Dad’s Long Time Comin’
November 3, 2014
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Dad’s Long Time Comin’

The author and his dad. My dad, who’s in his 80s now, has been going on a weeklong annual deer hunt with longtime family friend Virgil from our church and his son Ray for many, many seasons. Over the past 15 years or so they have hunted New Mexico along with a few counties in East Texas near Bastrop and Luling, but most recently on a ranch located on the Natchez River in Angelina County. The place is awesome, complete with an original pine log hunter’s cabin with all the comforts, BBQ area, walk-in cooler, and a smokehouse. Although Virgil is no longer with us, Dad continues to get Ray’s invites and the stories of all the fun times he, Virgil and Ray have had, along with camaraderie of other hunters and all the great food always made me wish that I could go. I guess my wishing finally paid off, because three years ago Ray invited me to be a part of the hunt that season with him and Dad. I happily accepted and could not plan my time off quick enough. The hunts usually start the first Tuesday after the opening weekend of deer season in South Texas. It’s just the right time for the bucks to be close to or already chasing does in East Texas, and the trip wraps up after the Friday morning hunt. It would be the first time in decades that I was able to actually hunt with Dad, so I was really looking forward to it. The hunt went well. I ended up shooting a really nice, mature, tall blade-antlered seven-pointer. Another hunter took a nice eight-pointer. Needless to say, while my small ranch in South Texas is where I normally hang my hunting cap, I was hooked on hunting East Texas too, and hoped for future invites. My luck held out for the following season. I got invited again and brought Dad along. Although I did not shoot a buck, I had a great hunt, made some new friends, enjoyed my time off and appreciated being a part of the hunting camp with Dad again. As odd as it seemed to me, Dad had been going on these hunts over all these years and shot a few deer, he had actually never shot a mature buck on any of his trips. When Ray invited me this past season, I told him I wanted to sit with Dad all week if necessary to try to get him on a good mature buck. I wanted to video him and the shot and take some good pictures because I had never been with him in the blind when he shot a deer. We hunted hard for a buck for him all week, every morning and evening, and passed a few young bucks including one 4- to 5-year-old that would have been nice, but had a broken G1. On the Thursday hunt some of the hunters were talking about sitting midday so I decided to sit also, and sat at a blind overlooking a pond with some oats around it where multiple good bucks are taken at every year. I really like sitting at this pond because it’s close enough to camp to walk to and I am always entertained by seeing a variety of wildlife including wood ducks, woodcock, hogs, and always plenty of deer. I even saw a 10-pound bowfin once wallowing in the mud near the bank. While I sat there that day I caught a glimpse of a mature, heavy antlered eight-pointer chasing a doe at straight up noon, but only long enough to get a decent look at him with my binocular. When I returned to camp around 2 p.m., I asked if I could take Dad there that evening, hoping the big eight would show up again. I got the OK to take him there and had a great feeling about our chances. Sure enough, about 5 p.m. Dad saw the big eight come out onto one of the oat strips and start grazing. He asked if that was the deer I saw at noon and if he was big enough, so I took a look and told him to get his gun ready while I cranked up the video camera. We got the shot on video and although Dad hit the buck just a bit low, the buck plowed into the ground trying to make it back into the brush. I could not see the deer after that, but did not hear any brush crashing, so I was confident the buck did not go far. After a brief celebration in the blind, I told Dad, “Let’s go get your buck!” We got out of the blind and headed towards the spot where the buck had went into the brush. When we reached him, to our surprise, the buck got up and started to run away, so I shot him again. His adrenaline finally gave out. I have never seen a deer that strong with that much determination to get away. When the buck had finally expired I dragged him back out into the oats so we could get some good clear pictures and video. It was a very special moment for me, and I know for Dad, too. His buck was aged at 5 1/2, had a live weight of 170, and scored 128. It was crazy back at camp with all the celebrating for Dad as well as for the other hunters because four other good bucks were also brought in that evening. It was truly an unforgettable hunt. To commemorate it I created a European mount for Dad and helped him hang it in his den. Thanks go to Ray for the invites and to the ranch owner Mr. Vines for all his hospitality. Dad and I are already hoping for more East Texas hunting memories to come.

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