May 5th, 2023 – Waiting For The Snow To Melt
Well, we are home from our last trip of the winter. This off season has been A LOT of fun, but it has been pretty busy and we are looking forward to being home now and getting back into a routine. And above all else, we are looking forward to getting back into camp and getting back to work. Between our trip to Cuba and Texas (end of March through early April) we got 3 heavy snow falls, all 8-12″ each. I believe that ended up being 50% or more of the accumulated snowfall for the winter, all piled into the end when we are hoping to see it start to melt. Fortunately while we were in Texas through the end of April, a lot of the snow here at home melted. But, of course that was followed by one last winter storm garnishing our lawns with close to another foot of snow, and closing the highways and delaying our arrival home from Texas by a day.
Since getting home about a week ago, the weather has warmed up quite a bit and all of that last snow storm has finally melted off. Here in town there is still quite a bit of snow in the bush and of course there are still piles around town from plowing. The smallest ponds are all open now and the bigger ponds and smaller lakes are beginning to look pretty sad, and the ice is pulling away from the shore. We haven’t been up north towards camp yet, but I have been in touch with Roger who has been in and out of Wintering Getaway, and he has informed us there is still quite a bit of snow on the road in places, and the lakes still have a fair amount of ice. He was hopeful we might be able to get all of the way into camp on Saturday, so tomorrow morning we are going to pack up some tools and see if we can get into camp. The forecast looks nice and warm over the next couple of weeks so I think we should see the ice and whatever snow is left melting off quickly. We are as excited and anxious as always to make that first drive into camp!
Texas was a busy trip but we did a lot of fun things! For a quick backstory, one of my best friends and fellow PLC guest Jake and his now wife Elizabeth, got married about an hour South of Austin in Canyon Lake. Since we would be going all the way to Texas for the wedding, we figured we should make a trip out of it and go down for a couple of weeks. We decided to drive down after checking the prices of flights, and needing a rental vehicle etc. and were very glad we did. It was a bout a 26 hour drive but we split it into two longer days and a very short and final third day taking us into Austin for the start of our trip.
We arrived in Austin and started our vacation with a highly anticipated dinner at Dai Due, a local restaurant owned by chef and butcher Jesse Griffiths. Jesse is involved with the Meateater crew, and creates a lot of wild game butchering, cooking, and food preservation content for his own social media presence as well as Meateater’s. I have enjoyed learning from his online content for a while now and it was amazing getting to finally eat at his restaurant. Pictured below is a wonderful charcuterie board we shared, and although the pictures didn’t turn out the best so I didn’t post them; I had delicious dry aged Nilgai steak (Nilgai are the world’s largest antelope species and are known for their incredible table fair, which I’ve definitely wanted to try), and Linds enjoyed some wild boar confit.
The next day we relocated to a very interesting urban campground Lindsay found online that is actually right in the city of Austin. The campground was a gypsy village, but in the best way possible. The property was lined with old trailers and renovated jet stream campers, and the owner has chickens, goats, and donkeys. We also had 8 whitetail run right beside our tent one morning. Anyway, we set up our tent at the campground, and spent the next three nights through Easter weekend there. We even cooked up a nice Easter steak dinner on our Coleman cook stove!
During our time in Austin we checked out a bunch of local bars and restaurants, and we had an amazing lunch of Texas BBQ from famous Terry Black’s BBQ. We spent some time checking out a couple of the city parks, and we met up with Jake and Elizabeth for a day of shopping and being tourists. We stopped by the Yeti flagship store and enjoyed a drink at the attached bar.
We left Austin and met back up with Jake and Elizabeth at 4 Amigos Ranch near Eagle Pass, which is a border town along the Mexico border. The 4 of us were booked for a 3 day, 2 night wild hog hunt. Lindsay and I had invited Jake and Elizabeth along with us on the hunt as our wedding present to them, and since we were there, Jake and Elizabeth decided they wanted to pay for each couple to shoot a ram on the ranch as well. We had an absolute blast hunting together and 4 Amigos Ranch was an incredible place to stay and their staff took very good care of us. The hunt starts with your arrival at 2 PM, there is an orientation and everyone verifies their rifle on the range. Then you are dropped on stand around 5 for the first hunt, where you are picked up for dinner a little after dark, around 8:30. After dinner you can go back out for a night time spotlight hunt from about 10-12:30. The next morning starts early as the ride to the stand is at 6:30 and you hunt until about 10. Pigs don’t move much during the heat of the day so the afternoons are slow and you can hang around the lodge. Since we were hunting rams as well, our guide Lee took us out during the day to spot and stalk them. Then it was back in for a late lunch, rinse and repeat the two evening hunts as the previous day, and one last morning hunt the last day before packing up and heading out.
While sitting on stand we got to see a ton of the exotic animals that ranches like 4 Amigos have on their property, and really enjoyed watching them all feed and interact. We saw nilgai, oryx, axis deer, buffalo, water buffalo, audad, blackbuck, red deer, white tail, a whole variety of various goats and rams, and of course, wild pigs. The pigs are mostly nocturnal but you will see some just before sunset and shortly after sunrise. Nobody shot any pigs on our initial evening hunt, but during our first night time sit, Jake and Lindsay both filled out their 2 pigs each. In addition to the 4 of us, there were 8 other hunters at the ranch as well, and there were quite a few hogs taken on that first night hunt. The next morning we didn’t shoot anything but enjoyed watching the variety of animals coming and going. During that afternoon, Lee took us out to hunt for the rams. Elizabeth shot her rambouillet ram first, and we were able to creep into 50 or so yards of it sleeping in its bed. Next Lindsay was up and she shot her corsican ram about an hour later. We were able to locate it and 5 others in a group and she shot it as they were clearing an opening between some brush. That evening hunt I shot my 2 hogs and lucked into a massive one at 205 lbs. During our hunt there were 24 hogs taken by the 12 hunters in camp and the average size was about 70 lbs, with about 5-6 breaking 100 lbs. I lucked into the biggest of that particular trip, but the biggest hog they have taken on the ranch was over 300!
We were all done hunting except for Elizabeth being short one pig. We were confident we could get the last pig at day break the last morning, so we decided to take the second night hunt off and celebrated (maybe a little too hard) the great hunting we had that day. We had a great time sharing stories with the other hunters in camp and Lee, who was a lot of fun to hunt with and took excellent care of us while we were there. We got that last hog the next morning and loaded up some very heavy coolers of meat. This was the first guided hunt I’ve been on and 4 Amigos Ranch did a great job taking care of us, I definitely can’t say enough good things. And to top it all off, the food was absolutely incredible!
After the hunt was done it was off to Canyon Lake to start getting ready for the wedding. It just so happened that while we would be there, Willie Nelson was playing a show on his 90th birthday tour, and opening for him were ZZ Top. So two nights before the wedding, a number of us from the wedding went to the concert. It was a blast! Willie definitely still sounds great despite his age, and his son who tours with him sounds almost indistinguishable. ZZ Top still put on a great show as well, and Billy Gibbons can still get after it on the guitar!
The last few days of the trip we spent with Jake and Elizabeth and their families at the ranch where their wedding would be. It was a wonderful time meeting lots of people and and engaging in the usual pre wedding activities. You know like, beer, cornhole tournaments, beer, campfires, and of course, beer – haha. The wedding was absolutely beautiful and we all had way too much fun at the reception afterwards!
Now we are back home and are chomping at the bit to get in to camp. I took mom to Dryden two days ago for a check up on her arm. The surgeon says everything looks great and is healing well! She is officially out of a cast and in a brace for 8 more weeks, when she will have her final check up and should be totally good to go. She is feeling great and isn’t in too much pain, and of course is very happy to not be in a cast any more. Naturally, we are going to be busy for the next few weeks, so I don’t know when the next post will be, but I will definitely get a fishing report up some time after opening weekend.