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 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Turtle hunt leaves us shellshocked

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
The great turtle hunt.

Among this year's experiences to date is a story about our developing a new fishing lake and the turtles contained therein, plus a couple of turtle stories.
Big turtle in Texas

TE Photo

I have a Native American friend who, for years, has "rescued" turtles from the freeways, placing them in her large, fenced backyard. At feeding time, she steps to her back porch, bangs a pan with a spoon and the entire backyard comes alive with healthy turtles arriving to be fed.

A relative living in California, also with a large backyard, became host to a wayward desert turtle who took up residence. Since it is on the endangered species list, it sported its own tattoo number, registered description and has been to the local vet twice.

The turtle tale continues. We have a small, swampy lagoon area that old timers called Blue Hole, where they played hooky from Alanreed school, rode their horses across the pastures and swam in the cool waters. It must have been larger and deeper in the old days.

At the urging of our daughter-in-law, Janice, we decided to clean the place, trim the brush and develop it into a fishing camp for the family. A plan was agreed, the work began and, after a few months passed, the camp was finished, complete with a new fence to keep the cattle out.

Since none of us knew beans about improving and stocking a pond, we used a pond consultant (available at no charge) provided by a business that sold stock fish. Pond size, depth, history, age, surroundings and eventual use were all logged in, a plan suggested and the development began in earnest.

The water was cleaned the best we could, banks leveled and secured, shade trees trimmed and parking spaces built. We bought a stock of minnows, bass and hybrid brim as recommended. After the fish were released, the expert asked if we had any turtles? When we stopped to study the lake and watch, we had more turtles than you could count. Big turtles, middle-sized turtles and many little, bitty turtles. We were told that would not do. We had to lower the count.

We built a home-made turtle trap. After all, a turtle can't be too smart. Ha! The only turtle casualty was one that laughed himself to death after seeing our contraption. We ordered a manufactured turtle trap from the fish people. It was a square aluminum cage that floated with trap doors on top that dumped the turtles as they lay in the sun. The great turtle hunt began.

Three days went by, no turtles caught. The new trap was too shiny. I pulled it ashore, rubbed mud and moss all over the shiny places, reset and waited. To date, we have caught 42 turtles, from large as a plastic bucket to little bitty. All have been scattered to other dirt tanks across the ranch, as far from the fishing lake as possible.

I have been told to place a beautiful, well-developed female turtle inside the trap as a lure for other turtles. So far, I have not been able to determine the sex of a turtle by looking! Do any of you readers know the formula?

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" October 21, 2009 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

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