My son Wyatt started fishing with my husband David at 3 years old and deer hunting at 7. David has always taught him game management. They hunt on an 80-acre parcel of land, one of many similar small tracts in that area of Jack County, Texas. Wyatt has taken a couple of does before and David has ticked him off by making him pass on a couple of 3 ½-year-old nice eight- and nine-pointers before. Wyatt is 13 now and hunts with his dad over a 3-acre wheat and winter pea field.
On Saturday, Nov. 12, they left our Dallas home at 3:55 a.m. and headed to Jacksboro, Texas, stopped at the donut store, and went to the blind. That Saturday morning they saw one spike and one 2 ½ year old six-point—that was it. David was disappointed because he usually sees more deer. They stayed in the blind until 10 a.m. playing chess on David’s iPhone. Later, they went into town, had some barbecue, and rested up. They returned to the blind 4 p.m. About 5:30 p.m. they saw a lot of deer, one being a nice 3 ½ year eight-point that Wyatt passed on. David said they had to stay in the blind until 7 p.m. because there were three deer way to close to try and leave without getting busted. That night, they decided if a shooter buck did not appear, Wyatt would take the big spike.
The next day at 5:55 a.m., they were in the blind. David opened the window and could see faint images of a nice buck and doe mating. However, David saw the doe leave the field for the woods and so did my son’s dream buck right behind her. David told my son to be patient because the deer would return. Sure enough, at 6:45 a.m. that pretty doe returned, and yes, with “The Buck.” Wyatt had his gun out the window for about 10 minutes, waiting for a clean shot. David told me that he didn’t know whose heart was thumping harder, his or my son’s!
At 6:55 a.m., the buck turned sideways at about 130 yards out, according to my husband, and said my “awesome man-child” squeezed off a shot and the deer ran into the field. Wyatt took a second shot and dropped the buck at 95 yards. Six years of patience, and searching for the right buck, and the waiting, was over. My son took his first buck—and what a buck!
There is just a little more to this story. David’s best friend Leland, has shared this family property each hunting season (really all year long) with him for more than 30 years. They were best friends, hunting together, raising families and shared good times and bad. This amazing friend was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) 18 months ago. David was with him more weekends than he was home, visiting with him, helping to take care of his properties and be of help to the family wherever he was needed. Leland was as close as a friend could be to family for David.
This small tract has seen some deer in past years, mostly small and sometimes not at all. This year, drought really took a toll. He still planted, as always, put out a water trough this year, brought ice blocks in from Dallas where we live to fill it since the pond had dried up. David, 55 years young, just loves to be outdoors, improve the land and take care of the animals. His feeder is almost caved in from the heat and really showing age but we watched raccoons, squirrels and birds getting corn fat! But for the first year ever, more deer were seen on the game cameras than in years past, despite enduring a summer-long bout with hogs and extreme heat.
Leland passed away on Sept. 13, 2011 at age 58. Without them knowing what they would see on Sunday morning Nov. 13, 2011, this particular deer was captured on one of the game cameras after dark Saturday night—for the first time. He had never been seen before. Sunday morning brought great joy, relief and a very special peace to my husband. He had commented the month before his concern, this was by far going to be the hardest year hunting he has ever had—the first one without Leland, his best friend and hunting buddy. Now, this particular year has a happy ending and a new chapter has begun for both of our families. This buck was truly a gift. Thank you, Leland.
David – I am so proud of you. This was the most challenging painful journey you have ever taken. Your personal growth has been tremendous; you never gave up, you’re always supporting and so giving … always. You’re a true friend, role model, someone I so admire, and I am so proud to call my husband.
To Leland’s family: thank you for sharing your time and allowing David (and our family) to be a part of this journey with you and know we will always be there for you.
Thank you, Texas Trophy Hunters for having a forum for Texas Hunters to share life and for keeping it real. Hunting is a special time most often shared with family and friends building relationships and memories that last a lifetime to pass from generation to generation while encourage outdoor preservation.