Opening weekend of the 2009 whitetail season was finally upon us. It was the day we had waited for since the sun set on the last day of the season before, and as usual, my entire family was full of anticipation. We loaded up two truck loads of gear, and made the trip to the beautiful Texas Hill Country. We finally arrived at the ranch around eleven that night, unloaded all of our gear, and made plans for the mornings hunt.
I was going to head to a blind with my nine-year-old brother, Spencer, and my father. We had gotten several trail camera photos of nice deer, and were hoping to put Spencer on a good buck. We arrived at the blind before light, and got settled in.
Almost immediately, several does, and a big spike crossed the trail in front of us. They fed out of sight, and the wait began. Eventually, five does made their way in, and fed in front of us for about an hour. We were happy to see deer, but the morning ended without a sighting of a good buck.
That evening, the plan was the same. I would go with my father and Spencer to run the camera, and try to get Spencer on a good buck. Again, we saw several does, but no bucks had appeared. We were all getting anxious to see a good buck.
Finally, out of nowhere, a beautiful white-antlered eight-point stepped out of the brush. He was feeding about 40 yards from us, and we began to prepare Spencer for the shot. As Spencer placed his rifle on the blind window, he began to get very nervous. Buck Fever had struck. We ended up not taking the shot, as he was very shaken. The buck was a beautiful 3 ½ year old, with good tine length, and had a unique rack formation.
As we sat and waited for dark, my brother Steven was at a blind several hundred yards away. He had a couple of good bucks, and was trying to decide if he wanted to shoot. One of them was a big mature 9-point. He was around 17 inches wide. He wouldn’t score very high, maybe around 120, but he was a great buck to take out of the herd. As he watched the big 9-point, he saw a buck raise his head up. He was breathless. He raised his trusty .270 up, and took the shot. The buck wheeled and ran.
We met up at dark, and began the search. No blood, no hair, nothing. We made circles for several hundred yards, and decided it was a clean miss. He was devastated.
As we sat in camp that night, Steven was still talking about the buck. “I’ll never see him again”, he said. I told him that you never know what these whitetails are going to do. He could be standing in the road at first light, as if nothing had happened. Little did I know how true those words would be.
The next morning, I loaded up, and went to the blind with Steven. We got settled in, and the wait began. As we watched a beautiful buck feeding in front of us, I noticed a new buck working in from the right. He made his way in, and Steven immediately said “That’s him!” The buck was broadside at around one hundred yards, and was in some tall sage grass. He seemed to know he was hid.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, but was probably more like five minutes, the buck took the extra step needed. Steven steadied his rifle, and took the shot. The buck fell, but again found his footing and bolted. We shook hands, knowing it was a solid hit, and Steven was pumped.
After a short wait, we headed towards the spot where the buck had stood. Before we could make it, I looked to the left of the road, and saw the buck laying in the tall grass. “There he is!”
We both excitedly made our way over to the buck. Steven was thrilled, and couldn’t believe that the buck had come back. I took out my camera and tripod, and took several photos of us with his buck. We then loaded up the buck, and headed to camp.
Upon arrival, everyone was thrilled. We took several family photos, and had a great time retelling the story. What a fantastic start to the 2009 whitetail season. While driving back home, and reflecting on another great hunt, I gave thanks for the opportunity to hunt, and spend time doing what I love with my family.
I also had to give thanks for the beautiful Texas Hill Country, great hunting partners and second chance whitetails.
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