The Pease River - Hardeman County, Texas

     The  Pease River originates along the Caprock in West Texas in three branches, the Upper Pease, the Middle Pease and the Lower Pease.  The three branches meet in the Northwest Corner of Cottle County, Texas, after a drop in elevation of about 2500 feet over a distance as the crow flies of  less than 100 miles.  The river becomes a broad, sandy, meandering stream and passes through a corner of  Childress County, along the Southern end of Hardeman County, forms part of the boundary between Hardeman and Foard Counties and  then passes through Wilbarger County and empties into the Red River in Northern Wilbarger County. 

    The area through Hardeman and Foard Counties  was a favorite locale of the Comanches.  The Southern Buffalo herd migrated through the area every year.  In the summer they gathered the wild plums that prolifigate throughout the river bottoms and hunted the wild game that is found throughout.  It was a safe haven as it is a very difficult area to pass through.  Both sides of the river are laced with vertical walled canyons and the river is well-known for quicksand.   Heavy rains  on the Caprock can turn the river into a boiling torrent within minutes.  It drains a huge geographical area, which although quite arid, does deliver a lot of water to the river.   Most of the river flows underground with a water table only a few inches below the surface 200 yards from the  main river bed.

    The geology of the area is sedimentary.  The tops of the canyons are capped with a layer of gypsum.  Below the gypsum is a layer containing low grade copper, hence the name "The Copper Breaks".  In some areas the bluffs along the river contain extensive beds of river gravel.   The gypsum caps are responsible for the deep and rugged canyons as it keeps the tops from eroding except on the edges. 

    The most famous incident to ever occur on the Pease occurred in 1859 when Sul Ross and his Texas volunteers were led by scout, Charles Goodnight, across North Texas.  After crossing a buffalo trail 25 miles wide they came upon a large Comanche camp located on the banks of the Pease River in what is now Northeast Foard County and Southeast Hardeman County. They attacked the camp and scattered the Comanches camped there to gather wild plums.  Cynthia Ann Parker, the mother of Quanah Parker, was captured by Sul Ross and identified by her blue eyes by  Charles Goodnight as a white woman.  She was later identified as Cynthia Ann Parker who had been captured by the Comanches 23 years earlier.

    The area West of where Cynthia Ann was found remains to this day pretty much as it was 150 years ago.  There is no public access to the river in a section of between 20 and 25 miles between  Texas Highway 6 on the East and FM 104  on the West.  There are only about 3 or 4 unimproved private ranch tracks that get close to the  river in that span.  Because of the rugged canyons about the only way to travel in much of the Pease River drainage between these two roads is on foot or in the river bed.

    Wild game abounds, probably much more so today than when the Comanches roamed this country due to game management.  About the only visitors to the area are a few hunters and a few ranchers who run cattle on the sparse graze.  The vegetation is so  dense that about every four years helicopters are used to round up the cattle on the large landholdings.  I have personally seen eagles, hawks, owls, a gray wolf, coyotes, cottontail and jack rabbits, road runners, quail, turkey, bobcat, mule deer and whitetail deer, skunks, porcupines, raccoons, and wild hogs.  I know there are mountain lions in the area and recently signs of black bear have been reported.  Deer and wild hogs and who knows what else use the exposed gypsum as a source of mineral salts and lick the surface rock so flat it appears polished. 

    In my opinion, there is not a more inaccessible or wild place in all of Texas.  The Pease River is truly a "wild river" and I wish it would receive national recognition as such in order to preserve its pristine  beauty. 

    I hunt wild hogs along the Pease River every spring.  They have descended from domestic hogs and, in some  cases, have cross bred with imported Russian wild hogs.   The domestic hogs regress to a razorback looking hog with long legs, huge head, large tusks and lean body in just a few generations.  They are the most destructive critters you can imagine and are rapidly upsetting  the ecology of the area.    They can weigh up to 400 pounds and can  be very dangerous.  Consequently, we never go into the brush on foot without carrying a rifle and a large caliber handgun.   And  we never go out into the brush without someone knowing where we are going.

    Shown  below are some pictures of the area I took while hunting wild  hogs March 19 - 22, 2005.

The Pease River in Southwestern Hardeman County, Texas

Looking upstream (west) on the Pease River

One of the many Copper Breaks canyons above the river

Looking Downstream at the Marshes on the Pease River

Another Downstream View of the Pease River

Wild Turkeys on the plain north of the Pease River

Don on the lookout for wild hogs

Walkup (Beasley's) Cave above the Pease River. It runs 2800 feet and has an adit and an exit

Top of another canyon above the river

Don and Howard digging a bait hole for hogs

Texas Porcupine

Easternmost habitat of this spiny critter

The canyons are covered with Mexican Junipers

The Pease from the top of a canyon on the north side

Another Copper Breaks canyon above the Pease

Another upriver view

Rugged Country

Who would have thought they would find a beaver dam in Texas

Mighty Hunter - Me

Howard taking a breather

The Pease River further downstream

Looking downstream at the Tabor Ranch

View from the Walkup Ranch

March 2006 Hog Hunting

We got done in by rain.  It hadn't rained for six months.  I arrived in Quanah on March 18th.  On March 19 it started to rain and didn't quit until Sunday afternoon after dropping 3 inches of water on us.  The wet weather drove all of the wildlife out and about except for the wild hogs.  We set out bait in numerous places where we found fresh tracks. All to no avail.  The hogs just disappeared. We slogged through mud all day Monday.  Monday nite the temperature was in the 30s with a 25 mile an hour wind.  We were in an unheated ranch house.  After hunting all day Tuesday, Tom and I returned home and to work while Howard and Don stayed behind to continue to  hunt.  On Thursday they  stumbled upon a small  pig and bagged it.  It is now  early May.  I don't think it has rained in that area since our hog hunt.  Weather didn't lend itself to picture taking but here are a few pics.

Howard and Don about ready for the hunt

Pease River after a big rain

Lake in the Copper Breaks on the Pease

Copper Breaks with Pease in distance

Road down to the river

Abandoned West Texas homestead

 

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