This is the story of my quest for a trophy Whitetail. I have been hunting
Exotics in Texas for nearly twenty years. I've been lucky to take many
of them, with a major portion, of them being high up in the record books.
I decided late in 1997 that it was time for me to renew my search for
a trophy Whitetail. That by itself is a pretty good hill to climb, but
I had decided to make it even harder. I was going to try and take my trophy
with a handgun, and didn't want to settle for anything less than an animal
in the 150 class of Boone and Crockett. This is the tale of that search.
The 1998 season was to be a real busy one for me. The first place I hunted
was, would you believe a freebie. My buddy, Thompson Temple, had graciously
extended me an invitation to take part in his annual Bonanza Hunt. This
was to take place not far outside of the picturesque town of Kerrville,
Texas. The nearest town to the ranch I was to hunt on was called Hunt,
Texas. Now can you possibly think of a better name for a town nestled
in middle of the fabled hunting area called the Texas Hill Country. This
area is probably the most intensely hunted places in the state. The ranch
was called the Low Hatch. Thompson had shown me pictures of animals taken
the preceding year on this hunt and there were a couple of the bucks that
looked pretty good. My hope was that although it wasn't likely that any
of them would be in the 150 class, if I saw one that was decent it would
be a good warm up for the next hunt.
The first morning was a typical Texas fall morning. It was pretty crisp
to start out as we rode in the open jeep to our blinds. But also typically
Texas, within a couple of hours I was ready to come out of the heavier
jacket I had started out with.
As the moon started its trip down, the sun started it's way into the sky.
The birds cheerily greeted the beginning of the day. Right after it got
light enough to see a little, a small group of deer sauntered into the
clearing. Sadly the four does and the young five-point buck weren't what
I was looking for. They stuck around for nearly an hour. As they vacated
the small clearing around the blind a herd of eighteen exotic sheep entered
the scene and stayed around until my guide picked me up for the trip back
to the bunkhouse.
The evening hunt was uneventful, except for one lonely doe about a hundred
yards away, and the same band of sheep I had seen that morning. The rest
of the weekend was a repeat of the first day. Not only did I not get a
Thanksgiving dinner, that weekend, but I didn't get to take a shot with
my .375 caliber Contender either.
The following weekend I was scheduled to help out a friend corral eight
corporate hunters on a ranch in the junction area. We were guides, cooks,
skinners, and butchers that weekend. We did get to sit in a blind one
morning and take a few photos of the deer, which was fun. Our hunters
each got eight pointers along with does and a turkey or two.
The next excursion was again with my buddy Richard Lozano, of Lozano Taxidermy
and 0utfitting. Richard had found an outfitter for me with a good reputation
and some big and well-known south Texas ranches to hunt. We arrived at
the lodge a few miles outside of the town of Carrizo Springs, Texas, late
on a Thursday night for a couple of days of pursuing the wily Whitetail.
We met our outfitter, a lady named Carolyn Faggord and after talking over
a game plan for the following morning headed to our bunks to try and get
a few hours of shut-eye.
The alarm went off at 4:30 the next morning and we stumbled out of our
bunks and into our clothes for the morning's hunt. Our destination that
first morning was to be a place called Crawford Farms. We met our guide
at the front gate and it was decided we would hunt out of an elevated
stand in the middle of a ranch. This place is a typical south Texas ranch
thick with cedar and a few openings and roads over its 4000 acres. We
arrived at the blind well before daylight and made the climb up its twenty-foot
height. We got settled in and began the wait for daylight. The temperature
was, sadly, typical Texas as well. Even before daylight it was pushing
the high seventies with a thick pea soup fog making it feel like a sauna
instead of the outdoors.
We had been told to expect to see bucks in the 130 -= 140 class. After
what seemed like forever the feeble rays of sunshine struggled through
the fog to barely illuminate the road we had come in on and the feeder,
which never spread it's meal of corn, about sixty yards away.
About two hours later we spotted the bare outline of a buck about fifty
yards away. Trouble was that even though he looked promising and hung
around for nearly an hour, playing peekaboo in the tenuous swirls of fog,
we could never get a good enough look to say if he was the caliber of
buck I was looking for. After the buck disappeared for the final time
into the mist we settled back down in the hopes that the fog would dissipate
and let us see a few more and hopefully some trophy sized bucks. We did
see about an hour and a half later about a dozen turkeys flitting on their
long legs through the edge of the brush. Alas they weren't what we were
One unusual thing did happen though. As we sat in the blind we saw three
beautiful Red Tailed Hawks all sitting in the same tree right across from
us. They hung around for over two hours.
The truck finally showed up to take us back to our vehicle. First though
we went to pick up my buddy, Richard Lozano, from the blind he had been
sitting in, hopefully to spot something big that maybe I could try for
that evening if I had no luck that morning. He told us that he had seen
a real good looking ten point that he thought I should try for on the
evening hunt. He had also spotted about eight or ten smaller bucks as
As we drove some of the roads on our way out we spotted a huge buck going
away from us. His wide heavy horned rack was a deep reddish bronze color.
Sadly there was only the sight of him running away from us, and not a
ghost of a chance for a shot.
We went back to our lodge for a light breakfast and a little air-conditioned
respite from the steamy morning. We even got in a couple of hours of bunk
time. About three o'clock that afternoon I was back in the blind that
Richard had been in that morning with my contender ready for that big
ten pointer. Yeah, you're right, we didn't see a single deer, much less
the big ten point.
When we arrived back at the lodge well after dark we were greeted very
pleasantly with a huge meal of steaks on the grill, with baked potatoes
and just about anything else you could think of to go with it. Maybe I
hadn't gotten a trophy buck that day but the hospitality and cuisine were
of record book proportions.
The next morning we decided to try something a little different. We were
to take out a high rack vehicle to the edge of a small food plot of about
forty acres in the hopes a buck might show up for a morning snack.
For those that are not familiar with South Texas style hunting I'll explain
what a high rack is. Short and sweet, it's a truck with an elevated seat
so you can be above to look down into the thick brush. This lets you,
hopefully, see a deer approaching before it sees you. That way you have
a little more time to make a shot that you would otherwise have. Most
of these high racks also have a complete set of controls up on top so
it can be driven from there as well as inside the cab.
We got to our spot and parked and began the wait for daylight. It wasn't
too long a wait. As the weak rays of sunshine finally illuminated the
clearing we saw nothing. In fact for nearly three hours that was all we
saw nothing. We were treated many times to the warbling call of many flights
of migrating Sandhill Cranes. Even on the drive back to the entrance we
didn't see a single animal. I guess the combination of heat and fog combined
was all against us. We got back to the lodge and packed our gear for the
The next weekend we were back in South Texas near a town called Carrizo
Springs. This time we were on a ranch, which covered nearly ten thousand,
low fenced acres of dense South Texas Mesquite and Blackbrush. Because
of my friend and hunting companion's schedule we would only have one full
day of hunting. This ranch actually wasn't scheduled to be hunted that
year so most of the blinds had been newly constructed. We figured since
the ranch hadn't been hunted for a couple of years that even with newly
placed blinds we had a decent chance of getting a big one.
We were in our spots well before even the slightest hint of the dawn showed.
Almost immediately I heard the lilting, quavering yodel of coyotes both
behind my ground blind as well as what sounded to be very close to the
front of me. Dawn finally showed itself on the horizon. The coyotes had
nearly continuously serenaded me. Just after I could see for a few yards
I saw a small three point buck edge its way out of the edge of the brush
to feed alongside of the caliche road running nearly out of sight in front
of my blind. There were quite a few deer in sight but nothing of any size.
About an hour or so into my vigil the coyote's music seemed even closer
than before. Sure enough within ten minutes I saw a lone coyote step from
the brush into the edge of the road. I had my Contender at the ready,
but decided it was too early in the day to shoot and maybe spook that
monster, brush bustin, Whitetail buck away so I would never see him. The
yodel dog quickly crossed the road and melted back into the brush. Then
a second one came out, paused and crossed to my right like the first one.
Then came a third one and then a fourth one, all repeating their cautious
exit from the brush and a quick crossing to the brush on the other side
of the opening. I said to myself, self, if just one more of those coyotes
come out you go ahead and shoot. You guessed it, not another showed itself.
An interesting mix of animals, but none that I was looking for. We were
picked up and went back to our motel for a meal and a little rest before
the evening hunt.
That afternoon I was back in the same blind and hoping for better luck.
As the afternoon wore on I hadn't seen much of anything. A couple of hours
later about 250 yards away I saw a movement at the edge of the road. I
jammed my binoculars to my eyes and saw something I had never had the
privilege of seeing in the thirty plus years that I have spent hunting
in many areas of my home state of Texas as well as many forays into the
mountains of Colorado. Crossing the road at a fast trot was a female Cougar
with two of that springs cubs trailing along behind her. I was only able
to watch them for a few seconds, but put that sighting very high in the
many pleasurable experiences in the outdoors. A little later there were
at least four bucks and nine does in and out of the open area. Alas none
of the bucks were shooters.
Very late in the evening as the bright orange sun was nearly down, its
bright rays nearly obscured my vision toward a drop off about eighty yards
away. Just under the intense light I could see the dark looking backs
of what I thought was animals moving toward me. About fifteen minutes
later ten Black feral hogs fed and grunted their way up over the edge
of the rise. I wanted to try and kill at least one of them but still waited
stubbornly hoping to sight a big buck. As it got darker and still darker,
the pigs stayed about fifty yards away. By the time I decided to take
a shot they had fed out of sight. As it got well into past dark I began
to wonder where my ride was. About 7:30 I was beginning to wonder if I
was going to have to walk out in the dark to the truck. Then I started
to hear the hogs moving and squealing right in front of my blind. Listening
to the hogs and thinking about the coyotes and the mountain lions I decided
that walking in the dark might not be such a good idea. Finally at 8:30
I saw headlights headed my way. The guides suburban had gotten buried
in a mud hole and he had to walk about two or three miles to get another
vehicle to pick us up and help in getting his Suburban unstuck. Quite
a day in the outdoors, huh? Then it was back on the road home.
Next up was a trip back to the South Texas countryside to a ranch I had
heard of for years when big Whitetail are spoken of. This was the Corazon
ranch a few miles outside of Bracketville, Texas. Richard Lozano, my friend
and outfitter, and I met the ramrod of the hunting part of the Corazon,
David Mann, at the front gate at the appointed time and he opened the
gate for the start of our adventure. As it was still an hour or so before
daylight we prepared to head to our blinds in the warm, muggy, predawn
stillness of the South Texas, brush country.
I was the first to be put out and slowly climbed into the tower blind.
This blind was very unsteady and every time I moved would move back and
forth to the outer reaches of the cables tethering it to the ground. Needless
to say it wasn't very easy to turn and scan all around me. I finally worked
out a system whereby I made the least possible noise and still would be
able to do a decent job of watching for game. As the first rays of daylight
started to peek through the darkness I began to hear the birds greet the
new day with song. Over across the opening and below the creek bed, I
could also hear the sound of heavy wings fluttering, along with the calls
of turkey. Within thirty minutes of daylight my blind was literally surrounded
by a huge flock of native Rio Grande Turkeys. What surprised me most though
was that the males were still gobbling and strutting even though it was
nearly the middle of January. For nearly the whole time I was in that
blind there were turkey all over the place.
Not to mention the many Whitetail deer that sauntered into the clearing
to partake of the corn spread by the feeder. In fact most of the time
spent in that spot there were deer and turkey in sight. Trouble was although
I was itching to take a turkey with my Thompson Contender I didn't because
I didn't want to spook any big bucks that might be in the area. There
were at least seven bucks within pistol shot range at various times but
none that I wanted to bust a cap at.
When the truck came to pick me up I reported what I had seen and the numerous
pictures I'd made. Richard had seen one big buck at extreme range with
no chance at a shot. He had gotten a real good gobbler though.
David's son had picked us both up, and as we made our way back to camp
he told us about a large water hole on thew other side of the ranch that
was usually covered with ducks. We asked what kind and he described Blue
and Green Winged Teal and a duck that he didn't have any idea what it
was. From his description, I thought they were Ring Billed Ducks. H e
asked if I would like to borrow a shotgun and take a crack at one. Of
course I was ready to go for it. We got back to camp, got a bite to eat,
got the shotgun, and took off. It took about thirty minutes to arrive
at our destination. I was to crawl about thirty yards up to the top of
the embankment for my shot. Luck was with me and I got one Ring-Bill as
the whole flock started to wing their way off the water. Then it was back
to camp for a little rest in the air conditioning, away from what had
turned out to be another very hot, very clear blue skied day in the South,
I had promised myself that morning that if all those turkey were still
around my blind that evening, I was going to put one on the ground. Wouldn't
you know it, David decided to move me to a different part of the ranch
since all I had seen were small bucks. And you guessed it a young hunter
sat in the blind I had been in that morning and shot a real nice nine
point buck that evening.
The blind that I was in was situated at the center of two senderos in
the form of a plus and gave me a long field of view in four directions.
It turned out that it was a pretty uneventful evening. I saw about four
does and a medium sized eight pointer. Before I was picked up I did get
what turned out to be some spectacular pictures of the South Texas sunset.
We decided to spend the majority of the night at the camp and leave from
there in time to arrive for hunting on a different ranch near Sabinal,
Texas, the next morning.
The guides for our next try had told us it was a virtual lock that we
would have a chance at 130 to 140 class bucks. We had only one day of
hunting time left before Richard had to be back at his Taxidermy Studio
in South Houston, Texas. The drive to the stands was in total darkness
and we were dropped off at a spot that a couple of big bucks had been
seen a number of times in the last few days. Guess what our blind was.
A windmill! You don't think it was easy to make that straight up vertical
climb, with all our gear plus the heavy coats we needed for the just below
freezing temperatures that had greeted us as we started out that morning.
One of the famous Texas Blue Northers had arrived while we slept All we
saw that morning was our white breath and three or four does. We hoped
for much better luck on the evening hunt.
As we made our way back to our blind that afternoon we passed through
some fabulous looking deer country. We went down into and through a deep
canyon with the rushing waters of the Sabinal, within a few yards of the
narrow dirt track we traveled along. When we topped out the ridge you
could see a vista of nonstop brush and trees for nearly a dozen miles.
The road to the blind was nine and a half miles from camp. After the climb
back up to the top of the windmill it was back to waiting and watching
and hoping. We saw a good number of small bucks as well as over twenty
does. But nothing of the two big eight pointers and the two big ten pointers
we had been told hung around in the area of the windmill. Busted again.
That was our last chance for the 1988 season so it was back home and start
planning for next year.
The only hunt for the 1999 season was on the last weekend of the South
Texas, season. This hunt took place on a very well known ranch near Pearsall,
Texas smack dab in some of the best of the South Texas brush country.
My companions on this hunt were Richard Lozano, my good friend and taxidermist,
His cousin Jim Chapa, and a new friend, James Patella, who we would help
in taking a trophy Aoudad Sheep and a Fallow Deer. The ranch we were hunting
is the Galloway Ranch.
We had arrived at the ranch about an hour after dark and started to unload
our gear. As we did we heard a sound of something banging together. We
all suspected it might be a couple of deer fighting. We climbed into both
vehicles and pointed the headlights into the big open field adjacent to
the lodge. There in the cone of light shining through the darkness were
two white Fallow Deer banging away at each other. They completely ignored
the presence of the lights and vehicles. This saga continued for over
fifteen minutes before they finally retired from the field of battle.
The very next night at about the same time the exact same thing happened.
The next morning Richard and I dropped Jim and James, sounds like a vaudeville
act huh! at a blind to try for a Fallow Deer. Richard and I spotted a
couple of pretty good bucks on the way to where we were going to try for
my Whitetail Buck. Sadly none were in the B& C 150 class that I was looking
for. Our morning hunt was non-eventful. James had gotten lucky that morning
and had bagged a trophy Chocolate Fallow Deer. After getting the Fallow
skinned and quartered and in the cooler, we decided to go out and look
for him an Aoudad Sheep.
Shortly after we got into the heavy brush area we spotted a big bunch
of Aoudads ghosting along through the brush about a hundred yards off
the road we were on. After circling around and around the area and seeing
the rams a half dozen times, with no chance at a shot, it was decided
we had to change tactics. I suggested we drop Jim and James off at a junction
of two roads and that we circle and hopefully move the animals in such
a manner as to give them a chance at a shot. A little later Richard and
I spotted the rams off to our left. We were only three or four hundred
yards from where Jim and James had set up their ambush. I told Richard,
let me stay with the truck so the rams won't come this way and if you
walk the brush behind them they should cross the opening and give James
a shot. We did, They did, and James made a good shot and had his ram.
That evening, since Jim was the resident expert on judging Whitetail antlers,
it was decided that he would go with me to hunt for my buck. We first
tried driving the pasture surrounding the owner's home. About all we saw
were deer diving into the tall Blackbrush with not enough time to judge
them or anything, much less time for a shot. Later we sat in a ground
blind on the edge of an open field. We had a visit from wily coyote and
five does but not a buck one.
The next morning Jim and I were perched high up off the ground in a tower
box blind. As it slowly began to get light enough to see, the first animal
we saw was a small eight point Whitetail buck. Next to show up were a
few Whitetail does and about twenty or so Axis Deer does. I tried a grunt
call while Jim was working with a set of rattling antlers. There was almost
instant success. About seventy or eighty yards away to our right came
two very good bucks. The trouble was that they were just inside the confines
of a high fenced enclosure into which we couldn't shoot. In the first
couple of hours of daylight we saw a total of maybe eighty Axis including
two very shootable males, over twenty Whitetail, a Waterbuck, A Barasinga,
and a couple of Blackbuck Antelope. Way off in the distance we could see
on a big green, irrigated field, dozens of Elk and other exotic species
feeding. A little later we spotted at least three very good Whitetail
bucks in the middle of that same field. Trouble was they were at least
a thousand yards away and not a snowballs chance in mid-July to get a
After leaving the elevated blind we decided to try one more thing before
we had to leave for home about noon. We were to try Safari style for a
Whitetail. Safari style would be Jim and I in the open pickup bed so we
would have a better chance of seeing deer by being above the nearly chest
high Blackbrush that hid the game so well. As we drove we spotted at least
half of the nearly 200 Rocky Mountain Elk that abound on the property.
We spotted at least a dozen does and seven Fallow bucks on our drive.
After nearly an hour we, really Jim, spotted a huge wide racked Whitetail
buck. All you could see was his head and his antlers reflecting in the
bright sun at over three hundred yards away. We headed in his general
direction. There was no way under the existing conditions that I was going
to be able to get a shot at him with my Contender, so I switched over
to my trusty Remington model 700, 30/06. That old buck was a wily one,
and kept just out of range and wouldn't stand still for even a minute.
When we had been playing cat and mouse for a good thirty or forty minutes
he almost gave us a break, but not quite. ON a curve in the narrow trail
we had been following we closed to under a hundred yards. Four different
times just as I found him in my scope he would move. The one time he did
stand still a few seconds, the thick brush screened him, so I couldn't
get a clear shot. Finally we lost him completely and decided it was time
to head back to the lodge and pack up for the trip home. It was the last
day of the season, so all we could do was head home and promise ourselves
to be back next year and in one of the blinds in the area we had played
cat and mouse with that buck..
2000 Well here we are in the new millennium and waiting for deer season
to continue my search for a big Whitetail buck. In the first week of June
a hunting buddy of mine, Kim Hansen, and I were discussing and trying
to figure out a place to try and book for a hunt. He told me about a ranch
he had done a meat hunt on last year. He said he had seen some really
good bucks on that hunt and that he had an email address for the lady
who ran it and would check if they were going to have any big bucks available
for the 2000 season.
I asked what the name of the place was. It was called the Kyle Ranch and
was located about 12 miles from Bandera Texas. He said that the people
who owned and ran it were very nice people and that he was sure that I
would like them and enjoy any hunt I went on there.
Being the impatient type I decided that when I got home I would just for
the heck of it, see if they had an internet site. Sure enough there was
and I emailed them, telling them that I was a friend of Kim's and he had
told me about them. They replied that yes they remembered Kim and to tell
him hello for them. They told me that they did indeed have three of their
special breeder Whitetail bucks that would be available for hunting this
season. And in fact that all three of them were 12 pointers last year.
These bucks were all getting around the five or six years of age bracket
and they figured it was time to let someone crop them from the herd before
they started on the downhill side of their antler growth.
So with a bunch of emails zipping back and forth, as well as some pictures
of the potential bucks from last year, it was decided that I would be
there opening weekend to have a try for one of them and stay in their
trailer on site, for the three days or so of my hunt.
On November 3, 2000 I was on my way for what I hoped would be the end
of my three year quest for a big whitetail buck. This time I had a companion
or accomplice, however you want to put it. This companion was my close
friend, Betty Hathorn. Betty was along to try for her first ever Whitetail,
and only her second ever hunt.
We arrived at our destination around noon on a dreary, cloudy, rainy,
muddy day. We made our way up a steep hill to a large house sitting at
the summit to meet our guides, outfitters Kathryn Kyle and Dick Johnson.
They informed us that all three of the bigger bucks on the place had been
frequenting the same feeder area up until two days before and hopefully
we could get a good look at them on opening morning. They directed us
down the hill to a nice trailer that would be our home away from home
for our hunt. We quickly got all our gear unloaded. We had been invited
by our hosts to attend a hunters BBQ dinner in Bandera that evening. We
did get to take a short tour of the 6100 acre ranch before it was time
to leave for town. The rain that had been falling since before we had
arrived was still coming down as we left. After a good meal and an auction
we headed back to the ranch with the rain falling even harder and lasting
most of the night.
Opening day of the Texas 2000 deer season dawned rainless but very overcast
and cool, in the 50's. We started out in a Blazer with no top. Arriving
at our hunting spot we covered most of the vehicle with camouflage netting.
Betty and Kathryn were up front with me in the back. We were on the edge
of a ravine with a feeder that I ranged at 50 yards on the other side
of the ravine. It wasn't raining as I had mentioned but the humidity was
so high and the clouds so low and threatening that it might as well have
been. About 7:15 a. m. the feeder whirred to life and broadcasted its
corn around the area. Shortly afterward we saw two small bucks ease out
of the brush to partake of the free meal. Shortly after that a young eight
point buck came from the ridge behind and to the left of us. We all stayed
very still and he crossed behind us within 20 yards, and then crossed
the ravine to join the other deer. About an hour later I spotted a much
better 8 point buck edging out from behind a big brushy downed tree. He
evidently didn't like what he either saw or smelled because he never came
fully out and left for other places after only a few minutes of standing
and staring. Just a little after nine a nosy doe came up from directly
behind us and started stomping her feet in an effort to make us move so
she could tell what we were. Finally she decided she didn't like what
she saw and gave out with that wheezing snort that says danger to all
deer within hearing and hightailed it back over the ridge. We figured
that after that we might as well leave the area and see if we could find
anything by driving safari style.
We saw quite a large number of exotics as we moved around the ranch. We
saw Addax Antelope, White Elk, Red Deer, and Barasinga Deer, along with
a few Blackbuck Antelope, Axis Deer, and White Fallow Deer. Best of all
though was what we saw about an hour later. We saw bedded down with a
bunch of Fallow Deer the biggest Whitetail buck I had ever seen in the
wild. This was one of the bucks that Kathryn had told us about. She called
him "Wide" because of his extremely wide spread. On an educated guess
this animal had a spread of at least 26 inches and 11 points. We got a
real long look at him and though he was a real dandy I thought that his
antlers looked a little spindly, so I regretfully decided to pass on him,
this being opening morning, and pray that I would have a chance to see
the other two bucks before I had to make the decision to shoot or not.
We looked for awhile and took some pictures, which didn't come out, and
went our way trying to find the other two big bucks. We did see a number
of bucks, seven, but nothing but young ones. After an hour long break
we were back at it again to no avail. About 3:00 p.m. it was decided that
Betty and I would go to a ground blind in the hopes of seeing a deer for
Betty to take.
The blind Kathryn wanted us to hunt was one that she said had been there
for as long as she could remember. She had grown up on this ranch, which
was owned by her father. She explained that it was made of metal and was
very small so we might be a little cramped in it. This turned out to be
an understatement. We had to ease our way down a steep, slippery, slope
to a creek crossing, then drive about a hundred yards or so on a rock
ledge coming up out of the creek bed, then back up another muddy slope
to get to the blind area. Kathryn told us that she had seen a nice, heavy
8 pointer and an even nicer 10 pointer coming to that blind. When we got
there, she wasn't kidding. This blind was half the size of any blind I
had ever been in. We unloaded our gear and started to shoehorn our way
into the blind. Betty who is a little claustrophobic said she wasn't sure
she would be able to get in it and close the door. Picture this! To be
able to see through the same window that Betty would be shooting from
and help her to judge the size of the deer before she shot we had to do
the following. First take the boards used for a seat and slide them out
toward the center of the blind, then straddle them, with me directly behind
her trying to use binoculars over her shoulder. Picture a bicycle built
for two only much closer together. Betty was having a ball seeing so many
things she had never seen before. In fact with all the birds and the many
huge Monarch Butterflies flitting around the area she kept thinking she
was seeing deer move. Finally what she saw was actually a deer. I had
to warn her not to point and move so much when she got excited about seeing
her first deer in the wild. The first thing we saw was, which is usually
the case, a couple of does We did finally have a couple of small 8 point
bucks come in. The best of the two eight pointers hung around for about
40 minutes and then left. Shortly afterward a spike and a six pointer
showed up. Never having shot a deer nor even seeing a deer in the wild,
much less the 48 yards we had ranged the feeder, I kept her busy practicing
finding the deer in her scope and simulating firing at it. She was starting
to get confident in doing this when all of a sudden all the deer threw
up their heads and were looking at something off to our right. Suddenly
they all took off running in the other direction and in ran a bunch of
about 8 feral pigs. That pretty much was it for the hunt that evening.
I tried to get Betty to pop one of the pigs since the ranch owner wanted
any and all hogs killed that we saw. She refused saying she hared the
sight of them so much that she didn't even want to shoot one of them.
But at least she got some more practice at finding animals in her scope.
Finally they left as well and shortly after we were picked up and we went
back to the trailer for a quick meal and then to bed for a much needed
The next morning came too early at 5:45. This morning we decided to go
back to the same spot we had been in the previous morning. This time it
was foggy mixed with a misty rain. We had only been there a little while
and had seen 4 does. They were super spooky and sending out their alarm
call so we decided to leave. Not long afterward we headed back to the
area we had seen "Wide" the morning before and sure enough there he was.
We had a lot better look at him this time and I decide he was probably
a little better in the antler department than I had thought the day before.
We figured he would maybe be in the 130 B & C class. But with Kathryn
telling me that she thought that the deer she called Wide Jr, because
he wasn't quite as wide as he other one, had more mass. The other one
which was called" Bookie" she thought was the best of all of them. Being
greedy I decided to pass on Wide again. The weather all that day was in
one word, wet. We saw 2waterfalls where not too long ago there had been
no water at all. Deep ponds where a short while earlier they had been
dry. All this water was great for the ranch but lousy for hunting in an
open vehicle. Don't get me wrong but even though it we were in light rain
all the time it wasn't to bad, and we saw lots of game of all kinds. We
saw the glittering beads of moisture clinging to the beautiful geometric
shapes of spider webs. The moisture made the new shoots of grass springing
up everywhere almost glow a pale blue in the pale shifting light. The
mist shrouded hills looked like what I would imagine the rolling hills
of the Irish or English countryside would look. We decided on an early
break for lunch since we were not really seeing much game anyway. That
afternoon rain and all we went to the most distant back part of the ranch
hoping to see the other two bucks. We saw a few does and a flock of about
20 turkey, all gobblers. They were even doing a little bit of strutting
with their tail feathers fanned out for all to see. Kathryn showed us
a trick that I had never seen. When she banged on the side of the vehicle
with the palm of her hand, every one of them would gobble.
I guess that one of the most enjoyable things on this trip was having
Betty along and watching her wide -eyed amazement at almost everything
that unfolded before her that she had never seen before.
That evening it was back to the same old bicycle built for two stand.
The feeder went off shortly after 4:00 p.m. Within 30 minutes we were
overrun by deer. There were 8 or 10 does and up to 4 bucks at a time around
us. Most of them were too small to shoot though. A decent, average Hill
Country buck did come in. While we were procrastinating over whether to
shoot or not, you guessed it, the pigs came back and the deer left. During
the time we had so many deer around there was a doe within 4 or 5 yards
of the side window of the blind. So close in fact, that I had to lean
forward and to the left to keep her from seeing me. Suddenly the thunder
and dark clouds that we had been watching as well got much darker, louder,
and closer. Within a few minutes our guide had shown up figuring that
the weather was going to get worse quickly. She was very right. We had
no more than gotten into the covered jeep, that we had prudently switched
into before going out after lunch, than the bottom dropped out. It rained
so hard that the water rapidly accumulated in the center of the roof.
It bulged down enough that we had to keep pushing up on it to keep it
from leaking. Of course that would sometimes cause it to pour in around
the seams and get the people in the front wetter than they wanted to be.
Even worse was the prospect of that creek crossing. The water was probably
twice as deep as when we first crossed it as well as flowing much faster.
Luckily Kathryn was a skillful driver and negotiated the current, rock
ledge, and slippery slope with no major difficulties. She did say that
just before she left the spot she had been setting the wide spread buck
had walked within 10 feet of her going toward the area we had seen him
at before. We finally got back to the trailer and inside. The It rained
hard most of the night. The next morning we found out that we had gotten
nearly four inches in four hours. We went to bed hoping that the next
day would give us better weather.
When the alarms jangling awoke us the next morning we found that the early
mornings dark skies were clear and we could see the stars for the first
time in many days. Before we even got to the hunting area we saw 5 bucks
in our headlights. ranging from a cull type spike to a young basket type
eight pointer. We had decided to go back to small metal blind this morning
in the hopes that Betty could get her buck this morning and then we could
spend the rest of the day trying to find and harvest one of the big bucks.
As we made our way to the blind we felt the crispness of the air and could
see the stars twinkling in the sky.
About 10 minutes after we were dropped off and were in the blind a big
fat doe ambled by. It was obvious that she was on a mission to somewhere
else since she never paused in her stride through the opening that our
blind sat in. After that not a thing stirred even after the feeder went
off, except for a bushy tailed squirrel whose antics helped to pass the
time until our guide picked us up. We decided to drive around awhile and
see if we could spot anything that way. We busted the brush and anything
else we could think of before and after lunch and only figured out one
thing. None of the animals including the exotics were stirring. Even at
the feeders we found feed on the ground, with no evidence that anything
had been feeding on it.
Finally about 3:45 we decided to make a last try at the blind we had seen
the wide buck at in the hopes that the game would be feeding that evening
since they definitely hadn't the rest of the day.
We started the drive to that part of the ranch and just as we turned off
the main vehicle trail I spotted a very good buck coming out of the brush
and timber accompanied by a doe. I shouted, quietly to our guide and driver,
"There's a real good looking buck, " and she slammed on the brakes for
a look. Up went the binoculars and a quick look told me it was a very
nice nine point with more mass than the big wide spread buck we had seen
before. Kathryn whispered that it was the buck they called wide jr. and
that she thought that he would score a little lower than the other buck.
I decided that I liked him best and with their not being any guarantee
we would even see the other buck again it was time to shoot. I quickly
brought up my .375 caliber Thompson Contender and in the process of trying
to get a rest on the Suburban roll bar somehow made a clanking metallic
sound. The buck whirled around and started back into the thick brush.
I commented to our guide, guess that takes care of the decision as to
which buck I should try for. Kathryn said I think he might come back.
She said she would drive off a few yards and point the front of the vehicle
toward where he had went into the brush And wait and see what happened.
No sooner than we had made the turn toward the area than there he was
with a doe trailing behind him, starting back across the opening. I quickly
ranged him at 43 yards. The Contender was up with no problem this time.
Then at 4:00 p.m. the gun barked and the 200-grain Remington core - lokt
bullet did its job, and the buck went down without making a single step.
Yes !! My quest for the biggest buck I had ever taken was over and the
Texas Whitetail Odyssey was finally over after 3 years of searching. After
lots of congratulations and smiles and picture taking our guide told me,
I think there is still time if we just leave your deer here and I take
ya'll to a blind for Betty to get a deer and I 'll come back and take
care of your buck in the meantime. That seemed like a good plan to me
so off we went, back to the tin blind.
We had barely gotten settled into the blind when the feeder came alive
and broadcast its bounty in a broad circle around the area. It didn't
take long for the game to start making an appearance. First a few does
moved in and a couple of small bucks were close behind. After awhile a
small 8 point came in. Then an 8 point that was much better than anything
we had seen here so far came in. Whispered to Betty that it was up to
her if she wanted to take this buck or to wait awhile and see if anything
better might show up. She kept saying, I've got a good sight picture,
I could shoot him easy. I think maybe she talked herself into it, because
at 5:30 her Remington .243 went off. The buck ran in a tight little circle
then went down in a heap. Betty had her first ever whitetail buck. In
only an hour and a half we had both taken the best bucks ever. Shortly
after our guides showed up and with many congratulations and pictures
our adventure was at an end. On our way back to camp in the nearly dark
evening we went back past where I had taken my buck. You guessed it !!
We saw a very large buck running into the brush no more than a 100 yards
from the spot where my buck had went down. Yes, guess where I will probably
be opening day next year? Betty says she just might be there with me.
The buck scored an approximate 122 B&C points.
Written by Steve Mahurin.