This year marked the first time ever that the whole family went out for the hunt, and as such it was the first hunt ever for my 5 year old son Austin as well as my wife. We returned to the Concho River Venture Ranch near San Angelo which is a high game fenced area with a game management program in place, and the deer really showed what good nutrition and abundant water can do for overall condition and horn production. This is still a ďcull yearĒ, though most all of the spikes were taken care of last year. My instructions were to of course look for spikes, but to also take out any typical 8 pointers with small racks.
My son chose stand #1 for our first morning hunt, and surprisingly enough, my wife expressed an interest in coming along. Fortunately for us the stand is a rather generous 6íx6í, and we were in place a good half hour before dawn. I had made sure that extra chairs were available so Kathy and Austin could sit down, but my son has some real difficulty in both sitting still and staying quiet and he just didnít get that we had to be quiet when it was dark so that we could get to see the deer when the light came. Luckily, his noise wasnít quite enough to scare them off so as the sun came up we were treated to several deer in the general vicinity of the feeder only 75 yards away. Once the deer came out, Austin got quiet and started watching them closely. Like the year before, there were lots of horns to look at, but most were pretty similar. We had a 10 pointer that had a good wide rack, and at least 3 8 pointers a little outside the ears, but the one that got my attention was an 8 pointer with an inside the ears basket that wandered into the group about 15 minutes after the feeder went off. Like most of the deer he was in fine shape, so I decided to take him when I had the shot. It took a bit of time waiting to make sure no other s were in the path of the bullet, but after a few minutes he stopped with his chest facing me. I put the chevron where I wanted it and waited for him to look up again so that Iíd have a clear chest shot, and as soon as he did I sent a 150gr Sierra Pro-Hunter his way at about 2700fps.
Due to the close range, I didnít see the hit, but I did see the deer turn and haul ass around a bush that was directly behind him. Shit. I was damn near panicked because the worst thing to do with two first time hunters is to fail to make a clean kill and I was virtually certain that I had done just that. I slid the safety up, and took off down the ladder leaving my son and wife behind. I figured that if the animal was still alive, Iíd cut his throat if possible to avoid a second shot and with any luck Iíd be able to minimize the shock to the two first time hunters that were with me. I started looking for blood and found none which didnít make a lot of sense to me since I knew the rifle was on and the shot was good. I started off in the direction the deer had run, and found him collapsed behind the bush maybe 10 feet from where heíd been shot. Post mortem showed an entry wound right where I had put the chevron, but no exit wound. The bullet was eventually recovered behind the left shoulder just under the skin.
My wife is no hunter, but she fared pretty well on this hunt and even helped me load the deer onto the Arctic Cat. My son wasnít the least distressed, and actually showed a lot of interest in the inner workings of an animal during the field dressing. He was especially interested in the heart which was fairly well exploded due to the bullet passing directly through a ventricle. I wish I would have gotten pictures of that because it was pretty neat, but it didnít occur to me until it was way too late.
I went out the next morning with my Daughter and Wife, but we didnít take anything because I didnít see any that really needed to go. The larger 8 point management bucks can actually bring us some income from local guides, so I left everything I saw the second morning alone. One thing is for sure, however, if the population improves next year like it did between 2006-2007, next year is going to be a banner year on the Concho.
Hereís a picture of the deer for this year. I aged him approximately 3 years on the hoof, but he turned out to be 5Ĺ after we compared his jaw. He field dressed to 130 lbs.