Feeder Pen Fail

First Bow Hunt of the Year

Date: June- October 19, 2013

Reported By: Craig Emmite

Just to give you a heads up for everyone to fully understand what happened on our first hunting trip of 2013 I will have to start at the beginning when the Lost Boys first started this journey. Every year we work so hard in the off season so our spot will be better than anyone else on our lease. We get out there when it’s the hottest part of the summer, putting stands up, filling feeders and for the first time ever building a feeder pen. We do all this well before the season opens  so when we get close to the start of deer season we don’t have to be out in the woods disturbing the area we plan on hunting in a few months. Like we do every year, we try to improve our spot in a different way so we can have a leg up on the other hunters in the area. Our big plan this year was to supplement feed something besides corn and a protein block. The trick was that we have cows that come onto our place, as well as, hogs that in the past have emptied our gravity feeders. We decided to build a large feeder pen and put both a gravity feeder with a protein pellet and corn mixture inside and a spin feeder with just corn.

It Was Hot

Feeder Ped From Tree Stand

When we drew up this plan in our heads it seemed easy enough but boy were we wrong,  this pen tested our dedication, being out in the hot summer sun, hammering t-post into the ground and clearing everything from bushes to small trees, all in hopes that deer would be the only ones to be able to get into the pen. After a day of blood, sweat and lots of talk of giving up, the pen was up. The only thing left to do was to put up the game camera and get back to some air conditioning and a much needed shower.

Trucks Packed With T-Post, Fencing, 4-Wheeler and Corn

Having A Little Fun While Getting It Done

After a few weeks we go back to check the game camera and see how everything was holding up and the pen looked great, no cows or hogs got in for sure but something was missing and to our surprise the game camera was gone, a sucky situation. Nothing will make you hate mankind like someone stealing your game camera but once we accepted the camera was gone and forgave the people in our County, we planned another trip. We go back up to fill the feeders one more time and to set up another game camera, this time with a lock box drilled into a nice big tree, mow the grass down inside the pen and make sure the last of what we needed to do for the bow stands was done. We also set up another camera over a bait site just down a game trail leading to the feeder pen just to be safe.

Bait Site

But a worrisome thought started creeping into our heads. Since we have no pictures of deer in the pen we had no idea if they were jumping in and normally by this time of the year we can start to put deer on our hit list but besides some tracks inside and around the pen we really didn’t know how everything was working. We had to cross our fingers and pray that we would finally get some good news the next time we came up

It’s now just a few days before the big weekend, Justin and I are so excited we are not sleeping so we throw caution to the wind and decided we would make a night trip up to the lease to check the game camera. We get out there in the middle of the night, get the first SD card out of the feeder pen, camera reads over 4000 pictures, excitement at an all-time max, grab the second SD card over the bait site, camera reads over 200 pictures we literally couldn’t be more excited. We get back into the truck and check both SD cards and our only possible fear came true.  The camera in the feeder pen took over 4000 pictures of squirrels and birds and only showed 3 deer actually in the pen. While the bait site had multiple deer running past it and eating out of the bait pile along with a bunch of hogs. We worked so hard to get this pen up only to find out we didn’t build a deer feeder pen but a squirrel sanctuary. The deer were going to the bait site behind the pen and we had pictures of them walking around it but only a brave few jumped in. With it only being days before the hunt there was nothing we could do about it. We decided to go up and hunt just liked we planned but we were going to have to cut the fence down if we wanted to save the rest of the season.

1 Of The Fews Bucks That Showed Up

We Had More Pigs Than Deer Show Up

The weekend comes and all that is going through my mind is we aren’t going to see a thing because why would we, the feeder was what was drawing them in. The only hope I had was that they would come into the area for the bait pile. We get up to the lease, and after a little debating we decided to go out in the middle of the night to toss some corn around the bait site and open up the door to the feeder pen.

What Our Bow Stand Looks Like

For the first time since we started hunting together Justin and I don’t pull an all-nighter, instead we get some sleep and wake up to early and get out there hours before the sun comes up. As we walk to the stand we nervously joke about running into hogs, it’s one thing to have a rifle with you but we had a bow strapped in a backpack and Justin had a pocket knife. To say the least it was a fast walk to the stands, insuring one another that what we just heard wasn’t bigfoot or hogs. As the sun came up and we started to see some action, we realized another problem that we were going to face, when we set up the lock on stands we planned on the deer walking down the main game trail focused on the feeder. The problem was the deer weren’t focused on the feeder, they were just walking around all willy dilly like, coming out of game trails we didn’t even think they were using which left us more visually exposed. And since we decided to throw out some corn the night before the deer could sense something sketchy and were very jumpy while walking in. At one point we had 2 does coming in and every little sound made them jump. They were about 14 yards away and before they came into one of my shooting lanes a squirrel literally chased them off. We ended up seeing around 10 does but only 2 of them came near us, the rest that we saw were out of bow range. Though the feeder pen was an epic fail there was a brighter side, the deer were there, it felt good that our area was so naturally good that even if we didn’t want to feed we would still see something. Our first hunt of the year wasn’t what I hoped it would be but at the same time it was a chance to escape from the real world, to take some time away from growing up and to chase an adventure.

No Matter What, You Have To Keep Your Spirits High

Categories: camping, deer hunting, Hunting, outdoors, road trip, texas, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Might Be Nice If I Could See Some Sharks

Date:  March 23 & 24, 2013

Report ByChris

Team MembersChris, Craig, Justin, Chad, Tommy

Weather Conditions:

  • General – light, misting rain Saturday in the AM, overcast entire day Saturday, thick fog rolled in Saturday early evening and stayed around until after sunset.  Cold front came through late Saturday night.  Sunday was sunny and clear, but cold and windy.
  • Air Temperature – Highs in the mid 70s lows in the low 60s
  • Wind – 5 MPH South East Pre-frontal wind after the front moved though wind picked up to 30 MPH North West wind.
  • Water temperature – 69 degrees
  • Waves – 2-4 breakers with 1-2 foot swells past the breakers,
  • Water Color – muddy and then cleared up to a nice green color with 2’ visibility.

The time had finally come for our first shark fishing trip of the year.   I had spent the last few months preparing gear, developing new tactics, and studying as much as I could to make this season our best one yet.  I still don’t know how I made it through the work week knowing that come Saturday morning I would be back at home on the sand.

The weather was going to be the main challenge we would face over the weekend.  A strong front was going to roll in Saturday night that would bring strong winds and cold weather.  It was going to be overcast and rainy all during the day Saturday, but nothing short of a hurricane was going to keep us off the beach.

Saturday morning finally arrived.  Justin and I left the house at 7:30 AM and headed over to pick up Big Red, our shark fishing trailer, from the welder, who had been performing some maintenance and upgrades.  He did a really great job and I couldn’t be more impressed with the work.  He fixed a bunch of the welds that we were having problems with and devised a new system to make our rails fold up and down and to be pinned into place.  After we got Big Red hooked up, we headed over to Craig’s to load her back up and head to the beach.

We were on the road by 9:15 AM with an hour and a half trip ahead of us.  The excitement was killing us.  I had read a report on Extreme Coast from the weekend prior in the same area that we were planning on fishing where the angler had caught 20 sandbar sharks in 2 days.  The average size of his sharks was about 6.5’.  That report kept me up every night that week!  We spent the hour and a half drive talking about what our weekend might bring and that if we were to have half the luck that guy did then we would have a heck of a trip.

Finally, we arrived at a new spot that I had scouted in the off season at 10:45 AM.  We immediately began catching bait, setting up shark rods with leaders and weights, and getting the kayaks ready to deploy our first baits.  Big whiting, black drum, and sheepshead were plentiful in the surf.  Our plan was to try a variety of baits and tackle setup to see what would work best.  Our first baits went out right around noon; a huge meaty whiting, a nice sized black drum, and a bloody plate sized stingray were on the menu.

Two new reels and the new rod I finished building just in time for the trip

New Reel on the rod I finished building just days before the trip

Whiting rigged up ready to go

Within the next 45 minutes our biggest fears came to life.  We watched our lines slowly start to bow and drift into the current.  The seaweed had found its way onto our lines and was weighing them down and wiping them out one by one.  We had even made special 2 lb. weights with stainless steel legs for this trip that didn’t stand a chance to the 50 lb. clumps that built up on the line.

Pre-deployment meeting as Tommy’s daughter watches on

At 2 PM we made a group decision to pack up camp and head to another spot that we had caught many sharks at in the past.  The new spot was on the other side of a pass that leads to the bay system.  We thought the pass could make a difference on the weed and conditions.

We couldn’t have been more right.  As soon as we got to the new spot we were greeted with beautiful, much calmer, green, clear water.  There were pelicans and seagulls diving in the surf.  The best part was the seaweed was very scarce here.  After being discouraged for the last few hours, this new spot gave us a second wind like a jolt of lightning.

Justin relaxing at the new spot

Justin getting ready to kayak in the cold water as Chad and Tommy help him suit up

Rushing to get baits out, we deployed 5 rods back to back.  We again had a spread of baits that consisted of jack crevalle, stingray, whiting, sheepshead, and black drum.  As I cross the 3rd sandbar, kayaking the 4th bait, I hear my brother on the two-way radio call to me and say, “Chris, you better drop it there and turn around.  I can’t see you any more”.  I turned around and realized that I could barely see the shore.  A thick blanket of fog had overcome us at a tremendous speed.  I kayaked about 50 more yards, dropped the bait, and headed back to shore.

Black Drum rigged with double J hooks

It was now about 6 PM.   Justin headed out for what would be our last bait deployment of the day.  The fact was that the fog was just too thick.  We couldn’t see anything past the 1st sandbar.  Honestly, we probably shouldn’t have let Justin take that last bait out (A key to staying safe during this process is maintaining visual contact.  If something happens to one of us we have a rescue kayak ready to spring into action).  When he got back we all had a discussion and decided that it wasn’t safe to go out in the kayak any more, even though we had 2 other rods ready to go, tons of fresh bait, and a decent amount of daylight left.

Fog so thick you can’t see the dunes

Way too thick to kayak

Having deployed all the baits we could for the evening we decided to rinse off, throw on some fresh clothes and sit around the camp fire.  I got undressed, rinsed off, wrapped up in a towel, and headed for my clean clothes in the truck as Justin went to take his turn rinsing off.   Right when Justin starts rinsing off the 9/0 with a chunck of sheepshead starts a slow roll.  I realize that we are the only 2 near the rod and we are both wearing nothing but towels.  I climbed the ladder to the platform as quickly as I could ready to do battle in my birthday suit when the fish dropped the bait and decided not to come back.  Thank God because that could have made for some of the most embarrassing blackmail pictures.  Imagine a 230 lb white boy fighting a shark in nothing but a fighting belt.  It’s enough to make a blind man scream.

Camp set up for night fishing

Things remained pretty quiet until right as the sun went down.  Almost every rod got picked up.  We had 6 runs in 45 minutes without a fish ever committing to a bait.  My guess is they were all small sharks because they only took about 10 feet of line each run and dropped it.  We all sat around the fire as our adrenaline rushes slowly subsided after the frenzy of runs slowed and then stopped.  We spent the rest of the evening talking about women, fishing, and the good old days and eating a beach dinner.  Around 11 PM we all decided to settle in to our tents and call it a night.  We still had 5 rods out at this point and we were pretty sure that 3 of them still had bait.

Sleeping on the beach is one of my favorite things to do.  There is nothing like falling asleep under the stars with a nice gulf breeze carrying through your tent and listening to the sound of the waves rolling in the background, hoping to be awoken by the chaos of a reel screaming as a shark picks up a bait.  That peacefulness ended around 3 AM, but not by the sweet sound of a screaming drag, but instead by the predicted cold front.  Poseidon decided to let us feel his wrath.  The winds were upwards in the mid 30 MPH range.  Justin and Tommy’s tent collapsed.  Craig’s tent pretty much collapsed.  I thought that my tent cot was going to get tipped over.  Chad was surprisingly comfortable.  Fortunately, we all made it through the night, some with a little more sleep than others.

Craig is sleeping somewhere in that pile!

We awoke to clear, sunny skies and a furious wind.  When we brought in our baits, my suspicion of small sharks toying with our baits was solidified.  The jack crevalle roast was gone, the jack crevalle head was fully intact, the 2 rods with sheepsheads had the bait taken, and the rod with the big ray had a bunch of small 3-4” diameter bite marks taken out of it.  With the 30 MPH wind sandblasting us and blowing directly into the gulf, we decided it wasn’t safe to try to kayak any more that morning.

What we woke up to

We spent the next hour or so packing up and reflecting on our trip.  We left the beach slightly disappointed yet fulfilled at the same time.  We had our first skunking since July of 2011, but I feel that we couldn’t have fished any harder.  We left nothing on the table.  Luck just wasn’t on our side this weekend, but we still had a great time and were able to be back on the Texas Gulf Coast doing the activity I love most in life, fishing for sharks.  It’s early in the year and we have a long season ahead of us.  We’ll get ‘em next time.


Categories: camping, fishing, Land Based Shark Fishing, outdoors, shark, Shark Fishing Reports, Surf Fishing, texas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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