Years ago, after a dove hunting trip that was hard and yielded very poor results, my Dad passed on some sage advice to me, saying, “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”.
Being retired and having a ranch five miles southwest of Goldthwaite, Texas, gives me ample 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 and to try and “rattle” up a nice buck.
Leaving 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, so I decided to hunt a special “hide” of mine, ten yards off from a well used deer trail and reluctantly decided not to take my Deer horns with me. No “rattling” this trip. My “hide” was cut into a cedar tree and some buck brush, a very concealed spot and sneaking into it and pulling on my camo face cover, quietly chambering a round into my Ruger Lightweight .270 and slipping my “grunt” caller over my head, I’m ready for the deer. I thought.
Not a minute later, looking down the trail, a Doe is running, about half speed, toward me followed by a beautiful ten point buck, with tall horns at least six inches past his ears, a twenty inch spread for sure! Boy, am I ready for him, I thought. The Doe flashes by and I can hear her hooves pounding (or is that my heart) as I raise my rifle with my left hand and try to slide my “grunt” caller under my face mask. When I “grunt” he will stop in his tracks, but, the caller is tangled in the mask and as I try to blow into it, nothing happens and the Buck, nostrils flared and mouth half open, as if in a mocking smile, flashes past me, and both Deer turn into the brush.
Wow! What a sight. Not to be outsmarted by the Deer and finally untangling my caller from my face mask (I am very frustrated now), I blow 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 comes the Buck trotting back looking for this unseen challenger. He is more interested in fighting. I’ve got him now I thought.
Facing me, a large cedar tree blocks out a portion of the trail, and my mind, in overdrive, quickly calculates he will clear the right side of the tree, and I shoulder my rifle and prepare for the killing shot. Waiting, for what seems like an hour, no Buck. I cut my eyes away from the scope and look to the left of the tree and there stands the Buck, not fifteen 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 see there is no killing shot available. Maybe a head shot, but I choose not to as the Buck wheels and moves off, masking me with the cedar tree. I don’t even know where my “grunt” caller is, I guess still around my neck, so instead of fumbling with it again, and my “store” teeth prohibiting me a whistle, I yell “HEY!” The Buck doesn’t even acknowledge me, no stride breaking, no tail flashing me, just trotting back into the thick stuff.
Thinking to myself, well Jon, you really blew this one. The Buck has “marked” me at this spot, so I ease out of my “hide” and begin slipping toward a new spot about three hundred yards away. After slowly moving about fifty yards and rounding a curve in the trail, all the while looking “through” the heavy cover, I spot my adversary again, watching me from behind a mesquite that hasn’t shed its leaves. The Buck is approximately seventy-five yards away and slowly moving my rifle to my shoulder and sliding off the safety, he is in the cross hairs, along with several mesquite limbs. My mind 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 lower my rifle and he turns and walks back into the thick stuff.
Walking back to my Jeep, my thoughts are a “jumble”. I really screwed up a good opportunity to bag a trophy, and, on the other hand, I choose to pass on a marginal shot. There will be another time for both of us. 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.”