Campfire Talk Part 8 with Larry Weishuhn

09 September 2012

Whitetail season is almost here once again. In many ways it seems like an extremely long time since I last hunted his kind. In other ways it seems like I just walked away from my last hunt, took a shower and now it’s again time to pursue “America’s Deer”. My 2011 whitetail hunting season was an interesting one. I started it August 15 in South Carolina hunting Bang’s Paradise Valley Hunt Club. I had met Bang Collins several years ago while serving as a speaker at a “deer show” in Virginia. Bang, who unfortunately lost his battle with cancer not long after I hunted with him, was a special individual and friend who dearly loved the outdoors, managing his land for wildlife and having people in camp who loved to hunt. He was especially good with youngsters and first time hunters. Many of those who hunted with Bang once, returned to hunt with him again and again. Bang had invited me to come hunt with him in “The Low Country” several times. Always there seemed to be a conflict in my doing so, until last year. In going to hunt South Carolina’s Low Country in mid-August, I knew it was going to be warm; no, make that HOT. I also knew it was going to be humid and the mosquitos were most likely going to be “thick”. I wasn’t disappointed! Mornings started extremely early with coffee and we were on the road. PVHC has numerous properties they hunt. Some of the properties are intensively managed where only mature bucks can be taken, others are managed where any buck can be taken. I had chosen to hunt properties with restrictive regulations. I’ve long loved the challenge of hunting mature bucks, where sometimes I come out on top, but most of the times the mature bucks come out on top and find ways to evade me. Back at camp for breakfast near mid-day, and might I add a fabulous breakfast comprised of all the things I dearly love for my morning meal; crisp thick slices of bacon, grits, biscuits and toast, fried eggs, home fries, home-made jellies and jams. Just thinking about it now makes my mouth water. Afternoons we left camp about 2:30 or so and were on our stands by 3 and essentially hunted until dark, then returned to camp for another fabulous meal, the kind I grew up eating. Talk about good! My hunt was set up for several days, longer than most guests stay. Thus I had the opportunity to experience some of the best meals I’ve enjoyed in a hunting camp. I also had the opportunity to meet a lot of Paradise Valley Hunt Club’s hunters. And, I was in camp when several youngsters took their first deer. It was absolutely great to see their excitement and to be a part of that memorable life event. I also was in camp when several very nice deer were taken including a great South Carolina buck taken by Bob Karel, a gorgeous 10 point still in full velvet. I hunted with two guns. I had a Ruger Model 77 RSI in .270 and also my old favorite Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter .44 Mag revolver. I intended to use my pistol if I got a close shot, meaning 100 yards or less, and the rifle if a longer shot presented itself. While in South Carolina I saw numerous deer including several young bucks. I hunted from existing stands, some which had been “in effect” for many years. Each night back at camp Bang would ask me which stand I had hunted from. I’d tell him and told me stories about bucks he, friends or clients had taken there over the years. Initially the lands PVHC hunts these days had been private leases hunted by Bang, his son Tom and friends. Eventually Bang decided to offer hunts on those properties and opened a commercial operation that catered to turkey, hogs and whitetail deer hunters. I had a blast hunting whitetails on Paradise Valley Hunt Club, even though at the end several days of hard hunting, all I had to show for my efforts were several mosquito bites, and the extra pounds I packed on from delicious meals. I will say, I wish I had been hunting from a TreeBlind, because it would have been a bit cooler. It amazes me how that works, when it’s hot outside, it’s cooler inside the TreeBlind! Hunting success comes in many ways, and quite often has very little to do with squeezing the trigger or releasing an arrow, or filling a tag. Such was my South Carolina hunt. It had been several years since I’d hunted South Carolina and when I last did so, I hunted a rather unique area. “Scared of haints?” questioned the camp manager. I nodded in a negative manner. He continued, “We’ve got a stand that’s really close to an old Confederate cemetery not far from where there was a skirmish during the War of Northern Aggression. I’ve had a couple of hunters in there in years past, and well before it got dark they were on the radio, calling me to come get them outta there! I did. But I also know some of the biggest bucks in our area live around that cemetery. I’ll put you there unless you’d rather not go.” He said pointing at me. “So far I’ve never been bothered by the dead.” I said with a smile, “Sounds like a fun place to hunt!” Two hours later I was sitting high in a tree (back then I still hunted out of trees, now I subscribe to the statement, “Real hunters hunt from the ground!”). Offshore a hurricane was sending the first clouds and rain inland. The wind blew and it was surprising cool for mid-August. The little winged vampires were present, but the winds kept their activities to a minimum. As it started getting dark, the wind subsided. The little buzzing vampires came out in force as did the lightning bugs. Had I not grown up just above the Texas Coastal Plains, I can see how someone who had never been around lightning bugs, could have been a bit concerned and even a bit spooked. The “soft” wind blowing through pine, and oak covered with Spanish moss created a whine that indeed sounded like it could have been made by “haints”. I looked toward the cemetery. Movement caught my eye. I trained my Zeiss binocular on a form walking through the lichen and moss covered gravestones. I watched as a buck materialized. Up came my Ruger Number 1 in .375 H&H Mag. I know big caliber for a deer that probably weighed 130 pounds intact. But even back then I believed there was no such thing as “too much gun” or “overkill”. Back then like today, ‘Dead is dead!” I settled the crosshairs on the buck’s shoulder and gently tugged the trigger. The rifle bucked in my hands and when I again got the scope on where my target had been, I didn’t see the deer. But then I noticed his white belly. It’s almost time for whitetails... Remember, we’ve always got room for you and any of your friends and associates here around our campfire. ‘till next week....