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The Namesake Hunt

A father and son hunt

By Ron Payne


Ron with his dad and his dad’s trophy buck.

My dad, Ronald David Payne, and I have been blessed to hunt in some pretty amazing areas of Texas such as Llano, Comstock, Coleman, East Texas and Hondo, to name a few, but we were never able to pull together the father-son dream hunt we had been discussing since my teenage years in the mid ’90s. Of course, each year we had high hopes of a nilgai hunt on the King Ranch or an elk hunt in Colorado and life kept directing us down other roads, but we always held out hope the timing would work out.

You see I started my life as a father at young age—I’m a father to three daughters—and as such I began my working career and life as a daughter dad. Meanwhile, my dad had the opportunity to hunt in some of Earth’s most amazing places such as Alaska for caribou, Colorado for elk, and of course, two safaris in South Africa for some amazingly gorgeous plains animals. While he was able to experience these places, I knew in his heart, he wanted his namesake to see some of those things, just as he had.

A bit of a scare

All of this planning and dreaming almost came to crashing halt in 2020, as Dad had a medical emergency that seemed to cause everything else to just fade away for a while. His body basically began to attack itself and his platelet counts dropped down to single digits (a healthy count is around 100-150). As you can imagine, not only did this scare our entire family, it also put things such as hunting on the back burner and that type of activity seemed a distant hope and memory. Thankfully, and prayerfully, Dad made a full recovery as best he can, given the ordeal he had and was able to resume most of his daily activities, including possibly hunting again.

Once the medical crisis was mitigated to the point of a return to normalcy, we began our pondering again on the “what if” hunts and still prepared our season lease, as we always had. Dad fixated on a possible nilgai hunt down south, I had my eyes on a pronghorn hunt out West and yet, as it always seems to do, something amazing materialized that neither of us even considered: a trophy whitetail hunt.

Getting the hunt

I am blessed to work for a wonderful company, Ariat International, and through this job, I have been introduced to many amazing companies, including Texas Trophy Hunters. One such company is LHR Safety in Houston Texas. LHR is also one of my Ariat Work Distributors, which sells our safety related products. The owner of LHR, Mr. Mike, owns a high fence ranch just outside of Junction called Triple L Trophy Hunting and was gracious enough to extend an offer to allow Dad and me to hunt his ranch in November 2023 on a father-son hunt.

So, I confirmed the details with Mike, then Dad and I circled the second week in November for our father-son adventure. As a crow flies, this ranch is only about 2-2.5 hours south of our season lease in Coleman County around Grosvenor, so the area is pretty familiar to me, but neither of us could have anticipated the amazing beauty we would encounter once we pulled in the front gate. Traveling for work I have seen most of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana and Colorado, and have seen some of God’s most amazing handywork, but this ranch would rank right up there with any place I’ve been in person.

As you pull in the gate and ascend the main hill, you’re drawn to sheer ruggedness of the rocky outcroppings, cedar covered hill tops and sheer drop offs, and an abundance of wildlife. This part of Texas has a high deer density but also has a large population of free-range exotics such as axis deer, fallow deer and aoudad to name a few and this ranch has several of these exotics in and around the hunting areas.

Settling in

The owners, Mike and Tara, are extremely hospitable and run a top tier, professional lodging and hunting service. They are both very accomplished hunters in their own right, having just returned from a two-week African safari, yet have an amazing understanding and appreciation of their native whitetail herd on their ranch. The genetics at Triple L rival any I have ever seen, in that their breeder buck, “Cash,” sired an incredible amount of offspring before passing on of old age, he peaked around 330 scoreable inches, and have a great buck to doe ratio.

Once we arrived at the lodge, unpacked and got settled in, we began our plan for the first evening sit and the next day, weather permitting because weather in Texas in November is iffy at best. Dad didn’t arrive in time to hunt the first evening, but I was fortunate enough to get to hunt with Mike and enjoyed his insight on his ranch, his approach towards herd management, and the type of bucks he was looking for, for Dad and me. We weren’t able to get on the right buck that night but did see some dandies.

Upon arriving back at the lodge, we enjoyed a wonderful supper and caught up with the other hunters: a group from Michigan that included another father-son duo, a professional hunting guide and even an Army Ranger, and had some play time with Kass (a black Lab), Nala and Fan Belt (African serval cats).


The next morning came with some light rain and a decent temperature drop, so we were hopeful for good deer movement. Dad would set up to sit with Mike and I would hunt with Landon (LHR Staff) and so we set off. Landon and I had a nice Bachelorette Party/Mother’s Day out at our setup with probably 15-20 does and yearlings. I saw nothing I wanted to shoot, but it was super cool to see.

After years of hunting with Dad, I know the sound of his .300 Win. Mag. and I heard his shot around 7:45-8 a.m. and just knew he had his buck of a lifetime down on the ground. Landon texted Mike and said, “We will load up and head over to help with retrieval and tracking, if needed.” With a .300, it rarely is.

As we pulled up, I saw Dad a bit shaken up, which given his medical past, gave me great pause. But I was mistaken. He was on the verge of tears of joy! You see, Dad had just shot a monster South Texas non-typical 30-point, 192-inch buck, and Dad’s namesake—me—was there to hear it and see it!

I would like to thank the entire LHR Safety Team, Triple L Trophy Ranch, and most of all Mike and Tara for the opportunity for Dad and me to finally share the hunt of a lifetime, father-son moment. And to Dad, it’s my life’s honor to carry on your name and I thank you for all you have passed on to me over the years. Congrats on a well-deserved buck of a lifetime.