It's Never Too Late
By Betty Hathorn

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."

Written 11-11-2000 by Betty Hathorn

Steve Mahurin
25 North Heights
La Marque, Texas 77568


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