Memorable Hunts


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TangSafetyM77
June 22, 2007, 01:43 PM
MEMORABLE HUNTS.

Like a lot of young boys, I thought my Father was superman. From a very early age I can remember wanting to go hunting with him. He has this old army rucksack that he has owned for at least 40 years. That was the bag where he kept his ammo, knives and other hunting gear. Whenever that faded olive drab bag came out of the back of the closet, I knew something cool was going to happen. I begged to go with him and was allowed to go along on bird hunts and even witness my Dad kill a small buck at age five or six.
When I got a bit older, we bought a 90 acre farm on the Lampasas river in Central Texas. It had a lot of game. I remember the first dove hunt where I was allowed to shoot at dove on the wing there in Lampasas. I had been upgraded from a full-choked 410 single to a 20 gauge automatic. I fired 84 times and got exactly 4 doves. I remember driving out of the dove field and my Dad, being the engineer he is, happily calculating the price per pound of those 4 prized birds.
Dad was building some deer stands in the driveway not long after that dove hunt. I helped him, and I especially enjoyed painting the camo patterns on the outside of these plywood boxes. We had some scraps left over and I used them to build a tiny boy-sized stand for our Lampasas place. Even as an 11 or 12 year old boy, I could barely fit in it. I set it up near our cabin. My Dad tells the story of dropping me off at my little stand, laying a bag of corn across his lap and dribbling some along the road as he drove away. His joke was that by the time he got back to the cabin, he heard the 22-250 roar and he just turned the truck back around to go and collect me.
I had shot an old doe with almost no teeth left at about 60 yards. When my Dad came around the corner in the pickup, I was crying and shaking uncontrollably. The rush of emotion and feeling of accomplishment were unlike anything I had experienced up until that time in my life. My aunt ate that deer, and I was hooked for life. I was gaining experience and confidence, and my Dad started letting me hunt more.

WORLD WAR THREE

The next year we had fashioned a blind out of old cedar posts and brush in a pecan bottom along the river. I was allowed to hunt the blind on my own. I would carry a little folding stool down there in the afternoon and walk back up to the cabin at dark. Even though I was less than a mile away from my folks, I felt like a grown-up for the first time. I was being trusted to hunt alone with a rifle. One evening I saw a group of deer a long way off at last light. I thought I saw a spike in the group, and I was looking for my first antlered deer. I emptied that 22-250. The distance was way too far for me; probably 250 yards and I had the fever bad. I didn’t see any deer go down. I was still sitting there still shaking in the stand when Dad came walking down into the pecan bottom. He made a comment like, “Sounds like World War three down here.” I told him what had happened. We went down to where I thought the deer had been standing and found nothing. Dad starting walking in circles from there and found a little nubbin buck dead on the banks of the river. I was mortified that I had made an irresponsible shot on a yearling deer. My Dad was not hard on me at all. I guess maybe he figured I was being hard enough on myself. We dressed the deer and gave the meat to that same aunt. She still talks about how tender that particular deer was…if she only knew it was a 50 pound yearling. That day I learned about always making a diligent effort to look for game even if you think you missed. I learned about positively identifying my target, and I learned about taking responsibility for your mistakes.

HORNS!

The Texas real estate market crashed in the mid-1980’s and we ended up having to sell our little place on the river. There was however, a big developer who owed my Dad a lot of money. He was unable to pay Dad but swore he was good for it, and as compensation, we were allowed to hunt on his ranch for several years until he finally paid my Dad off. His ranch was a beautiful showplace in the Texas Hill Country, west of Austin near Dripping Springs. It was on this ranch that I trademarked my “Signature Shot” as my Dad promptly named it.
We were hunting this ranch one afternoon sitting behind the remnants of an old rock fence that went along the edge of a hill. A spike came out at about 100 yards, and I got buck fever again. This time the fever was even worse, because my Dad was right there over my shoulder watching me. The 22-250 held five shells. Shots one through four hit all around the deer. He was walking around trying to figure out what was going on, but he did not see us and did not spook. I was down to my last shot. I can vividly remember that shot, shot number five. I was shaking and tears were rolling down my cheeks. Dad, had said nothing up until then, simply clasped a hand on my shoulder and said, “breathe.” Somehow through the haze of tears and adrenaline I shot that spike. He dropped in his tracks. The reason he dropped in his tracks was because I had “spined” him. This back-strap destroying shot would become, to my Father’s great joy, my “Signature Shot.”

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