TF&G Hunting Editor and longtime Fort Worth Star-Telegram outdoor writer Bob Hood passed away after a battle with cancer. He was 69.
We will miss not only Bob’s writing but his friendship and high level of integrity. We will have a special tribute in the March edition of TF&G. His longtime friend and fellow outdoor writer Luke Clayton penned the following tribute open Bob’s passing.
Chester Moore (TF&G Editor-In-Chief)
Tribute to Bob Hood
By Luke Clayton
One of Bob’s most prominent physical features was his hands. Bob had huge hands. But his oversized hands were dwarfed by his heart. Bob was a very unassuming guy that left the loud boisterous talking around the camp fire to others but, when Bob spoke, he always had something noteworthy to say and wise people listened.
On many occasions around the campfire, I have watched Bob wait and wait for an opening in the conversation to share some knowledge or relate an experience. I’ve seen him interrupted a time or two by an over zealous hunter that felt the need to break in with his own interjections. Bob would always quietly hold his hand up and state in his soft spoken way, “excuse me, let me finish and then I want to hear what you have to say.” This he would do in a kind but firm manner that left little doubt that Bob was about to finish imparting his wisdom to the conversation. Bob respected everyone but demanded good manners from all that he associated with.
When asked to write this tribute to my best friend, I was deeply honored but also challenged. How could I possibly relate in a few hundred words or, even a few thousand, the great times that Bob and I have enjoyed? We’ve shared untold hours in remote hunting camps and on the water pursuing everything from elk to bullfrogs. How could I best share with you just what a genuine pleasure it was to spend time outdoors with Bob?
If you could picture a hunting or fishing companion that was always thinking of ways to make your hunt or fishing trip better, you would come close to understanding why a guy such as Bob is such a treasured friend. If there were a couple of deer stands to hunt and the trail camera on one had evidenced a big buck or better wild hog activity, you would have a tough time convincing him that he was to hunt there on the afternoon hunt. He would insist that you hunt the hotspot and arguing with him was usually a fruitless endeavor.
When it comes to turkey hunting, Bob had no equal. He was there with his trusty old Ithaca single shot 12 gauge back in sixties when Texas held’s it’s first ever spring turkey season and in ensuing years, Bob never missed the thrill of watching multiple gobblers strut within shotgun range of his Ithaca. A few years ago while hunting turkeys with Bob up in Hall County, after a great camp meal of smothered venison steak, rice and gravy, Bob and I were setting on the back porch of the old camp house, relaxing and making plans for the next morning hunt. Bob’s single shot was leaning against the far wall.
“Bob, just how many turkeys have you killed with that old shotgun?” I quizzed. In his thoughtful manner, Bob looked at the old shotgun and then at me. ”Luke, I’ll have to give that a bit of thought, I don’t know exactly but I can come close.” After a few minutes of silence, to the best of my memory, Bob stated. “Somewhere just over 200 gobblers, that’s not just in Texas but other states as well.”
I could fill this entire edition with accounts of times spent outdoors with Bob. Some of our adventures were down right comical. They were funny when they occurred, but even more humorous I retrospect. Three years ago, Bob and I floated a 16 miles stretch of the Brazos below Possum Kingdom Lake. A good friend of ours had a camp set up on the Banks of the river on a ranch we hunted often. Our plan was to launch upstream and spend the day floating down river with a gentle current and join forces with our buddy before sundown for a BBQ cook out. Bob was an expert river traveler and handled a canoe as well as anyone I know. He got lots of experience when he and Jerry Dean traversed the Brazos from it’s headwaters to near Possum Kingdom Lake a decade or so ago. The trip took over a month and provided fodder for many of Bob’s columns through the years.
Bob and I glided down the Brazos that spring morning, tossing plastic worms around lay down logs and rock outcroppings, catching the occasional small bass and soaking in the sun’s warming rays. As we rounded a bend in the river, I noticed that the current was much faster on the inside of the bend. Bob dug his paddle deep into the water and his canoe glided toward the more still water along the outside bend. I remember thinking, “why not take advantage of this fast water?” I received the answer when the keel of my kayak ground firmly into a sandbar. To this day, I can picture my buddy paddling along effortlessly in the deep water while I dragged my craft off the sandbar. Bob never cracked a smile as he floated by me, nor did he kid me about it. That would have gone against his nature but I am sure behind that stoic exterior he was enjoying a good laugh.
In retrospect, this was one of the many things I learned from my friend. Fast is not always best and still water runs deep!
Then, there was that cold December day a few years ago when Bob and I were working on duck hunting articles with a mutual friend that guided on the Brazos River below Lake Whitney. We were backed into a deadfall, decoys bobbing in the fast moving water and ducks were flying close to the deck because of heavy snowfall. Shooting was good and after we had our limits of mallards and widgeon ready to put on the strap and head back to the lodge, our guide, Scott tossed Bob and I a ‘new fangled’ lanyard. Understand that between us, Bob and I shared almost a century of duck hunting experience. This was definitely not our first rodeo! I picked up the lanyard which was comprised of a wide strap for slinging over the shoulder and several smaller straps on each end with metal rings.
While Scott was picking up decoys, Bob and I attempted to ‘string’ the ducks on the new style (to us anyway) lanyard. I remember the expression on Bob’s face as he attempted to poke the mallard’s bill through the metal ring. Then I gave it a try, with of course the same results. “What’s up with this lanyard?” The only ones we had ever used had V shaped wires that the ducks head slid into. “Like this, guys.” says Scott. He made a simple loop through the metal ring, placed the loop over the ducks head and bingo! We were soon packing our birds up the banks of the Brazos. A few days later, I received an emailed image from Bob of a mallard drake with a metal ring stuck on the end of its bill. Bob’s caption was “Ringbill Drake”. From that time forward, we referred to mallard drakes as “Ringbills”.
And then, on Sam Henderson’s ranch near Eldorado in Schleicher Country a few springs ago, Bob and I were hunting turkeys. We were one what we both considered to be of the best turkey hunting ranches in the state and as Sam dove us through the ranch to an area that he said was teeming with gobblers, we had our minds more on killing turkeys than directions.
“Just remember, turn right at this old live oak, turn left here at the cattle crossing, etc. etc.” Sam was attempting to make sure Bob and I could find our way back to the main road after dark. Bob thought I was paying closer attention and I thought he was! After harvesting a couple of fine gobblers late that afternoon, we attempted to drive the maze of ranch roads, out to Farm to Market that led back to Henderson’s Camp.
After driving in circles for a half hour, we both decided to give Sam a call. “Where are yall?” answered our host. Right here by a feeder setting beside a big live oak,” says Bob. “Well, that describes about three-fourth of the feeders on the ranch.” replies Sam. “Here’s Luke, he was a surveyor for many years, tell him how to get out of here!” Bob answers.
I had a compass and took a bearing on the radio towers near San Angelo. After relating the direction from the towers to Henderson, he proceeded to ‘walk’ back to the main road via cell phone.
I will never have another hunting and fishing buddy or friend like Bob Hood. I will think about him every time I call a strutting gobbler within shotgun range or rattle up a rutting buck. The world is in sore need of more Bob Hoods these days.