Living His Dream, The Captain’s Life

It’s Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020. Chris, myself, and Ally asleep in the backseat, make our way to the dock. Those of you might already know and most of you don’t. As our current boat sits pretty in her slip, the entire rest of the Destin Charter Fleet races to the Gulf to claim their Red Snapper limit and idle back in. It is the first opening week of the 2020 Federal Red Snapper season, while normally Captain Chris would be 30+ miles in the middle of the Gulf right now; Chris and I are in a different, unfamiliar routine this morning. This will be our last time on board our 1971-40ft Infinity. As after today, she will have a new owner. With a very heavy heart we will say goodbye to the boat that has been more than just a vessel to charter fish on. She is who branded our company and gave Captain Chris his reputation and grew our company to the next level. She is the one who provided us the funds to purchase our home. Today is a bittersweet goodbye to one of the most important chapters of our lives. While we take her tackle off rod by rod and wheel them to the truck, I reminisce about all the fish stories we have made on board. I could only imagine if she could talk the crazy things she would say. There were so many good times and some bad, all part of the legacy that we will tell to our grandchildren one day. I am honored to have been apart of her fishing team and watch Chris fulfill his life long dream with her. 

I first met Chris on a fishing dock and I am just as certain now as I was then, the man was born with gills. He is the “fishiest” person I know. A true gift given by God. I often tell customers that if you want some one to take your trash out or do your laundry don’t call Chris but if you want to catch fish and experience the luckiest fishing village in the world, then call on Chris. I was 19 years old when Chris and I started dating. He was 25 and had already purchased his first boat, the Adios. The Adios is a 22ft Cape Horn bay boat that Chris jumped head first into, to officially start running his own charters on. He grew up on the docks in Destin and worked as a deckhand for some of the legends that still reside at the helm today. I love hearing his stories and cherish each one of the captains and deckhands he has surrounded himself with. I could probably recite these stories better than him. When we started dating, I was in college to be a radiologist and boy were my parents thrilled when I told them I would finish my AA and not be returning for the fall semester and that I was going to book fishing trips. After the second season in 2013 with me behind the phones and Chris on the Adios, we manage to save a little money in hopes to expand our business to a larger boat. Captain Jason Mikel was in the market to sell off his 40ft infinity and Chris couldn’t jump at the opportunity fast enough. We worked the numbers and decided to go to a bank and get a loan. We were turned down at 4 different places and two of which laughed in our faces. Frustrated but not defeated we sat down with Jason and told him we were unable to get a loan. Jason then offered a deal that would change our lives forever. He made us a promise that if we saved up enough for a down payment by the end of the 2014 season he would owner finance the rest of the loan himself. Jason had many others that wanted the 1971 Infinity. Even offers greater then what we agreed to pay for her. Whether he admits it or not, I know he saw a piece of himself in Chris and believed in him. He wanted the Backlash to be his. After all Chris ran the deck for Jason for almost 5 years on that very boat and it was almost fate for her to land in Chris’ lap. We would not be where we are today without Jason giving us this leap of faith. This was an act that we will forever be indebted to him for and a piece of our story that was one of our greatest accomplishments.

The 2014 Spring Break season would start out with running on fumes both mentally and physically. Chris and I sat down and decided the only way we would be able to afford the down payment by the end of the season for Jason would be to purchase and expand our inshore company to two boats. With our entire life savings we drove to Mobile, AL and purchased another 22ft Cape Horn, The Amigo. We had $86 to our name by the time she was fish ready. I cried telling Chris we would have to decide whether to pay the power bill to keep the lights on or the phone bill to book the boats. We let three late notices show up in the mail before I booked enough trips to pay Chelco. A time in our lives I will remember and be humbled by until the day I die. I talked to God everyday asking him to send me a sign this was the right direction. While June and July are a blur every year, come September 2014 we were just a few thousand shy of the Backlash down payment. When the moment came to walk in and hand Jason the down payment and sign our names to the “big boat”, I had never felt a greater sense of achievement. Because God. That’s why. Funny to think, Chris would be driving a boat worth more than our 900ft shoebox we called home. November 1st, 2014 Captain Chris took over the charter boat Backlash. A date that set our sails to the future and the name we would brand over the next 5 years to become one of the most sought after charter boats in Destin, FL.

            Once again we started the 2015 Spring Break season with pennies in the bank, a leap of pure faith, a few thousand prayers and an idea. We began our journey with one offshore boat, The Backlash and two bay boats, The Adios and The Amigo. This was the first season I would be booking for three boats. Three boats meant two to three trips a day, four to six passengers on every trip, seven days a week on each. I made a lot of mistakes. I shed a lot of tears. I didn’t sleep or eat. I didn’t have much of a life other than answering the phone and running errands for all the boats. I didn’t see Chris in daylight for 3 solid months. I lost friends and family time was nonexistent. But we got through it. Because God. That’s Why. By September 2015 we were able to breath again. We looked back on the 2015 season and were grateful. We survived it. We would do this over and over for the next two years getting better and more efficient each year. These seasons were spent perfecting our jobs and making our system more consistent. We went through quite a few hired captains and deckhands. We have had some of the greatest work on our decks and a few we could have lived without but we are thankful for each and every one. Charter fishing is not for the faint of heart or weak minded. Our business has blossomed since 2013. We do not take our journey for granted and will never forget what it took to get here. Chris does his job and I do mine. We can agree each of us cannot do the others and we are a team. Owning your own company is not easy. Owning your own business and running it with your husband or wife is not easy. We depend on each other. We depend on God. 

            While we eventually paid off our debt to Jason Mikel and could finally state we owned 100% of our company (WOW what a feeling), Chris came to me once again and said he wanted to buy a bigger boat. A boat he could retire on. A boat that could be certified and not be limited to just 6 passengers. A boat that would grow our business to the next level. I cried that night while he was sleeping. I didn’t want to buy another boat. I didn’t want to sell the boat that we had built our world with. I didn’t want to go into debt again. But if there is one thing Chris doesn’t take well, it’s no for an answer. (Also one of the greatest traits I admire about him). He is driven and when he sets a goal he is going to reach that goal no matter what. With long conversation and a business model in place he set out to find this “dream boat”. While researching and looking at hundreds of boats online and talking to different captains about what style they liked and didn’t like he stumbled upon one he thought would be the fit the mold. He tracked down the owner and met him at dry-dock where the boat was being repaired from some hurricane damage. When Chris left the boat yard that day he rant and raved about how much he loved this boat and saw so much potentially in it and that it was a good deal. Well a deal it was. The owner informed us that he was going through a divorce and couldn’t sell the boat until the divorce was final. We waited and by the time the owner called us to let us know he was ready to sell it was the start of 2020. We had just got the Backlash finished up at dry dock and it was almost time for Spring Break madness. We took one more trip to look at this so-called dreamboat. Ally was two weeks old when we went to look at the boat. We walked up to the 57ft Miller and it was listing to the starboard side. It hadn’t been washed in a while and the owner had a weird era about him when he invited us on. With spending less than an hour with this guy on this dreamboat…we got back in the truck and headed back home. The condition of the boat and its owner was enough for both of us to decide this wouldn’t be the boat for us. A sign from God really. It was a great deal and a price we couldn’t turn down but we did. My Mama always said go with your gut and I am glad we did. We said no thank you and went about our lives. I knew Chris was beyond disappointed. A month later, the corona virus took over our lives. Spring Break 2020 was cancelled and the Destin Charter Fleet was asleep at her dock. An unreal time we will remember for the rest of our days. Uncertain times that made us cling to God more than ever. With a new baby, I was thankful to have Chris home with me. Normally he would be gone while I manned the business side of things on land. The corona virus was financially devastating to a lot of people and business’ across our nation but one positive thing was having my husband home when I needed him the most. A blessing in disguise. With being home, Chris had time to research more “dream boats”. He once again stumbled on “the” boat. The pictures he showed me online were of a boat called “Boys in Blue”…a 57ft Gillman sport fishing yacht. I took one look at her and the price and rolled my eyes and said no. But Chris being Chris he called and lined up a showing anyways. It was only a few days later when Chris, one-month-old Ally and myself walked on board the Boys in Blue. Incredible, Clean, Great Bones, Powerful…. A few words that crossed my mind immediately while taking the tour of her.  There was a sense of comfort and rightness I felt from the moment we stepped foot on her. We finished up and while I was loading up Ally in her car seat Chris said he was going to make an offer. I felt like passing out. But I took one look at Chris and knew that I wouldn’t change his mind. It didn’t matter what I said, he was going to do this. He marched back to the broker and made his offer and Greg said he would be in touch and send over a formal, official offer later that day. The whole way home from Panama City I thought about how we would be going back in debt and with the corona virus already suffocating our income, the money we had put away was even more crucial and limited now.  The next few weeks we spent calling our banks to get in touch with the right person about a commercial loan to lock in this boat. Talk about a nightmare. Every bank we spoke with was dealing with the hundreds of Paycheck Protection Loan applications and didn’t have two seconds for any other kind of loan. It would take us two months, 10 different banks and putting 50% down and having to have my Dad cosign to secure a loan. Not to mention having to sell our current boat. I have never been more stressed out in my entire life. I was so mad at Chris for putting me through this. But I didn’t want to let him down. We had to file an extension three times, even went out of contract to avoid losing our deposit. It was May 27th, 2020, bottom of the 20th inning and us hanging onto a prayer, driving home from Wal-Mart when we received news that we had been approved for the loan. I cried so hard. It was at that moment I was able to tell Chris he would be getting his dreamboat. I will never forget that drive home as long as I live and I thanked God over and over and over.  

Our 2020 season would start full steam in June with a new boat and a new baby. There was no time to sit around and cry (even though I wanted to). In just 2 days we got her back to Destin, filled her with tackle and prayers and sent her out on her first official charter. Her name on the back still read Boys in Blue. Chris fished her that way until we could make a day to schedule a Nascar pit stop to get the name changed along with props tuned, trim tabs fixed, cut less bearings changed, rudders sealed etc. Another huge thank you and blessing to be surrounded with helpful strong hands who put other jobs aside to help us get it done to not be down anymore days during snapper season then absolutely need be. With a new boat comes a new obstacle. Chris had fished on the old boat for 5 years and knew the way that boat handled and could drive her as easy as breathing in and out. With the new boat there was no coaching or history between the two. He was learning just as much from his machine as the machine was from him. With just 1200 hours on the CAT engines as he took over the helm, the new Backlash had no idea she was about to get her sea legs. Full steam (diesel actually) ahead, Captain Chris Kirby would stretch them for her and put another 1300 hours on her engines in just a few months. Day light to dark, seven days a week, 16+ hours to make up for down days and replenish our savings account with a bigger picture at the end of the tunnel. With God guiding us we made it. Once again we finished another fishing season amidst the trials and not-so-easy times. Hello November, it is so good to see you. 

To every person who fished with us this year and the years past, we cannot say thank you enough for being apart of our dream. For over a year and a half Chris had been telling customers that he was going to purchase a big boat to carry over 6 and each of these customers would call and book and ask if we had got the new boat yet. There were so many people who were praying and rooting for Chris to make his dream come true. It gives me butterflies every time I think about watching him drive the new Backlash out of the marina for the first time to bring her to her homeport back in Destin. I have never been more proud of him. We did it. This boat has always been Chris’ dream and his final goal in finding a forever boat to retire on. While he still has big plans for her and lots of trips left to run, this boat will be the final chapter to our business. If you would have told me 9 years ago I would be married to Chris Kirby running a charter boat company I would have laughed and told you lying is bad for your health. Because God. That’s why. Without Chris’ drive, ambition and fish minded soul none of this would be possible. (I will take partial credit for the accounting and marketing side of things ha!) Chris didn’t graduate high school because he was fishing. He had a lot of teachers, family members, co-workers tell him he would never make a living being a fisherman. I pray they look at him and smile now. I am humbled to have held his hand though all the good times and especially the bad to get this far. I hope one day our children will be proud of their parents and learn that anything is possible if you work hard, make goals and have a plan. It is not easy being in the charter fishing industry. It is an industry that separates the men from the boys and will chew you up and spit you out any chance it gets. Here is to the next and final chapter of our business and the short version of how we got here! I can finally say, this is the last and final boat we will ever purchase. WE DID IT!

Here is to the future built on the struggles and triumphs of the past. 

God is so Good!

~Shelby Kirby

Ally Lynn Kirby

Sweet baby Ally came into the world on Saturday, February 22nd, 2020. 7lbs, 2oz 19 inches long and a full head of hair.

Late into the evening on Friday, Feb. 21st, I started having what I thought were just cramps and just the regular uncomfortableness that became normal the last few weeks of my pregnancy. As they came and went I knew that this was not the norm. I told Chris it wasn’t right and he just kept me calm by talking to me. I didn’t sleep at all and by the time 5:00am rolled around the cramps turned into a close, consistent pattern about every 10 minutes. Well, turns out these cramps were contractions, imagine that HA! I showered and began to put my face on while trying to get everything together. At 7:45am the contractions were now 5 minutes apart and intense where I couldn’t ignore them any longer. As I leaned against the counter in the kitchen waiting for this one to pass, Chris who is now awake and looking at me says, “You want me to mix the paint for the boats?” I laughed through the pain and told him he better just get dressed and load the truck up. He knew it was time and this was not a drill. WE WERE HAVING A BABY.

8:30am we arrive at Sacred Heart. The two of us walked to the birth center and next thing I know I was being admitted and walked to Labor Room 3. I was 6 centimeters. The pain was becoming even more intense and by 12:00pm I was 8 centimeters. Chris constantly was asking me what he could do or if I wanted him to rub me. I didn’t know what the hell I wanted. I would walk around, cry, sit on the bed, move the IV cart around…contractions are a whole different level of pain. Chris suggested I go ahead and  get the drugs and I’m so thankful he did. (Dear Epidural, I love you.) After getting the epidural, I was able to lay down and relax a little. Chris never left my side. They came in after I was numb and broke my water. By 3:00pm, I was 10 centimeters. Once my nurse told the doctor I was ready to push, the nascar pit crew entered the room. There was 5 people and a cart full of doctor goodies. Every one of them knew their job and went straight to work getting things set up. A nurse on stand by for baby, two doctors, two other nurses on each side of me. This was obviously not their first tire change.

One last push and at 3:41pm, Ally Lynn entered our world. They placed her on my chest and I lost it. I cried so hard and had never felt such a feeling. I pulled my gown over us and the whole world around me blurred. I said Hello Ally, I’m your Mom…her eyes went right to mine and she never took them off me. I cried and stared at her knowing I was truly looking straight at God. A true miracle. So innocent and perfect. I had never seen anything more beautiful in my entire life.

I don’t know what I did to deserve this little girl but I thank God every single day for choosing me to be her Mama. I have done a lot in my 27 years of life but this is by far the achievement I am the most proud of. She is a week old today and has been such a new light in our lives. To see Chris hold and love her has opened a whole new space in my heart. Our world will never be the same. God knew we needed this little girl.


Happy Birthday to my Ally girl!

Daddy and I love you so much!

The Freelance Hunter

For a little less than 10 years, I have been following Chris’ boots around, listening to him blow his call and chase his waterfowl addiction or what I see as his soul’s stress relief. Waterfowl hunting has become a natural antidote for the both of us to travel, see the country and experience God’s creation and it allows us act out the soul purpose of why he made us; to hunt and harvest.

Chris and I have been on hundreds of hunts together. Hunts that include watching over 3,000 mallards tornado down at our feet in which every single bird landed and we never fired a shot, to hunts where the two of us put out 15 dozen full bodies to kill two geese. It’s hunting. The facts are you’re going to get your ass roasted sometimes and sometimes you will be the one holding the winning trophy after the battle. Everyone wants to be on the winning team but like anything in life what you put into waterfowl hunting, especially freelancing, is what you will get out of it. Allow me to elaborate.

Over the past ten years, half of those have been spent learning how to freelance out west and following the flocks from North Dakota all the way down to Arkansas and Mississippi. Meeting people along the way has been a huge part of our experiences and education. Some good, some bad but every single one, I see as a blessing or a lesson. Social media portrays a tunnel vision insight hole almost like holding a paper towel roll up to your eye like you did as a kid and pretended it was a telescope. Social media typically shows you the glamor or dreamy side of waterfowl hunting. What you didn’t see is the dedication, drive, persistency and hard work that goes into setting up a successful hunt as a true Freelance Hunter. Some people have it and most people don’t. It takes a special breed of outdoors-men to organize a trailer filled with enough gear to cover every situation presented, nonstop-continuously scout no matter if you are running on fumes, find a flock worth hunting, gain permission, and then act on the plan to fool them that was most likely drawn up the evening prior or even day of; all while finding a place to stay, making time to eat because you know you should, feeding/watering dogs, cleaning birds from prior hunts, attempting to keep guns clean, and maybe washing your clothes so you don’t run out on this month long binder. Not to mention the set back you will face if you get stuck in a wet field, blow a tire, lose your keys and you can’t call Mom to fix it. Fight or flight situations will be inevitable when you are freelancing.

It begins with the Scout. I get a lot of messages asking about how to get started or where Chris and I are hunting specifically. Word of advice, loose lips, sink ships. In other words, if you are scouting an area, find birds, put in the time to get permission and have a successful hunt the last thing you want to do is tell every Tom, Dick, and Harry. Because if you do, guess who you will find burning up the duck pond you shot your limit out of on the days you wanted to let it rest. I have sat in the passenger seat and drove 28 hours straight from Florida to North Dakota to pull into our camp drop the trailer and turn right out of the driveway and get to scouting. Freelance hunting is not for the weak minded or the lazy. If you would rather sit on the couch and rest while settling for the 20 ducks you saw trickling into a slew or field the day prior then expect your hunt the following morning to reflect as so. Don’t settle or force a hunt because you are tired. Get up, drive a little further and find a few hundred ducks or geese or maybe even a few thousand and even then don’t settle. Study them. Watch them. Put them to bed. Plan out where you will enter the field or pond to set up and live by which way the wind blows.

For Chris and I both, hunting is not just shooting a limit and taking a pile picture. Hunting is putting effort into something to reach the ultimate reward and experience the outdoors full heartily with a complete open soul. Freelancing is a choice. Sure, anyone can book a hunt and be guided by any of the great guide services all over the country or even the world and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Chris and I choose to do it ourselves. When you scout, find birds, gain access, and fool nature in their natural habitat in unfamiliar territory, it is high unlike any else. Adrenaline doesn’t just come from pulling the trigger, as there are times when we just watch them dance and that is enough. Being a Freelance Hunter makes you feel Alive.

I have been blessed and humbled beyond measure to share the blind along side some of the greatest outdoors-men of all time (in my opinion) and some of those include other freelance hunters we have met on the side of the road or even social media. I have also sat along side some who are just there to leach onto these great outdoors-men and women for the next Instagram story for their followers and watch as they claim to be apart or the reason of the success story and fail to give credit where credit is due. Chris and I try to surround ourselves with like-minded hunters who are not afraid to work hard and show just as much passion as we do. As Nick Saban says, mediocre people do not like high achievers and high achievers don’t like mediocre people. If you want to be successful chasing birds yourself, you must set a high standard.

Actions will always speak louder than words and while I am also guilty of being sucked into social status sometimes, I want to stress how it is much more important to be able to learn something new on every hunt, in every state or country we travel to and during every situation the birds present to us. Whether you are a first timer in the blind or a well-seasoned fowler, take in what you see and hear around you. It will make you a better hunter and human. God gave you two ears, two eyes and only one mouth for a reason. Put your phone down, fill up that truck with gas and don’t settle for an ok feed. Go out and find the feed that will make you high five your buddy and stand on top of you truck to get a better view. And remember scout, scout, scout, and most of all in the words straight out of Chris Kirby’s mouth, “Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.” Words every freelance waterfowl hunter should live by.


Thank you for reading,

Shelby Lynn Kirby

~The Captains Life~

Not Just a Swordfish~

It’s Sunday, April 28th, 6:34am, I’m up going through my normal routine of feeding deer, chickens, dogs and watering my garden. It’s my day off…and by day off I mean playing catch up in my home office with the paperwork side of fishing. Chris calls to pass his time while he’s cruising out to his first stop. He has an 8-hour trip today. We start talking about the upcoming week and which days would be the prettiest to attempt to break away and go sword fishing. Today would mark 3 days since I pulled my Dad’s Swordfish off on the wire 10ft behind the boat. I hadn’t slept a night since and Chris is the one who had to hear all about it. Chris was quiet for a minute then blurted out, “Tonight is the night, we’re going. Seas are less than a foot.” That was all I needed to hear. I got off the phone and spent the next 6 hours throwing together all the gear in order to meet Chris at the dock as soon as he got in.

What felt like 30 minutes later, I was standing at the stern of the Backlash loading her up. First mate, Chris Hunter is there. He is spraying and scrubbing off the days meat haul. With the boat loaded, Chris Hunter ran to his house and change clothes. Chris Kirby opened the cooler I packed and asked where his rigged baits were. It then dawned on me that I had forgot them. With straight panic I told him I would run home or call Jeff the bait man, and see if he could run me some squids. With 10 minutes later I was heading to the tackle shop to pick up squids and hooks. Bait man saves the day. It’s now 4:28pm, Chris Kirby, Chris Hunter, a case of twisted-tea, a few packs of squid, a harness, and myself are headed out of the pass in search of a Swordfish. In search of redemption.

The sun had set and it wasn’t much longer, Chris is pulling them out of gear signaling it is time. Chris squared started to rig baits while I broke out the grill and started to prep our feast. I already had a good buzz from tea-time mixed with some ultras. Once we landed in Sword country it was about 9:00pm. Chris shut the big girl’s motors off and we began to drift slowly in the middle of nowhere. We let out three baits and began to wait. 20 minutes later, I’m pulling ribeyes off the grill, 50 yards off the back of the boat appears a pissed off, bill swinging Swordfish on top. I throw the plates down, it was pure chaos for about 15 long seconds before I was holding the rod. Ten minutes later Chris Kirby was leaned over the gunnel reaching down to pull this mighty-might out of the water. This girl was healthy, lit up with the bluest cobalt blue down her back and measured in at 47 inches. We snapped a few pictures of her as her eyes swiveled, looking at each of us like we were aliens. With a good luck kiss, I deposited her back into the deep. We all smiled and laughed as we ate our luke-warm steaks and discussed how the trip had already been made.

We reset our baits and finished cleaning up dinner. Chris picked up the jig rod and started searching for a Blackfin. Wasn’t long he had one on. The three of us shot the shit and drank telling stories and listening to music. I felt so relaxed and thankful to be alive. About the time the buzz had increased to a cloud, ZZZZZzzzzzZzzzZZZZZZzzzZZZzzzz. There she was. We all ran around the boat like squirrels. I harnessed up as she ran to the bottom. Chris Kirby woke the Backlash up as Chris Hunter reeled in the other lines. This would make the 15thtime I was in the harness and saddled in to reel in a sword. Every time prior this, ended with being a shark, pulling the hook, or some giant eel. While I have been on the boat multiple times as part of the crew, I had yet to ever reel in a sea monster I could call mine. I concentrated on the reel and watched my rod tip position to make sure I didn’t screw this up. Little while later we got our first glimpse of her. She came up on top and was trying her best to escape the lasso she had around her. She made another short run and then came back up and straight down off the starboard side. She was comfy there and refused to come up any further for a harpoon shot. She raised up and made a big run straight under the boat. Chris Hunter unclipped the rod, followed her and yelled “HARD TO PORT”. Chris Kirby blew some diesel smoke and flipped the Backlash around to save it. She would then take off for her final run. With the line straight down and taking drag off the stern, I was hooked back in and waited for her to stop. When she did, I could almost feel how tired she was. (So was I) I started to ease her up and gain back the line lost. 10 minutes later Chris Hunter said, “ Oh shit, shes dead.” I looked up from the reel and saw a tail coming towards me. The fight was over. I never stopped reeling until the swivel hit the rod tip. Chris squared and myself heaved this monster over the side. We all stood in awe trying to comprehend what the hell just happened. The hook had ripped through her dorsal fin and landed in top of her head. The leader completely wrapped around her stomach and then again around her tail. With a smile so big it kind of hurt a little, I grabbed Chris Kirby and hugged him so hard I thought I broke him in half. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart. He never gave up and the curse was broken. I was officially holding a broadbill that was mine. My Dad’s face crossed through my mind and a tear ran down my cheek. With some hoops, hollers, high-fives, a little photo shoot, drinks and some music cranking, we celebrated in the middle of no where, as a speck of sand in the Gulf. While the rest world was sleeping, we rounded back to the spot where the madness began, iced our trophy, and put out some more lines. Chris squared went to sleep a short while later. It was now 4:30am. I watched the moonrise and then the sun. I spent the whole night talking to God and singing Miranda Lambert songs on the back deck as I watched the lines. I thanked God for this harvest. As the sun got brighter the guys woke up. I reeled in our Sword rigs and put out lures. It was time to head back. On the way there we swung by some shrimp boats off in the distance to see if they had any friends hanging around. Sure enough we found some yellowfins wanting to play. What a way to cap it off.

I called my Dad as soon as we came into cell range to tell him what had just happened. Redemption at its absolute finest. Thank you Chris squared. Thank YOU Chris Kirby. Thank you God. My first broadbill, a trip I will tell my grandchildren about.


Thank you for reading,

Shelby Lynn Kirby~









Sandhill Crane Stew

*A simple prep and forget recipe that will impress your friends and family. This concoction will light up taste buds you didn’t even know you had. A one pot, minimal mess, soul food recipe that is even better the following day. Enjoy~


Feeds 4-6 people~ Prep Time: 15 Mins~ Cook Time: 2.5 Hours


You will need:

1.5lbs Crane Meat (Approx. 4 Breast), Cubed

3 Bay Leaves

3 Tbsps. Olive Oil

3 Garlic Cloves, Minced

1 Large Onion, Quartered

4 Stalks of Celery, Chopped

4 Large Carrots, Chopped

2 Large Baking Potatoes, Chopped

4-5 Cups Beef Broth (Enough to Cover)

2 Tsps. Rubbed Sage

2 Tsps. Crushed Rosemary

2 Tsps. Cheyenne Pepper

2 Tsps. Chili Powder

2 Tsps. Cavenders Greek Seasoning

Salt and Pepper to Taste


  1. Over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven, throw in olive oil, garlic, and cubed crane. Continue tossing until meat is brown.
  2. Add Celery, Carrots, Onions, Potatoes, seasonings, and beef broth.
  3. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and cover.
  4. Cook for two hours on low heat.
  5. Serve with a loaf of fresh bread and a glass of homemade sweet tea!