Just yesterday, I returned from a couple days of late winter fishing and hunting that will remain firmly etched in my memory banks for the remainder of my days. I believe everyone present on this trophy catfish/wild hog extravaganza feels the same way. Is there a better way to cure the Winter Blues than catching big catfish on the best catfish lake in the state with the best “big fish” guide and then hunting hogs on a great ranch? Great friends make any outdoor adventure special and on these outings, I was joined by some old friends and had the pleasure of making a new one.
The outing began at Lake Tawakoni for big blue catfish with guide David Hanson. My friend Larry Weishuhn spends the majority of his year hunting and filming segments of his TV show “Trailing the Hunters Moon” and making personal appearances across the country.
Every now and then it’s important get away where the only agenda is to have fun and relax; if a trophy catfish or good eating wild hog is in the mix, so much the better! For folks like Larry and the rest of our group, catching big catfish and hunting good eating wild hogs might just be the ultimate way to “kick back”.
Rick Lambert (Miranda’s Dad) made the short drive from Lindale to join Larry the evening before our catfish outing. Larry and Rick have been friends for several years but this was my first time to have the honor of spending time with him. After visiting a few minutes with Rick, It was obvious that he shared our love of the outdoors. As we chatted on the dock at Anchor Inn Marina before the trip, it was easy to see that Rick was a fisherman and fired up about catching the catfish of his life! My friend Jeff Rice joined us for some big catfish action and invited us to travel over to his “Buck and Bass Ranch” near Lake Fork for a hog hunt the following day.
I’ve enjoyed many fun fishing trips with Hanson and had a very good idea of how this trip would unfold. Everyone present landed the biggest catfish of their lives, the largest one was a whopping 55 pounder and we caught a few smaller fish for the evening fish fry at Hanson’s Ranch near Lone Oak. And a fish fry it was, with all the trimmings! Hanson is our camp manager up in Colorado on our elk and bear hunts and I knew full well that his culinary skills matched his catfish catching ability. The crunchy snow white catfish fillets with French fries, potato salad and Pico was delicious and a big slice of pecan pie put the finishing touch on the fun filled day.
We all rested well that night and with energy levels recharged, headed over to Yantis to join Jeff Rice on his ranch. Jeff is an excellent host and loves having friends over at his ranch to hunt hogs. We met last fall at the Ben Wheeler Wild Hog Festival where I was invited for a book signing and to be a judge in the wild hog cooking contest. We became instant friends and knew from the start that we would share lots of good times in the outdoors together.
Jeff is a long time bow hunter and I knew he would make a good candidate to shoot the Dragon Claw 50 caliber air rifle that Pyramyd Air had sent me to put to work with the new Air Bolts by Air Venturi. The big bore air rifle obviously shoots 50 caliber round balls or pellets (if you can call a 200 plus grain bullet a pellet!) But it also shoots the Air Bolt which can best be described as a short, stout arrow with veins that engage the rifling on the rifle. When it leave the barrel, the arrow is spinning and with the power of around 3,000 psi. of compressed air pushing them, they obviously fly much faster and hit harder than the fastest shooting cross bow. We had the Dragon Claw shooting tight groups out to 40 yards. Jeff hunted from one of his conventional bow stands where the farthest shot would be about 30 yards. I was hunting with my all time favorite big bore air rifle, the Texan 45 caliber by Airforce Airguns scoped with a Sun Optics USA cranked down to 4 power, loaded with a big 350 grain bullet by Hunter’s Supply. The others in our group were toting centerfires; Weishuhn using his pet Ruger #1 with loaded with Hornady ammo.
The first evening of the hunt, he made a perfect shot on a heavy but young boar that I have already transformed into several varieties of sausage! The hog went a scant ten yards after the shot. Jeff and everyone present were impressed at this hunting tool that was new to all of us.
We started the evening off around a big campfire and Rick Lambert, the trooper he is, borrowed Jeff’s guitar and sang us several of Miranda’s songs, some that he and Miranda wrote together. Rick was just getting over a cold and said his voice was not at its best but after a song or two, it was very obvious that his super star daughter came by her musical ability honestly. What a treat to hear some of the songs that Miranda made famous, performed by her Dad around a campfire on a star filled late winter’s night!
During the campfire session, Jeff was busy on his big smoker, grilling some of the best rib eyes that any of us had ever eaten. I’ll swear they were two inches thick and weighed at least a pound apiece. The steaks with baked potatoes and all the trimmings rounded out the evening. Rick had to head back home after dinner for a meeting the next morning and the rest of our crew made it to bed early enough to get a good night’s rest and be back up after the hogs before daylight the next day.
For outdoor types like our group, these two days will be remembered a long, long time. We left Jeff’s Ranch vowing for round two with the big catfish next year with Hanson and those good eating porkers with Jeff. It’s amazing how good times in the outdoors has the power to create and seal friendships that last for lifetimes.
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