November 23, 2011

2011 Vacation: The After Action Report

Every November, I take a little trip to Texas for some much needed R&R, some much needed CEU credits, and some much needed time with friends that I don't get to see enough. Ambulance Driver, TOTWTYTR, Jules, Wes, and Donn, among others.

Friday, I caught a flight from DEN to IAH to AUS. Last year, I flew so much that I attained United Airline's 1K status, which is given if you reach 100,000 miles or 100 segments. It gets you some perks, like free checked bags, frequent upgrades to First Class, a dedicated reservation line, and some other stuff. And I loved it. This trip, I was in First Class from Denver to Houston, and availed myself of a Bloody Mary on the flight.

Landed Austin, got the rental car, and hit the road to Thornton for the Epic Hog Hunt of 2011. We spend a couple days at 4 Pines Ranch, hunting for feral hogs. These hogs are a huge nuisance to land owners, digging up the land and causing havoc.

I arrived Friday evening, after dark, and had the good fortune to meet OldNFO, who is a really pleasant fellow. He, AD, TOTWTYTR, and our friend from London, who I affectionately call Limey, had been out in the blinds, but hadn't seen a single hog. We cooked, we ate, we put down a fair bit of beer, and hit the rack.

Up early the next morning, sitting in the blinds, waiting for hogs. I saw a decent 8 point buck (pity I didn't have a deer tag!) and a doe with a couple yearlings, but no hogs. Then, too, neither did anyone else. I did, however, get to watch the sun rise over the Texas hills, and that's worth the price of admission.

There's a view you don't get every day.

My kingdom for a doe tag...

We called it a morning, had breakfasts, swung up to Mexia for supplies at Wal-Mart, then went to the range to run some rounds through the guns and turned money into smoke and noise. I managed to put two rounds through my Remington 700 30-06 into a half inch group at 100 yards, so I was pretty happy with my marksmanship and the sights. We also perforated an armadillo that had the misfortune of crossing the firing line the day before, when the rest of the guys were sighting in their guns. Ever see the end result of an armadillo vs. a 5.56 NATO round from an M4 with Trijicon sights? At 40 yards, it seemed like the perfect balance between pistol targets at 15 yards and the rifle target at 100 yards. By the end of our range time, that armadillo corpse had more holes in it than Charlie Sheen's nasal septum.

We then did a "Push", which involved AD and OldNFO at one end of a creek, and myself, TOTW, Limey, and the ranch owner starting at the other end, walking along with our rifles, hoping to spook a hog or five into running down-water, into AD's sights, with NFO as his BUG.

No such luck. It was warm, windy, and Matt (ranch owner) wisely mentioned that an animal that depends on smell and sound to survive wouldn't be out in 15mph winds. Sensible, I suppose.

At any rate, Saturday evening and Sunday morning in the blinds didn't bring any better luck, and we called it a busted hunt. We did, however, cook up two pounds of bacon for breakfast on Sunday, which took the edge off the pain of being skunked on hogs. Still and all, a bad day hunting beats a good day working.

Next year, that bacon is going to have bullet holes in it!

We headed towards Austin, making a at Wal Mart for a few things I needed for my presentation. Now, AD is a true redneck down to his core, and he is ATE UP with camoflage... camo clothes, camo wallet, camo hats, camo electrical cord. At the Wal Mart in Mexia, he was giggling like a school girl over Mossy Oak camo duct tape. Naturally, when I saw this at the Wal Mart in Round Rock, I was sorely tempted to buy it for him:

All he'd need is a bag of cheetos and AD would be the happiest man alive.

Finally we made the Hilton in Austin, checked in, and after a much needed shower, we met up with some more folks for a feast of Mexican food, margaritas, and many EMS stories. Bryan Bledsoe, a friend of mine from Austin PD, and a few other folks.

Conference ran Monday -Wednesday noon, and I had three lectures on Monday. They went well, I reckon, since nobody threw rotten fruit at me. If nothing else, the lectures paid for my hotel and airfare.

Tonight, I'm staying with a friend who was kind enough to offer me her guest room and a ride to the airport in the morning. It's always enjoyable to come down here, and I'll be back next year. Vaya Con Dios, Texas.

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