After several rain delays we were finally headed down to Irion county to take some whitetail does and it couldn’t come soon enough. I have had the worst bow season that I think I ever had.
It started with flooding before season started and I had to clean up camp and find all my belongings, this happens, we needed the rain so no big deal. Then season started and I found every way in the world to mess up a hunt, shifting winds, wrong stands, misses, the list continues but I kept at it. Three weeks in, more flooding and this time everything that wasn’t tied down was washed away so once again I have no firewood no propane bottles no bow targets, so I start all over. Fourth trip of the season and it’s raining but I go anyway, during the three hours I sat in the stand the camp flooded yet again and that was it for me I left and haven’t been back. Hopefully soon the rain will stop and I can go organize what’s left but on the bright side there is plenty of water for duck hunting so I’m looking forward to that.
We left Thursday night and arrived at camp late to a fire and welcome faces, as is the usual we stayed up too late catching up on the last year and it made for a real early morning hunt.
Alex and I sat together that morning as my main focus was getting him a deer or two on his first hunt of the year. It didn’t take long until we had some visitors. Lots of little bucks and couple doe but the doe were not cooperating, they were not giving us much of a shot until finally one of the bucks chased a big doe right toward us and I told Alex shoot her now before she gets back in the brush, and he did. Doe number one of the trip is down.
This ranch has been managed for over a decade now and a huge part of it is taking 100+ doe a year from it. I’m sure there are some that would disagree with the practice but I would argue that if you actually step foot on this place and see the deer population and the health of the herd you would understand that the plan is working.
This type hunt is not for everybody and I understand that too but I also like tasty venison in the freezer and helping anyone I can who wants deer meat.
Alex and I sat in the stand a few more minutes and another doe came out. I was up and after such a frustrating bow season it was gonna feel good to get a deer down and get my season back on track.
I put the crosshairs on the base of her neck and squeezed off, the deer left. Yep, just turned and ran off. I missed, a clean miss with a rifle at 85 yards. Alex looked at me and said what are you doing? I said, I don’t know I missed it happens. He says, yeah but not to you really, you never miss. I said, you know how sometimes when you are playing short stop and you pick up a ground ball and for no reason in the world you throw it into the dugout instead of first base? Well that’s what happened, now let’s move on. I had a bad game I guess I don’t know.
I went back to camp and as a precaution I shot the rifle and just as I suspected it was dead on. I just flat pulled the shot and I don’t know how.
That afternoon Alex sat alone and I was a couple big draws over. It wasn’t long before several small bucks and a doe filtered through. The young bucks wanted love but the doe were not ready so most of the doe were being pestered pretty hard and this kept them moving but I found a spot to get a shot and squeezed, the doe dropped where she was standing, now we are getting somewhere.
Alex reported that he had another deer and things were getting back to normal.
That night the boys brought in five or six more deer and the count was up to about 17 for the group. We had 120 tags so we were in no danger of filling those but every one helps the cause. I wanted to go to bed early but that’s not what I do here. It seems that every night someone is up late talking by the fire and although the company each night changes I always stay up with whoever it is and solve the worlds problems.
We had a huge supper and would do it all again tomorrow.
I can’t say enough about this group of guys. They don’t have to invite people out and they sure don’t have to provide all they do for us but they understand families and friendships and the time spent around fires and telling lies, oh man the lies, are what life should be about. Not traffic and work and deadlines and must do’s, I know that’s what pays bills and provides all the reasons we even get to do the things we do but sometimes every person should just stop down. Stop what you’re doing and realize what is the most important. Too many people get going so fast at work and careers that they never realize how disconnected from a life they are. These guys get it, there are times we stare at a fire for minutes on end without saying a word, there’s nothing to say, they all understand it. No words can translate what each guy already knows in their mind, just stare at the flames and do nothing. Now there are also the times that the lies grow so large that only the people who have consumed an equal amount of whiskey as the liar can even try to comprehend it but those are fun too.
The next morning would be good as the hunter numbers had reached about 10 and I suspect there will be a lot of deer killed.
Alex and I both blanked which is rare but it happens sometimes. We usually hunt stands but with the amount of deer here you could literally just sit behind most any tree or rock and kill a deer soon enough. We have also drove in the top drive safari style and shot them that way. Again some will disagree on that style too but the object here is to take deer by any legal means necessary.
I had a new toy to play with, the iScope, it’s a device that attaches your phone to your scope so you can record what your scope is seeing, it’s pretty cool. I had already filmed Alex taking a doe and was wanting to film myself shooting a deer so people could see exactly what I’m seeing through the crosshairs so that was my goal for the evening hunt.
Once again Alex and I split up and I got a nice big stand that I could get the gun and everything set up nice for filming.
When I arrived at the stand deer were already feeding but nothing that met the culling requirements. After a few chases from the young bucks a really small fawn had had enough and made her way into the brush. Not long after I seen movement from that spot and assumed it was the fawn but it was actually a full grown doe, now was my chance to use the iScope.
I got everything lined up and remembered what I tell Alex before he shoots, squeeeeeeze, and just like that she dropped. Maybe I needed Alex to coach me through the shot I missed earlier, maybe I got in a hurry, maybe I needed to slow my brain down and get it into hunting mode instead of traffic jam road rage mode that it too often stays in. Either way the deer was down so I loaded her up and headed toward Alex’s stand.
I stopped short as the sun wasn’t quite down yet and I looked out the passenger side window at a beautiful southwest Texas sun set and I had to get a picture. With my doe on the back and the low hanging clouds it turned out to be a great shot and I just got back in the truck turned the radio on and who else but Robert Earl Keen is playing, if that scene don’t make you swell to the brim with Texas pride then I’m sorry you’re not from here but I’m sure it’s real nice where ever you are from.
I’m not sure how many deer this young man has killed in his 17 years but at last count it was pushing 40. There’s not a lot of teenagers who have accomplished that and I’m proud of him for it. He’s one of the men now sitting around the fire and rather than having to listen to all of our hunting stories he has his own to tell. He is a good hunter and will have many more hunts ahead of him that I can’t wait to hear about.
Back at camp the boys had been busy, it was a record night. In a three hour time frame we had killed 17 deer and I was about to get real busy. I like to clean deer, I always have and when I’m in mid season form I’m pretty good at it I think. Not having cleaned one in awhile since I suck at bow hunting this year it took me a minute to get going but once I got my rhythm with the help of a couple others we knocked out that entire stack of deer in two hours, quartered and on ice. That’s pretty good considering the time we gotta stop and tell a lie, make fun of someone’s shot, have some sweet tea, and cuss whoever gut shot one. I enjoy this part as much as any because to me this is when what we are doing becomes the meat, the meals, the actual venison that will be consumed. Somewhere between pulling the trigger and putting quarters on ice the process turns from hunting as an activity to actually providing food, no different than taking a cake to your neighbor. All the deer I take home from this hunt are given to people and families that want meat. None is wasted and no one is given it unless they are prepared to take it and have made arrangements to deal with it. An animals life was taken and it will be consumed and cared for in the right way.
I didn’t hunt the next morning I was tired and had coolers full of meat but we ended the weekend with 36 deer taken which is well short of the season goal but does go a long way toward accomplishing it.
After the Cruiser was loaded I noticed a hitch hiker in my tire but decided to chance it, luckily we made it.
We stopped in San Angelo at Dun-Bar East cafe and although they had some weird breakfast deal where you can get breakfast until 11 but no pancakes after 10:30 it was good. Our waitress was great and was really sweet on Alex, really sweet, so sweet she asked if I could please leave him there and I quickly obliged but in my retreat to the Cruiser he caught me. Oh well I tried, as is his usual not five miles down the road our hero had fallen victim to the power of the French toast in his belly and he was out, he wouldn’t wake for about two hours. That’s the way weekends should end, huge meal and so tired you need a whole day to catch up that means it was a full weekend. Nobody wants to end a weekend full of energy having not accomplished anything.