31 December 2012Warm temperatures, strong winds out of the south and the rut was not quite yet ready to kick in... But South Texas Brush Country is not unlike whitetail deer hunter’s heaven in December, regardless of the weather. After having finished a great hunt on the High Desert Ranch, it was off to South Texas somewhere south of Alice to hunt with the crew from Nature Blinds as well as with Mike Stroff and Razor Dobbs, both TV hosts whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for some time. In many ways it was not unlike “old home week”. Max and Ryan Duncan as well as Tim Thomason and his dad, Claude, were also in camp. You can imagine it didn’t take long for the stories to start flying once we all arrived. Our intent was to look for old monstrous bucks and if possible also take some management bucks, those four year old or better bucks that had less than desirable headgear for their age, as well as whitetail does and any wild hogs that were encountered. Prior to heading south I had stopped long enough from my previous trip to make certain my Ruger American Rifle in .270 Win, topped with a Zeiss Duralyt scope, and shooting 130 grain Hornady American Whitetail ammo was still shooting exactly as it had been, about 1 1/2 inch high at 100 yards. It was. Also in the back of my Jeep was the Stalking Shield we had developed at Nature Blinds. It had proven it’s worth on other hunts I’d been on this year and I wanted to see how it would fare in South Texas. After a quick snack, a change of clothes my cameraman, Derek Harris; Razor and his cameraman Chris loaded up into one of Max Duncan’s jeep/hunting vehicle creations and headed to the brush. It didn’t take long to see deer. Both Razor and I were wanting badly to take whitetail does, which would be donated to TRINITY OAKS, an organization based in San Antonio that takes wounded warriors and youths on hunts, but also provides a tremendous amount of venison to needy people each year both in Texas and Mexico. As it worked out, I shot the first doe we had a reasonable chance at taking. My Ruger American/Zeiss/Hornady combo performed as expected...perfectly! Then a half hour later Razor shot a doe as well. As the afternoon progressed we looked at numerous whitetails bucks, but none we considered shooting. Then just as the sun started dropping behind the western low wall of mesquite and cactus we drove close to a feeder where previously Max and Ryan had always seen wild hogs. We coasted the last few year, and thankfully to a high wind the hogs under the feeder didn’t hear us coming. As we stopped I waited for Razor to shoot, but where he was sitting he could not get a clear shot, so suggested I shoot. I lined the Zeiss Duralyt’s crosshairs right behind the eye of a huge bodied sow and gently tugged the trigger. The Hornady 130 grain Interlock bullet put the big wild hog down quickly. Before I could get a second shot the rest had departed. That night back in camp we learned Mike Stroff and others in camp had all seen some really nice deer, but no one else had brought in any venison or pork to add to Trinity Oak’s larder. Over a dinner fit for someone far better than this ol’ hunter, we talked about hunting, what else. All had something to contribute to the conversation! Imagine that! No doubt fun was had by all. I think it worked out a draw, split several ways over who told the best story. The next morning we again looked at quite a few deer, including some most interesting bucks. In my instance in terms of bigger bucks, we were looking specifically for a monstrous basic 8 point with several kickers. Using the Stalker Shield, Derek and I set it up as a ground blind. That morning we saw two really big 8 point bucks walk across the sendero we were on, but not the one we were looking for. The Shield worked perfectly. The deer we saw had no idea we were anywhere in that part of Texas, they walked within less than 10 yards of where we were “hidden”. Back at camp once again for a very late breakfast, I learned Mike and Razor had seen bucks as well, but nothing to shoot. One of the did report coming across a rattlesnake that could have done a pretty good imitation as an anaconda in a scary snake movie! I should mention the rattlesnakes like the whitetail bucks for South Texas are BIG!! That afternoon I put my stalking shield to use numerous times. Including a stalk on an extremely big 9 point, with about a 24 inch spread. With me holding the Stalker Shield and Derek trailing right behind me, we walked about 300 yards right toward the deer. Several times he picked up his head from eating, looked in our direction, right at us, then went right back to eating once again. I really thought seriously about shooting him, but, when we had been dropped off on the sendero, I didn’t know exactly where the jeep had gone...and no way was I going to shoot down either end of the sendero, not knowing if the Jeep might have been in the direction. Finally the old buck walked back into the brush. I set up to rattle where we could shoot in a direction off of the sendero, but he decided not to come investigate. As darkness approached Derek and I stalked numerous other bucks and does. Again they paid us no mind whatsoever until the breeze would carry our scent to them. Then they would leave. We walked out to the end of the sendero and learned after we had been dropped off the driver and Razor had found an ancient 8 point buck,which Razor handily dispatched. I could not have been happier if I had personally taken the really nice buck! Second day went much like the first full day, as did the third. We saw MANY good bucks, but all about a year or so away from being taken. The ranch had a rule of only taking six year old or older bucks. Fourth day arrived and I had only that last afternoon to hunt. We Max, Tim, Claude, Derek and I headed to another part of the ranch we had not previously hunted. In the area Max had previously seen some REALLY big bucks. I won’t give you all the details...but at 2 pm we set up looking at two senderos. We put out some Buck Natural (www.BuckNaturalFood.com), as we had been doing throughout the hunt, only this time in a new area. Then set the Stalker Shield up as quick makeshift ground blind and waited. The “wait” took all of about 6 minutes when three different bucks showed up. One 8 point walked out only about 20 yards from us and walked directly to the small pile of Buck Natural about a hundred yards away. During the time it took for him to get to the Buck Natural we had an opportunity to evaluate him, easily a 6 year old, if not older. You’ll have to watch that particular episode of TRAILING THE HUNTER’S MOON on the Sportsman Channel in the second half of 2013 to see what happened, but I think you already have a pretty good idea.... From South Texas I left for Sonora, Mexico to hunt Coues whitetail and start my desert bighorn sheep hunt with Dark Horn Adventures (www.sonoradarkhorn.com). I’ll fill you in on that hunt a bit later. But I’ll tell you I took a Coues whitetail that I consider my best overall whitetail deer in my over 50 years of hunting whitetails. I’ll head back there to hunt desert mule deer right after Dallas Safari Club’s JOURNEY’S Convention in January and then will head back that way once again in February to hunt desert bighorn sheep, something I’ve dreamed of doing for most of my near adult life! In the meantime I’ll ask each of you to say a small prayer for the families effected by the shootings in Connecticut, as well as the Snyner family in San Antonio! Want to wish you each also the MERRIEST of CHRISTMASES! Please don’t forget CHRIST is the reason for our celebrations. God’s blessing upon you, your family and your friends!