6, 1996, I made the trip up I-10 west to the area that is my favorite
place around the Texas hill country. I'd decided to try for a couple of
animals to work toward completing my Super Slam of Exotics, and had contacted
my friend Thompson Temple about trying for maybe an Axis, Fallow, or BlackBuck
Antelope, whichever I could find, that was of good trophy quality and
could get close enough to for a pistol shot. We hunted one ranch for over
a 1/2 day and saw numerous BlackBuck, Axis and Fallow but just could never
find the right combination. Either a good trophy and too far away or a
good shot but not a good enough animal. We later in the day tried our
luck on the Cowboy Ranch off Highway 41 nearest to Hunt, Texas. It's not
a very large place but has some of the thickest Cedar, fewest openings,
and rockiest ground I've ever been on. I don't think Tinker Bell could
fly across it without rattling rocks.
Our quarry on this place was a huge chocolate colored Fallow that had
been hunted numerous times by rifle hunters to no avail. Figured I could
at least give it a try with my handgun. I was using a Contender with a
10 inch barrel in 30/30 caliber, topped with a Leupold gold ring scope
of four power strength. My bullet was a Winchester, 125 grain soft point.
My guide and I spent a major part of the rest of the day negotiating the
rocks and Cedar, seeing the big fallow three or four times but only in
fleeting glimpses through the brush. But no chance for a shot. As the
shadows grew longer we decided to try a drive. So I sat in a blind on
the edge of the only decent sized opening on the place.
My guide and a couple of others who had come out to check on our progress
walked through the Cedar, hoping to flush the buck past me. Would you
believe I saw Axis, Aoudad, White Tail,Sika and Catalina goat, but not
a single Fallow Buck of which there were at least five on the ranch. We
went back to the bunkhouse Skunked.
We got a late start the next day as a friend asked me to help guide some
Sheep hunters, which I did. So it was, that as we left, my host introduced
me to a young couple and their 6 month old baby who were to hunt the next
week and had stopped by to check things out. My host told them we were
leaving for a Sika and Red Stag hunt, and would they like to come along
and observe. They would. My guide from the day before wanted to come along
as well since he had never seen a Red Stag taken with a handgun. Then
the man and his two sons who had helped on the drive for the Fallow the
evening before wanted to come along as well.
So here I was entering the ranch gate with an entourage of 7 adults and
an infant along to watch me as I hunted my quarry. Would you believe we
found a nice Sika buck within 15 minutes, standing broadside at about
50-60 yards. I shot under him and he was gone. Nerves maybe??. About two
hours later and on the far side of the ranch from where we saw the Sika
we lucked out and found a herd of over 50 Red Stags. We got within 30
yards for an easy shot. When I pulled the trigger I heard nothing but
a click. A dud. So I quickly ejected the round and replaced it with another.
The result was the same. But this time it wouldn't eject. So I had to
look around the area for a stick or branch that was the right size and
hardness to push the stuck bullet out. Of course by the time I did all
this the whole herd had vanished.
Well, back to the chase. Awhile later we spotted my Sika buck again. He
was standing facing me at 80 plus yards. The bad part was that it was
standing between two trees with only a little of its neck and chest exposed.
At my shot the rest of the herd ran off with my buck slightly behind them.
I said to myself, it was a difficult shot but I should have made it. As
it turned out I hadn't missed. While I berated myself for a second miss
he had traveled about 20 yards and then went down to stay.
After congratulations, pictures, and field dressing we started back toward
the gate. We hadn't traveled more than 500 yards and there stood the Red
Deer I'd lost due to bad ammo. I was able to use my bipod and take a rest
on the hood of the truck. Thank goodness, he dropped in his tracks at
the shot. More pictures and congratulations and it was time to head for
town and a taxidermist. Both animals made it into the record book and
earned silver medals. This ended my handgun double.
by Steve Mahurin on March 5, 1998.