For most people, especially hunters, trying to figure out the best way to succeed is an everyday task. We buy maps to plot our trail, add corn to our feeders and check our game cameras to make sure that perfect deer is there for the taking. As hunters, we even get up extra early to ensure we are not detected while we slip quietly through the morning air headed to our stands.
All these things are important, but what if we didn’t have these tools to succeed? What if there were no maps or GPS to guide our way? What if we were sent out into the field with no powder in our shells or didn’t know what a deer or a gun even looked like? This may seem crazy, but for the boys that come to live at the West Texas Boys Ranch (WTBR), it is all too real.
When Donald Watson, owner of Dos Hermanos Ranch, invited two very lucky boys from the West Texas Boys Ranch on the hunt of a lifetime, preparation wasn’t the only life lesson being taught. The importance of giving back to those less fortunate and mentoring young men was evident when Ricky and Jackson took their first bucks. “Guiding the boys was probably the most rewarding experience our guides have had since they began hunting this ranch,” Watson acknowledged.
Once the boys arrived at Dos Hermanos, a 4,000-acre ranch specializing in quality whitetails located on the edge of San Angelo, Texas, they were given a large welcome by the staff. After some quality time on the gun range, with Dos Hermanos and WTBR staff carefully spotting each practice shot, the boys were allowed to head to the stands. Once the safety and hunting guidelines were reviewed with Ricky and Jackson, it was time for the fun to begin.
Even in 90-degree heat, there was no shortage of does and fawns at Ricky’s stand. Finally, a buck stepped out into the clear and Ricky knew it was the one he wanted to take home. “All I could think of was ‘Wow! It’s HUGE,’” he said. “Once I shot, I just couldn’t get to that deer quick enough, even if I had sprinted out there. It seemed to get bigger the closer that I got. It was incredible!”
The hunt lasted only 45 minutes. Ricky, a 6-foot-4-inch, 225-pound high school freshman at Irion County, who’s a starter on the football and basketball teams, can now call himself a deer hunter, too. “I’m never going to stop hunting. Ever!” he exclaimed. His 150-inch 12-point buck certainly proves that he had the hunt of a lifetime.
On the other side of the ranch, Jackson was ready to take his first buck. This 18-year old wanted nothing more than to take his first trophy deer back to show his cottage parents and friends. Day one of the hunt was full of doe and fawn moving all around the blind, so Jackson held out hope that day two would end with a buck on the ground. As the Texas weather generally does, it changed from a hot 90-degree October day to 50 degrees and pouring rain straight down.
Luckily, Rodney and Jackson weren’t deterred by the uncooperative weather. Hours were spent in the stand that overlooked an alfalfa field lined with Mesquite trees in hopes of seeing the right deer for Jackson. His patience and perseverance paid off as day two brought in a 140-inch 10-point that will forever remind Jackson of what it means to spend time in the outdoors. After the hunt, Jackson said, “I never thought that I would get to shoot a buck like that. I was just thinking it was way too big for me to be shooting.”
Jackson attends school at West Texas Boys Ranch and often helps with the farm and ranch duties, as well as the WTBR show animals. I bet Jackson never thought he would be taking a trophy class buck to hang on his wall at college next year either. “This was a nerve racking, anxious and very exciting hunt. I totally had buck fever! I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything!”
On average, 35 boys, ages 6 to age 18 live at the WTBR located just 12 miles outside San Angelo, Texas. Most of the boys go there with a need for guidance, a stable home environment, or just to get certain areas of their lives back in order. In the business of “Raising Boys and Building Men” for over 60 years, hunting and ranching are a part of everyday life at WTBR. Many of the boys come from urban areas and have never seen a wheat field, ducks landing on a river, or much less, bucks rutting in the fall.
This hunt at Dos Hermanos was more than a chance for Ricky and Jackson to experience what the great outdoors felt like. It was also a way to show them the value of giving back and appreciating members of the community who volunteer their time and resources, so the boys of the WTBR can further experience the outdoors. For more information about the West Texas Boys Ranch, please visit www.wtbr.org.