Why It’s Called Hunting

Deer season is starting this coming Saturday and thinking back over my years of blogging, it keeps coming back to me about the dove hunt with my dad, the hunt where we didn’t get many birds, even though conditions were good and a lot were flying. This particular hunt Dad passed on to me some very sage advice that has buoyed me over the years, “Boy, don’t worry about today’s bad hunt. Just remember, if it was easy each time out, it would be called shooting instead of hunting” and I’ll pick up the story there.

Being retired and having a ranch smack dab in the center of our fine State, gave me plenty of time and sufficient opportunity to be in the field hunting and I had planned an afternoon hunt in a tree stand, in very thick cover, on the south side of my property, to try and “rattle” up a nice buck.

As I left my house, the phone rang and a very close friend was calling from Houston just to check up on me. Talking for a while I finally told him that I was on my way out to shoot “Bambi”, he laughed and said “Good luck.” Hanging up, the phone rang again and it was one of my daughters, Suzanne, calling from Paris, Texas, looking for Layla. I couldn’t just brush her off, so we talked for a few minutes and finally I told her that I was on my way to hunt. She said, “Isn’t it kinda’ late, but good luck anyway.”

Yes it was late, almost 5:00 PM, (CDT), so I decided to hunt a special “hide” of mine, 10 yards off from several well used deer trails, also I reluctantly decided not to take my deer horns with me, so there would be no “rattling” this trip. The “hide” was cut into a cedar tree, with a copious amount of buck brush sprinkled liberally around so I snuck into it and pulled my camo face mask down, this turned out to be mistake one of several I made that afternoon! Quietly chambering a round into my lightweight .270, I slipped my grunt caller over my head and I was ready for the deer, I thought.

Not 5 minutes later, looking down the trail, I saw a doe was running along about half speed, toward me and she was followed by a beautiful 10 point buck, tall horns, at least 6 inches past his ears, over a 20 inch spread for sure, not being a good B&C scorer he must have been at least a 150! Boy, was I ready for him, I thought. The doe flashed by and I could hear her hooves pounding (or was that my heart) as I raised the rifle with my left hand and tried to slip my “grunt” caller under my face mask, thinking that when I “grunted”, he would come to a stop, giving me a shot, but the caller tangled in the face mask as I tried to blow into it. Nothing happened and the buck, nostrils flared and mouth half open, as if in a mocking smile, flashed past me, and both deer turned into the brush.

Wow! What a sight! Not to be outsmarted by the buck, I finally untangled the caller from the face mask, I was very frustrated now, and blew a defiant challenge call to the apparently, long gone buck, “Grunt, Grunt, Grnt, grnt, grnt, grnt.” Barely a minute later, looking down the trail, here came the buck trotting back looking for this unseen challenger. He was more interested in fighting and now I’ve got him now I thought.

Facing me, a large cedar tree blocked out a portion of the trail, and my mind, in overdrive, quickly calculated he would clear the right side of the tree, and I shouldered my rifle and prepared for the killing shot. Waiting, for what seems like an hour, no buck and cutting my eyes away from the scope, I looked to the left of the tree and there stood the buck, not 15 yards from me, behind a knarly, dead mesquite.

Moving my rifle slowly, ever so slowly, from the right side to the left side of the cedar tree and moving the safety to fire, I saw there was no killing shot available. Maybe a head shot between 2 limbs, but I choose not to as the buck wheeled and moved off, masking me with the cedar tree.

Where was my “grunt” caller, I deduced it was still around my neck, so instead of fumbling with it again, and my “store” teeth prohibiting me to whistle, I yelled “HEY” several times. The buck didn’t even acknowledge me, no stride breaking, no tail flashing back and fourth, he just trotted back into the thick stuff.

Thinking to myself, Well Jon, you really blew this one. The buck has “made” me at this spot, so I eased out of my “hide” and began, at high port, slipping toward a new one about 300 yards away. After slowly moving about 50 yards, I rounded a curve in the trail, all the while looking through the heavy cover and I spotted my adversary again, watching me from behind a mesquite that hadn’t shed its leaves. The buck was approximately 75 yards away and I slowly moved the rifle from high port to my shoulder and slid off the safety, along with several mesquite limbs he was in the cross hairs. My mind was racing, can this 115 grain bullet traveling at over 3,100 FPS, break through the brush and score a killing hit, or will it be deflected. Should I shoot? Not taking the chance of wounding and loosing this fine buck, I lowered my rifle, the buck turned and walked back into the thick stuff.

Walking back to my Jeep, my thoughts were in a jumble, I really screwed up a good opportunity to bag a trophy, but on the other hand, I choose to pass on a marginal shot. There will be another time for both of us and in spite of my earlier well wishers, my luck wasn’t good this hunt.

Like my dad said, “If it was easy, it would be called shooting, instead of hunting.”

Maybe The Last Dove Hunt

On Monday afternoon, I met Mickey Donahoo, on the left, for a last minute dove hunt, because the season ends today, October 24th.  While waiting for Mickey, the landowner told me, which I already knew, that the season ended Wednesday and he thought our pickings would be slim.  He had hunted this past weekend and didn’t score too well.

We spent most of the afternoon looking at an empty sky, but there were a lot of dragonflies, and no, we didn’t shoot any.  However, passing the time Mickey told a funny story about an opening day dove hunt outside of League City, Texas.  Mickey and 2 of his friends opened the season along a power line, his friends walked several hundred yards to down the line and set up shop.  Soon there was a literal fusillade of shots coming from his friends, the shots kept popping, so finally Mickey moved down closer to them and yelled over, “How many you got”, “Eighteen” came the reply, funny he thought because he hadn’t seen any birds.  Both of his friends, into the beer, yelled back, “Dragonflies, there’s hundreds of them!”

Back to our hunt, we shot several holes in the sky, but along came a single white wing, pow, both guns roared at once, needless to say, the bird fell not 10 feet from us.  Mickey pitched the bird on to my fold out chair, saying he didn’t want to clean it.  It stayed on the chair until I looked down at it, a real pretty bird set off by the white stripe along its wing and it turned out to be the only one of the day.

So the season ended, a lot of holes in the sky, but only 11 months to go until next year!

The Ruts Starting

It’s getting to be that time, the time of the rut, when doe go into their estrus and the bucks start chasing them and let their guard down, my time of year and the same for millions of other hunters.  This year, maybe, just maybe the rut will start a little early and I’ve heard some folks around here saying that they’ve already seen bucks chasing doe.

These 2 “shots” of a nice 8 pointer, good brow tines, good height on his spread, well outside his ears and his neck is swollen.  Maybe it’s early for this, but anybody can see his neck is large and he’s ready for a fight!
November 3rd can’t get here soon enough!


Going through all of my “shots” from the game cams the hogs were definitely becoming a nuisance.  They’re starting to roam and root all over the place, but it’s funny, no “shots” of them at the water trough, where I’d expect to spot them.  Having previously reported them at one of the feeders, I had a real good idea where the pigs were coming on to my ranch, they continued to show up at that particular feeder and here’s a “shot” of 3 in the wee hours of the morning.  As far as I can tell, only 3 feral pigs have found their way in here.

My best guess, the hogs were using a nice hole in the fence, along County Road 406, plenty big enough for a hog to get through.  This particular hole, I’d been fixin’ to patch it for the past year.  In Texas if a person uses the term fixin’ that means the project has been duly noted and it will get it done sometime, or it can mean getting ready to do something, or go somewhere, so it was way past time for me to get the fence fixed!

As far as fixin’ the fence, things were at a standstill, but changed for the worse when the game cam got a “shot” of this hogette, or sow, if she hadn’t “farrowed” before she would be called a “gift”!  This one, definitely a sow, is a hog factory, capable of producing a litter of piglets every 108 to 130 days!

Here’s the completed job, fence fixed with a stout hog wire panel, but the trail, presumably used by the hogs is blocked, this was a favored deer entry place too, now I have to get busy and lay up some hog meat for the winter!

An interesting note, I had placed a hog trap near the fence pictured above, but after catching a deer and a calf in it, I moved the trap and didn’t put any attractant in it.

Deer Watching, October 15, 2012

Along the fence line of the field behind both ranch houses, way before sun up, I was thinking that I’d better get busy and clean up the jeep trail along here.  In the dark it was tough going with only a red head light attached to my ball cap, but finally I saw the trail leading to the Corner Blind, called this because County Road 408 makes a sharp turn some distance behind the blind.  The blind is really a tree stand snuggled into a copse of oak called a shinnery around here and I was excited because this was the first morning I was out scouting the blinds for deer, bucks to be specific.

This morning turned out to be almost futile then at 7:45 AM out walked 2 yearlings, both are pictured below, and began to feed in the feeder.

The doe, there hasn’t been any killed along the roads yet so I knew she was around, did not show until the yearlings had fed, then she came out of the thick stuff on my right and headed right for me.  She kept on coming and stopped right below me, both yearlings then came to the doe and all 3 were close to me.  No wind, they never picked up my scent and since this was only scouting, I didn’t have scent blocker on, but finally a puff of breeze, a loud snort and the yearlings ran off about 50 feet then stopped.  Finally they walked on into the thick stuff and I climbed down out of the blind and headed back.

As I walked back to the house it dawned on me that the feeder never went off, it serves as a “call” to the deer that food is available, that’s why I only saw 3 deer this morning.  Usually this feeder is covered up with doe, bucks and yearling!

More Outdoors Pictures, October 10, 2012

On September 29th, we had a nice, soaking rain that dumped over an inch all day.  This “shot” shows a young doe eyeing the feeder, plus the water standing all over.

The object of this post, however, is to show 2 very good bucks.  The first one is an 8 pointer, with a good spread, probably over 20 inches, this one has not been “shot” before and the second is a 10 pointer, doubtful if seen before, not quite as wide as the 8, but still a good one!

Here, their horns are all jumbled up.

And on this “shot” it shows what a good buck this one is!

More, Outdoors Pictures, October 7, 2012

This past week Layla and I have been in Paris, Texas, taking care of Suzanne, our daughter, Suzanne Culbertson, who has been diagnosed with Lymphoma, the very curable kind.  Suz’s husband Paul currently is in Korea and will be back this week, in fact, I’ll be heading back to Paris today.

But, the game cams keep taking “shots” all day and night long, taking some almost funny ones.  In the first one, the game cam at the water trough needed its date and time changed, but a skunk showed up (they need water too) and ran off a young coon,

The second “shot” shows the comedy crew and one of them is playing around under water.

This “shot” shows the Lop Sided Buck trying to “stand down” probably the same skunk, they must need to eat also.  This skunk has been around both houses, but I’ve never got a clear shot on him!

The last “shot” is of the 3 hogs, brazenly feeding in the feeder only 2 days after I sat in MaMaws blind and sweated, however the sweating may  be a thing of the past since we had a nice cool front come in yesterday.

A Multiplier

On the 28th I went around an collected the memory cards from the game cameras and I found some very interesting, almost astounding, “shots”.  It seems that not only did I get some “shots” of hogs, but also some of turkeys!

First the hogs came, on the 24th the black one that I’ve seen before brought 2 of his friends then they came back on the 26th.  Remember in my last post I was sweating as I waited out the hogs, but they never came.
Then a Rio Grande turkey showed up leaving the water trough.  That’s not too unusual, but this late in the year it’s strange because most of the time they’ve already moved down towards the Colorado River.  The hens raise their young around here then go on down toward the river, but two mornings, yes mornings because the time is shown wrong on the “shot” and I can tell by the shadows it’s morning, two mornings later the hen brought her whole brood up for a drink.
We’ve seen this brood before, several times before when they were about half the size they are now.  It is said that turkey hens will come back to where they were raised to, in turn, raise their chicks.  If so, that means for a couple of years we should have some good turkey hunting!