I started hunting back in the '80s and have had some success and always enjoyed the sport. To paraphrase a famous hunter (who's name I cannot recall right now), "we kill to have hunted, not hunt to have killed." The camaraderie and outdoor experience is always the best part. I've never taken anything which could ever be considered a trophy. In fact, the bucks I've shot in my life have always been small and often wierd antlered.

As life marched on, work and family took over and my hunting opportunities became very few and far in between. Family land was sold off as relatives passed on and in Texas, it can be almost impossible to hunt without owning your own land or paying a lot of money. As my oldest son reached hunting age, he started going places to hunt with his grandfather on the rare occasion he had an opportunity come up. My son ended up shooting some nice bucks, much nicer than any I'd taken, we even had one mounted. I believed my hunting days would now be relegated to back-up hunter and spotter for the boys and I was thrilled with my oldest son's success at this point.

To allow them to hunt and enjoy the outdoors as I always have, my wife and I decided to buy some land. After searching far and wide, we found a small tract near Hunt, Texas, between Kerrville and Bandera. It is covered with deer and hog sign, and we've even seen Axis there, so we were excited. It's a small place, but with low fences and large ranches around it, I had high hopes.

My son and I hunted early in the season, but the mild weather and extreme over-abundance of acorns kept deer lazy and safe. We saw one doe slip up to the feeder after shooting light and slip away as fast as she came. We enjoyed it though, a lot. And, we finally had a place we could hunt whenever we wanted and it was ours.

Fast forward to this past weekend. Thursday it snowed like crazy all over the Texas Hill Country and dipped to the upper 20's at night in Kerrville, but Friday turned sunny with highs in the 50's. So we packed up to spend the weekend with some wonderful friends who live near our land. On Friday, we arrived just in time to unload and head to the ranch, as we call it, though ranchito is more accurate. The plan was for my son to take a doe, so he was in postion with his .257 Roberts rifle laid over his pack. The feeder threw it's corn for the evening and we watched. As there was what looked like 50 pounds of uneaten corn on the ground already, we wondered if anything would even come, but enjoyed the sights, sounds, weather, and each other's company just the same.

Around five o'clock, three does slipped in from the right of us. We were in a makeshift ground blind we cobbled together using a bench/table combo thingy setting about 90-95 yards from the feeder. I spent the past Spring clearing cedar trees, so we piled them around the front and sides for cover. We watched and whispered about our plans. I scanned left with my binos and saw antlers gleaming in the setting sunlight. I whispered to my son to be still as more action than we expected seemed to be unfolding. My son whispered back that the buck was with the three does. We went back and forth before we realized there were two bucks out there. I swung the binos back to the right and saw the largest buck I had ever seen in the field! The antlers appeared four feet wide and three feet tall! My son immediately told me to slip onto the bench from my chair behind and take the buck. He knew I had never taken a trophy and wanted to be sure I got this one (insert proud dad emoji

I moved up as quietly as possible, sure the buck could hear the pounding of my heart. I had full-on buck fever. My son kept trying to hand me his rifle, since this was one big deer, but I refused several times. I was deep breathing and situating the T/C Contender on top of the backpack. By this time, the buck seemed to have scared away the other buck and the does. He started walking towards the feeder, stopping and looking cautiously every few seconds. At around 100 yards, he stopped and presented an almost perfect broadside view. I settled the crosshairs of the Burris 4X scope on the center front of his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. At the shot, the buck kicked and slowly ran/trotted away from us.

We sat for 15 minutes, which seemed a life time, and whispered about what we saw. I knew he was hit, but I went through every bad scenario my mind could conjure. Finally, we walked down to look. No blood. Not a drop anywhere. We swept around the back of the feeder in wide arcs until we reached some large piles of cedar waiting to be burned. I was a bit deflated and thanking God for the sunlight we still had because I figured we would need all of it to search. I started to walk around the big cedar pile in front of me and there was the buck. I was shocked! This was by far bigger than anything I had ever dreamed of taking. The spread was almost 22". The antlers had ten tines, including a broken dog catcher, plus a split dog catcher, and a spur coming off one base. From being the first deer taken from our land, to hunting with my son who spotted the deer, to the friends we stayed with who helped us haul and process the deer, to the trophy laying before me, everything about this hunt made this deer the buck of a lifetime. It's getting a shoulder mount. I'm still giddy!

A few details: the gun was an old T/C Contender with a T/C Super 14 barrel in 30-30 Win. which I recently picked up second-hand. The scope is an old Burris fixed 4X. I used a factory Remington 150 grain Core-lokt load. I've always found the Rem. Core-lokts to be great performers no matter the caliber. The shot hit right where the cross hairs were in the middle front of the shoulder. The buck was at a very slight angle towards me. The bullet made a tiny entrance hole with a few drops of blood coming out, and there was no obvious exit. The top of the heart and the lungs were a mess. The chest was filled with blood, so it all pooled there with nary a drop coming out until the buck expired. Upon inspection, the bullet caused a nasty wound on the inside of the chest wall opposite the entrance, but I'm not even sure if it exited. The next day, I had to quickly get the deer back to my processor, so I unfortunately didn't do a more thorough inspection. Suffice it to say the bullet did a very good job and, I believe, had I hit it a little lower, there would have been a tremendous blood trail.

Sorry for the long winded book, but this is a special deer and I wanted to share all the details. Take care gents!

[img]IMG_1880 by jdk112, on Flickr[/img]

[img]IMG_1881 by [/img]

IMG_1879 by jdk112, on Flickr[/img]
Sorry for the face blur, I'm internet paranoid

Edited by JDK (12/11/17 10:40 AM)

But for the grace of God, there, I go.