In Texas, November 7th is a big day for a lot of folks all over the state. And I do mean, all over the state. Deer hunting season starts that date, and if you've been watching the frenzied "gettin' ready" activities of your friends and neighbors, you know what I mean.
You've seen them driving the major highways headed toward certain deer filled parts of the state the past several months, towing truckloads of gear and campers and the like, getting ready to set up hunting camps.
I'm not a big hunter, although I have hunted in my lifetime somewhat extensively in younger years. My father was brought up as a hunter, out of necessity, and although we usually didn't eat the game we killed, my father always had friends and clients ready to take whatever live game we had from a hunting trip.
Seeing all of the hunters heading up to supply their leases or if they're lucky, their own places for hunting season. It's a ritual and a rite of passage in our State.
We had several "places" outside Houston when I was growing up. One was in Cypress, deep in Cypress and a lovely rural area. We had 40 acres, and two of my dad's friends owned the adjoining 80 acres, so there was plenty of land for roaming and shooting and the like. It was filled with large but sparsely located oaks, and tons of yupon bushes. The neighbor, a retired Houston Oiler, had a huge lake and let us fish there whenever we wanted. It was a pretty good drive to get there from where we lived in Houston, but during high school and the following years my friends and I made often use of that pond and hunted lots of quail and deer out there.
We also had a 35 acre place with a cabin located on a large creek that feeds the San Jacinto River in northern Montgomery County, and that was the place we frequented the most. An architect from Houston had built a rustic but large creekside cabin, elevated and fairly far back from the creek, sometime in the late 50's. It had been his families weekend retreat.
It became my father and my favorite place to go. The cabin had electricity and water although it was badly in need of a new well. Over the years, a variety of characters who were handymen or craftsmen that my father took a liking to and trusted to do honest work did fix up work on the cabin. Unfortunately, in the early 80's, although the cabin was still a pretty good ways from this large creek sitting on a bluff about 20 yards above the creek, a freak 100 year flood hit some years ago and undercut the bank, causing the cabin to collapse into the void underneath it and be swept partly away.
We gave a friend the remainder of the vintage cedar lumber that remained from the structure. At one time, it had been a cozy, cathedral ceiling two story cedar cabin with a cedar shingle exerior and metal roof, with a large two story rock fireplace and a total of four bedrooms. It had an extremely large communal kitchen/dining area/living room centered around the fireplace, made a Texas Hill Country stone of some sort.
We did some deer hunting there over the years. Our tract was surrounded by thousands of acres of undeveloped land on 3 sides, with no road access within miles of three sides of our property. It was as East Texas of a wilderness as there was, and my friends and I, taken to the Cabin by my dad ran wild in those days. Archery and BB Guns when we were in the sixth grade, but we were quickly deemed safety conscious enough to carry .22 rifles and pistols and a variety of shotguns or 30.30 rifles.
Those East Texas woods were full of lots of critters. One of our handyman, Charlie, actually happened to be handy with a pistol, and must have been a boy scout in his youth because he was prepared with his Ruger Single Action .22 Magnum pistol when a sizeable black cat or wild cat of somesort lept from the top of a tree next to the roof that Charlie was working on and started coming at him. He had his pistol in his tool bag after having had encountered snakes in trees around the cabin and was able to take the cat out.
Everyone who looked at it thought it looked rabid. Some neighbors came over and looked at it and later had the county health folks look at it. As I recall, it was rabid.
The attendant rattlesnakes and water moccasins and coppermouths were abundant and we had 007 license to dispatch as many of these as we could. The place was literally full of snakes, bad snakes. And often agressive snakes when I'd go fishing.
There were so many snakes that my dad and I always had a ritual in those days. When we'd arrive at the place in the truck, which required traversing two private right of way roads along the property of others, we'd part a distance from the cabin. We knew there would be snakes either around the cabin or in the creek right next to the cabin. As well as up in trees.
We'd each have a pistol and a rifle or shotgun, and we'd approach the place, dispatching any snakes that we could detect. These were aggressive East Texas snakes, and I've never been around as many water moccasins before or since. There was always three or four snakes hanging out in immediate view within about a 50 foot radius of the place. It was just damn snakey.
For that reason, my mother and sister did not frequent the Cabin. They visited it once, saw a large snake and never expressed any interest in visiting the Cabin again. We would check it frequently, often during Saturday family drives where we would eat out and go "check the place" just to make sure it was ok.
We had neighbors there who kept an eye on it, the folks we had purchased the right of ways from. But my Mother and Sister would stay in the car while we did a quick walk around to make sure it was ok.
Over the years, it got busted into only once, by a gang of ex-convicts, one of whom had visited the Cabin as a child with the original owners and needed a place to hang. The neighbors reported it to us and the local constabulary who raided the parolees, who were in possession of all kinds of drugs and guns and such, and went back off to prison assumably.
The break in and several day occupation resulted in some damage to the place, so the handymen returned to work on the place on the weekends, and we'd come out there to watch them do their stuff and help them out occasionally. Mostly, I'd bring a friend or two and we'd wander and shoot and fish. My father was always good about being adventurous and exploring his property, and the Cabin property was diverse and full of all kinds of trees and bushes and a small swamp and the creek and several neighboring lake or tanks that we had permission to fish.
The creek itself was a large one, uncontrolled and prone to flooding. My folks got the property for a real bargain at the time, based upon the creek and it's volitile nature. On several occasions the creek did flood up to the Cabin and barely into it's floorboards. But until the flood that destroyed it, we certainly got our money's worth in enjoyment from it. And of course, the land increased in value, due to far reaching development in Montgomery County in the 1980's and 1990's.
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