Visit To La Viña

Visit To La Viña

It was a great plan. We were to spend the weekend in the heart of Webb County, Texas, at a rustic old spot called La Viña, located on the famous Shipp Ranch. I'd been to the place before and figured it would be perfect for a few days of hunting, fishing, and just hanging out with my dad. The Shipp was owned by Col. Evan Quiros, who'd graciously given us permission to set up camp at La Viña, which was just an old adobe line shack turned into a deer camp. To me, an outdoor-loving eight-year-old kid, it might as well have been a palace.

Friday after school, I had my gear packed. Dad had come home a little early and put together our needed accoutrement, which consisted of biscuit makings, some venison, and other odds and ends for a pot of stew; his Ruger Flattop .44 Magnum and ammo; and my old Winchester Model 62A and a brick of .22 ammo. Lastly, he threw in a couple of yellow legal pads. I stared at the pads a minute, then looked at him questioningly.


"Yep, I'm planning on getting a little writing done at La Viña," he said. "At least there'll be plenty of peace and quiet there. I've got a short deadline on a story for Shooting Times."


One thing was for sure, when the old man was writing, he demanded peace and quiet. Around the house when his deadlines neared, it was required that my presence be limited to quiet excursions to the kitchen for a drink or snack followed by an immediate exit. TV was out of the question. At least I'd be able to get out and shoot and fish at La Viña.

We arrived at the remote little camp well after dark. Dad made a cursory check of the place to clear out any loitering rattlers, tarantulas, or vinegaroons, which were generally in abundance. We stowed our gear, had a bite to eat, and set in for a little reading before bed. I had a hard time sleeping, thinking of the small-game hunting and bass fishing in Col. Quiros's well-stocked tanks the coming two days would bring about.


I woke up to the sound of a crackling fire that Dad had just stoked up. He was scraping up fixings for an omelet, which he was planning to make in a cast iron skillet over the fire. La Viña's fireplace was about all there was for a kitchen. Along with the aromatic smell of the burning mesquite, there was another odor about. I lay in my bunk a moment before recognizing the smell of rain and the sound of the steady pour on the old tin roof. I jumped out of the bunk and ran to the door to look outside, hoping to see just a passing rain cloud. That wasn't the case.


"Yep, pretty well socked in, I'm afraid," Dad said without looking up from the omelet makings. "Looks like we'll be stuck inside a while."

Rain in South Texas is a precious commodity, and I'm sure Col. Quiros was ecstatic about having a good soaker, but my own mood was far from delightful. After breakfast I wandered out into the downpour for a moment. The caliche entrance to La Viña had turned into a slippery goo about 3 inches deep. There wouldn't be much hunting. Even if I'd elected to give it a go, the old man likely wouldn't let me get my nice Winchester soaked. Part of the problem of course was the fact that Dad wasn't going to like being cooped up in the adobe shack trying to write with me hanging around with nothing to do. I left my mud-caked boots at the door and went on in to dry off. He was sitting next to the fireplace, concentrating on his legal pad. I quietly grabbed a magazine and went to my bunk.

As we both knew would be the case, the situation didn't work. After a while Dad tossed the yellow pad aside and picked up his old Rolleicord camera. If he couldn't get his writing going with me lurking about, he figured to get some pictures taken for the article.

After the photography session, the rain let up slightly. Dad tossed me his old army poncho and pointed at a fishing rod.

"Take a walk on over to the tank and see if you can't catch us a bass for lunch," he said.

It had eased into a steady drizzle, which didn't bother me a bit. Before arriving at the camp, Col. Quiros had outfitted me with one of his special bass lures, sure to land a lunker. He'd warned me sternly not to lose it since it was the last one he had. The fishing turned out to be pretty good, and I pulled in one pretty good large-mouth of perfect lunch size. After losing the lure, I headed on back to camp, the rain getting heavy again. Dad had written about two paragraphs in my absence.

After shedding my soggy clothes, we lunched on the bass, which Dad doused in cornmeal and fried in bacon grease.

"We may never get outta here if this keeps up," Dad said after lunch. "Might as well pack your gear and we'll head home."

I was pretty disappointed as we got in the truck and slid our way out to the highway back to Laredo, but Dad assured me we'd return to La Viña in better weather. We stopped by the Shipp headquarters to see Col. Quiros on the way out. I was afraid he might not allow me back over the fishing lure, but thankfully he didn't immediately remember it.

"Get your article finished Skeet?" the Colonel asked.

"Naw. That damned Shooting Times editor'll just have to wait," Dad replied.

"You've never paid any attention to deadlines anyway," the Colonel added with a chuckle.

Editors and deadlines weren't things I paid much attention to back in those days. I could have cared less about them, but I knew they were of importance to Dad. All I knew on the way back home was that even though our trip had pretty much been rained out, it was a great time.

These sort of memories contribute greatly to the honor of now having my own column at Shooting Times. It is a real privilege to follow in my dad's footsteps, and I'm thankful to all the great folks, even the editors, who have allowed me to do so.

I'm a little nervous about having to follow great writers like my dad and Sheriff Jim Wilson, but hopefully I've found a good home. And yeah, I inherited the old man's requirement of serenity while working.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Skills Drills: 3-Second Headshot

Skills Drills: 3-Second Headshot

James Tarr runs through the 3-Second Headshot drill.

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Keith Feeley of Tactical Solutions sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to talk about the new X-Ring Takedown SBR .22LR rifle.

Springfield Armory Saint Victor

Springfield Armory Saint Victor

The SAINT' Victor Rifle delivers a lightweight and agile rifle solution while maintaining effectiveness at extended engagement distances.

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Cutting-edge projectiles provide unprecedented performance in the venerable old workhorse, the .30-06. Ammo

Get the Most Out of the .30-06

Joseph von Benedikt - April 01, 2019

Cutting-edge projectiles provide unprecedented performance in the venerable old workhorse, the...

How can a shorter-barreled revolver have higher velocities than a longer-barreled semiautomatic pistol? Handguns

Revolver vs. Semiautomatic Pistol: A Ballistic Oddity

Allan Jones - May 15, 2019

How can a shorter-barreled revolver have higher velocities than a longer-barreled...

The joys of handloading are many, and one of them is sharing the experience with a novice. Reloading

Share the Handloading Experience

Lane Pearce - May 19, 2019

The joys of handloading are many, and one of them is sharing the experience with a novice.

These cheap postwar variants offer perhaps the best value on the vintage-Mauser market. Rifles

Yugoslavian M24/47 Mauser-Pattern Rifle

Joseph von Benedikt - May 13, 2019

These cheap postwar variants offer perhaps the best value on the vintage-Mauser market.

See More Trending Articles

More Ammo

Weatherby has announced two new Mark V rifles the Backcountry and Backcountry Ti in combination with an all new Weatherby 6.5 RPM magnum cartridge. Ammo

Weatherby 6.5 RPM, Mark V Backcountry Rifles First Look

Shooting Times Digital Staff - September 06, 2019

Weatherby has announced two new Mark V rifles the Backcountry and Backcountry Ti in...

Don't rule out older centerfire rounds, such as the 22 LR or 256 Win. Mag, for going after small game. Some of those cartridges are very stylish indeed. Ammo

.22 LR, .256 Win. Mag and Other Small Game Cartridges

Terry Wieland - December 24, 2019

Don't rule out older centerfire rounds, such as the 22 LR or 256 Win. Mag, for going after...

In single-shot firearms, .35-caliber rifle bullets are great performers in the .357 Maximum cartridge. Ammo

Put the .357 Maximum Where It Works

Allan Jones - March 06, 2020

In single-shot firearms, .35-caliber rifle bullets are great performers in the .357 Maximum...

The CCI Clean-22 .22 LR ammunition features an exclusive polymer bullet coating that is similar to the coating used on sister company Federal's Syntech centerfire ammunition. Ammo

CCI Clean-22 .22 LR Ammo

Joel J. Hutchcroft - February 03, 2020

The CCI Clean-22 .22 LR ammunition features an exclusive polymer bullet coating that is...

See More Ammo

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.