about the age of ten, when my uncle took me on my first squirrel hunt,
that I wanted to be a hunter. From my teenage years on, my dream was to
hunt the American Bison or as it is more commonly called the Buffalo.
When I think Buffalo I think history. Of the American Indian that hunted
this huge animal with nothing but a bow and arrow from horseback. Of the
once upon a long time ago, of the massive herds of these animals, with
their great shaggy manes and sharp tipped ebony horns, in numbers so great
that it would sometimes take a full day for the herd to pass any given
point. Sadly of the slaughter of thousands upon thousands of these noble
animals, for just their hides and tongues, that led to near extinction
of the species. Lastly of the pioneering land owners, hunters, and even
politicians like Teddy Roosevelt that stopped the slaughter and protected
them so that in present times they are not even close to being endangered
and increasing their numbers. This is what I think of when the name Bison
comes to mind. And that was my dream.
So here I was on October 9, 1993 at age 55 and after having hunted successfully
probably seventy-five animals of many species, ready to live my dream.
My wife Shirley and I were headed down I 10 west toward the picturesque
town of Kerrville, Texas nestled in the heart of the Texas Hill Country.
Kerrville is probably the main hub of the exotics hunting scene in Texas
as well as the country. I have met people from all over the United States,
as well as from all over the world, that have traveled to Kerrville to
hunt the many exotic species that abound on the many ranches in the area.
We were to meet our friend and guide L. R. Castleberry there for our hunt
which was to take place somewhere around the outskirts of a small town
about twenty five miles away called Harper, Texas.
The next morning, after a restless night of anticipation, L. R. picked
us up at our motel and we climbed into the cab of his truck with our hunting
gear. We all of course had our binoculars close at hand for spotting and
judging our target. Also on hand were our 35mm cameras and telephoto lens,
in the hopes that we might get some good pictures of the Buffalo as well
as some of the native and exotic species that are plentiful in the area.
We had also brought along a friend's video camera, hoping that Shirley
might be able to get my hunt on film in living color as they say. My hunting
rifle of choice was my tried and true hunting companion of nearly thirty
years, my Remington, model 700, in 30/06 caliber. I was using Remington
180-grain core-loct bullets and a Weaver 3 x 9 scope.
We got to Harper and were introduced to the ranch owner, Adolph Reeh,
by an acquaintance of L. R.'s. We were to follow him to ranch, which he
said was only about fifteen minutes away. Our trip took us down roads
lined with tall green trees and highlighted by a bright, clear, brilliant,
blue Texas sky. Remember the video camera? Between looking where we were
going, I was trying to remember how to use that borrowed video camera
and not doing a very good job of it. By the time we arrived, all I had
done was get frustrated and end up with five minutes of pictures of the
inside door panel of the truck Not a very good start for my hunt, huh!
We were finally at our destination and stopped for a conversation and
to figure out a game plan.
Adolph said, there is good news and bad news. I had a sinking feeling
that my hunt was in trouble. He went on to say that he had two trophy
caliber bulls in the herd on his ranch. The trouble was that the larger
of the two bulls had two days earlier, somehow, overstuffed himself with
acorns, and they had somehow caused some sort of stomach problem that
had killed him. Go figure huh! Good news was that at least we had a shootable
bull to go after.
My thoughts were kinda like, what the heck, my dream was to hunt a Buffalo,
and it need not be a record book animal. I just wanted a good representative
animal of the species.
So off we went to hunt my Buffalo. This ranch was a little different from
most of the area. Instead of high ledges and ridges and rocky ground with
cedar thickets, this place was mostly gently rolling green terrain with
thick groves of trees.
As we traveled the area we saw a number of exotic species including Fallow
Deer, Axis Deer, Sika Deer, two or three species of exotic sheep, along
with some Whitetail Deer and a couple of Rio Grande Turkey.
After an hour or so of looking we finally spotted the small herd of Buffalo.
There were only about ten or twelve of them. It seemed like more since
they were so large. Big bulls can weigh around a ton with cows running
a little lighter. Then there he was "the bull". He was magnificent with
his huge, dark, shaggy mane and curved, sharp pointed ebony horns. Standing
there broadside he for all the world looked like he was posing for the
famous Buffalo Nickel.
As we sat there in the truck glassing them, they began to get fidgety
and started to stream out of the sun dappled opening into the darker shade
of a stand of timber.
Adolph said that he thought that he knew where they were headed and we
could circle around and maybe get ahead of them to set up an ambush. We
got close to the spot Adolph had mentioned and he said we would have to
walk a couple of hundred yards into the timber to a small draw he thought
they would move through. They did, but had beat there and were moving
away from us as we got to the head of draw. We hotfooted it back to the
vehicle for another try.
Another try with the same results about an hour later. We tried at least
three more stalks with no luck. You wouldn't think that animals that big
could move that fast and quietly and always keep the trees between us.
About three p. m. we tried again to circle around to pick them up for
another try. This time after a short wait we saw them moving toward us
from about a hundred yards away. At about sixty yards the whole bunch
started to move away to our left and broadside to us. Luckily the bull
was lagging to thew rear by a few yards. The wind was in our favor and
I was able to use a nearby tree to steady the dancing crosshairs of my
scope. The shot felt good and the bull sprinted away at breakneck speed.
He only went about another sixty yards before piling up in full view of
our party. My dream hunt was over.
By the way, Shirley got it all in living color. That videotape to this
day is a treasured item in my mind.
by Steve Mahurin on May 19, 2000.