Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

January 21, 2013

NEW – Pope &Young Texas non-typical state record

(The  2012 deer season is over.  But the opening day for this hunter will be remembered for many seasons)

Conroe archer hit historic bullseye on deer in San Jacinto County


Matt Williams The Athens Review

SAN JACINTO COUNTY — While many East Texas bowhunters spent opening day of the 2012 Archery Only deer season hunting a dry spot in lieu of a wicked weather system that dumped more than 10 inches of rain on parts of the region, A.J. Downs donned a little rain gear, grabbed his bow and went hunting anyway.

He couldn’t help himself. There was a monster roaming around in the Trinity River bottom and the 39-year-old archer from Conroe knew it. Downs and his brother, Quentin, had been watching the deer on their trail cameras since late-August and they could tell by the images that they were on to something very special.

“We actually saw the deer in person the weekend before the season opened while we out scouting,” Downs said. “The sky would have had to fall to keep us out of the woods on opening morning.”

Shortly after 7 a.m. on Sept. 29, all the stars lined up and something magical happened. A buck wearing a kingsize rack suddenly appeared in one of the shooting windows of Downs’ ground blind situated deep within the heart of a 13,000-acre deer lease in San Jacinto County.

Moments later, he loosed an arrow on an animal that has since become the rage of Internet forums and discussion boards with bowhunters across Texas and beyond.

One look at the pictures explains why. This is not your average buck. Not even close. And certainly not something East Texas hunters are accustomed to hearing about, much less seeing, on their home turf.

This is one those incredible animals that somehow managed to grow a freakish set of antlers that look like something out of a fairy tale book. But make no mistake about it. This is the real deal, although Downs occasionally has to pinch himself to convince himself he isn’t dreaming.

“Guys can hunt for a lifetime never have anything like this happen,” said Downs, a veteran archer with a string of good bucks to his credit. “I’ve never seen anything like this, and I probably never will again. Bucks like this don’t come along very often…. anywhere. You can’t manage for deer like this.”

What makes the deer stand out even more is the fact it was taken on open range. There were no high fences involved. No breeding programs. Just Mother Nature and a whacked out mix of DNA molecules that somehow blended together to create a tremendous mass of bone that Bob Sweisthal says is going to be nightmare to evaluate.

Sweisthal is the Spring-based taxidermist Downs has enlisted to produce a life-size body mount of the deer for his trophy room. The taxidermist also is an official scorer for the Pope and Young Club, the official records keeper for North American big game animals taken by bow and arrow. Whitetail deer antlers are evaluated using a number of measurements to determine a gross and net score in inches.

Sweisthal put a tape on the rack the day Downs brought the deer to his shop, but he is not convinced that the initial tally he came up with is entirely accurate. He rough scored the 28 point rack at 237 6/8.

“At this point I would have say that is a very rough, rough score,” he said. “I won’t be surprised if it scores even higher, though. We looked at it for quite a while and we are still not sure which one is the main beam. There are three tines on each side that could be the main beam. We’ve just got to figure out which one it is and go from there.”

The taxidermist added that he thinks Downs’ buck could be a new Pope and Young state record non-typical (open range by bow). He believes the buck is 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 years old.

“Just about all the tines you see are 10-11 inches long, and that stuff can add up real quick,” he said. “It will take some time before we know anything for sure. The final score will be determined by me, another P&Y scorer and a Boone and Crockett scorer. It could be that we have to send some pictures to the main office to have them look at it. It’s just that complicated. I’ve been a P&Y scorer for 38 years and I’ve never seen anything like this deer before.”

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist Chris Gregory of Livingston said he knows the property where Downs took the whopper. The biologist also is familiar with some big deer with unusual racks that have shown up on the land that surrounds it.

“One of the landowners got some pictures of some non-typical deer last season, so I wasn’t surprised to learn that a deer with unusual antlers had been killed in the area,” Gregory said. “What did surprise me is the amount of antler this deer has. That Trinity River bottom is some pretty fertile ground.”

It was also some pretty soggy ground by the time Downs brothers made it to their stands on opening morning. The two men watched the weather the evening before and the radar screen was green with rain all the way to Abilene.

“It was was raining when we woke up, but not real heavy,” Downs said. “The radar showed a few gaps in the green, so we had to go.”

Downs said was about 7:15 a.m. the buck suddenly appeared in the shooting window of his ground blind. He positioned the blind near a corn feeder at the edge of a pasture bordering a thick stand of woods. He constructed the frame for the blind using a metal ring that is brushed with oak saplings and yaupon. His pop-up blind fits perfectly inside the ring.

Downs said he knew right away what he was looking at when the buck stepped out.

“I knew it was him so I grabbed my video camera and videoed him for five or six seconds,” Downs said. “Then I grabbed my bow and got drawn on him.”

With the buck was standing broadside, unalarmed at 15 yards, Downs released the arrow and drilled him through both lungs. The deer bolted and ran about 30 yards before Downs lost sight of him in some tall grass and brush. Certain he’d made a good shot, he elected to wait 30 minutes before looking for the deer.

Then it started to rain. About 20 minutes into the wait the bottom fell out.

“I decided to get out and I found my arrow — it had blood on the fletchings,” he said. “I could see his tracks where he took off, but there wasn’t any blood on the ground. With it raining like it was I just took off on the path to where I last saw him and he wasn’t there. Then I sort of panicked and started second guessing myself.”

Turns out the buck made a 90-degree turn and fell over about 60 yards from where Downs stuck him.

“I told everybody back at camp that it’s a lot easier to find them if you go where they went,” Downs joked. “I was almost sick walking in there where he wasn’t. Luckily it all worked out.”

So how does it feel knowing the deer may be a new P&Y state record non-typical?

Downs says he is reluctant to ponder thoughts of owning the title at this point. Final scores are based on the net tally after a 60-day drying period.

“I don’t want to get ahead of myself, I’ll tell you that,” he said. “There is no official score yet, so it really doesn’t matter right now. If he is, I thank the Lord for it. If he’s not, I thank the Lord for it. He’s special either way and I’m thankful for the opportunity. My brother are in this deal together. I just happened to draw the lucky stand that morning.”

January 20, 2013


Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:22 am



As we all know San Augustine County is experiencing a rush of activity from oil companies who are drilling for gas from the Haynesville Shale formation.  It appears that our county was the object of intense interest for the same back in the 1890s.  The following is a quote found in the Houston Daily Post in the summer of 1890:

In The Oil Region:

“San Augustine, Texas:  Mr. John Mentean, of Chireno, is riding over the oil field here.  He represents some Ohio and Pennsylvania oil men, and they seem to have great confidence in the oil and gas in this county.”

“Mr. R. D. Davis of Colmesneil, the timber inspector and chairman of the Clark Club here, is in San Augustine, Sabine, and Newton counties, looking over Brooks & Polk’s pine lands, also looking after the Texas pine lands, also looking after the Texas Pine Land association property.”

“About forty young men met at the courthouse in San Augustine Saturday night and organized a military company.  It was named the Horton Rifles after Colonel Alexander Horton, who lives about one mile from here.  He was General Sam Houston’s first aide de camp, and has done more for Texas than any man living on her soil today.”

“Judge John H, Broocks is in San Augustine from Beaumont for a few days.”

Going back even further to the year 1879 we find a list of fugitives from San Augustine County.  The following is just a sampling of the list:

Campbell, Henry…Rape; convicted and appealed to Supreme Court and escaped pending appeal. Around 5 feet, 4 inches high, chunky, 150 pounds, bad looking, don’t talk plainly.

Montgomery, Cato…Burglary; Committed May 15, 1873; indicted July 31, same year; black, about 6 feet high, about 28 years old, quick spoken, and generally very impudent, weighs 180 pounds.

Anderson, Ralph…Theft of Saddle; committed September 1877; indicted September same year; tall, slender, rawboned, about 30 years old.

Davis, Hiram…Theft of Hog; indicted February, 1874; fled to Louisiana.

Miller, Robert F….Murder; indicted October 5, 1874.  Generally said to be in the state of Missouri; so informed by private letter.

Goodwin, J. B….Theft of a Horse; indicted October 16, 1874; said to be living in Limestone county.

It seems that people were committing about the same crimes then as they do today.

An interesting article in the February 2, 1939 issue of the San Augustine Tribune titled “Deep East Texas R.E.A. Purchases Site For Sub-Station”.

The article reads as follows:

“Deeds were passed from D. R. Rawls to the Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc. Tuesday for a plot of ground located 33 feet from highway 21 on the southeast corner of the old ball park, according to D.N. Beasley, project superintendent.  Cash consideration in the trade was $50.00, Mr. Beasley stated.  The sub station to be erected will cost approximately $200.00, he said.

R. A. Smith, bookkeeper, stated that the electric meters for the period from December 16th, (when the electricity was turned into the lines) to January 30th, show an average electric bill of $2.92 for a total of 177 customers.  The largest bill was $5.79, being that of Mr. J. B. King of Tenaha.  The total amount of electric energy used over the period was $518.13.  Mr. H. A. Monroe, Shelbyville, has the honor to be the first customer to pay his electric bill to the Cooperative.”

And that is the way it was in San Augustine County during those past years.  Do you think things have changed just a little?






PO BOX 511



phone: 936-275-9033

cell: 936-275-6986

Email: sugarbear@netdot.com

January 19, 2013

everyone wants a free ride

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:28 am


January 18, 2013

Grandson Brett practicing his shooting

Filed under: Family,Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:35 am




January 17, 2013

One Special Young Lady


Sydney with a nice buck taken during 2012 Christmas Holidays.

Sydney has since taken a doe.

Sadly, most of our youth are addicted to electronics.

Not Sydney.

Sydney loves to hunt with her dad

and dad is never to busy to take her shooting or hunting.

Sydney loves shooting clays with her grandfather and grandmother Kettering.

Sydney was taught gun safety at very young age.

Sydney loves to duck, squirrel and dove hunt.

Sydney is fortunate to have parents that support her love of shooting.

Sydney is fortunate to have grandparents that support her love of shooting.

What kind of birthday party did she have?

Shooting Party of course.

A lot of her friends are hunters and shooters.

Now more of her girls friends want to learn how to shoot.

Sydney got her shooting genes from both sides of her family.

The genes came partially from her

paternal grandfather Larry Felts.

Her Uncle Steve Felts taught her to shoot a bow and archery hunt.

  And then she got shooting/hunting/fishing genes

from her maternal great grand father J. W. Keel

and maternal great great grand father F. A. Keel

We sure need more young folks like Sydney.

January 16, 2013

High Fence Whitetail Deer

buck _lowry_010413a

Behind ‘game proof fence’ we noticed this nice buck.

We had to wait a few minutes to see full rack.


buck _lowry_010413

And when it raises his head,

we see that one side has been shed

or lost in a battle.

January 15, 2013

Lukie and Garrett recovering duck decoys

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




January 14, 2013

Coast Guard Finds Illegal Gill Net Filled With Shark

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:40 am

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A Coast Guard crew found an illegal gill net with hundreds of dead sharks Dec. 24, 4 miles off the Texas coast.

The crew of a Coast Guard Station South Padre Island response boat spotted the gill net approximately 17 miles north of the U.S. – Mexican maritime border. The gill net was 5 miles long and was loaded with 345 dead sharks.

The species of shark seized included 225 black tip, 109 bonnet, and 11 bull sharks.

“Gill nets indiscriminately kill any fish or marine mammal it snares across miles of ocean, often leaving much of the catch spoiled by the time it is hauled in,” according to Cmdr. Daniel Deptula, the response officer for Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi. “Mexican fisheries have been depleted due to wasteful fishing methods such as gill netting and over fishing, which is why there has been increased illegal fishing activity into U.S. waters.”

Typically, catches of shark such as this are also only harvested for their fins, and the rest of the shark is discarded. During calendar year 2012, Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi seized more than 49 miles of gill net from illegal fishing activities.

Gill nets are illegal throughout Texas and devastating to the marine environment.

“We hope our efforts continue to disrupt and dissuade this illegal enterprise along our South Texas shores,” said Deptula.

On a national level, the Coast Guard is the leader in at-sea enforcement of U.S. living marine resource laws designed to protect fish stocks and protect marine species to healthy, sustainable levels, ensuring a level playing field in the legal fishing industry.

The Coast Guard works closely alongside the Texas Parks and Wildlife agency, the Department of State, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to enforce domestic fisheries laws and protect the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone from foreign encroachment.

January 13, 2013

“KILROY WAS HERE” BY: NEAL MURPHY – January 13, 2013

Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:31 am

If you were born prior to WWII you probably knew Kilroy.  You might have had a yellow or orange lapel pin with his nose hanging over the label, and the top of his hands hanging over the label, too.  I really never knew why Kilroy was so popular, or who he was, but I joined in the fun of “Kilroy Was Here”, but who the heck was Kilroy?  Where did he come from and how did he get so world-famous?

The search for Kilroy officially began in 1946 when the radio program “Speak To America” sponsored a nationwide contest to find the REAL Kilroy, offering a prize of a real trolley car to the person who could prove himself to be the genuine article.  Almost 40 men stepped forward to make that claim, but only James Kilroy from Halifax, Massachusetts, had evidence of his identity.

It seems that the “Kilroy Was Here” began quite by accident.  Mr. James Kilroy worked as a checker at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy.  His job was to go around and check on the number of rivets that had been produced.  Riveters were on a piecework and got paid by each rivet produced.

Kilroy would count a block of rivets and put a check mark in semi-waxed lumber chalk, so the rivets would not be counted twice. However, when Kilroy went off duty, the riveters would erase his mark.  Later on, an off-shift inspector would come through and count the rivets a second time, resulting in double pay for the riveters.

His boss called Kilroy on the carpet about all the extra wages being paid to riveters, and asked him to investigate.  After checking he realized what had been going on behind his back.  Rejecting paint, Kilroy opted to stick with the waxy chalk.  He continued to put his check mark on each job he inspected, but added “Kilroy Was Here” in large letters next to the check mark.  He eventually added the sketch of the chap with the long nose peering over the fence.  This all became a part of the Kilroy message.  Once he did that the riveters stopped trying to wipe away his marks.

Ordinarily the rivets and chalk marks would have been covered with paint.  However, with the war on ships were leaving the Quincy Yard so fast that there was not time to paint them.  As a result, Kilroy’s inspection “trademark” was seen by thousands of servicemen who boarded the troop ships the yard had produced.  This message apparently rang a bell with the servicemen because they picked it up and spread it all over Europe and the South Pacific.  Before the war’s end, “Kilroy” had been there, here, and everywhere on the long hauls to Berlin and Tokyo.

To the outbound troops in those ships, however, he was a complete mystery; all they knew for sure was that some jerk named Kilroy had “been there first”.  As a joke, U.S. servicemen began placing the graffiti wherever they landed, claiming it was already there when they arrived.

As the war went on, the legend grew.  Underwater demolition teams routinely sneaked ashore on Japanese-held islands in the Pacific to map the terrain for coming invasions by U.S. troops and left the logo.  In 1945, an outhouse was built for the exclusive use of Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill at the Potsdam conference. Its first occupant was Stalin, who emerged and asked his aide, “Who is Kilroy?”

To help prove his authenticity in 1946, James Kilroy brought along officials from the shipyard and some of the riveters.  He proved his case and won the trolley car, which he gave to his nine children as a Christmas gift.  It was set up as a playhouse in the Kilroy front yard in Halifax, Massachusetts.


kilroyNow you know who and what Kilroy was.  I can remember owning one of the lapel pins which I put in my top coat pocket on occasion. You might still find one at a garage sale somewhere if you look carefully.

Yes, “Kilroy Was Here” truly was an American phenomenon which helped our country through the war quite by accident.  And now you know.







P.O. BOX 511



cell: 936-275-6986


January 12, 2013

National Geographic Photo

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:32 am



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