Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

November 30, 2012

Rice breast common in ducks — can be eaten by hunters

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 5:55 am
aricebreastDON’T TOSS THEM OUT: Though it looks unappetizing, ducks and geese stricken with rice breast are safe to eat, and throwing them out could earn you a ticket for waste. Photo by Rob Robertson.

Its common name may sound like a delicacy, but rice breast is not considered appetizing by many hunters.

It’s a disease (sarcocystis) that strikes ducks, which ingest the eggs of the mature parasite in food or water. After hatching, the baby parasites migrate to the skeletal muscles and form cysts. The cysts resemble grains of rice and run in parallel lines throughout the muscle, usually the breast and thigh.

Dabbling ducks — such as the mallard, gadwall , widgeon and so forth — are most susceptible to rice breast.

“Duck species that feed in small, shallow waters are more likely to pick it up than, say, a bluebill that spends more of its time in big water,” said Scott Yaich, director of Conservation Operations at Ducks Unlimited.

Dabblers also take in a lot of water when feeding, sorting through it for the aquatic plants and the bugs they eat, likely increasing the odds of getting sarcocystis.

In contrast, divers hone in on a specific meal, such as clams or mussels.

A severe parasitic infection, though rare, can cause muscle loss in a duck and lead to weakness or lameness.

“It may reduce a bird’s physical condition,” said Tim Siegmund, regulatory biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “That could make it more apt to be harvested by a hunter or to be taken by a predator.”

In most cases, though, sarcocystis is asymptomatic.

“The birds don’t usually act sick from it,” said Dave Morrison, TPWD’s waterfowl program leader. “From what I know, it’s not fatal to birds. It’s a parasite. It occurs commonly. The birds with it are lying there fat, dumb and happy. As far as impacting the ability of birds to survive, it’s not a problem.”

Except to appetites.

“If my wife sees it, it’s gone,” Morrison said.

Morrison, though, has eaten his share of ducks with rice breast.

“And I’m still kicking,” he said. “You may skin the duck and see it and go, ‘Ah, that’s disgusting. I’m not going to eat this.’ But if cooked properly, it’s not going to hurt anyone.”

Siegmund added that a bird’s infection “doesn’t affect the taste.”

People handling a duck infected with sarcocystis need not worry about catching anything, experts told Lone Star Outdoor News. You probably don’t want to toss the infected duck to your dog, though, as it can live within the animal’s digestive tract.

While eating the duck wouldn’t pose a serious health threat, it does risk continuing the parasite’s life cycle and infecting other animals.

Yaich said he can “block it out” if a duck has only a few cysts and enjoy a meal. Seeing a bunch of them, though, makes him lose his appetite, he admits.

He’s not alone.

Many hunters in the field chunk ducks infected with sarcocystis, Morrison said. That can be a problem.

“I would strongly urge people to take the bird home and do what you need to do there,” Morrison said. “If a game warden sees you, it’s a sure way of going home with a piece of paper.”

Game Warden Jennifer Kemp said the action qualifies as a waste of game.

“The disease is not considered hazardous to humans,” Lt. Kemp said. “Throwing it out would be considered waste of game. If parts of it are not edible, you may dispose of those. However, whatever part is edible, you have to keep.”

Kemp said shooting a diseased bird also counts against your daily bag limit.

“Whatever you kill counts against your bag limit, whether the bird is infected or not,” she said. “That has no bearing. You’re taking the bird out of the population, so it counts against your bag limit.”

Mark England -LSN

November 29, 2012

Fish do not have a chance with a Lowrance on your boat

Grandson Garrett and I were hand fishing for channel catfish.

We stopped at a spot, threw out the chum and waited

on the catfish to find the chum.

The Lowrance electronics showed lots of fish

seven to twelve-foot deep in thirty-one foot water.

We thought the fish might be crappie,

so we fished with a crappie jig.

No luck!

They could be catfish suspended at that shallow depth,

so we used our catfish bait.

No luck!

The fish could be bass or bar fish,

so we fished with a spoon.

No luck.

They could be bream,

so we fished with small pieces of a Coot gizzard.



The fun began.

We started catching really nice bream.

Why is this large school of bream suspended

over deep water is unknown.

And their location would have never been known

without the Lowrance.

November 28, 2012

On the Bright Side By Mary Howell 11/28/12

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:18 am

On the Bright Side

By Mary Howell


During the days of November the residents of Hemphill Care Center have been thankful for God’s many blessings. We thank God for the care that we receive every day and for our home.

Thanksgiving reminds us of days gone by, and we are thankful for our families and friends that take the time to visit with us. Every day that God gives us to live is truly a blessing.

We have enjoyed several activities during November. We honored our veterans on Veteran’s Day with a decorated cake and punch. 

The Pineywood Pickers entertained us with toe-tapping music while our friends from First United Methodist Church served delicious refreshments. We also enjoyed a Saturday morning with Terry McGraw and Friends who played favorite tunes for us. The Hemphill Garden Club Ladies helped us make door decorations for our rooms.

We express our thanks to our Bingo sponsors: Hemphill Church of Christ, Parkway Baptist Church, April from Texas Home Health, Brother G from Heart to Heart Hospice, and Camille from River City Hospice.

During November we were blessed with worship service and gospel singing with First Baptist Church, Hemphill Church of Christ, Parkway Baptist Church, Fairdale Baptist Church, Community Fellowship Church, Bethel Chapel Baptist Church, Bethany Baptist Church, and Antioch Baptist Church. We also enjoyed our Bible study with Brandi from Harbor Hospice.

The Resident Council has selected John and Janice Napier as the Volunteers of the Month, Lois Claborn as Resident of the Month, and Felisha Parks and Robin Dickerson as Employees of the Month.

We say Happy Birthday to Doris Maddox, Laura Lane, Barbara Briggs, Lavern Mayo, and Marvin Ketchum.

Our sympathy is expressed to the families and friends of Joanna Maida and Lowana Walters.  

We enjoyed decorating the Christmas trees and making our home festive for the upcoming holidays.

We send a cordial invitation to family and friends to join us for the annual Christmas party which will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 15th.  Come and join the fun and make the day special for your loved ones.

We are thankful to God for blessing us with days on the bright side!

November 27, 2012

New Program Aims to Make Record Fish Easier to Weigh

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:47 am

ATHENS—Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Angler Recognition Program is building a statewide network of Official Weigh Stations that have certified scales and are willing to weigh angler’s catches in their local service areas. The new initiative is designed to make it easier for Texas anglers to find certified scales and submit their record catches.

Official Weigh Stations will receive official signage, application forms and a listing on the TPWD Angler Recognition Program website. The initiative is voluntary, and there is no fee or contract.

Businesses wishing to become an Official Weigh Station partner can sign up online at https://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/programs/fishrecords/weighstation_form.phtml.

In December 2012, the Official Weigh Station system will replace the current method of listing certified scales with an automated system that is updated monthly. If your scale is currently listed on the TPWD website, you will need to sign up in order to continue to be listed.

November 26, 2012

Game Warden Field Notes

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:24 am

The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.

  • An Oily Situation
    A Reeves County game warden received a call from Ward County regarding some illegal hunting taking place near an oil rig. The caller said the three out-of-state hunters were driving the oilfield roads shooting dove from their vehicle. The warden responded to the call that night after the men got off work and saw them cruising the roads, but not shooting. After the vehicle disappeared, the warden waited at the rig to talk to the three men and confirm the hunting story.  After some discussion, the three men admitted to shooting dove on the oilfield roads with a pellet gun. The men were charged with hunting without a license and hunting dove by illegal means.
  • Learning by Example
    While serving an arrest warrant in Lubbock County, two South Plains game wardens heard a distant shotgun blast and decided to investigate. The wardens found a maize field with several guided hunters and a hunting guide, all hunting. When the wardens contacted the group, the guide tried diverting their attention from a large pile of doves and a certain shotgun. After some questioning by the wardens, the guide admitted to having shot more than his daily bag limit of dove with an unplugged shotgun.  Citations were issued.
  • Covering for a Cousin
    A Williamson County game warden was patrolling a new section of a farm-to-market road that dissects several ranches that is not yet open to the public when he spotted a vehicle inside a ranch with a subject standing nearby drinking a beer. The warden watched the individual for about 15 minutes before he heard a gunshot in the distance beyond the truck.  When the subject spotted the warden, he immediately got out his phone and appeared to calling someone. The warden started his truck and continued down the road giving the subject the perception that he was leaving. After waiting down the road for a while, the warden returned to the location where the subject was parked and spotted another male with his son near the truck shooting at several doves well after sunset. The warden parked his truck and walked several hundred yards to make contact with the hunters. When he arrived, the hunter with his son was no longer there. The lone hunter was in compliance with state laws and told the warden that the other man was his cousin and was heading back to the house. The man was stalling answering questions about the other hunter as if buying time for his cousin’s escape. The warden was able to make it back to his patrol truck, drive to the front of the property, and find the hunter before he got away. As the warden tried to conduct a compliance check on the man, he denied hunting and became verbally aggressive. The warden advised Williamson County of the situation and requested back up. When two deputies arrived, the man became more compliant, admitted to hunting and said he hid his shotgun in his cousin’s truck. It was discovered that the man not only shot at a dove after sunset, but he did not have a hunting license, or identification.
  • Can I Keep Him?
    After receiving a call from the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, a game warden responded to a Lakeway residence shortly after midnight where the tenants possessed live white-winged dove in an oversized cage. The birds had been brought to the home three or four months ago as nestlings in order to nourish them for release. When asked why they weren’t released, one of the residents said that she had grown attached to them. A citation was issued after the release of the game birds.
  • Game Fish Aren’t Bait
    A Dimmit County game warden was checking some fishermen along a recently flooded river and noticed a man sitting by himself and not wanting to look his way. After the warden contacted the man and checked his fishing license, the warden noticed a bait bucket in the water. The warden asked the man about the kind of bait he was using and he replied, “Some shad that I caught.”  After an inspection of the bait bucket, the warden found the fisherman in possession of seven undersized crappie and five undersized largemouth bass mixed in with the shad and minnows.  All of the undersized game fish were released, and citations issued for possession of undersized game fish.
  • Little White Lies
    A Tarrant County game warden was checking fishermen on Lake Grapevine when she pulled up to a boat that was drift-fishing for catfish. When she made contact, she noticed some large fish scales next to an open pocket knife. As the men searched for their fishing licenses, the warden noticed a small white bass on the floor of the boat next to one of the men’s feet. She asked the men what they were using for bait, and they pointed to a bucket of shad. The warden retrieved the white bass from the floor of the boat, and it was missing one fillet and its tail. The men were asked to reel in their lines, and two of the four lines had been baited with the undersized white bass. The men received an education about the illegality of using game fish for bait, and citations were issued.
  • A Shot in the Dark
    A McLennan County game warden received a trespass call. While unable to immediately locate the individuals, he decided to wait in the area. After dark, the warden saw a vehicle stop just down the road and noticed a group of people get out with an AR-15 rifle and flashlight. They began to shoot off the road into a nearby creek and field, so the warden approached the group and issued a citation for discharging a firearm from a public road. No evidence of hunting from the road was found. Forty-five minutes later, another truck stopped down the road in the same general area, and a man got out of the truck with an AK-47 and fired numerous rounds into the creek. When the warden made contact with the shooter, he noticed open containers in the vehicle. The subject said he was testing his AK-47 on the turtles in the creek. No turtles were located and citations were issued.

November 25, 2012


Filed under: Neal Murphy,Uncategorized — Freddie Keel @ 6:15 am


( The Niles Register, May 22, 1847 )


At a wedding of an orphan girl reared by a Mr. Wilkinson in the community of East Hamilton in Shelby County, sixty of the guests were poisoned, ten or twelve of whom have already died, and thirty, Dr. Sharp was of the opinion, would not survive.

The Regulator-Moderator War was coming to an end in Shelby County.  Just when you would think it was over, a little spark would break out anew.  In the spring of 1847 there were still some hard feelings between Shelby County families involved in the feud, including some individuals who lived at Hamilton, a community established in the spring of 1828 by Alexander Hamilton and his wife, Mary.

The Hamilton’s, who lived in Perry County, Alabama, decided to load their household effects on a horse-drawn cart, hitch a milk cow to the cart and head west.  They crossed the Red river at Grand Ecore, four miles north of Natchitoches, Louisiana.  They then passed through what is now Zwolle and came to the swollen Sabine River.  Crossing the river on a raft built of logs fastened together with vines, they built a small log house on the river’s west bank.  They decided the site would make a good trading post.  He called his new store Hamilton Trading Post.  The name of the community was later changed to East Hamilton, since it was understood that there was another Hamilton in Texas.

Other settlers soon joined Hamilton in the area, including Elder William Brittain, a Baptist preacher and cotton buyer, who called the Sabine River bottomlands “the lawless, no-man’s land of Texas.”  Brittain arrived in 1837 to found, in his home, one of the first Baptist churches in Texas, along with a cemetery.  A school soon followed in 1838.

One of the worst catastrophes in this small community was the Wilkinson wedding supper.  The wedding supper, a common event in small communities of the 1840s was to honor a young couple following their marriage ceremony.  The folks at East Hamilton were ready for a pleasant celebration.  All up and down the Sabine River the news was: “Old man Wilkinson’s daughter was finally getting married.”  The groom, Morris, was not much of a catch, and everyone thought he would fit right in with his new in-laws, or rather out-laws.  Old man Wilkinson was a bad character himself, and a notorious hog thief.

All around the community the ladies were trying on their dancing shoes and pulling out dresses they had not worn for years.  Excitement was in the air.  The date of the wedding was April 22, 1847.  The groom wanted to wait for a June wedding, but Wilkinson insisted on an early marriage – something could happen, you know, and Morris might get away.

Mrs. Edens, the woman Wilkinson hired to bake the cakes, had left them in the smokehouse for safekeeping.  She went early the next morning to see if the cakes were all right.  She noticed that the icing had been removed on all but one, and that one was covered with custard.  The others were dark and discolored.  She tried to make them look a little better by grating some loafsugar over them.  After all, she didn’t have time to bake more.

The Spottswood Sanders family, a neighbor of Wilkinson, did not really want to go to the wedding as there had been trouble between the families.  Wilkinson had been accused of stealing Sanders’ hogs.  And, too, Wilkinson was a Moderator and Sanders was a Regulator.  But, they thought that if they did not go, the talk would be that the feud was still going on.

At the last moment, the Sanders family decided not to attend the wedding.  When Wilkinson heard that the Sanders family was not coming, he packed up some of the wedding supper that had been prepared and sent it to them.  Among the assortment was half a shoat, one turkey, three chickens, a chicken pie, and butter pound cakes – enough to feed all, even their Negro folk, for an entire week.  What a feast it was.  They thought, “Old Wilkinson ain’t all bad!”  They all sat down at the table and ate.  Of course they did not know that all of the food was poisoned, even the butter which had been elegantly molded.

The meal resulted in the death of Mrs. Susan Eliza Sanders, wife of Spottswood Henry Sanders, and two of her sons, Robert Henry, age 5, and Edward Hamilton, age 3.  As Mrs. Sanders was dying, she asked that her children be reared in the nurture of the Lord.  She did not know that they were already dead.  She also asked that her Negro servants come and bid her farewell; but they couldn’t, they were poisoned as well.  Spottswood and his son, Francis, survived after they crawled to a slop bucket, drank from it, and vomited up the poison.

Meanwhile, back at the party, everyone was eating finger foods.  That is, everyone but the Wilkinson’s.  The food was laced with arsenic.  It did not take long for the poison to start killing.  Some dropped dead on the spot, while others suffered longer.

Allen Haley and his mother were apparently the only persons at the wedding who were not poisoned.  The Haley’s had arrived late, after the other guests had been served, and ate some of the same food, but none of the cake.  Wilkinson supposedly cut a fresh cake for them, but they declined to eat, thus saving their lives.  The Haley’s lost a Negro slave, whose wife was one of the servants attending the wedding.  She carried him a piece of the pound cake.  He ate two mouthfuls and not liking the taste, ate no more.  Yet, even that small amount killed him.

Mrs. Edens, who made the cakes, was poisoned along with her son and a Negro girl.  The girl died and her son was not expected to recover.  The poisoned butter left at the wedding was thrown out.  Birds supposedly ate the butter and died within a few minutes.

Elder William Brittain, who may have officiated at the wedding, entered the names of several members of his own family on the death pages of his family Bible.  There are five Brittain graves in the East Hamilton Cemetery with names, but no death dates.  They are:  Thomas, R.J., Mary, Martha, and Bobbie.  The Brittain family Bible has been  lost, and we may never know if these children died at the infamous supper.

Two Castleberrys, one of the daughters and his wife, died.  One of the bridesmaids died, and yet strange to tell, neither the bride nor any of the Wilkinson family were injured.

Whatever happened, guests at the supper are said to have screamed, blown horns, and induced their hound dogs to howl.  In those days a sound created by blowing a cow’s horn was a universal distress signal.

Dr. James H. Starr of Nacogdoches writes that seventeen of the fifty-four who were poisoned have died, and fifteen others are considered dangerously ill.  His statement was printed in the Niles Register on June 5, 1847.

On July 19, 1847, an article in the Telegraph and Register states: “Wilkinson, at whose house the wedding was held, has confessed that he had the arsenic purposely mixed in the cakes….”  The article also confirmed that the bride was an orphan girl raised by Wilkinson.

On May 23, 1847, a letter written in Bayou Sara, Louisiana to a friend contained the particulars of the incident.  The letter said that “Old Wilkinson and his wife, and Morris’ wife were arrested and examined before Squire Sanders, who committed them to prison.”  Wilkinson was brought before a magistrate and released.  He was afraid to leave the house during the day, as there were persons determined to kill him on sight.  During the night Wilkinson supposedly escaped on a horse brought to him by Morris.  Eight men rode off in pursuit of him with intentions to kill him on sight.

In an account printed in the Telegraph and Register in 1847 it is stated that Wilkinson was captured and hung.  It is said the he confessed that he had given the arsenic to the cook to be mixed in the cake, and that he cautioned the bride and other members of his family not to eat the cake.

With the passage of a century and a half years, the poisoned wedding supper has evolved into a folk tale throughout East Texas.  Various accounts and a retelling of the story have confused what really happened, or the number of people who actually died.  In the East Hamilton Cemetery, a series of old, unmarked gravestones – deceased’s names erased by the ravages of time – lend some credibility to the tragic, unthinkable incident.

* Thanks to Reba James for her contribution to this writing.




PO BOX 511



CELL: 936-275-6986

EMAIL: sugarbear@netdot.com

November 24, 2012

blue catfish caught on a jug


November 23, 2012

Bobcats vs. coyotes; which is worse?

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:04 am

TAKING CONTROL: The different tendencies of bobcats and coyotes challenges orthodox assumptions of which predator has a bigger impact on landowners.

The mindset of most hunters and landowners is simple; get rid of more predators, and save more deer.

But how big of an impact do bobcats and coyotes really play, and why does it seem that coyotes bear the brunt of the hate?

“Bobcats are pretty much nocturnal, so you’re not going to see near as many as coyotes,” said Kevin Herriman, project manager for several Wildlife Management Areas, including Old Sabine Bottom. “Cats aren’t as social, and don’t create social units like coyotes do. The carrying capacity of coyotes in an area is more than the carrying capacity of bobcats.”

When it comes to impacting deer populations, bobcats and coyotes don’t have as large of an effect as people tend to assume, according to Herriman.

“A coyote or bobcat will take the occasional fawn as the situation presents itself, but that’s not the most important portion of their diet,” he said. “They’ll take more small rodents, rabbits, and things of that nature. Coyotes will take that, and also grasshoppers, eggs and soft mast; so they have a much more diverse diet than bobcats do, which are basically true carnivores.”

Herriman said hunters are allowed to take coyotes during draw hunts, but he is more worried about the impact of feral hogs than varmints.

“Feral hogs are creating far more damage and a bigger impact on other species than bobcats or coyotes, which are native species,” he said. “Coyotes are what we call opportunistic animals; they’re not going to pass up anything that’s edible. If they spend more energy chasing down an animal and eating it than energy they receive, they’re on the losing end.”

Jason Cross, of Cross Outfitters, offers whitetail, exotic and turkey hunts in West Texas, where he said varmint control is necessary.

“We do a lot of predator control and have been for quite a few years, because it kind of devastates fawn crops if we don’t,” Cross said. “Our biggest deal is with coyotes, and control is mostly through snares on the fences. We do catch some bobcats, but from what we can tell they don’t bother much.”

Cross said after a few years of implemented control, the numbers of varmints has declined.

“We haven’t had a lot of fawn fatalities by coyotes because we’ve kept them down,” he said. “We don’t get a whole lot of coyotes now, but that’s what it takes is predator control.”

Texas Agrilife Extension Wildlife Specialist Dr. Dale Rollins said hunters and landowners probably tend to emphasize coyote control because of what they see.

“A coyote is not always a villain,” he said. “People are more worried about coyotes because you hear and see coyotes, and you just don’t see or notice the presence of bobcats, so you could underestimate the number you have.”

Rollins said that from one angle, a bobcat population could be worse than a coyote population.

“The one good thing the coyotes have going for them is they are very opportunistic, and eat a lot of fruits,” he said. “From a lot of standpoints that’s less damaging to a wildlife population than a bobcat, because (bobcats) don’t eat fruit.”

Rollins pointed to a study done on the King Ranch, where 308 bobcats and coyotes were removed from a particular area over a two-year stretch. Within only six months of the experiment ending, the predator numbers returned to their original numbers. During the same two-year stretch, fawn mortality was 67.5% higher on the area of the ranch where predator control was not implemented.

However, experiments done on the effect of coyotes on mature male whitetails showed that coyote removal did not change the number of harvestable bucks available.

“Half the papers suggest coyotes are a major problem, and half don’t,” Rollins said. “The answer for people usually just depends on which side you want to hear.”

John Keith, LSN

(I was hunting with a grandson recently one afternoon when we saw a big bob cat.   Then a second cat appeared and then the third bob cat.  Briefly, they played together like three kittens.  It was the first time I have ever seen three bob cats at one time.  These cats were large enough to take a young deer.    The next afternoon, we saw another bob cat.   It appears, their numbers are increasing based on these viewing)

November 22, 2012

Special day for grandson and papaw







November 21, 2012

On The Bright Side Mary Howell 11/21/12

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:35 am

On The Bright Side

Mary Howell


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. It is a day for family gatherings and is the most American holiday that we celebrate.  Like the pilgrims of 1621, we should stop to give God thanks for His bountiful blessings.  Sometimes we forget how blessed we all are to live in a free country where we can still worship as we choose.  We can be thankful that we can still pray.  Although we may have lost some of our freedom to pray publicly we can still pray privately and make our personal petitions and praises to God.


One of my favorite Bible verses is “In everything, give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.  In every situation that we find ourselves, we can find a blessing from God if we take the time to look hard enough.


Some of the things for which I am most thankful are that God is my Heavenly Father. He gave His only son Jesus, to bring love and hope to the world.  Those who put their trust in Jesus can have eternal life and the assurance of a Heavenly home after death.


I am thankful for Christian parents and two loving sisters who taught me to love God,  home and country.  I thank God for friends who have greatly enriched my life.  Friends brighten the days just by giving a bit of their time.  I am thankful for the fellowship of my church family who pray for me. 


I thank God for flowers, trees and all the beauties of nature that God has given to us.


We can all be thankful for health and breath of life.  Every morning when we wake up, we should take the time to thank God for allowing us to live one more day.  Whether our health is good or bad, we can be thankful that we are still alive and feeling as well as we are.


We can all be thankful for food and physical sustenance that we enjoy from day to day.


These are just a few of the many blessings for which I am thankful.  I encourage everyone to take the time to give thanks to God this Thanksgiving for the blessings that God bestows upon us to make a life on the bright side.


November 21, 2012

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