On Jan. 16 at 5:30 p.m. I began to pack up my gear for the 2009-2010 season. Early that afternoon, I decided to spend my last evening hunt on a part of my father-in-law’s Webb County ranch. For the past three years I often thought about hunting this gas well location, but I’d always talk myself out of it in favor of one of the ranch’s more traditional blinds. But, that day would be different. Little did I know how different.
The weather was sunny and in the mid 60s with a slight breeze from the north. As I sat atop of a 12-foot gas well staircase overlooking a well traveled game trail, I reflected on all the hours we had spent making ready for the 2009 season. We built feeders and blinds, cleared brush and added food plots. The only thing different about this season was that it seemed like we worked twice as hard, hunted longer hours, and only saw half the game we usually see.
These were the reasons I finally broke rank and ventured outside my comfort zone. The only way I would find out if a well-site located 500 yards from a seldom used ranch house that was visited daily by a gas company tanker truck would offer more game than the traditional blinds was to try it out. What was I thinking? With my backpack in hand and my rifle shouldered, I reached for the brown metal folding chair that had been my only companion for the last four hours. I must have cleared the 400-acre pasture as I clanked down the metal stairs, disappointed that this change in venue would wind up just like all the other hunts.
Less than 30 minutes remained in the season for me and almost a mile walk lay ahead to what would be my new pick-up point. I thought I’d take in the sights and sounds of a part of the ranch on which I’d only driven. The one lone doe I saw following the game trail seemed a fitting end for the way this year had gone.
The last 500 yards of this main entry road is a straight shot to the gate where I would meet my ride. At the 250-yard marker, I remembered a road to an old well site that led into the main road. As I approached the road, something told me, “Why not stop here?” Facing north, I decided to place the brown chair right in the middle of the intersection. I crossed my rifle on my lap and laid my pack on the ground. With the pick-up point in plan view, this is where I would end the season. With one last prayer, I reminded God there were still 15 minuets of legal hunting light left.
On the walk from the well site, I twice heard the sound of breaking branches just inside the brush line. Back at the well site the brush seemed to be bursting with sound. I had tried rattling antlers and a grunt call with no success. There was very little open hunting space and I finally concluded that hogs or javelinas must have been the culprits of all the commotion.
Walking down the road, it was impossible to see over or though the same 6- to 8-foot high brush that covers 90 percent of the pasture, so I picked up a large rock and tossed it behind me and into the brush to confuse what might me following my sound. Now sitting, the only thing I could hear was the distant sound of a gas well company truck speeding down the road on a neighboring ranch.
As I faced into the darkening narrow road, I couldn’t believe what stood there at 80 yards. The 51⁄2-year-old eight-point buck appeared from thin air. He was following my sound and stepped out just moments after I settled in my chair. There was no time to glass, so I mounted my rifle.
With my 2.5-8X Leopold scope set on 4 power, I could see one side of the only mature buck I had seen all season. I went though my deer-aging checklist in a split second. The squinting eye, semi swayed back and large brisket area confirmed what I was hoping for.
Here I was, sitting in the middle of the road, my rifle aimed off hand and seconds to define the season. There he stood, only two feet from disappearing into the night. I clicked the safety, he stepped, and I fired. The 130-gain, .270-caliber soft point found his vital area and brought him down. What started out as an uneventful hunt ended in a life long story.
Taking a seat in the brown chair one more time, I realized I’d opened a new chapter on hunting whitetails in South Texas. Who needs blinds, feeders, or the comfort of home? Well, maybe I do. After all, I’m not that crazy.