Deer Season, November 29, 2011

On Monday afternoon I went out around 4:00 PM and sat in the stand until dark and the only thing moving around were some dove flying by.  Being stoked to get a deer, I was up at 5:00 AM this morning, but the call of the bed was too much, needless to say, I didn’t go out.

Suzanne sent me some pictures from her Ipod, I went out and collected an excellent “shot” from the game cam on the feeder and they do fine to tell “the rest of the story” about the excellent buck Randy harvested.  The first shows the buck feeding the time being incorrect, because I haven’t changed the camera to Daylight Saving.  At the time of this “shot” Randy was observing, not shooting for 10 more minutes.

After the buck was found, loaded up in Lester’s 4 wheeler, he drove Randy and all of the kids up to his gate on the County Road and then he made the decision to drive everyone around to my house.  Following in my truck, Suzanne took this picture and from the left, Lester, Jeremy, Randy, the buck, Wesley and Will.

Randy cleaned the buck on the ground, of course after we hefted it up and back out of the 4 wheeler.  Here, he’s sharing some tips on cleaning a deer with Will.

All involved showed determination and, what I call, “sticktuitvness” in the subsequent tracking, finding the quarry and the recovery of the prize.  This tale of the 2 day buck hunt will go down in family history and be told, I’m sure, around many campfires in the future!

Deer Season, November 27, 2011 (Perseverance)

Friday was a beautiful day, minimum wind, a lot of deer movement, but no shootible bucks seen.  Saturday was a day taken off by me because Sara, my grand daughter, had a beautiful, baby girl, another great for me!  So, Suzanne, Rebekah, Wesley and I ,drove over to Killeen to visit with Sara and the newborn.  The picture shows a proud Great Grand Pa holding Callyn Elizabeth.  As we were driving over, Randy, however, went out Saturday morning and even after sleeping in, saw at least 10 doe and yearlings.

A funny thing happened on Randy’s way out to his blind to hunt on Saturday afternoon.  For no real reason, he took this “shot” of a big deer track and he followed the tracks all the way past the tripod stand he would use to later shot a deer.  Sunday morning this distinctive track would be instrumental in finding the buck!

Later Saturday afternoon, this was a different story.  Randy saw a big buck, he texted Laura with a “Shoot or no shoot,” she asked me the same and I told her to text Randy and ask, “How big and was it limping?”  His reply was, “No to the limp and 4 inches outside its ears.”  My reply to Laura was, “Shoot!”  He did, his .243 boomed, but we later found out that the shot was about 3 inches low, plowing into the bucks lungs, but not a knock down, kill ‘em on the spot one.  Telling Laura to text him with, “I’m on my way with the tractor,” I walked outside and about the same time the “norther”, with a cold north wind was howling!

Bundling up, then starting the tractor, I chugged toward the blind and upon arriving, found Randy looking for the deer.  Apparently his shot had not felled the buck on the spot.  We looked in one direction and the other, finally, it was almost dark, after about 30 minutes, we found where the buck had gone down, with a copious amount of blood on the ground then we knew the shot had been a killing one!  Following the blood trail, it led us to our property fence along the County Road and we assumed that he had jumped over.

Meanwhile, Colton had shot a nice doe, had cleaned it and was on his way to a big date.  This was the big doe that Wesley and I had seen on Wednesday afternoon.

Back to the tractor, back to the house and we drove around to the spot the buck had cleared our fence, no blood, but there was a splash on the other side of the road where he jumped the neighbors fence, cutting across her pasture.  It was after 8:00 PM, it was getting plum cold too, so we figured to wait until morning to continue the search.

Sunday morning was real chilly, 37 degrees, Randy called both neighbors, the lady wasn’t home, but Lester, my neighbor to the southwest said we could hunt for the buck and he would come out and help us.  Going on into town for Sunday School, I announced to my class that we had a buck down and were still looking for it, so by acclimation, the class said for me to forgo today’s lesson and, by all means, find the buck!

Picking up Spike, our wonder Dachshund and having 5 Grandkids, Suzanne, a good tracker, Randy, who is color blind and can’t see the blood, and Wesley, who with Spike ultimately found the buck, we all drove around to Lester’s gate and awaited his arrival.  Letting us in his pasture, he went around to get his big 4 wheeler and by then, Randy, Suzanne, Wesley and Spike were burrowing through the thick stuff, following the blood trail, the trackers lost contact with Spike, then breaking through the briars, in a small clearing, Wesley spied the dog guarding the deer, a nice 9 pointer, with a 16-1/2 inch inside spread.  The “shot” of the trackers shows the thick stuff Wesley crawled through, Wesley missing, was taking the picture.  Loading up the deer, Lester was nice enough to drive the buck around to my house so Randy and Will could begin the clean up.
Success was ours, a real team effort, after 14 hours we found the buck, with the cool weather, it was still cool in the middle of the day on Sunday, the meat was good and pictures taken.  We persevered in our hunt for the buck and it really paid off!

Deer Season, November 25, 2011

Deer hunting on Wednesday was hampered by for, it cleared up momentarily around 8:30, but really didn’t lift until almost noon!  An old hunters tale says that deer don’t move around much when it’s foggy, from the low volume of shots heard, this must be right.  The picture shows a slight break in the fog.

Wesley and I went out early on Thanksgiving morning and had a little action, several doe came around the corn feeder out from MaMaw’s blind, he got a shot, but missed and the doe hurried off.  This yearling doe came and cleaned up the corn and protein and the squirrel got into the action of cleaning up too, but the big doe that came in with it only showed once with no clear shot.

The longer we stayed in the blind, the slower the action got.  The first “shot” shows a female cardinal, then a male showed, then they move closer together.

Finally, we came in before lunch, a grand banquet of food complete with jalapeno dressing (YUM), a fat hen, a brisket, cranberry sauce, a hominy casserole (YUM), fruit salad, followed by numerous pies, the highlight of which was a pecan pie made by Brad’s son, Bradley.  This pie is an old recipe, perfected by Brad and was the highlight of many past Thanksgivings.

Another highlight was Bradley Scott Bryan III, age one month.  This “shot” shows 4 generations of Bryan’s, Bradley III, Bradley Jr., Randy, and Jon.

Deer Season, November 22, 2011

Yesterday, being my birthday, was celebrated in a tripod stand on the west side of my place.  Seeing nothing right at sunup, at 7:15 there was a nice buck trotting along just outside of the fence that’s the property line.  Giving him a couple of grunts it looked like he went on his way, but not 5 minutes later he showed up right along the fence, looking for the buck that challenged him.

It looked like he was looking my way so I froze, but my rifle was on my shoulder, half way into firing position.  Being able to see him through the scope, he was nestled behind a mesquite and if I shot there was a good chance the bullet would be deflected, so he trotted on, never knowing how close he came to being a roast for Thanksgiving!

Right at 7:45 here came a young 6 pointer, previously “shot” at the corn feeder.  He’s the one with the long brow tines on the left of the “shot” and I’m glad he’s made it this far into the season because next year, he’ll be a real shooter!  He sauntered up to a cedar tree, rubbed his pre-orbital gland on the spines then peed on his tarsal glands, marking his rub.  This was classic, but I had decided that I wouldn’t try to take a picture or video because yesterday morning I was out for meat, not good pictures.

The weekend wasn’t a loss because Colton and his girlfriend, Lauren, hunted Saturday afternoon and they scored with 2 doe, making our total 3 doe and 2 spikes.  We need to take at least 3 more doe and 3 spikes so for the midpoint of the rut we can concentrate on the big ones.

Planning on going out yesterday afternoon, my plans were changed by the weather, because we were under a severe thunderstorm warning beginning at 6:00 PM.  Opting on passing up the hunt, not wanting to get hailed on, large hail was predicted, so I called it a day.  For the past 18 months, we’re way behind on rainfall so any will be appreciated, even the hard variety!

A Lost Trophy

At my hunting lease outside of Millersview, Randy, Paul Culbertson, Son and Son-In-Law in order, and I, along with Sonny and Red, had just put up a nice bevy of quail, 15 or more, had knocked down 3 on the rise and were going after the main bunch that had fanned out over 300 yards ahead of us.  We were in no hurry to press the quail, let ‘em spread their scent around, so we took our time and off to my right I saw a deer horn poking above the knee high grass.  Always alert for sheds, better to use for rattlin’, I ended my quail chase and sauntered over to check the horns out.

Closer inspection revealed they were still attached to a, recently shot, now dead, but not smelling yet, buck.  It was plain that it had been gut shot, it was hit right in the middle, very poor shot placement, but not wanting to miss out on the fast singles action that lay ahead I made a hasty triangulation of land marks.  Marking a shin oak grove, a lone mesquite tree and a distant butte, I went on after the birds.

Some excellent dog work from Sonny and Red, helped us to collect 3 more cock birds and taking a break from the action, I told the boys about my earlier find and the huge horns!  Both were anxious to walk back and see the buck, but as we walked, we figured out we didn’t have a saw, nor was there one in the truck. Finding the buck was easy, but after the oohing and aahing, we could figure no way to collect the horns, so I decided to come back the next Saturday with a saw and by then I would need a mask too!

The next Saturday, Randy, Brad, Paul and I, along with Sonny and Red began our quest for the horns, but not before collecting 3 quail pointed by the dogs.  Hunting into the wind, finding the buck was easy, we just followed the scent, no need for the landmarks, and after donning face masks, began hacking with the saw.  The horns, pictured below, were still huge!

After securing the horns, back in Houston the next week I called each lease member and asked them if they had shot at, wounded or missed a good buck. Each man said that for the past several weeks they hadn’t even fired a shot. My boys and I believed the buck was gut shot on an adjoining lease, jumped the fence on to our lease, died a slow, painful death and we wondered about the true story of this great buck, who shot him and didn’t even have the courtesy to ask our rancher for permission to look for their trophy!

Two weeks after collecting the horns, the hunters (AKA tenderfoots) on the adjoining lease flagged me down while I was chasing quail and asked me if they could cross over to look for a deer they had shot (shot at, I thought). “Of course,” I said to them, adding, “Leave your guns on your side of the fence, but come on over and I’ll help you.” The blood trail was light, soon disappearing, but we looked for 2 more hours with no luck, so I helped them back over the fence and they went on their way.  After the search, I believed that I had figured what had happened to the trophy buck.

For 3 years the horns graced the horn wall in our old ranch house, then I took them down to my friend Warren Blesh, owner of [RRR Ranch], and an official B&C scorer, to have them scored. Scoring them he found they hit 160-1/2 gross and netted 157-1/4. He told me that anything over 130 was considered a trophy and that I should round up a deer head, attach the horns and have a real, good one hanging on the wall! Another friend and softball buddy, Mickey Donahoo, also a taxidermist, said he could take a caped deer and add these horns adding that he would even come over and cape one for me! I can’t beat that!

Wet Britches

The previous May, having retired to my ranch outside of Goldthwaite, Texas, I was looking forward to, and planning on a bang up deer season, but as Robert Burns, the Scottish poet said, “Sometimes our plans falter and go astray.”   Before the season I had spotted some real nice bucks, but the first rut cycle ended for me without a clear shot.

Getting out of bed early the Friday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 28, it was raining copiously so I decided to sleep in, telling myself that I would try hunting around noon. Noon found me climbing into tree stand that was near a corn feeder and several well used deer trails. Of course, as I climbed to eye level with the seat, it had caught water from the earlier rain and I had nothing to wipe it out with, not even a hankie!

Roughing it, I plopped into the watery seat and very soon my rear had soaked up all the water. Thank goodness it was 80 degrees that day and looking back to that year, we didn’t have a freeze until just before Christmas.

Not 5 minutes after I settled down, a young doe came bouncing down the trail and following her was an equally young 6 pointer, not an option, but, maybe, the second phase of the rut was beginning. Maybe today would be the day?

In my haste to get to hunting, I had forgotten my rattling horns, but I did have my grunt call looped around my neck, and the next thing I knew, trotting out of the thick brush, was a nice buck.  A quick glance showed that his nose seemed to be too short, he had some size, his neck was swollen and his legs looked short. Checking his horns, which weren’t that heavy, I saw they were well past his ears, a definite shooter!

Raising my .270 to my shoulder and holding it up with my left hand, he was still trotting along the trail when I let him have a grrrrunt!  He stopped, looked directly at me, the .270 boomed, the buck hopped then took off.

He was hit solid, so after a short wait, I tracked him for 50 yards and saw he was down for good. I headed back to the ranch house to get Spike, our Dachshund, so he could get some more practice tracking a downed deer. He nosed right to the buck and began his vigil, guarding him and keeping me away.   He’s never figured out that I shoot the deer, then go and get him so he can practice finding it, then he guards the deer and only lets Layla come close.

Anyway, today’s hunt will be well remembered, but its funny how quickly we forget the hours and hours of preparation prior to the hunts and we even forget the wet britches that we sometimes endure!


Yesterday Layla and I made an all day trip to Paris, Texas to see our grandsons, Wesley and Will Culbertson, get baptized, 4-1/2 hours each way, but I sure went bed early last night, 8:30 PM and as I was dozing off I thought, This daylight savings time sucks!  Up early this morning, I was sitting in a tripod stand before sunup hoping to see a big buck, because wisps of fog were drifting around, the wind was light, the moon was still up, the rut was in full swing and I just knew that today was the day I was going to get a big one.

Hearing an “I’m around here” grunt, I readied myself for, hopefully a shot, but the first one around the feeder was a young spike that fed awhile.  Soon, a bigger, young buck, the side facing me looked like a 4 or 5 pointer, chased the little one off.  The little one walked toward my stand, walked right by me, but I declined a shot because I just knew a big buck was lurking near, so I passed.  Here’s a “shot”, taken on the afternoon of the 4th, of the spike I passed on.

When I came in from my hunt, told  Layla about the opportunity, she chided me saying, “I know you, you just didn’t want to clean him this morning!”  Answering her, I replied, ” Don’t worry, I’ll get him tomorrow morning and you can clean it for me.”

Glassing the young one, he only had one horn, obviously he was the victim of an earlier clash and came out second best.  This early morning “shot” shows the “unicorn” with only one horn.

Saturday afternoon, Colton and his girl friend, Lauren, came out and hunted in MaMaws blind and he shot a doe.  Holding the light for him, I heard Lauren utter a “Yuk,” when the guts plopped out, but I believe she’s going to be OK.

Sunday afternoon Tim Albee came out and hunted and on the shooting range, as he was checking out his iron sights, he saw a spike chasing a doe across the field on his right, and in true Army fashion, dropped it as it ran.

The Garden Buck

This year 2011 is looking strangely like the past years on the ranch, but this year, especially, we are encountering extremely high winds, it will blow hard from the southeast, then come roaring back with a strong wind from the northwest.  Deer are skittish with high winds and curtail their movement, however I’m hearing that for the past few days over the County, buck sightings, chasing doe are increasing.  Maybe this year will be like most of them past, when the best hunting for bucks will be later in the season.

This leads me to remember some past late season hunts and the first to mind is about a buck that depredated my peach trees!  The day before I had spooked a nice buck, 8 or 10 points, out of my freshly, plowed garden.  As I rushed inside for a rifle, I peeped around the corner and saw the buck disappear into the tall grass, this being one of our periods of ample rainfall, then he was long gone before I could get the scope on him.

Sitting in a blind the next week, on December 7, 2007, before the sun came up, I was thinking, will I ever get a good buck this season?  A good chance had been last week when I flushed a shooter buck out of my garden, then as I checked my watch (again), it was 7:45 AM, when I heard a soft grunt come out of the thick stuff.  Pleased that my game ears really worked as advertised, I got ready because I knew this was a buck announcing his presence in the area.

Within 20 minutes, a doe walked out and began to sniff around the fence of the feeder, slowly circling it, she acted real nervous, then jumped over the fence and began nibbling at the corn. She looked up, stared intently into the thick cover, then nibbled some more, stared some more and I tensed up anticipating that a buck would show soon.

Sure enough, out walked a nice one, either an 8 or 10, horns well outside the ears, a nice looking deer. For several seconds, more like minutes, he was masked by a cedar tree, so I set up on the opening where he should cross, out he walked and bam! He hopped, but didn’t fall, staggered off as the doe jumped out of the feeder pen.

The buck was done for, so I unloaded my rifle, climbed out of the stand, and looked up, here came the doe. She stood 50 feet away from me, looked at me as if to say, “Where’d the buck go?” She circled the area once more then walked off, tail down, in frustration I’m sure, to begin her search for a new buck.

Walking over, I saw the buck down, a close look showed 10 points, then nudging him with no response, I went to get Spike, our wonder daschund, for a little tracking practice.  Layla and I loaded up Spike and drove to the feeder, put him out, he made one cross wind trot, swing around, smelled the buck and headed straight toward it. He now took over the buck, guarded and nuzzled it and to get him away from the deer, I had to put on gloves to pick him up so we could load the buck.

Looking more closely at the fine buck, it struck me that this was probably the same one I’d seen exiting my garden, the stand is about 600 yards from it. Bucks range for miles, but this one may have stayed too close to home. Anyway, finding a hot doe was his down fall!

Deer Season, 2011

This year’s deer season opened with less than a “bang” around here.  With high winds from the south, a cold front packing severe thunderstorms lingering just north and west of us and still suffering from the effects of a disastrous, year long drought, out pickins’ were slim and, to top that off, the rut is late.  I’ve heard that when severe drought conditions exist, nature postpones the rut, we’ll have to see about that.

Mickey Donahoo took one of our high school footballers out to get his first deer.  He was successful, bagging a spike.  The game cam, set on one-minute intervals, recorded this just before Ryan, a sophomore, wide out on the team, fired.

Because he had a 10:00 AM football meeting Saturday morning, we’re going to the playoffs again, we didn’t have time for a formal picture!

High winds plagued us Saturday morning. I was in a tripod stand and only saw one, young buck, a yearling and at first I thought it was a spike until looking closer saw he had 3 points on one side and a little fork on the other, so I passed on him.

Tim Albee came over to hunt Saturday afternoon, but wasn’t successful, still because of the high winds.  Likewise for Colton, between them they saw 1 deer.

Sunday morning was Church and the afternoon was spent admiring my brand new, great grandson, Bradley Scott Bryan III, he’s little now, but he comes from 2 family lines that are loaded with 6 footers and my guess is that he’ll be a big guy!  Here, I’m pictured with him.

Sunday afternoon, Randy and his daughter Rebekah tried their luck and her shot, taken at a big spike, must have hit the hog wire fence around the feeder and glanced off.  We looked until after dark with no results, even getting Spike, the wonder dog, pictured below, out to look.

Electrical storms are forecast for late Monday night and Tuesday and I’d hate to be caught up in a metal tripod during one of these!

Deer Season, November 5, 2011

The rifle portion of deer season opens tomorrow, the corn and protein feeders, twice a day, are cranking out their nourishment to the deer, coons, rabbits and birds. Thanks to the rains of the past month, forbs and wild grasses are sprouting adding to the deer’s diets. Despite the drought of the past year, we may salvage something out after all.

That’s the good news, the bad news is tonight is Goldthwaite’s last District football game. The game will be played in Eldorado, a 2-1/2 hour drive west of us and Layla and I, along with Mickey and Doris Donahoo, will be driving out to the game, in fact, we’ll be leaving at 3:15 PM. The rest of the bad news is we have to get up at 5:30 AM to go out and chase the deer. Mickey is bringing one of the football boys out for a hunt and he’ll be the only one, probably, getting up that early!

Anyway, we’ll all be out seeing if we can bag one.