Originally posted else where on the web just edited for grammar and spelling :]
Many years ago a family friend in the oil business introduced us to a work colleague of his from Texas with whom our family struck up a friendship. When I was about 18 I was invited over to stay with them by their daughter. Flights were booked and my parents dropped me off at the airport for the 10 hour flight.
Our friends house was set in 10 Acers, with the mandatory swimming pool, huge BBQ (mmmm Brisket) a fishing lake (under construction) and to my surprise a Deer enclosure! Fallow ,Seca, an Antelope ,Chinese Water, Some form of mountain Sheep with a set of horns to die for and a couple of other things with pointy horns that the mists of time have wiped from my brain :] The house its self was a hunters dream with Walls of Whitetail Mounts, Turkeys with their tails fanned out, Whitewing Doves posed in flight to a leaking water tap, ParanŠ from Amazon trips, Alligator Gar, Quail in a full mating battle. Now I had always been interested in guns and had killed the odd Woody with a mates Air rifle when I was smaller but this had me fascinated.
My friends father returned from a business trip to Argentina later in the first week of my holiday and I pestered him with questioned about his adventures as he sat on the patio sipping his Whisky and Soda. Iím sure that after a long flight all he wanted to do was relax but he took the "Limeys" question, answered with good humour and fine hunting tales. As the night progressed the beer flowed and we were all moved inside for a video (see how long ago it was) to be put on. I watched in fascination as my friends dad paddled down the Amazon catching ParanŠ and other strange Jungle fish. But I wanted to see the hunting I wanted to know about the Whitetails that hung above the Bar (the bar had beer on tap mmmmm ) but alas he had no videos.
The next day us kids were summoned to the kitchen (you are always summoned by Texan Dads) The dad (Louis) declared that we were taking The Brit shooting. WTF me real guns my mum would have a fit :]
The Safe (which to me looked like something from a western movie) was opened and OMG It was and still is my shooting nirvana :] AR15.223, 25.06, 30.06, that pre runner to the AK with the Stripping clip and a Bayonet :0 Bench rest rifles, .270 Winchester, .22s, A Mauser 98 and Luger that his farther had brought back from WWII. Pistols and shotguns that seemed to go on forever. The cars were loaded and off we went to the ranges. The day was spent Shooting sporting clays and then going through the rifles and pistols. This I thought was what I wanted to do as a hobby:]
Soon after that Louis had to go away on business again and the guns were put away and the holiday soon finished, but there was a promises of a trip to their families ranch in Hill country to hunt Whitetail if I ever made it back over to their side of the pond.
Now I donít think they were expecting me to be back so soon but @ the end of November the same year i was back on a plane and chomping @ the bit to fill a freezer for my friends and see if i had what it took to pull the trigger. I was sure I did but Woodies to Whitetail was quite a leap and there was a nagging in my head.
We packed the cars/ Pickups and SUVs that made up the convoy that was headed down to the ranch and hit the road. This was a big family outing and I felt I was really part of something special. 7 hours later yes 7 hours and we were still in the same state we hit Hill country. This is where I saw my first Whitetail, Just standing there by the side of the road a huge buck frozen in our head lights. This turned out to be the first of many. The headlights picked up eyes on a regular basis and my excitement grew. We reached a town called Rock Springs and turned right at the shop called "Liquor and Guns" Drove for a further hour and then turned right on to a Dirt track which 40 min later had taken us to the ranch. Nestled in 15,000 Acers this was the middle of ****ing nowhere and I loved it :] the accommodation was sparse and all 12 of us bedded down in one bunk room but I didnít sleep, I was far to hyped to sleep. Everyone else seemed to drop off and soon the savage snoring of an overweight Texan filled the night :]
04:00 came and my friend James and I were up, we tiptoed round people, readied our guns, slung them over our shoulders and headed out in to the black.
The moon was high and the stars ( I know it sounds corny) looked like someone had spilt Sugar on Velvet. We skirted the sheep pen and headed up the slope behind the ranch (Good job James knew the place like the back of his hand.) We walked for a good 20 min in the dark with me trying to avoid getting Stuck by all the plants with Spikes on of which there are many in Texas (prickly pear being one of the worse) James stopped and signalled that we should stop and sit. I lay down, made my hat in to a pillow and closed my eyes and waited for the sun to come up. I slept like the dead ,Jet lag and excitement had finally caught up with me.
I was savagely woken as Jame's .270 Winchester fired meters from me. Sitting up I saw him cock the rifle and eject the spent shell in the early morning light (I still have it).
"Got him" James said. I looked across the small valley but couldnít see anything. Texas is a harsh environment with scrub and Meskeet bushes as far as the eye can see and I wondered how he had seen anything. We sparked a fag and James said "I was going to wake you but couldnít resist scaring the piss out of you"
Shouldering our rifles we trekked down one side of the valley and up the other. James said to ready the guns in case it was wounded. "I hit him around here" I was on full alert expecting to be charged by an enraged Deer. As it was we only had to look for a couple of minutes and there was the deer curled up like it was asleep behind a Meskeet bush. I have to say i did feel a pang of sorrow but the fascination soon outweighed the sorry and I picked the deer head up by its Antlers and looked it over. James had hit it hard just behind its front leg (if a little far back) But gutting the Deer showed that the round had done its job and made a mess of Lungs and a damaged the heart. What did surprise me was the amount of damage a bullet will do to an animal internally, coming from North London it was an eye opener. But to my credit (if I do say so myself) I was soon up to my elbows in guts as James gave me instruction how to gut the thing. We put a branch through its rear leg tendons and dragged it back to the ranch house.
After a good snooze and a Beer it was time for the Afternoon Hunt. I put my camo on picked up a different gun :] and hopped on the back of the pick up that was running outside. I was standing next to my friend Debora who was totting her AR15, holding on tight we pulled off. We headed I was told to " A Hill where there are always Deer" as we negotiated the twisting brush the Pickup stopped and we spent 30 min looking for old Indian Arrow heads in the creek beds, which I am told turn up at least once a year. We hopped back in to the Truck and made our war down towards what would have been a Ford in wetter times. Without warning we stopped and Lance the driver said " Deer".
I saw the whitetail step out of the brush where the Ford was. Quite how it hadnít spooked I donít know but it hadnít and didnít. Debs AR15 barked Instantly and the Deer Jumped and ran in a drunken stagger down the creek, then up the left hand bank where it stopped swayed and fell back to the river bed pirouetted with legs flailing then lay still. Deb smiled and jumped out the Truck and went to her prize. She Cleaned the carcass, we dumped the guts in the bushes and bundled the animal in to the flatbed where it lay. With my foot space taken up i sat on the side of the bay and held on as we bounced along. I looked at the deer it stared up at me, dust on its eyeballs its blood on my shoes. Could I do it? I was beginning to think maybe not.
We pulled up and there it was. My Hill. The Hill I would be left on till night fall.
Though Hill country is as the name suggests Hilly, this hill was on its own with planes stretching for about 1/4 mile in all directions there seemed to be more open space than on the rest of the ranch between the scrub, and there was another valley on the far side. I Jumped down was passed my rifle and waved goodbye. They went of to their shoot and I made my way up the hill. As I had been told I stopped every few meters and listen. Which I did Nothing few more steps wait Nothing doing this I got half way up the hill and sat down with my back to a scraggy tree and waited. God I loved that place a rugged beauty, just a man ( Boy ) his gun and 15,000 Acers to play on and his friends making him dinner in the a couple of valleys away, does life get any better than this? No is the short answer
Wait what was that? A scrape, a huff, a scrape and then footsteps all be it not easily heard. I turned my head slowly and out the corner of my eye a slow moving grey shape came out of the bush no more than 20 yards away. A Doe, Followed by a Buck. All trepidation I had had went. This is it, this is it, my chance. Agh i couldent move, I was stuck to the spot, Where was my gun...Iím holding it. Iím not breathing, can they hear me move. I watched out the corner of my eye, they kept moving up the hill oblivious to the boy with a gun suffering from Buck fever. As they reached the Crest of the hill they stopped looked back and then they were gone, not spooked just went on their merry way. I panicked, i was up and making my way up the hill trying to move silently but as fast as possible. As I cleared the top of the hill I caught a glimpse of Antler and the top of the Bucks head, they hadnít gone far! I raised my gun (standing shot i know but give me a break) and I didnít pull the trigger. There was a clatter of hooves and they were off bounding down the hill. I ran to the top of the Hill, sat on a rock and watched them disappear in to the bush at full tilt. I was devastated I felt a failure. I looked at the gun blew a twig off the scope placed it across my knees and glance in to the bush willing then to come back. Wait, there a grey shape, its gone. I shouldered the rifle and looked through the scope. Scanning the brush I saw nothing. lowering the rifle i looked again and there it was but in a different place. I raised the rifle and there He was a Buck Staring at me. Not huge, not like the one above the Bar but a South Texan Whitetail Buck and me with a gun. I had travelled 5,000 miles and this was it. The rifle was an old beast with 2 triggers one that was a normal trigger, the other a hair trigger that I wasnít sure how to set. I was spinning mind racing at 1,000 mph what to do? Shall I stand? No, Shall I get up, go and rest on a tree. No. Shall I stay where I am sitting and take the shot... Yes. The Cross hairs danced all over the place, Green bush, Deer, Rock, Deer. Breath ,Breath slow down. They settle, the Buck is Head on to me staring down the barrel. I snatched at the trigger, pull again nothing . Safety Aggggh. Heís gone, there one second then vanished. Nooooooo!. I scanned the bushes and there he is Board side on to me at the bottom of the Valley about 150-175 yards away. Now! Safety off.He stops and looks away from me. I touch the trigger again nothing, Wrong trigger! Then the silence is shattered the gun bucks and I sit there ears ringing, the report rolls away down the valley. And there where he once stood the buck lies motionless. Not a twitch. I scramble down the hill, its not steep. Itís not far. The buck is getting bigger. Bloody hell have i shot a cow by mistake! There he is. The shots high and a bit far forward , but it did the job not a twitch. Slumped up the bank i roll him over and look at the antlers not massive but a good eating. The guts are out and the blood splashes on to the rifle and its all over my hands. But at that moment I was hooked. I drag my prize over rocky terrain its not easy. The Branch through its hind tendons is a good idea but its legs are catching on the brush and the terrain is starting to go up hill. I struggle to get the beast on to my shoulders it slips and air is pushed out of the body cavity the smell... But I wont be stopped this is what I came for.
As the sun sets they come and get me. Iím sat on a rock in Texas a rifle on my lap and a part of the guns history dead at my feet. To them its nothing special but they know to me it means the world. I'm over the moon and we dine on Deer that evening.
Since that time I returned to Texas on several occasions and added Javlina, Turkey, Quail, Whitewing, and more Whitetail. All of the animals harvested were eaten and that means a lot to me.
I continued to hunt in the UK with an air rifle but over the years money and time meant trips to Texas stopped and permissions were neglected due to work and therefor lost.
I still keep in touch with my friends and one day ill be back.
Im about to have a Baby and I want to be able to provide food for it that I have harvested and hopefully one day get round to getting my own permissions again
Thanks for reading.
Hope ihavent waffled to much