My Seventh Deer Hunt

My seven deer hunts were spread out over 33 years and my last previous deer hunt, in 1978, had been with Randy, when he bagged a spike on Sapelo Island. When you’ve crowded 7 hunts into 33 years, it’s easy to remember them all! However, over this same time period, my dove, quail, goose and duck hunting had taken me all over the U.S. and even a few stops in Mexico.

Moving back to the Houston Metro area in 1979 and immediately finding some nearby areas that my boys and I took advantage of, see my March 25, 2009 post, “[Woodcock ‘ Lakewood Forrest, Section 5]” and even quicker getting on a 3,600 acre goose and duck lease, see “[A Double, Double]”, February 5, 2008. We had plenty of hunting, but my brother-in-law, Jim Buck, and I wanted to take our boys, Brad and Randy, and his son, David on a family hunt, one problem though, Jim’s hunting lease, a really good one west of Lampassas, didn’t allow family style hunting.

Finally, in 1980, before the season opened, Jim found a place outside of Llano that offered a family style hunt and we reserved the second weekend of the season for our foray. The place, 2,000 acres, on top of a mesa, was limited to two families and shooting areas were clearly spelled out. One problem though, to reach the top you needed four wheel drive and, as you would guess, we didn’t find this out until we were staring up the steep, rocky, some might call it a road, track to the top.

In late October we made all the arrangements that included paying the rancher one-half in advance (no refunds) and, believe it or not, this was still 1980 and the “steep” terms left a little to be desired! Come the appointed date, a Friday afternoon, we found ourselves staring up the steep slope. With a 4WD truck, the slope wasn’t a problem for Jim, but for us, we had grave doubts that our 2WD, Suburban, loaded to the gills, would make the grade?

Huffing and puffing, we made it to the top and figured the big load in the Suburban held the rear end down and gave us the traction needed. Our allotted hunting space was on the east side of the mesa and while driving over to it, with my .22 pistol, I potted 2 quail, “Camp meat,” I told the boys.

While the boys went out to hunt, Jim and I made camp and started supper, steaks, baked potatoes, green chilies and onions and the quail,. Before dark we heard a boom, fairly far off and figured the hunting group on the other side of the mesa had gotten a shot. After dark, our boys came in, followed by a stranger, a high school boy, like Randy.

Very politely, he asked if we’d come over and help them find the deer, a spike, they had shot. We loaded everyone up on to Jim’s 4WD and motored over to the other side of the mesa and within 30 minutes, had found the deer. For our help, we declined the offer of a drink, and went back to our side and had a late, cold supper.

Saturday morning, up before the sun, wolfed down Twinkies and coffee and Jim and the boys, flashlights bobbing, went out to hunt. Me, not being sold on deer hunting, stayed in, with a borrowed rifle, and guarded the camp, reading the latest tom Clancy book, “Patriot Games”. Come sun up, it started to mist, so I pulled in under the tent flap. Soon, it started raining big drops, causing our hunters to come in. It continued raining through lunch and we thought we’d better get a weather report. The news said that the rain, caused by an overriding condition in the upper atmosphere, would continue through Monday, maybe Tuesday.

Based on the weather report, we decided to call it a hunt and get on down the hill before the road washed out. Getting down the steep, incline, with the loaded Suburban, was more difficult this time. Putting the gears in Lo range, and liberally using the brake, I made it down, while the boys, for their safety, walked and yes, they had ponchos on.

My seventh hunt was a wet, flop! For my family, food and hunting rights had cost over $300. 00 and, for me being tight, this was unacceptable. Driving home I thought to myself, If my boys want to hunt deer, I’ll have to find a family lease. Little did I know, less than a year later, that in the fall of 1981, I’d find the perfect hunting lease that we would stay on for the next 11 years!