Rosebush Blackbuck
By Steve Mahurin

It was the first day of a hunt for the elusive Blackbuck Antelope, with a handgun. It was damp and cool that morning of December 7th 1996 as I arrived in Alvin, Texas to hunt with Mark Strickland, owner and main guide, of S & H Adventures. My weapon was a 30-30 caliber , Thompson Contender with a 14 inch barrel with a muzzle tamer installed to help keep down the recoil. The scope was a Leupold 4 power.

Marks place is strictly walking, fair chase with no vehicles allowed. The terrain is relatively flat , but that's' the only easy feature of the landscape. This property is covered with tall grass ,in some areas nearly waist high, but at the least knee high. It also has a high population of thick dense trees and huge car sized wild rose bushes. The first time onto the property was of course early a.m. while there was still a tenuous mist hanging waist high in the dew covered grass and leaving us soaking wet from above our knees in only minutes. We saw Blackbuck right away, 3 nice males, with horns in the 20 inch plus range. Of course we only saw them for a minute before they bolted into the brush. We tried circling the area where they disappeared to cut them off and attempt a shot. No luck after a number of tries. Mark said that there was a little drainage ditch with a narrow strip of ground on the other side of it that he called the trap. He said that lots of the animals when pushed would head for that strip, and since they were reluctant to jump the ditch or cross it, some times you could ambush them as they came out.

Since we'd been hunting hard all day without a shot and the shadows were starting to get long. I figured it was worth a try. Mark took me to a spot overlooking the open end of the trap and sat me behind a log with the hopes of a shot. It wasn't 15 minutes after he had left to circle the area and try and push anything that was holed up there past me. Then out trotted this great looking Blackbuck and posed for me broadside. Even though I was hoping for just that thing to happen, I was surprised and even with a rest ,hurried my shot, with the usual result of a hurried pistol shot. A clean miss at 50 yards. Off he went ,back into the timber and grass. We slogged through that brush the rest of the day but never saw him again.

It was not until the 11th of December that I could get back to Alvin to try again. There had been a very heavy rain the day before dumping 6-8 inches in the area. Needles to say parts of the pasture was ankle deep in water and mud nearly sucking my boots off and a real helpful sloshing noise while trying to stalk a spooky animal. We hunted real hard, trying a number of tactics. Trying to walk them to death, and that didn't work.

I sat in ambush behind, around and in the middle of some of the biggest wild rose bushes you ever saw. Those rose bushes put out runners through the tall thick grass that were like the tentacles of an Octopus. They just seemed to lay there in the grass waiting for you to get close enough to wrap themselves, thorns and all, around your ankles and try to throw you face down into the grass. I never fell , but came close a bunch of times.

We saw the 3 males 5 or 6 times that day, but no time for a shot. Finally toward evening we set up an ambush at the edge of one of the few small openings on the place, with Mark circling the pasture in the hopes of the big one passing by slowly enough for a shot. Finally Lady Luck seemed to smile a little in the waning light and suddenly there he was walking slowly, just on the far side of the opening. I took the shot at about 40-50 yards. The buck went into high gear and disappeared from view. I was dumbfounded. How could I have missed. We did find some hair that had been clipped off him as well as just a couple of drops of blood. We searched diligently, seeing him, we thought, one more time just a few minutes after I shot. I t got dark quickly after that and with sinking heart we felt our way out of the woods in the almost pitch black darkness.

Mark said he would be back out at first light to see if he could find him and I'm happy to say that he did. The strange thing is that the Winchester 125 grain bullet was a little high and had broken his spine almost in half. This should have dropped him in his tracks. It took 3 days of hard hunting to take this great game animal. This animal in my opinion did a lot to dispel the rumor that Blackbucks are easy to kill. This tough critter scored a gold medal in the Records of Exotics record book. A real worthwhile and challenging hunt.

Written by Steve Mahurin on March 11, 1998

Rose Bush Buck

Steve Mahurin
25 North Heights
La Marque, Texas 77568

Email: samahurin@comcast.net

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