HOME RANGE: Notes on Literature, Nature, Working Dogs, History, Other Obsessions and Sundry Annoyances by Henry Chappell

New Video: Horses to Ride, Cattle to Cut

December 3, 2016

Tags: Horses to Ride, Video, East Foundation, Wyman

Here's a short, new East Foundation video about Horses to Ride, Cattle to Cut featuring my buddy and collaborator Wyman Meinzer. Enjoy!

SWS Teaser

November 30, 2016

Tags: Silent We Stood

"Father’s Reminiscence
Transcribed July 26, 1911

"Even after all that I have done and risked and supported, I remain suspicious of social movements, despite the good they sometimes accomplish. I doubt the purity of motive of those who embrace and carry out causes. Yes, some are driven by outrage at injustice. Others, equally efficient, are motivated by resentment of privilege. Still others seek to carry out religious imperatives. If their interpretation of the Scriptures condemns slavery, then slavery must end. What the religious feel toward the enslaved seems to matter little. Others love the pain of those with whom they hold stark ideological differences. Some take more pleasure in revenge against perpetrators of injustice than in aiding the oppressed. A good many seem natural Jacobins, born to disaffection. They chafe against any perceived power, any state of affairs."

Late Season Peppers

November 23, 2016

Tags: peppers, gardening

Picked the last of the fall peppers this afternoon. Yeah, they're small - I don't fertilize after mid-summer - but they're at their tastiest this time of year. Around mid-October, I snip off all the smaller peppers that won't have time to mature, prune unproductive branches, and hope for the best for the remaining peppers. Time to clean up and mulch this last bed and let the garden sleep until February onion planting.

You know you want one!

November 23, 2016

Tags: Wyman Meinzer, Yeti, Tumbler

Millions of people have watched this video about my buddy Wyman Meinzer - so many, in fact, that Yeti has introduced the Wyman Meinzer Tumbler in the 20 and 30 ounce versions. I'm not making a penny on this, but I think the tumblers are cool, and I'm delighted for Wyman. If, like millions of other lovers of wildlife and wild country, you've enjoyed Wyman's photos, I hope you'll support him by ordering one or more of these branded tumblers.

San Antonio Viejo Deer Capture

November 22, 2016

Tags: San Antonio Viejo, Deer Capture, Wyman Meinzer

Lunchtime this past Friday at the annual San Antonio Viejo deer capture. Over the course of the day, researchers netted and released nearly a hundred deer for a long term investigation into the effects and interaction of drought and cattle grazing on wildlife. Every deer was examined and tagged. Wyman was there to photograph the action. I was there to … well … enjoy the helicopter ride and the best beef fajitas I’ve ever eaten.

M.O.S.T. Signing

November 22, 2016

Tags: Museum of South Texas History, Horses to Ride, Cattle to Cut

Wyman and I enjoyed another packed house this past Thursday night at the beautiful Museum of South Texas History. Great staff, great food, and enthusiastic, engaging readers. If you ever find yourself in the Edinburgh vicinity, do yourself a favor and stop by the museum for a couple hours - at least.

Fun in San Antonio

November 9, 2016

Tags: San Antonio, Witte Museum, Horses to Ride, Cattle to Cut

Wyman and I had a great time signing books at a packed event sponsored by the East Foundation and hosted at the beautiful Witte Museum. Books moved as fast as we could sign them. Our thanks to Neal Wilkins and the other great folks at the East Foundation and the Witte, and of course to all of the readers who came out to support us.

Little Creek, Big Fight

November 4, 2016

Tags: Bois D'Arc Creek, Russell Graves

Spent yesterday with my friend Russell Graves on his home ground in the Bois D'Arc Creek bottomland in Fannin County, in northeast Texas. We're working on a little magazine project. Russell is shooting the photos, and I'm writing the story. Finished piece should be out early next year. Here's a little video Russell shot and produced a few years back:


Restoring Longleaf Pine

October 25, 2016

Tags: Longleaf Pine, Texas Conservation Alliance, Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine

In the course of some other research for an upcoming magazine article, I ran across this nice little video produced by the Texas Conservation Alliance. This isn't anti-logging propaganda, but a case for restoration and sustainable forestry. Back in 2009, I wrote “Saving a Piney Paradise” for Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine. Here’s the opening, on the Texas’s longleaf pine forests:

“The dead, brown pine needles on the footpath catch my eye before the green ones growing 50 feet over my head. I pick up an especially long one and lay it on my forearm. The needle extends from the base of my hand nearly to my elbow.
Longleaf pine. It grows in nearly pure stands on well-drained uplands from southeastern Virginia to East Texas. Left to mature, longleaf pines can reach heights of a hundred feet or more. The boles run straight and uniform. Its tough, porous outer layer protects it from hot fires that kill hardwoods and other kinds of pine. Its home — the dry, sandy uplands — burns easily and often.

The first chroniclers in East Texas described giants. Old photographs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries substantiate their claims: vast stands, open and park-like, and trunks of 350-year-old trees more than 3 feet in diameter.
Early Anglo settlers called the longleaf forests “pine barrens,” and tended to skirt them. Corn and cotton are far less adapted for drawing nutrients from the upland soil than are longleaf pines.

Amos Parker, traveling west of Nacogdoches in 1834, had this to say of the longleaf pinelands:

“Immediately after leaving the town we came into pine woods again; to all appearance, the same we had already passed over — rolling, sandy soil; the trees straight and tall, but standing so far apart that a carriage might go almost anywhere among them. The grass grew beneath them, and we could see a great distance as we passed along.”
A wagon and mule team could easily wend through longleaf forest. As could a skidder. A house built of unpainted longleaf boards will last a century.

Today, only a few good longleaf stands remain in Texas. One of the best can be found here at Boykin Springs.

Along the trail, skinks, warmed by the February sun, rustle in the dry duff. A few sluggish grasshoppers flush. Just like in the old photos, the woods are open, with knee-high grass growing amid healthy, fire-blackened boles.

Mostly, these are vigorous middle-age trees, less than 80 years old. In earlier times, as ancient trees succumbed to red heart fungus, red-cockaded woodpeckers bored into the softened heartwood and made themselves at home.

Perhaps they will again, someday.”

Enjoy the video. Note the red cockaded woodpecker segment around 7:00:

Growth or Plunder?

October 18, 2016

Tags: Texas, urban growth, Joel Kotkin, Wendell Cox

In yesterday’s Dallas Morning News, urbanists Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox celebrated Texas’s unprecedented urban growth:

“Overall, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston have emerged as the nation's fastest-expanding big-city economies. Between 2000 and 2015, Dallas-Fort Worth boosted its net job numbers by 22.7 percent, and Houston expanded by an even better 31.2 percent. Smaller Austin (38.2 percent job-base increase) and once-sleepy San Antonio (31.4 percent) have done just as well. New York, by way of comparison, increased its number of jobs in those years by just 10 percent, Los Angeles by 6.5 percent and San Francisco by 5.2 percent, while Chicago actually lost net employment.

“And the Texas jobs are not just low-wage employment. Middle-class positions, those paying between 80 percent and 200 percent of the national median wage, have expanded 39 percent in Austin, 26 percent in Houston and 21 percent in Dallas since 2001. These percentages far outpace the rate of middle-class job creation in San Francisco (6 percent), New York and Los Angeles (little progress), and Chicago (down 3 percent) for the same period.”

Not everyone is thrilled.

Cox and Kotkin’s priorities come through loud and clear:

“In fast-growing Cinco Ranch, a suburb built on an expanse of Texas prairie 31 miles west of downtown Houston, 1 in 5 residents is foreign-born, well above the Texas average.”

Eventually, we’re going to run out of countryside to plunder.

Selected Work

"I regard Silent We Stood as being among the finest Civil War novels I have ever read"
  • David Madden, Civil War Book Review
  • "Blood Kin is historical fiction at its best."
  • Bruce Winders, Historian and Curator, The Alamo
  • "The finest book on buffalo hunting and the resulting conflict with the Comanches that I have ever read."
  • Doris R. Meredith, Roundup
  • Non-fiction Books
    "Sharp and colorful also describe the economical prose of sports and wildlife writer Henry Chappell"
  • Elaine Wolff, San Antonio Current
  • Magazine Work
    Articles and Reviews
    Feature Articles
    Columns and Feature Articles