Posts Tagged ‘Deer hunting’

The hunting has been slooooow, the guide is the only one who has seen a shooter, but the buck was not close enough to put a stalk on. Plus Flores and I could never find him in our binoculars. We have had some success with the camera though. On day one we filmed two young bucks sparing and later that night a coyote almost sat in our laps (video to come).

There’s snow foretasted for tomorrow night so hopefully the big bucks will get up and feed before the temp drops.

I have to say our guide seems to be able to spot deer us first timers would ever find out here, I’m glad I went with a outfitter!


(Part 2 of 2)

“Hurry, dad, before the sun comes up!”

After assuaging his fear of being late to his very first day out hunting, Michael–my son–obliged my request to get some breakfast down before heading out.  One banana later and our day had begun.

A drive that once took well over an hour was cut in half due to the completed construction of toll roads on the North-side of Austin.  Before we knew it, we had arrived at our happy hunting grounds.

We pulled up to the front gate about fifteen minutes before we were set to meet Nick, my long-time friend and hunting buddy. That was plenty of time to get Michael’s bird-vest on and set up my Mojo dove decoy.  Right around the time we finished with that, Nick’s truck pulled up behind us. He jumped out with that familiar SO-glad-to-be-up-this-early look on his face.  When I hollered, “top of the morning to ya, goovnah,” he just shook his head.  We pulled the trucks inside the fence and completed our final preparations.

Michael and I decided to set up along a fence line that was overrun with cedars, while Nick wandered off out of sight.  Dove enjoy flying along fence-lines, and this particular fence had no shortage of cover.  After setting our buckets down, I found an ideal spot for my decoy.  I staked the Mojo into the ground and–just after I returned to my bucket sitting no more than 50 feet away–I turned to see a dove readying to land near the decoy.  At the last moment, it hesitated and pulled away.  Nonetheless, I thought to myself, “the Mojo really works!”

About fifteen minutes later, it was light enough to legally start shooting.  We sat on our buckets and watched the sun rise over the horizon.  There weren’t many birds directly above us, but it sounded like World War III on the far side of the pond.  The land-owner’s son-in-law was putting his new Benelli through the ringer.  Each bird that flew even remotely close to this guy way chased off with a rapid succession of BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! … I guess he was never informed that you’re not obligated to unload your gun at every possible opportunity.  The way this guy was shooting, you’d think he was trying to bring down a squadron of B-52s.

The hunting was slow that morning; Michael sat quietly (and, considering his soaked boots, as patiently as possible) without one complaint.  Finally, I saw a bird flying right along the fence-line towards us from about 60 yards away. I told Michael, “this one is yours.”  He raised the 870 to his shoulder, clicked off the safety, and he fired.  The bird gave a little dip of the wing and flew away unscathed.  I glanced at him, and I could already see the tears welling up.  “It’s okay, I missed my first dove too.  You’ll get the next one–I’m sure of it.”  Mere moments later, another bird (following the exact same pattern as the last) approached us.  “Here it comes!”  Michael stood up off his bucket, raised the gun to his shoulder and… wammo!  When the ringing in my ear stopped, I heard Michael shout, “I got him!”  He ran over and held up the bird, grinning. and announced, “found him!”

After a quick photo, I looked to him and said, “Good.  Now you get to learn how to clean it.”  Even that revelation couldn’t wipe the smile from his face.

(Part 1 of 2)

My son had reached an age where I felt he was ready to be introduced to the world of hunting–and I went about it by drawing from my own experiences. Once he learned the fundamentals of basic gun safety with air guns and my 22LR, I chose to start him off with a shotgun. Last May, I headed down to a local sporting goods store by my office to browse their selection. I had enough in my budget for a youth Mossberg or (if I stretched a bit) perhaps the Remington 870 youth. After getting hands-on with the two guns, I felt the extra money for the 870 was a better buy, so I asked the clerk to wrap it up.

My son, Michael, turned ten last May; so my wife and I gave him the gun for his birthday. He was thrilled to finally own his very own gun! A family-friend of ours owns a large ranch not too far away from our house, so we spent many Saturdays shooting clay pigeons while continuing to work on proper gun safety and handling. I have to brag on the kid here: he has been a fast learner. I’m so proud of him and, considering his young age, how seriously he’s taking gun safety.

In August, we got him his first hunting and fishing license. He was bouncing off the walls of my truck all the way to the store–though I managed to calm him down enough to actually get him into the store. When we walked up to the counter and, before the clerk could ask if he could help us, Michael blurted out, “I’m here for my first hunting license!” It was a proud moment; I knew that, from here on, he would give serious hunting an earnest chance. Every morning after that he would wake up and let me know just haw many more days remained until dove season opened.

When opening weekend fell upon us, he was like a kid on Christmas morning. He couldn’t wait to get started: “Hurry! Hurry, dad, before the sun comes up!” I gave him a pat on the head and assured him we would be there with plenty of time to spare.

Growing up I had opportunities to get into just about any hobby or sport. Like many children, I participated in soccer at a very young age and then naturally made the move to baseball where I found some success. At twelve, the thought of another kid throwing a baseball at me didn’t sound like much fun–not to mention my body was starting to look more like a lineman instead of a short stop. So I made the move to football and really experienced success playing for a local powerhouse. Even with that, nothing compares to the thrill and satisfaction I found in hunting and just being outdoors in general.

I remember eating dinner at my friend O.E. “Bubba” Downing’s one night as a youngster and hearing the tale of his first buck, a nice ten point Hill Country whitetail. After that night all I ever really wanted to do was spend my free time outdoors challenging myself.

Before I became interested in hunting, my father was a casual hunter–usually only going when entertaining clients. He never really considered a deer lease until I started asking, so I spent a year pestering him. And, by the next season, we had a lease in South Texas (Freer) where our neighbors had been on for a decade.

We were on two other leases after that: one in Telegraph, TX (my favorite) and another in Uvalde, TX. The year after we signed on the Uvalde lease things started to go south at home and, by the following, year, my mother and father were divorced. Unfortunately one of the first things to go was the time and a place to hunt. I spent the next 15+ years watching opening day after opening day go by without me in the field doing what I wanted to do. Yeah, a few invitations would come here and there but nothing I could really count on. I spent those years telling myself I wouldn’t let my kids down if they wanted to enjoy this lifestyle. I would do anything I could to ensure that it happened.

Now it’s my turn. I’m 32 with three kids of my own. I don’t have the financial resources my father did, so the means might be different–but I won’t stop until my kids are given the opportunity to experience this wonderful and fulfilling past-time… and pick up where I left off.

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