Tennessee Colony — The Big Woods on the Trinity (www.bigwoods.net) is one of my favorite places to go to get away from it all.
Dr. Bob McFarlane owns the 7,500-acre piece of bottom land heaven. I’ve become good friends with Bob, or “Doc” as we call him, and Kel and Heath that guide on the place. Even outdoor writers like to have a day away from work, even though “work” usually consists of doing a story on fishing or hunting.
When I go to Big Woods, I usually wind up getting material and pictures that eventually wind up in print, but visiting here just doesn’t seem like “work” to me.
Take a trip I enjoyed last week, for instance. I joined some other good friends, fellow outdoors writer Bob Hood, catfish guide Bobby Kubin and our longtime buddy Dubb Wallace.
I would have been hard pressed to assemble a more knowledgeable, or FUN, bunch of guys to spend a couple days with in the outdoors.
Hood is a veteran outdoors writer of over 40 years. He is a storehouse of knowledge about everything from catching bullfrogs with a plastic worm to calling in a big turkey gobbler. We’ve enjoyed many exciting times in the outdoors together and each of us have yet to find an outdoor endeavor we don’t find intriguing.
Wallace grew up down on the Texas-Mexico border where his day consisted of working sheep and goat ranches. He spent his Christmas holidays and every other day he could get away from school with his dad in their trappers’ camp, running a trap line for ringtails and fox.
I’ve listened to Dubb talk for hours around the campfire about the “old days” when they would keep a pot of stew in the Dutch Kettle cooking for days, adding pieces of vegetables and chunks of venison, turkey, goat or whatever they shot.
“In those days, on the big ranches there were herds of wild goats that were every bit as tough to hunt as deer,” he said. “They could smell you from a quarter-mile away.”
Bobby Kubin is a catfish guide on Lake Lewisville, located just north of Dallas. Although about half the age of myself and my other buddies, Bobby is way beyond his years when it comes to savvy in the outdoors. He’s also as good at the fish cleaning table with a sharp bladed fillet knife as anyone I’ve watched fillet fish!
Eating is always a big part of every outdoor adventure and my buddies share my passion for good eating.
The day before our trip, I prepared a big pot of venison/wild pork BBQ the Czech way, cooking it with plenty of garlic in liquid in my smoker. I love the flavor jalapeno pepper adds to meat and add several peppers to the mix. This slow cooking method tenderizes even the tougher cuts of meat, but I reserved backstraps for this meal.
After six hours in the smoker being exposed to hickory wood smoke, the meat could be cut with a butter knife. The trick to this method is to allow most of the moisture to cook out of the meat, and then add your favorite BBQ sauce and a little seasoning to taste.
Fishing was good, as it usually is on the lakes at Big Woods, and we kept enough fish for a couple of big fish fries. We spent the evening back at the lodge with Doc where we dined on BBQ and baked beans.
Hood got us all hooked on the flavor of pickled orka on past outings and he had a good supply on hand. We feasted like kings, got a good night’s sleep, and were on a little backwater lake called Moonshine early the next morning.
Our plan was to fish for the huge bream we had seen popping the water’s surface the previous evening. Armed with light bread for bait, we proceeded to enjoy non-stop action for about an hour. We stopped when we couldn’t close the top on the ice cooler we were keeping the fish in.
Some of the bream were of the hybrid variety and I caught the largest one of my career. We didn’t have a scale but I would bet my best bream rod it weighed over a pound.
Yes, this “banker’s holiday” with friends at The Big Woods was fun, time away from doing stories and other duties of a magazine editor, radio broadcaster and freelance outdoor writer.
If, you might ask, I were on “holiday” what are you doing reading this account of the trip?
The truth of the matter is that after years of fishing, hunting and writing about the trips, relating the details of an outing has become as much second nature to me as catching the fish or hunting the deer!
I hope you can find a day or two soon to get away with family or friends and enjoy the outdoors.