Monday, March 30, 2009

Two Days In March

My home hunting ground lies along tributaries of the Red River, in Grayson County - or what used to be the Red before Lake Texoma backed up behind the dam.

Ecologists call the narrow stretch of hardwood bottomland that runs adjacent to the Red, between the Arkansas border and the western boundary of Grayson County, the Red River Area and generally consider it part of East Texas, a categorization I agree with. Culturally and ecologically, the Red River Area feels like the South.

I feel at home here.

West of Grayson County, the Red River country takes on characteristics of the much drier Cross Timbers and Prairie Region. Just to the south, out of the river breaks but still in Grayson County, the terrain opens up into Blackland Prairie.

Although squirrel season never closes in Grayson County, fox squirrels start breeding in late winter and stay busy with their young until late April or so. For me, the season is closed until May 1, the traditional opening day of spring squirrel season in East Texas.

Week before last, Cate and I spent two consecutive afternoons scouting our bottoms. Had I been inclined, I could have taken 10-squirrel limits both days. Things are looking up for May.

Spring is upon us, although the woods still have a open, raw, late winter look.

I think of these woods as mine. I'm occasionally reminded that others stake their own claims...

.... and employ their own methods. A homemade deer feeder, hidden on public land. We are, after all, in Texas.

Each to his own. I'll take this any day:

They're rarely this easy to spot.

In areas more exposed to wind, post oaks and blackjack oaks predominate - fine, gnarled old- timers, stocky, bent, and thinning on top, much chewed and drilled by their tenants, worthless to lumbermen....

... but benison to a transplanted Kentuckian.

Trees grow straighter down in the sheltered creek bottoms. There are giants here. My photos never do these woods justice.

High fiber diet? Actually, she's after the chewy center, which, seconds after I snapped this photo, shot out the end of the log...

... and disappeared here.

This piece of country suits me.


Matt Mullenix said...

Go Cate!

Henry did you ever take her on that raccoon trip?

Gregg Barrow said...

The best post I’ve read this month. I was in desperate need of an escape.
“I feel at home here.”
And my nod for “quote of the month”

Appreciate it!!

An aside, every hound hunter has their take on tree chewing; personally, I think it’s a clear demonstration of drive and I enjoy it when they vent their frustration this way.

Henry Chappell said...

Hey Matt. I ended up postponing the coon trip. I was up to my eyeballs in a long piece for TPW and just couldn't get away. I'm hoping to get over to see Donny and his dogs between now and early May. If not, then come the opening of spring squirrel season, we'll be in the woods day and night. The woods I described in the blog post are full of coons - at least I see lots of tracks along the creeks. But I want to run Cate with some experienced coondogs before we try our home turf at night.

Gregg, thanks for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I hope all is well on your end. I fully agree with your take on the tree chewing. After all, there was a squirrel in there.

stevea said...

I am a bit surprised we haven't crossed paths before. That all looks very familiar.

The squirrels are starting to run again.

Henry Chappell said...

Steve, we need to get together and compare notes.