Texas Deer Hunt, 2012
Texas Deer Hunt
Two Muck Boy Mizzou Crew team members are getting ready to head
to West Texas for a deer hunt. I have posted trail cam pictures
showing some of the wildlife they will be encountering while on
I am lucky enough to travel to West Texas each year to experience
hunting whitetails in a different and challenging environment. The
chance to hunt whitetails in different terrain than you are used
to is a great opportunity to challenge yourself as a hunter, to
adapt with your game and of course to enjoy a weekend of good old
West Texas hospitality. I was once again fortunate enough to be
invited down by my friend and Muckboy crewmember Toby to hunt his
Cattle Ranch. He has a beautiful piece of land covered with Mesquite
trees and split by draw. I talked Toby into placing a trail camera
this year and the pictures had my adrenaline flowing and fueled
the decision to leave Missouri at the beginning of the Rut, to take
a chance while the bucks should be chasing does through the mesquites.
We had seen several good bucks, a ton of doe movement and even a
large hog on camera, everything including the weather and moon pointed
to it being a great hunt.
We will start the trip the way any hunting trip should, at the range.
I know that I should have made it to the range more than two days
prior to the trip but life happens, between family, work and bowhunting
it just wasn’t in the cards. I loaded up my Savage 111-7mag,
a box of Hornaday 139gr SST and my spotting scope and headed out
to make sure that everything was ready to go. I was about to find
out how ready I wasn’t. I loaded the detachable magazine with
3 rounds and loaded it into my rifle, racked a round, took aim and
let it fly. The sound of something hitting the bench immediately
drew my attention; it was my magazine. After further inspection
a flat spring fell out of the magazine well and the magazine would
not fully clip into the rifle. With no other time to visit the range,
I loaded six more rounds one by one and sent them down range. With
all of the rounds within a 1 inch group, 2 inches high at 100 yards
I was comfortable and needed to get to my local gun shop.
I pulled into Pistols Plus in St Charles and explained my situation.
They spent the next 40 minutes getting the spring back in place
while taking extreme care to not affect the zero of my rifle. I
couldn’t be more grateful and this is just one of the many
reasons that I buy local. I am pretty sure that if I wouldn’t
have had this experience if I would have purchased this rifle at
one of the big box stores. With everything in working order, I was
ready to pack up and hit the road.
The eleven hour drive from St Louis to West Texas isn’t exactly
the most exciting part of the trip but I could have done without
my brand new trucks oil life indicator going off just outside of
Tulsa. After resetting the indicator and crossing my fingers, I
pulled into town just in time to check into the hotel and grab dinner
at the one restaurant located in town. One thing about small town
America restaurants, the food is usually great but I always tend
to gain at least a few pounds while on these trips.
Thursday morning was finally here and 4 am came early after a long
drive, catching up with a friend and dreaming of the monsters that
were waiting for me in field. On paper, today looked like the best
day we would have with cooler temperatures and less than a 10 mph
wind. The rest of the week the temps would be rising and the winds
would be picking up to 25-30 mph and 75 degrees on Saturday. After
climbing in the tripod and intently into the mesquites until around
11 am, the first morning came to a conclusion without seeing anything.
We decided to head in, grab some lunch and get back on stand hoping
for a much better evening hunt.
Thursday night wasn’t the night for us either, Toby seen one
small fork horn and I spent the evening hanging out with the cattle.
It is one of my favorite parts of hunting on a cattle ranch, the
cows seem to gravitate towards you in the stand. I know that they
do not bother the wildlife and they always keep you on your toes,
especially when you have a 1500 pound heffer rubbing up against
your old tripod. When we returned to the hotel we took the chance
to speak with several other hunters that had been in town all week.
We found out that we weren’t the only ones not seeing anything,
deer movement had dropped drastically over the last few days and
it seemed like the rut had just switched off. Even with that info
we were still hopeful and willing to do our part. Sometimes all
that you can do is be in the stand, because you can’t shoot
them from the hotel room.
Friday morning was a little cooler than expected and after a very
slow first day, it could only get better. The morning started off
slow, no early morning movement and nothing using or checking the
feeders. The cattle came though and visited me early in the stand
but kept moving after a few minutes. Looking to my right out of
the tripod the two track that goes behind me curves around and follows
the wash. I believe that hard work and persistence are two things
that are needed to be a truly good whitetail hunter, but luck and
chance are very high up on the list also. Luckily by chance I was
looking down that road towards the wash when a deer sprinted out
of the mesquites and back into them just as quickly as he crossed.
I knew that he was a buck that I would be happy with so I found
an opening and shouldered my rifle. Within seconds he was in the
small clearing and I gave a quick muuuuuuuh” (go ahead, sound
it out, you know you use it in the woods) which caused him to quickly
pause. I had my scope turned down and quickly placed the reticle
on my target and squeezed the trigger. The buck jumped and bolted,
concerned that he hadn’t fell, I racked another round, got
in front of him and squeezed the trigger again. The buck made a
sharp turn and rolled just behind a mesquite about 30 yards from
where I took the first shot. It had all happened so fast, the challenge
of the West Texas terrain was a far cry from the open farm fields
of Missouri and Michigan.
I had successfully harvested a buck that I knew would provide venison
for my family and look great on the wall. It was time to retrieve
him, smile for pictures and get the meat on ice. In other words,
the work was just beginning. After a quick drag out to the road,
a few pictures and loading him up in the truck we got moving on
skinning and breaking down the carcass. Within 45 minutes of the
shot, the meat was on ice, I believe that Toby has the sharpest
knives on the planet. The morning hunt was a great success but we
still had a few more hunts left, a buck for Toby and possibly a
doe still on our minds.
We were back out on stand early on Friday evening, but the hunt
was very similar to Thursday evening. No movement; Toby didn’t
see a single deer and I had the cows hanging around most of the
hunt. As I enjoyed a beautiful West Texas sunset the cattle moved
down past the feeder. It continued to get darker and I continued
to glass the countryside. With only a couple minutes left to shoot,
a hog walked out of the trees and under the feeder to gorge himself
on the corn left from no deer movement during the last few days.
I quickly placed shouldered my rifle, placed the reticle on a true
trophy and then remembered the cows were moving down past the feeder.
I grabbed the binos and glassed looking to see where they had gone.
It turns out that it is pretty tough to spot black cows walking
through mesquite trees in the dark. I heard a cow moo behind the
feeder and the choice was clear, I would have to let this hog live
for another day. It was difficult to sit there watching him feed,
broadside and at 100 yards knowing that the smart thing to do was
to pass. I waited for Toby to pull up in the truck and watched the
hog scamper back into the trees. Until next time, knowing that my
backdrop was clear and that a ricochet from a pass through would
not endanger any of the cows was more important than any harvest.
The adrenaline from the events of the last few minutes ended the
hunt on a great note and made for some interesting dinner conversation.
Saturday was our last day of hunting for the weekend and we were
out in the stand shortly before shooting hours. We had to switch
to warmer weather gear even though the wind was much stronger. The
weather reminded me of last year’s hunt, warm and windy, very
windy. We stuck it out for a while with neither of us seeing any
movement and then decided over text to call it a hunt.
We had only seen two deer over two and a half days of hunting, not
what either of us had expected. The trail cameras showed deer almost
every morning and night. We don’t know what changed, but something
changed the movement. Speaking to other hunters, it wasn’t
only where we were hunting it was the whole area. It was time to
pack up the trucks, head back to our families and give them a break
until the next time.
I am very fortunate to be able to hunt in Texas each year and I
was lucky to harvest a beautiful 8 point this year. Hunting trips
with friends are always the same no matter how many deer you see
while in the stand or whether you harvest an animal or not. The
trips always have great experiences, camaraderie, and very tall
Images for a larger View
Pre Hunt Pictures
Toby & Hunter With Opening Week Coyote
Day Time Does
He May Be the One
Pictures for the Hunt
Some of the Locals
Guess I don't need Cover Scent
He Made the Mistake
Toby & Kirk
What You do'in?