Clayton: No better place to connect

Luke Clayton
Special to the Empire-Tribune

While visiting with several hundred folks at our annual Outdoor Ren de Voux in Greenville this past weekend on 12 beautiful acres at the Top Rail Cowboy Church, I was impressed how total strangers became instant friends because of a common bond, the love of the outdoors.

Spending time in the outdoors hunting, fishing or just "being out there" has always been magical for me and through my many years, I have sealed many friendships, one at a time, on hunting, fishing and camping trips.

David Murphy dishes out some of his tasty smoked chili to Rick Lambert (Miranda’s Dad) at the annual Ren de Voux in Greenville this past week.

There is absolutely no better place to bond than when sitting around a campfire at hunting camp or in a boat dunking minnows or jigs for crappie. Things such as cell phones or the instant transfers of worldwide events on TV are not present and we have the opportunity to concentrate on the "here and now" rather than being constantly bombarded with events that we have little to no control over. 

So many folks today are confined to an office or bumper to bumper traffic in order to pay the bills that they become numb to the natural world. Getting outdoors and back to nature is the best cure that I know for cleansing and relaxing the mind and it matters not if the reason one turns to the great outdoors is to catch a fish, harvest meat for the freezer or capture the sights in the viewfinder of a camera with a long lens.

Sights and sounds like an owl hooting from the woods near camp when one steps out of the cabin on a chilly moonlight winter’s night or the splash of a bass in the back of a cove as it catches a hapless frog for its dinner are good for the soul. Have you ever set out in the spring just before nightfall and listened to the call of the whip o will? No music created by human is as soothing.

Not too many years ago, when rural life was the norm rather than exception, people experienced closeness to nature on a daily basis but today, most of us have to seek out the solitude and it matters not where we go to find the solace provided by the outdoors.

Luke Clayton

Some get their outdoor "fix" in a boat while fishing or possibly sailing on one of our big reservoirs, others at hunting camp or on a wildlife photo excursion. Or maybe simply a couple hours fishing trip with a youngster at a local city pond stocked with trout or catfish, it really doesn’t matter where or how we spend time in the outdoors, the benefit is the same regardless.

With warming spring weather ahead, there is a smorgasbord of opportunities with crappie moving into the shallows where they are easy to catch, wild turkey gobblers will soon be sounding off and spring hunting season will be underway. If you are not a hunter or fisher, spring and fall are the best times to pull that camper to the lake or set up a tent camp for a couple nights and just engulf yourself in the outdoors; bring along your camera and see what wild images you might capture! 

These endeavors might not be wilderness experiences in Texas but once you arrive at your little piece of outdoor heaven, whether it be a state park or a clearing on your buddy’s land, you will feel as though you are miles away from civilization. It’s a great feeling and one I want you to experience for yourself.  

Thin some coyotes

The coyote breeding season is under way and the song dogs are on the move. In many areas, coyote numbers are at a peak. Most deer hunters refrain from shooting yotes because of spooking the deer they are hunting. But hunting seasons are now closed and its prime time to thin these overabundant predators.

This past week, I joined my friends Larry Weishuhn and Kenneth Shepherd for a mid-day coyote hunt. Weishuhn has for many years carried a mouth blown "rabbit squealer" type call and he knows how to entice a wary coyote out of the brush. Shepherd is a shooter, that’s what he does and it matters little if he is shooting a bow or rifle, he stays practiced and is absolutely deadly.

We set up on the edge of a little creek with good visibility to a woodline a little over 100 yards away. Weishuhn began with a series of loud rabbit squeals and waited, repeating the sequence every few minutes. Soon, out of very heavy cover we caught movement and out walks a big male coyote. The sounds of that injured rabbit Weishuhn was making spelled lunch to that old yote but he was fully mature, obviously the veteran of several years living in the wild and he was cautions.

Just out of the brush, he lay flat on the ground and we could see his ears perked, listening intently and looking for the rabbit he had heard. Then I heard a different sound coming from Weishuhn. He made a sucking sound on the back of his hand that was more of a squeak than the squeals he had previously made with the mouth call. The big coyote instantly got to his feet and crept a few feet closer, and then he lay flat again. Shepherd dropped down the creek bank to conceal his movements and quickly got in position to make the shot.

Using a 375 lever-action rifle with buckhorn open sights, he nudged the trigger and there was one less coyote around to harass the young of the wild turkey and deer in a few weeks. One down and many more to go, we will be on a coyote reduction plan the next few weeks.

Wild turkey were stocked in our area a couple years ago and they appear to be thriving. Nature must be balanced and with no other predators to control their numbers, it’s our job to keep the coyote number in check!

Watch the video of this coyote hunt soon on A Sportsman’s Life on Carbon TV and listen to Luke and Larry talk about the hunt on Luke’s radio show