Dehydrated 14 gauge river loads

Several years ago, when my friend, Ed McCorkle, saw an ad in the Wednesday K-Mart flyer in the San Angelo Standard Times advertising a sale on 12, 20 and 14 gauge shotgun shells, his shirttail didn’t hit him until he called K-Mart. The “associate” he talked to must not have been an outdoorsman. Ed said, “Say, I noticed in your flyer you advertised that you have 14 gauge shotgun shells. Can you save me a case of those’ I’ll be down there about 5:30.” “Just a minute,” the indoorsman said. “I’ll see if we have a case.” Ed waited a long time, and was just about to hang up when the guy finally came back. “Uh, we don’t, uh, have any 14 gauge shells,” he told Ed. Personally, I think he should have just hung up the phone. He would have been better off. Ed raked the poor guy up one side and down the other. He said he had bought an old 14 gauge shotgun, and was having a terrible time finding shells for it, and that if K-Mart didn’t have any they shouldn’t have advertised them in their flyer. By the time Ed got through with him the guy was ready to find some 14 gauge hulls and reload Ed a case of shells. Of course, the poor indoorsman wasn’t the one who had mistaked 410 for 14, so it wasn’t his fault. But then, Ed isn’t the sort to let a little thing like that keep him from playing a joke on someone. He once had a fellow convinced that he needed to use only dehydrated water in his new waterbed, to cut down on bacterial growth. But whatever shotgun you use, you’ll need some shells for it, and it might not be a good idea to ask your non-hunting spouse to pick them up for you. Mike Innis, a fellow Texas Outdoor Writer’s Association member who also happens to be a fellow Masonite, went on a dove hunt in the Uvalde area with me recently, and before the trip he asked his wife, Sheila, to get him some shells at Walmart. Sheila bought a case of shells, put them in her Jeep, and then continued her shopping at some other stores. It was a typically hot afternoon in Brady, Texas, and Sheila started worrying about what might happen if she left those shells in her Jeep with the windows rolled up, sitting in the sun. It bothered her so much that she finally stopped a man in front of a store and asked him if they would explode. The man was not Ed McCorkle, I’m happy to report, or else he would have had her calling the bomb squad. Mike’s shells didn’t explode in Sheila’s Jeep, but not many of them exploded in Uvalde County, either. There are usually so many white wing and mourning doves in the sky around Concan and Uvalde that they block the sun, and the roosters have trouble figuring out when to crow. The doves have to eat in shifts, and those not on the ground have to fly circular patterns while waiting their turn. This year, however, there were actually patches of blue visible between the squadrons of doves, so I never managed to bag a limit. Not that I’m a bad shot, but 14 gauge shotguns are notoriously inaccurate. I expect that by now, since I’m not there anymore, the Texas Hill Country River Region is covered up with doves. Even without its famous bird, deer, quail and hog hunting, the Concan/Uvalde area is one of the most pleasant places in Texas to visit. The House Pasture Cattle Co. Restaurant is starting to feel like a home away from home for me, due in large part to the friendliness and hostliness of Kenneth and Barbara Arthur. And that’s saying a lot when you’re talking about a part of the country where all the folks still believe in old-time Texas hospitality. Besides the House Pasture, which is the quintessential South Texas eaterie, the Arthurs also own Mejor Que Nada Ranches, some of the best whitetail deer country in Texas. Parts of these managed ranches haven’t been hunted in five years, and are home to some world class deer. The Arthurs also have Frio Country Cabins, which are better described as spacious, comfortable efficiency apartments than cabins, and are spread out along the beautiful Frio River. You won’t find a more enjoyable atmosphere for a weekend getaway. During the Big Frio Flood of June, 1997, my family and I were camping near the Frio when it rose 30 feet in several hours, and many of the Arthurs’ tenants were stranded because of the high water. Kenneth hired two helicopters at his own expense to ferry those folks to safety. He didn’t have to do it, but he did anyway. That’s the kind of guy Kenneth Arthur is. The good news is that visitors to the Frio don’t have to worry about it flooding like that again. Due to the drought of 2000 the rivers in the area have all been drained, and refilled with dehydrated water . . . Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist who sleeps on a regular mattress. Write to him at PO Box 564, Mason, Tx 76856 or email hemphill@towa.org To book a hunt or make a reservation with Kenneth Arthur call 888-926-6226

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