looking for S’s first buck

Posted November 7th, 2011 by Wade

Last Saturday, an event of national importance occurred.  One that draws men (and some women) away from the family and starts a time of early mornings and long hours spent looking for just the right moment.  A time that spawns its own economy and spinoff industries larger than most country’s GDP.  A time spent trying to blend into your surroundings holding a weapon capable of killing from further than several football fields away.  A time most of those involved live for and never forget.
I’m talking deer season.  North Zone in Texas, specifically.

For me, opening weekend is like lent or something similar.  It signals a period of time devoted to something important to me at my very core.  Its not a hobby, its more important than that.  Its like a religious experience, or similar to.  It’s a large part of who and what I am.  It’s in my heart and soul and has been most of my life.  I’ve been hunting since I was around 5.  Old enough to wander the fields of grandma and grandpa’s ranch outside San Marcos, TX with a red ryder and an eye for those noisy blackbirds with bright red/yellow bands on their wings and those fat little yellow breasted target birds.  I didn’t know for many years that’s not actually what a field lark is called.  Of course, contrary to what ‘a Christmas story’ will have you believe, the daisy bb gun has virtually no power.  It might put an eye out if you poked yourself in the eye with the barrel.  Then pulled the trigger.  Twice.  So taking game at that age was a real challenge.  But I was in the field with a gun, a rusty old hand-me-down pocket knife and an active imagination.  Gone for hours, but never really far away.  Learning independence, how to be quiet when necessary, how to see things from a different perspective, how to be outside with nature, how to listen, and how to appreciate what God gave us.  As I’ve said, if hunting is a religion, then the field is your church.  My church.

Opening weekend this year found a few of us at Panther Creek Ranch for the hunt and goings on.  Due to the drought and etc this past year, we weren’t very high on seeing a hill country trophy, but were going out anyways with normal enthusiasm.  And also scouting for the next  generation’s hunt.  See, this coming weekend, “the kids” are going to the ranch.  Which means S and cousin K are going to try and harvest a good buck.  Put some horns on the wall and a story in their heart.  K’s dad S (one of J’s brothers) is presently in Iraq as the liason between the USAF and the Iraqi AF.  Big stuff and we’re all proud of him, but hope he gets his tail home quick and safe.  S being gone this weekend in particular, is sad to me, as he’ll miss a big event in his son’s life.  Just another example of the sacrifices military men/women make for the rest of us.

Although none of us really saw any good “kid trophies” this weekend, the game cameras tell a different story.  As they always do.  Got a couple of really nice deer at my blind (the “Cadillac”) and at least one strong contender at “dog blind” which is the only other double blind we have.  At the
caddy we’ve got a solid 10 and a freakishly tall 8?  Not sure what the tall deer is, as we only got one side pic of him, but he’s cool.  Very cool.  I’d love to see him in person and/or get some front/rear views of his horns.  Dog blind has at least one solid 8, maybe two.  Hopefully we can get the kiddos on them while they’re there.

S was VERY interested in what we saw this weekend and concerned that someone would shoot a buck she’d otherwise maybe get to see.  Smart kid.  Good hunting presence, concerned she wasn’t in the field and others had a chance when she didn’t.  In other words, SHE wanted to get the big buck, not Dad, not Uncle M (who was too engrossed in football to hunt anyways), or Dad’s friends.  Her deer.  She wants it on the wall in her room (mom isn’t so excited about that).

One of the things I’ve mentioned is gearing a kid for hunting.  S’s rifle is a great example.  Some companies make “youth models” but from what I understand are kinda junky guns of lesser quality than their fullsize counterparts.  I don’t know that for fact, but there are some times where “you get what you pay for” is certainly true.  Rifle and scope combos for five bills I think would surely fall into that category.  I know I wouldn’t expect much in the accuracy and repeatability department in a fullsize rifle of that price.  So I basically had to “build” S’s rifle.  Granted, I was off to a good start, as the rifle/scope was already there.  And best  of all, it was my first rifle, that now I get to pass down to my kids.  Its an old Ruger No 3, in .223.  Single shot, simple, very little kick, perhaps a little light in the knock down category due to caliber, but a great kid gun.  When I had it, the barrel and stock were cut down for a short armed (and shorter attention spanned) kid.  After I quit using it, my dad restocked the rifle in a real nice wood that I couldn’t bring myself to chop.  So after finally finding a factory Ruger stock on ebay of all places, (stocks for No 1s and No3s interchange, but are almost impossible to find since they don’t make No3s anymore and there’s very little aftermarket support for this style of rifle) I set about shortening it back up for S.  Let me tell you, when you are about to take a chopsaw to an expensive and rare stock, you plan and measure and plan.  A lot.  Helps if you chug the better part of a cold beer to “take the edge off” too.  Spin up the chopsaw and drop it before you have time to think about it.  Perfect cut!  Scope sitting on top is older, but a leupold vx-ii in 4-12x40mm is never a bad piece of glass.  Gun is perfect for her size and she was able to take her doe last year with it, even if the setup is more than 30 years old.

Hopefully this weekend will produce for S and K.  Seems I’m most excited about them getting a deer now, not myself.  Guess that’s what happens when you get older.  Regardless, time in the blind with S is priceless.  That unto itself, is a trophy in my eyes.


“I hit it again because that shot was a defining moment, and when a defining moment comes along, you define the moment… or the moment
defines you.” Roy McAvoy (Kevin Costner in Tin Cup)

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