We started off toward the Texas Hill Country, from our home near
Galveston, Texas about 6:30 on Friday morning, November 3, 2000.
We had intermittent rain all the way. By we, I mean my friend Steve,
who had set up this hunt for both of us. We stopped at the Mc Donald's
in Sealy, Texas for breakfast.
We made wonderful time and were in Bandera, Texas before 12:30.
We were now in the rain and trying to find the ranch. After passing
through several gates we found our hosts at their beautiful home
on the top of a hill. After introductions, they directed us to the
bottom of the hill to a comfortable 3-bedroom mobile home, which
was to be our home away from home during our hunt. We carried our
groceries and clothes in and settled down. Our hostess, raises,
trains, and judges quarter horses, of which there were a number
in evidence around our trailer.
Shortly afterward they picked us up and we went back to Bandera
for a BBQ dinner and auction. This dinner is held in honor of the
many hunters that come to the area every year. The food was especially
tasty, as we hadn't eaten a thing since breakfast. After finishing
our meal we looked over the booths that were there. We then settled
ourselves onto the hard wooden bleachers to wait for the auction
to begin. There was a good western band playing, but a little too
loud. I luckily caught a camouflage hat tossed toward the audience
during the auction. When we left it was pouring down rain. We arrived
back at the ranch around 11:00 P. M.
The alarm went off at 5:45. The weather was foggy and misting. Our
guide picked an old topless Suburban to take that morning. I really
don't know what I expected, but it wasn't a topless Suburban with
a roll bar. I saw a lot of Jackrabbits quickly hopping through the
field Then I saw a big black cow, it came so close I could have
scratched its head. I couldn't believe this. I never knew cows came
that close to human's, except to be milked. I looked up and there
was one in front of the vehicle. The guide said "okay buddies lets
move" and so they did!!! After that we went off to a ravine, overlooking
a feeding area. We covered the truck with camouflage netting. Soon
several does come from behind us. One passed within 15 feet of us
and continued down the hill. Looking through our binoculars we saw
some small buck's coming out through the brush on the other side.
At 9:30 we decided to take off in the Suburban to see what else
we could find.
The first time we went across a creek crossing, I held my breath.
When we got across we went straight up, slid back several times,
but finally made it to the top. It didn't seem to bother Steve or
our guide at all, but I was praying we wouldn't have to do that
again. I don't like roller coasters.but that's what it seemed like
to me. I think my heart missed a beat. Steve and Kathryn, our guide,
were busy looking through their binoculars. Actually, I spotted
some deer far off in the trees but, I was afraid to say anything
as I had a feeling our guide would go over hill, dale, and creek
bed to get a closer look. We spent until 5:00 pm hunting safari
style. My poor rump, I thought it would never be the same. I was
right!! Steve and I then decided to sit in a blind till dark. The
blind turned out to be a metal, outhouse style, one holer, size.
In addition we had to straddle two 1x4,s. Think of a bicycle built
for two with no wheels. In fact it was so small that being a little
claustrophobic, I got a light case of the shakes when Steve closed
the door. After awhile of straddling those boards my behind was
getting numb, and I had to stand up for awhile to restore some circulation.
After sitting back down I had to be reminded to be quiet and to
not point. We finally saw a few does and about 6 hogs of varying
sizes and colors. Finally after what seemed like an eternity Kathryn
came to pick us up, as it had gotten too dark to shoot. We got back
to the trailer, fixed our supper, cleaned up the kitchen and then
ourselves. I know I was in bed and asleep before eight o clock.
It was way too early on Sunday morning the 5th when the rude sound
of the alarm awoke us at 5:45. It was back into boots, camo shirts,
pants and jackets. And off we went for our second day of hunting.
I thought I was getting a little more at ease with the ups and downs
and crossing the creek beds, but again I was wrong. It started sprinkling
again, this made the ups and down's real slippery and my heart jumped
into my mouth when I would see a place where we had to go straight
down, cross the creek bed, and back up the hill to the other side.
That morning we blind hunted again till around 9:00 am and saw very
few deer. None were what my friend Steve was looking for. The animals
were not moving much. All of a sudden I heard a strange sound of
stomping, and wheezing from behind us. I was told that was a danger
call to the rest of the deer. It worked!! We didn't see a deer at
that spot again that morning. By the time we broke for lunch the
rain had started to fall somewhat harder and Kathryn, our guide
had opted to switch from our topless Suburban to a Jeep with a canvas
top. I guess my eyes must have popped out of my head when I saw
no doors on the driver and passenger side. It took a good heave
ho from all of them to get me in that thing. All they thought about
was the fact that it had a top and we wouldn't get so wet. I asked
what I held onto, as I couldn't see a blooming thing to grab hold
of. Dick, Kathryn's husband, could see how afraid I was and had
pity on me. He strung a tiny rope across where there was supposed
to be a door. I myself thought it was a poor substitute for a door.
But before we got back that day, I hung on to it for dear life many
times. The longer we were out the harder it rained. Finally Kathryn
said that a snap on the canvas roof had come loose and all the water
was in the middle of the roof. She got out to fix the snap and in
the process the water that had accumulated on the canvas roof ended
up in my lap, twice. What a cold wet surprise!! Then it was back
to the little tin blind, at least the roof didn't leak. Again the
animals were smarter than us and didn't come out of the shelter
of the brush and trees. It really started to pour and our guide
showed up early to get us, as she was worried about the creek crossing
getting to high to ford. I was worrying about slipping and sliding
up and down the hills, which we did. However, Kathryn was a very
skilled driver and we made it back to our trailer for the night.
We had a terrible thunder and lighting storm that night. I was so
tired that I slept thru most of it.
Monday morning dawned bright and clear. This was the prettiest weather
we had seen on the whole trip. It was decided to switch back to
the Suburban and that really thrilled me. By 10 a. m. we were ready
to shed our coats. The sun was bright and it was a beautiful day.
Only problem was the deer didn't know it. We just didn't see them,
but we did see a flock of turkeys. Kathryn asked us if we wanted
to hear them gobble. Of course we said yes. She banged on the Suburban
door and all of the birds really put on a gobbling performance for
us. We drove awhile longer, but we didn't see anything but cows'
climbing a hill. I just couldn't believe they could climb. Boy,
am I getting an education. We decided to break for lunch. After
lunch the deer were finally showing up in numbers. About 4 'o clock
Steve saw a nice buck and took him down with one shot from his handgun
at about 43 yards. We figured the reason we hadn't seen many big
bucks was because the pre rut activity had started and the bucks
were moving a lot and establishing territories. Sure enough this
buck was traveling with a doe. Steve is an excellent sportsman,
and teacher. He now has a new addition to his great trophy room,
of which any man or woman would be proud to have.
By this time the guide and Steve both thought I would have a chance
to take a buck from a blind since they had started moving. By now
the mini blind didn't seem so small and threatening to me, but sitting
was still a problem. The beautiful large Monarch butterflies and
birds were gorgeous. But they kept me thinking I was seeing deer
movement when they flitted from place to place around the blind.
The breeze that came over the hills sounded like ocean waves as
it stirred in the treetops. About 5 o'clock we saw several bucks
and two or three does. The one buck we were watching chased another
buck away several times. We also had about four hogs of various
sizes and colors around the blind. Steve was whispering in my ear,
that's the best buck we have seen at the blind so far. But if I
didn't want it, we would stay another day and night. I tried to
see the rack on this particular deer, but it was almost impossible.
Once in a while he would stand straight up and look at attention,
that's when I froze so he wouldn't pick up my motion. Then as quickly
as his head popped up, it dropped again behind a bush. I finally
decided that I wanted him. I had to wait until he was clear of the
other animals. When I finally dropped him, the shot was loud and
clear. The rest of the animals were gone in an eyes blink. I didn't'
think that I could do it. "WOW" what a day for both of us. At 5:15
I had taken my first whitetail buck. A 10 pointer, at 48 yards.
Not real big but everyone agreed that it was a good one for my first
Hill Country Deer.
A great grandmother at the age of 65 says, "IT'S NEVER TOO LATE."
11-11-2000 by Betty Hathorn