVER WAY (Visit us at and on YouTube at  ) .  We jumped in on the dam as soon as the season was over with.  I was expecting what we had to deal with last year, and expected to have it down by mid spring.  Luckily though when we started back where we were working last year, we found that it was a lot easier.  Also we decided to do something about the root of the problem, the beavers.  After lots of checking, double checking, and then checking again (like we have said we are not wealthy people and cannot afford a fine and let’s face it I am to pretty for jail.) we found that we were legal and put out conibear traps.  We managed to get the dam tore out in weeks instead of months.  We caught three beavers and the rest got smart.  I went yesterday and there is only small stream of water running through the pond, and the beavers are not going anywhere near those traps.  So now the pond is drying out some and we are getting ready to put a Clemson beaver pond leveler in.
 Don’t worry we will keep you updated.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Briary River Way

The Briary River Way

            What do duck hunters do in the off season?  Well, for us there is no off season.  Different seasons bring about different chores.  Some of them are fun, some are not so much fun.  Usually the fun stuff gets done, and the not-so-fun stuff gets pushed to the side.  Then comes hunting season, and the not-so-fun stuff that got put aside comes back to light.  It then either stays to the side or gets done during hunting season, either way it’s not good.
            After hunting season this year the cogs in my mind began turning.  What can we do to make the time between hunting seasons more fun?  The results of these cogs turning has become the Briary River Way.  It’s been lots of fun filming all that we have been doing over the past few weeks.  We haven’t shared much with you yet, but it’s coming!   We are learning as we go and trying to make what we do as fun for you as it is for us.
            We have been working on draining the beaver pond.  This is not nearly as much fun as hunting ducks, so you may wonder why we take the time.  We drained the pond last spring with the intention of planting something for a fall food source for ducks.  I don’t remember now if we ran out of funds or time, maybe both.  It really does not matter.  We didn’t get the pond planted.  Our work was not in vain though.  With the water down more native plants grew.  Some of these plants had seed heads.  Others simply provided cover for wood ducks.  We had more ducks roost in the pond than we’ve had in years.  Draining the pond for the summer was a good thing even though we didn’t manage to get it planted like we had planned.
            This year the pond was easier to drain.  We went back to the same spot we busted the dam last year and busted it there again this year.  We didn’t have to chop roots out with the ax like we did last year.  We have lots of exposed mud flats this year.  We are going to plant Japanese millet and rice on the mud flats.  We want to see what grows best and we also want to see if we can draw more ducks into the pond.  Just the chance of that makes it worth our time.
            Besides draining the beaver pond there are many things we do between hunting seasons.  There are more blinds to be built and placed.  There are dogs to train.  There are decoys to be repaired and livened up.  There are waders and boats to repair, paddles to make, and of course there are shooting skills to be maintained and improved.  That’s only what we do to hunt ducks.  We hunt other things as well and enjoy fishing from time to time.
            Come back by, check out what we are doing.  You may be able to give us some advice, or get a few tips yourself.  You may even get a few laughs as we work between seasons, the Briary River Way.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Who we are.

Here at Brairy River we are not professional hunters.  We are average guys who are trying to take what we have and turn it into something better.  It is a long process and we are taking our time.  We have full-time jobs and we have to work when we get a chance.

The main characters in The Briary River Way are Bucky (the boss) he is the head of Briary river since he has been there the longest and he started all of it.  Joe (I dont know what you would call me)  I am like the right hand man.  I help with 95 percent of the pond work and do most of the technical work. Bernie (Bucky's brother)  Bernie is our builder, he designs our blinds and adds comic relief.  Coach (the old man)  Coach is a great friend and mentor to the rest of us.  He always has some story or comment to put things into perspective.  Tracy (another of Bucky's brothers) Tracy is our camera man.  He also helps with alot of the pond work and is doing some of the editing work on the videos.  Casey (the last of the brothers but older than Tracy by less than 20 minutes)  Casey is our musician.  He wrote our theme song and he does a little of the pond work.  And last but not lease Bo (Buck's son)  while he is only 5 he has been with us since he was almost 3.  He  loves duck hunting and is learning fast.  There is also a few others but i will hold off on them until we are more certain of their roles.

We have had a lot of great times at Briary River and we find that the fellowship is one of the elements that makes our sport what it is.   When we are not giving advice and updating you on what we are doing on the pond we will share some of our stories that we think you would enjoy.

We are trying to create a habitat that will bring more ducks to our pond so we can have great hunts and our children will have a place to hunt.  While one goal is great hunting we also want a place for the ducks that survive to have a place to thrive and reproduce.    We will be sharing all of this with you and welcome any ideas, comments and advice that you may have for us.  Please follow along with us on our journey and have a few with us and occasionally at our expense.