Through the lens with Bob Hood

Outdoors writer Bob Hood shares highlights from his latest outdoor expeditions in his Through the Lens Journal. Click here to see Bob's outdoors photo gallery. Got a photo of your own to share? Upload it here to our reader gallery.

Blogging from the Brazos ...

There aren’t many things that will refresh your mind better than a canoe trip down a river like the Brazos below Possum Kingdom Lake — even if it’s just a short trek.

Luke Clayton of Combine and I put our canoes into the river at Rochelle’s Canoe Rental below the Highway 4 bridge, crossing a few miles from the Possum Kingdom Lake dam Tuesday for an estimated six-mile trip downstream.

Clayton’s craft actually is half-kayak/half-canoe and is very stable in the water.

The current was slow but steady, which is just about perfect for casting for largemouth bass. Clayton and I targeted the various brush piles and logs along the steepest side of the river and caught bass on lime green, Texas-rigged plastic worms.

The bass weren’t big, but they provided a nice break from paddling as we worked our way to our final destination — the Holt River Ranch campground where our friends, John Bryan of Graham and Dubb Wallace of Haltom City, awaited our arrival.

A slight breeze and light rain that peppered down for about 25 minutes helped keep the temperature comfortable, but it was the quiet peacefulness of the river that we enjoyed the most. I can’t wait to do it again.

A rattlesnake encounter at Port Mansfield

I returned from a fishing trip to Port Mansfield on Wednesday night not only with a nice bunch of redfish fillets but also with a reminder for all of us who venture outdoors during the warm-weather months: Watch out for poisonous snakes.

On Tuesday afternoon while searching for wildlife to photograph near the shore, I had my third encounter with a rattlesnake in the past three weeks. The other two were on ranches in Palo Pinto and Stephens counties.

I walked to within three feet of the 5-foot Port Mansfield snake, which had 12 rattles. It was on a trail where I previously had photographed turkeys and deer. The snake immediately went into a coiled striking position and, of course, I immediately surrendered the territory to him — but not before taking a few photos.

Snakes, even poisonous ones like rattlesnakes, have a place in nature, but they demand caution among those of us who venture into their habitat. Whenever and wherever you go hiking, hunting, fishing, camping or boating, just use caution, especially when with children, and always try to be aware of your surroundings.After all, it is their world we are visiting.

-- Bob

A look at Lens and Land

I’m always looking for places where I can photograph wildlife up close and personal, undisturbed and in their natural surroundings. My photo blinds have been as simple as head-to-toe camouflaged clothing and brush, to camo nettings and stationary blinds. After more than 40 years of taking literally thousands of photos of wildlife, one can only imagine the various settings and weather conditions I have experienced with each click of the shutter.

One of my most enjoyable days afield with a camera came about last spring while I was in the Harlingen-McAllen area visiting with John and Audrey Martin and learning about a Lens and Land program for novice and professional photographers.

Wildlife photography is especially rewarding from about April through early June in many parts of the state because that’s when cactus and other flower-producing plants are in bloom and can help highlight wildlife scenes.

Lens and Land is a cooperative group of landowners who will allow you access to their private, gated properties and provide you with undisturbed time to photograph birds and animals from blinds they have constructed around carefully-planned water holes.

I spent a half-day in one of the Martin’s photo blinds and had a blast photographing birds that came to a small pond the Martins had created in a brushy flat. A hose from a nearby windmill ensures the pond always has water and logs and limbs for the birds to use have been placed strategically close to the spacious blind built half underground.

The setup provided me with a bird’s eye view of green jays, kiskadees, white-tipped doves, cardinals, and a host of other birds that came in for a drink or to eat seeds the Martins had placed on the logs. Although birds make up most of the photo subjects in some areas, it isn’t unusual for a photographer to see frogs, snakes, turtles, javelinas, bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, deer, turkey and other animals within yards of Lens and Land blinds.

Since learning about Lens and Land I have wondered why more landowners searching for ways to attract eco-tourism to their properties haven’t done something similar.

You can find more information about the program at Lensandland.com.

-- Bob

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