By Bob Steen
I moved my family to Texas in 1992 and that year one of my best friends “Big Don” introduced my son Todd and me to Texas deer hunting and dove hunting on a ranch in Buffalo Gap. We’ve been hooked ever since.
It wasn’t long before we decided to try a day lease in Palo Pinto County, but the only thing we shot were two 6-foot rattlesnakes! After my son shot the first one, I was ready to leave. But, he convinced me to stay the night. We slept in my wife’s van and hunted the next morning. We left after he shot the second one!
Our first deer lease was in Coleman, Texas, on a small 100-acre farm. We only lasted one year. We shared it with three other hunters who were more experienced. It proved to be a real experience in a lot of ways, but my son shot his first buck on that lease. I can still remember how excited we were standing in the rain admiring his deer.
Our second deer lease was in Schleicher County, a 10,000-acre ranch. We shared it with a Matt, Rob, a group of Louisiana boys and two brothers, whom my son named “The Mario Brothers.” Mark, who was famous for the use of his deer coffin, was also on the lease. Matt and Todd provided the entertainment along with a few of their friends, and there was never a dull moment. My wife and daughter joined us at the lease one year on Thanksgiving Day. That weekend I shared the stand with my daughter Tricia, and she shot her first buck. We spent eight years on the lease hunting turkeys, deer, and rabbits. It was a great lease and a beautiful ranch.
Soon after we moved to Texas, my son started duck hunting with his friends Brent and Matt. And it wasn’t long before they convinced me to give it a try. When we weren’t deer hunting we would duck hunt. I wasn’t very good because I didn’t know one duck from another. A couple of duck boats later, and several near death experiences in freezing weather on public lakes, it was time to find our first duck lease. Todd found a lease on Mr. Williams’ farm in Gordonville, Texas. We spent many weekends hunting and cooking breakfast in the duck blind with friends (Matt, Brian, Brent and others). Sleeping in a tent in freezing weather and sharing my pillow with my son’s black lab “Sam”—while fun—got to be a little more fun than I needed. So we gave up the lease, but remained good friends with Mr. Williams’ son-in-law Ray.
We now have a lease in Foard County and have been there for the past seven years. We share the lease with a lot of our old friends: Matt, Brian, Ray, Brent and his dad Mel, and a few visitors. The great part about hunting with your son & his friends is they tend to take care of you. They’ve helped me move my stand, repair my stand, fill my feeders and they even built a porch on my trailer for me. We tailgate on Saturday’s under the porch watch football and eat shrimp, crackers and cheese while the barbeque is heating up.
Hunting with my son has created some great memories. Sharing them with his friends has made it even more special, but this year has been the best. You see, my son got married last year and his beautiful bride LeighAnne shares my son’s passion for hunting. I wish I could share the videos Todd has taken of her shooting her first pig with a rifle or her first gobbler with a crossbow.
She finally shot her first buck! It was an old cull buck and once again she made a great shot. But before she shot him, Todd was able to shoot video of him fighting with another big buck. This made the experience even more memorable and one they will be able to share with others. Being in camp and seeing the smile on LeighAnne’s face when she proudly showed off her first buck was a memory I’ll cherish forever.
Todd and LeighAnne are expecting their first child, and I can see LeighAnne sharing the story of her first buck with her son as they watch the video of him fighting. I’m sure she’ll have the same big smile on her face as she did in camp that night.
My grandson was due in March; so next season we’ll have a new family member in camp. Thank Heaven the memories keep coming.