By Steve Mahurin

It was Friday, December 30, 2001 when my best friend, Richard Lozano, and I left for a deer hunt in Sheffield, Texas. Also along was Pete Garcia, another friend. Richard and Pete had set up this hunt and were going to combine their talents to not only be the outfitters, but the chief cooks and bottle washers, and guides as well. They also had six hunters and some non-hunters waiting for us to get there and cook for them.

Sheffield is in far, far, West Texas from our homes near Galveston and Houston, Texas. This trip was to be the longest hunting trip I had been on in a lot of years. In fact not since my wife and I had hunted in the Ozona, Texas area in the 70's. Sheffield is nearly two hours further west than Ozono for a total of around five hundred miles or more, and around an 8- drive from my coastal home near Galveston.

After having gotten a late start we got on the road for the long haul to West, Texas. After seemingly endless miles of deserted highway we finally arrived at the town of Sheffield around 9:15 p.m, with a big pregnant looking full moon making the landscape look nearly daytime bright. As we drove the back roads toward the ranch, lo and behold, along the sides of the roads we saw patches of snow left over from the 3-4 inches that had fallen a few days before. We also saw 25-30 deer alongside the road grazing in the moonlight. Among them we saw a number of bucks, including a couple of them of a size that we fervently prayed a similar sized one would come under our sights on our hunt. At almost exactly 10 p.m, we completed the drive thru a labyrinth of interior ranch roads and pulled up to the ranch headquarters to be greeted by a bunch of grumpy, hungry hunters who hadn't had anything to eat the whole day. By 11 p.m. they all felt better after being served generous portions of delicious Mexican style fajitas.

This ranch had a long history. It was now owned by the Crenwelge family and brothers Dale and Danny ran the hunting operations. Now called the D&D ranch, it was reportably once owned by the Brown family. Not a very imposing name I know but the aforementioned Brown's were the founders of the internationally known Brown and Root Corporation, and the place was the showplace of the whole area. It is currently being restored to its former glory by C. W. a carpenter and remodeler from Kerrville, Texas. You can go into, especially the out buildings and barns, and see inside that the walls were constructed by hand, of mud and straw blocks about a foot long, a foot high, and maybe 6-8 inches thick. A combination that would tend to keep relatively even temperatures during the temperature extremes experienced during blazing summer heat and frigid winter weather.

Now it was time to go off to a much-anticipated bunk for a few hours rest before venturing out into the near freezing temps to hunt the next morning. We three were to bunk in with C.W. Our "room" was real small and had two double bunk beds in it. Richard and Pete got the uppers and CW and I the lowers. Of important mention was the fact that there was no heat in any of the buildings yet with the exception of a few old style Gas heaters. Our room had only a small electric heater. We did stay pretty cozy within the cocoons of our bedrolls though. By the way we did have plumbing as in bathrooms. Even showers, but at full blast, the hot water only lasted 6 minutes, making for quick showers. I was asleep shortly after my head hit the pillow. My bunkmates lied and said that sleeping in a room with me was like being next to a super size, super loud, buzz saw.

The alarm made too much noise, way too early at 5:30 a.m.,when we rolled out of our bunks and slid into cold clothes and made our way over to the main house for something hot to drink and a sweet roll in preparation to heading out to our hunt, with high hopes for the coming first time out to the blinds dotted around the 12,000 acre ranch. The temps were in the 28-29 degree range as we loaded into the vehicles to head out and we could see our breath rising in white plumes into the air.

I ended up in blind called the pallet blind that first morning. As daylight slowly came, I could tell that some of the areas my blind overlooked, with the exception of some rocky ridges, could have easily passed for some of the South, Texas ranches I had hunted in past years. I hadn't been settled in the blind much more than five minutes, when I looked under the feeder with my binoculars and saw three does and a large heavy horned buck. I couldn't see anything without the binoculars so I had to watch all four of them move away like ghostly apparitions well before daylight and legal shooting time. As the feeder went off four does and a fork horn buck as well as a six point and an eight point buck ambled in. I had a number of deer, 24; move in and out of my area till about 9 a.m. About then two, then 18, then a total of 24 Rio Grande Turkeys came to the feeder. Strangely enough there were two Jakes with them that were strutting around and pinning hens to the ground like it was spring and breeding time.

Richard when he came to pick me up said he had seen a heavy, chocolate colored, long tined, 10 point chasing a doe. Hopefully this meant that the big boys would be moving more and give us a better chance of connecting on a trophy buck. My goal on this trip was to take a decent ten pointer or nothing. This in spite of the fact that you paid, kill or no kill.

All of my hunting companions were representatives from different corporations across Texas. One saw nearly 15 deer, I saw a total of 20, and one saw nearly 40 deer with lots of bucks just all to small or young to shoot at least on the first hunt on the first day. One did see a nice 10 pointer but was undecided whether to shoot or not. He finally figured it was good enough to shoot just about the time it left the area and he couldn't get a shot.

Finally we all arrived back at the main camp, all ready to partake of a big breakfast, and it definitely was that and delicious as well. After breakfast Danny, one of the owners asked to look at the bullet from my .375 caliber Thompson Contender single shot handgun that was my choice for this trip. He said that the 200-grain bullets were really big for a handgun. I offered to let him shoot it if he liked and he said he would pass. We, being Richard, Pete, and myself went out to gather firewood for that night's supper and campfire.

Richard and I decided to go out in the middle of the day and try some horn rattling. We drove towards an area that hadn't been hunted yet. We started out by climbing part way up a ridge to try our luck. We rattled there, and various other areas on top and around the ridges. We did see one buck headed our way but lost him in a belt of brush and never saw him again. During our climb up the ridge I saw a perfect fossil of a seashell as well as numerous examples of fossilized mud. Proof that the area was once in times past a part of one of Earths oceans. We stayed out about an hour and a half with no more luck.

Then it was back in to camp for something to drink. Pete and Richard wrapped big potatoes in foil and put them in the big gas oven on low heat to cook for that night's supper. We discussed a number of places to hunt for the evening and it was decided to try the Pipeline Blind.

Shortly after getting into the blind we started seeing deer. We saw bunches of deer. They came and went like ocean waves, back and forth and in and out. I guess all in all we saw 20 - 30 deer with at least half a dozen bucks of all sizes. The best being a heavy uneven horned eight point, with five points on one side and three on the other. About an hour before the end of shooting time we saw a beautifully marked Bobcat ease across the pipeline within twenty yards of us. Right at last light a huge buck eased across the opening directly in the blinding glare of the sunset, We could tell he was wide, maybe 20 inches plus, and high and heavy, but couldn't count tines so we didn't shoot. We even tried some desperation rattling and grunting, but he had somewhere else in mind and just slowed down for a second. The potatoes with thick grilled steaks and all the trimmings sure hit the spot. Then back to our cozy bunk area for the night.

Sunday morning came with a overcast, cold, drizzling, misty rain. We left camp a little later than usual thinking that it would get light later due to the weather. " WRONG ". About the time we got to the blind area we saw a nice buck cross the road in our headlights and the foggy mist had risen from the area. There were a number of sets of deer eyes shining in the dark around the feeder when we arrived. Brother, Danny dropped me off a little way from the blind hoping I could sneak into it without the deer going too far and hopefully coming back when the feeder went off. No luck there. I didn't see a single animal after that until a group of eight turkeys visited the area. More Jakes with no beards longer than a couple of inches. Back to camp for breakfast and then back out to hunt. There were three bucks hanging in the old barn when we got back

Went back out to a blind in back part of ranch not usually hunted much. The reason being there were no good blinds on that part of the ranch yet as this was the first year it had been commercially hunted. My blind consisted of three wooden pallets wired together into a U shape and backed up to a big Cedar bush. Not more than fifteen minutes after settling down I saw a set of short dark legs moving through the brush to my left. A Javelina, coming to the feast at the feeder. I sat and enjoyed its antics for quite awhile. Although I was allowed to take a Javelina as well as a turkey, I didn't shoot because I was afraid it might spook that trophy that might come in. The pig left and a few minutes' later five huge gobblers came into view. The feeder area was about 40 yards away and when I looked through the binoculars I could see that their spurs were heavy and long. Their beards were all very long. There was one of them that every time he put his head down to eat, his beard would be on the ground. I'm guessing that at least one or more of them would stretch the tape at 10 inches or more. These were definitely record book caliber birds. They kept hanging around and finally I couldn't resist any longer and decided to try for one with my handgun. Just as I going to cock the hammer back for a shot, into my scopes field of view appeared a doe. Well I didn't want to shoot and spook her and maybe all the deer around where she might run so no turkey either. So all in all I saw 10 does, 4 bucks with the biggest being 6 pointers.

Monday morning came and the last day of my hunt was upon me. That morning I only saw a few deer but no shooters. Since all our corporate hunters had left Sunday we decided to hunt all day, driving, rattling, and in a stand in the evening. Saw three big bucks traveling but couldn't interest them in coming to the horns. Picked a couple of places and just sat overlooking some areas. No luck there either. Seemed like every body on the place had seen big tens and eights except me. We did rattle up one small buck that day. We even tried a lone tree blind but only saw a few does.

Well here we are in a blind where a hunter saw at least four shooter bucks the previous day. He said he had at least six bucks under the feeder at one time. We had a couple of does drift in from the brush behind and to our left. Guess they figured on an early meal but they were disappointed. We had a number of deer come and go. A bunch of about five does came within five yards of our stand. It was kind of weird the way we had ended up in this particular stand. Richard wanted to go to the #4 stand and I wanted to go to the pipeline blind. We decided to flip for it. Well I won and it was the pipeline. We were talking to Miguel and Juan our coworkers who were taking over for us with a new group of hunters coming in. Miguel had never been to the ranch and Richard was telling him how to find the blinds. I thought about it and realized that the #4 blind was pretty hard to find but the pipeline one was real easy. I told Richard, why don't we go ahead and go to the #4 so it will be easier on Miguel. It was agreed that it was a good idea, so here we were.

The good Lord works in mysterious ways. As time slowly slipped away toward the end of our hunting time and light Richard saw a nice buck in the distance and decided to try and bring him in with the horns. He stopped him twice and even came our way for a short distance, but he went on and we lost sight of him as he went around the end of a ridge. We settled back down with faltering hopes of getting that 10 pointer I had come for. About twenty minutes or so before it would be to dark to shoot and end our hunt we saw a nice looking buck working our way. He finally arrived under the feeder and to my disappointment he was a 9 pointer. I was determined to shoot only a classic ten, even though I had to pay whether I shot or not, as I already had a good 9 and 13 pointer. As we sat there and the light slowly failed I thought about Richard, even though he has guided lots of people to good animals, he had never killed a Whitetail Buck before. Like I said the Lord works in mysterious ways and it seemed like this was ordained. My next comment to him brought a surprised look. Richard, I want you to shoot that buck. He said no! Your paying, you should shoot it! I told him I am not going to shoot so it is your buck if you want it. After some more protestations he finally decided to take the shot. Now he was nervous! He made a good shot and the buck went down in plain sight. We were both elated. In fact I think I was as excited as Richard was. Maybe more so. After all," What Are Friends For?"

Written by Steve Mahurin on December 9, 2001.

Steve Mahurin
25 North Heights
La Marque, Texas 77568


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