It was hunting day 136 of my 2008-2009 hunting season. Thatís 136 days of nonstop hunting, 136 out of 138 days total, but I was as pumped up as I was on day 1, I assure you. I had posted endless yet hopeful ambush vigils in every treestand I have, and had even improvised, adapted and overcome on many a morning and afternoon hunt, killing many a fine beast in Michigan, Texas, New Mexico, Washington, Ontario and California. Stacks of precious backstraps were nestled in orderly fashion in the Nugent freezer barn, but I wasnít done yet. With the Hunters For The Hungry program needing more sacred protein for my fellow Americans, and the deer herd begging for a much needed balanced harvest, my drive to kill more deer was over the top. And I had the arrows and tags to go with my passion and bloodlust. God made me a hunter. Blame Him.
Hunting constantly not only cleanses the soul, wildly stimulates my inner being and feeds many, but it also tunes me in to the good mother earth where I hunt and live. The short range challenges of the bow and arrow demands a much higher level of awareness, and if we pay ultimate attention to our surroundings and dedicate ourselves to be the best reasoning predator we can possibly be, a deep and abiding sense of connection develops in our souls to better understand our resource stewardship duties to our life giving environment. I for one get intense gratification from intimately knowing the terrain, animals and spirit of my hunting grounds. These observations give us the definitive understanding of just how many deer, varmints, and other game needs to be killed to keep the land and critters healthy and thriving. I love that part.
Not only do I video each and every hunt for our Spirit of The Wild TV show on Outdoor Channel, but I have kept a running journal of my hunts forever, detailing the various songbirds, small and big game encounters, with a detailed description of each whitetail deer I get to look over. Coupled with the year round census of our herd by myself, family, land managers, and on our Texas property, game counts by Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists, we have a pretty good handle on just what our deer herd is comprised of and how to manage the annual harvest accordingly. Or so we thought.
Ensconced 18 feet up in a crowsnest of thick leaves, vines and branches, the steady southwest breeze caressing my face, my confidence level was as high as a kite this dark, cool January afternoon. With my video camera solid on a swing arm, I was taping myself this day as the first of what would become a parade of whitetail deer slowly made their way through the forest of live oak trees.
At this point late in the season, my remaining Managed Land Deer Permits included six more does and six more bucks, so I was ready to arrow just about any animal. I had picked out some mature does and at least two management bucks that caught my fancy, when all of a sudden, my eyes bugged out at the sight of a big, mature, multi-tined buck. I examined this deer closely with my Bushnells, and quickly realized that this buck had never been identified before.
I was starting to shake. The handsome old boy had a heavy, tall 7x6 rack with a sagging belly and a thick, swollen neck, and I said a prayer of hope that he would give me shot.
He stayed behind the dense foliage, and then trotted off with his nose hot on a big doe. Par for the course in my hunting life, the big boy appeared to be gone with the wind, so I carefully moved my vidcam into position as a shot on a nice slick six point buck was coming to fruition.
I was literally beginning to draw my bow when the six point jerked his head up and hustled forward. Taking his place at the edge of the clearing was my lucky 13, and finishing my draw, I sent my 400 grain arrow perfecto right there in the golden triangle where heart meets lungs. With a wild kick and a scramble, the mortally hit beast dashed out of sight, his galloping hooves clamoring audibly on the hard ground, then across the rocky wash, with a final, telltale tumble in the tangle across the dry creek bed. Good grief! I was out of body.
Fumbling like a schoolboy after his first kiss, I quivered as I spun the vidcam arm towards me in a feeble attempt to capture the insanity of the moment. I blurted out a spontaneous burst of pure adrenalin pumped excitement explaining how shocked I was to see, much less kill such a never before seen trophy buck like this dandy 13 pointer.
Self videoing the thrilling recovery took an explosive turn for the better, for as I found the beautiful deer piled up in a tangle of green briar, I heard the rumble of my wife Shemaneís Mercedes coming down the gravel road above the timbered ridge not far off. With the camera buzzing, I ran wildly toward her screaming for her to come join me in the celebration of this very special buck. I come off like a raving idiot (so what else is new?) but succeeded in getting her attention. She graciously took over camera duties like the pro that she is, and we taped the reverential tribute to this fine 150 class whitetail deer. The TV show this will make will be as special as the amazing encounter and kill with my lucky 13. Iíll take lucky over good every time.