Outdoor Corner: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Lyle Johnson

Last week I got asked about how Goosie and I got our start on TV with Ascension Outdoors. The question is, “What does it take to get on TV?” Without going way out in the weeds, my answer is, “Money.”

Then I go on to explain, “Buy some air time on a station, buy equipment, shoot some film (pay videographer), hire an editor, then sell advertisements to recoup your expenses and make a profit (hopefully).

Braxton Templet was hunting in Wisner with Kade Sheets when he got a two-fer. He took a boar at 95 yds and a doe at 70 yds with his 45-70.

Another question we get is. “Do you guys always catch fish and have good hunting trips?” Well the answer is no! Anybody who spends time in the outdoors knows that there are times when things don’t work out for one reason or another.

Weather, moon phase, time of year, the list can go on and on; but we all experience not so stellar outdoor excursions once in a while. Here is one of ours from the past. No, this is not a Clint Eastwood movie!

THE GOOD: I’d been working nights, 32 consecutive ones as a matter of fact. So I decided it was time to take a morning and hunt, even if it cost me some sleep. I left work at 5:45 a.m. and met my crew in Port Vincent. Goosie, Nathon Williams, Eddie Bourque along with Wesley my son as our cameraman. We headed to Mullin’s Swamp Hunting Club to tape a squirrel hunt for our TV show.

The temperature was in the high 30s as there was a little frost on some of the roofs we passed by and it was a clear day; picture perfect weather for following our squirrel dog, Cocoa, through the woods. Ah, it was great just being in the outdoors on a beautiful morning. We hadn’t walked 50 yards when Cocoa began barking and I thought, “Man, this is going to be a great hunt!”

Lane Edmonston killed this 9 point buck at 3E hunting club on family owned property in Natchez Mississippi while hunting with his dad Cody Edmonston. Buck was 188 pounds and shot with a 243 caliber on Nov. 14.

THE BAD: The cadence of her bark sounded like a steady treeing bark and we walked with great anticipation to bag our first squirrel. When we got to where the dog was, she was barking in a hole in the ground. “Rats, probably a possum,” and we called her off and went looking for a squirrel.

In the next 20 minutes, Cocoa treed twice more and we never saw either squirrel. This was only the beginning of what seemed to be a great hunt that went downhill fast. Our dog barked on another tree and we looked and looked, but never saw any squirrel.

Sometimes the furry critters won’t hold in the tree they run up so I decided to shake a vine in a likely looking tree that could be the one it traveled to. Sure enough the rascal started up the tree but Goosie couldn’t get off a shot. We never saw the squirrel again. Squirrels 4, hunters 0 and frustration began to set in.

This turned out to be one of those days when the squirrels didn’t stay put where they left the ground and traveled from tree to tree and got away. Cocoa must have treed at least 10 or 12 times and we only killed one.

THE UGLY: Like I said, we only managed to kill one and it was not pretty. Cocoa barked up a small tree and as usual we never saw anything where the squirrel went up. But there was a big oak tree right next to that small tree and we figured sure that’s where it was.

Like a lot of other trees that had been hit by hurricane Katrina, many of the branches were broken off and there was a pile of them right at the base of that tree. We shook vines on that tree and plenty of other trees in the area without seeing anything and decided to head out and try to find another.

Just as we were walking away, that dumb squirrel jumped out of a small tree that we didn’t look in and landed between me and Nathon. It made a few jumps and went up that big oak tree. I moved into a better position and sure enough it ran up the tree on my side and I fired off a shot.

I could tell I had hit it but that didn’t stop its progress and he continued up the tree. Nathon got off a shot and the squirrel came tumbling down. Nathon thought he had made a kill, but I thought I saw the squirrel trying to catch a limb to hold on and climb back up the tree.

After we looked for a few minutes in all those broken limbs with the dog helping out, Goosie thought he saw something take off and the dog followed. Nathon and Wesley were convinced the animal was dead but it wasn’t. Cocoa went to a tree about 15 feet from the other one and tried to climb to a hole in the tree that was about 3 feet off the ground.

We couldn’t believe we let another one get away, but this one was crippled so we decided to try to get it out of the hole so it wouldn’t suffer unnecessarily. Eddie had a flare we could light so he tried to light it. But to make matters worse, it wouldn’t light. How bad could our luck be!

After finally getting it lit, the squirrel came flying out of the hole, through the lit flare, startled Eddie and hit the ground running. Cocoa caught up with it, pounced on the wounded animal and quickly finished it off; we had our only squirrel of the day. That was not a “picture perfect” hunting scene for a TV show or anything else for that matter.

So, do we have bad trips? Too many to count and you don’t get to see them, you just get to read about them. The story speaks for itself; “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”! I have quite a few unfinished tapes with a pitiful amount of film that’s not useable.

So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you!