Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Weekend in Water Valley, Texas: Or, How to De-Skunk a Dog

We have just returned to Dallas after a weekend of rest and adventure at the Double D Game Ranch in Water Valley, Texas.

Double D is a beautiful place notable for its rough terrain and abundance of game. The ranch house could comfortably sleep at least 20 people and is brilliantly functional. From porch sitting to shuffleboard to watching the Rangers take the pennant, the house treated us well. Of course, the outdoors is why we came. In addition to beautiful white tail bucks (who clearly knew November had not yet arrived), we spotted red stag, black bucks, axis, yaks, and exotic sheep. It reminded me of being on safari without the 30 hour flight and intestinal ailments. All in all, a great anniversary weekend, as Megan and I celebrated our fifth and George and Laura celebrated their third. Some human fun below:

Reloading the Judge

George and Laura, the trusty Mule in the background

Megan at the blind known on the ranch as the Playboy Mansion. Easily the most comfortable blind I've ever been in.

George invites some friends to dinner.

Some enormous Pere David deer I watched from the front porch this morning:

Dogs on the Ranch

As much fun as we had, I'm fairly sure Harper and Lady enjoyed themselves more. With open spaces, a muddy stock tank, and deer to chase, they never ran short on entertainment. In fact, I am pretty sure labs and golden retrievers are bred with places like the Double D in mind.

Having witnessed Harper's adventures in Red River and in Brenham, we expected a certain degree of mischief. However, new levels of mischief were achieved.

As it turns out, a ranch that specializes in professional hunts produces a fair amount of exotic bones, skulls, hides, and other odds and ends. These left-over bits provide immediate interest to vultures but long term interest to certain dogs hardwired to find things and bring them back to their owners. By time we left, we had retrieved 15 such items from our beloved retriever. A few examples below:

Last night, after a long day of hunting and deer cleaning, George and I contemplated the fire pit, which would soon provide us with delicious axis deer filets to join the mashed potatoes and quinoa salad Megan and Laura had prepared. Enjoying a cold beer and warm fire, I briefly forgot to check up on my pup. After a while, I heard a low growl coming from some nearby scrub. I recognized the growl as Harper's and my heart sunk--I was convinced he'd come across some wild hogs. I expected him to be gouged at any moment, and my nearest firearm, the Judge, was loaded with 7 1/2 birdshot . . . not enough shot to even mildly annoy a hog. George ran to the Mule and swung the headlights around in just enough time to spot a skunk. But by then, we were too late.

My fragrant friend came running back towards us, so proud of himself for acquiring yet another layer of exquisite wild scent (layered over perfume de stock tank). I assessed our options and settled on tying him up until morning.

Unfortunately we had no tomato juice, but I had spotted some unique soap in the shower. Designed to take the human scent away from deer hunting humans, Scent Killer seemed promising. Megan read the bottle and discovered it actually breaks down proteins. Between that and our alternative--a half bottle of Ragu, which was as close as we could come to tomato juice--I went with Scent Killer.

The washing process was brutal. Harper squirmed, and the scent was overwhelming. Fortunately, the soap worked, and we were able to drive back to Dallas with a skunk-free dog . . . a dog who is now taking the longest nap of all time.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fox and the Bird

Live in the Dallas Arts District on a gorgeous day. Any band with a guitar, uke, banjo, and mandolin has to be great. These folks are particularly good. I predict a bright future.
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